Pivot! PIVOT!! PIVAAAT!!! How Ross could have got that sofa up the stairs. (and tips on moving when stairs are involved!)

Ross, from Friends pushing couch up the stairs
Most of us can relate to this iconic Friends episode. Stairs are hard when it comes to moving. In Ross's case, he could have gotten the sofa up the stairs, if he just did a little bit of advanced physics before he started. You know, like we all do.

Dr. Caroline Zunker, a mathematician, came up with an equation explaining exactly what Ross should have done to move the new sofa into his New York City apartment.

Dr. Zunkel said, “By applying Pythagoras’ theorem to the estimated measurements of Ross’s sofa in a vertical position and dimensions of the stairwell, I was able to establish that it would have been possible for Ross to get the sofa up the stairwell and into the flat without resorting to the extreme measure of chopping it in half. It’s quite simple really!”

While Ross focused on the pivot, the researcher suggest he should have factored in tilt.

woman at black board figuring out a math equation

Her "easy" equation:

Angle of vertical tilt (T) = 44.15064 -11.94274xWS (Width of the Stairwell) + 8.69119xWC (Width of the Couch) + 3.65961xLC (Length of the Couch)

Step 1: Ross should have measured the width of the stairs (WS), and the width (WC) and length (LC) of the couch.

Step 2: Ross should have used the equation to find out the minimum tilt angle (T) for him and his friends to tilt the couch upwards and around the 90-degree corner of the stairwell.

Step 3: After carrying the couch to the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler reach a point where they can’t move anymore. When this happens they should have rested the couch against the corner.

Step 4: Here, the Friends should have tilted the couch vertically towards the ceiling until the angle between the stairs and the base of the couch was greater than or equal to T. At this point, the vertical length of the couch would be smaller than the horizontal length and they should have been able to successfully pivot the couch around the corner without getting it stuck and trapping Chandler against the wall.

Step 5: Once around the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler should have moved the couch back to its original orientation and then carried it up to the apartment.

See, EASY!
When you need to use Pythagoras’ theorem to get furniture up the stairs, you might need to reconsider your purchase. However, most people at some point in their life have to figure out moving furniture up and down stairs. We’ve compiled a list of tips from the movers on Zaarly so that if you’re going it alone, you can know how to PIVAAAT correctly.

movers carrying couch upstairs

How to move furniture up or downstairs

1. This is not a solo activity
While there are a few that might be able to move a sofa or other heavy furniture up/downstairs on their own (The Rock for instance) we don’t suggest it (unless you are The Rock). The more people, the easier moving a sofa is going to be and the less likely that you will damage your furniture, walls, and your spine.

The Rock carrying a large piece of furniture

2. Protect your furniture
Before you attempt to move your furniture, you’ll want to protect it. There are a few things we recommend in order to protect your furniture, including moving blankets, plastic wrap, pads, tape, and bubble wrap. If you have other types of furniture that need to be moved, you will end up using all of the above more than likely, so stock up!

3. Take apart what you can
Moving furniture up or downstairs presents a few challenges, especially those big and bulky pieces. Before you wrap up your furniture to protect it, see what comes off or comes apart. Backs can often be removed from recliners, and the feet of couches almost always come off. There are even ways to cut and fold a box spring in half!

Let's Get Moving Movers in Kansas City carrying furniture up stairs

4. Try the high and low technique
The most common strategy for getting furniture up and downstairs is the high-low technique. This method definitely requires two people, even if you are The Rock. Start with the furniture sitting upright, begin to tilt the furniture back onto the first person. This lucky friend will hold the furniture from the top while the second person “catches” the bottom and lifts from there. This makes moving your furniture up or downstairs easier, more stable, and generally easier to get through tighter spaces or staircases.

5. Moving straps
With heavy furniture, having a few tools to help will help a lot. While a dolly won’t do you any good moving furniture up or down staircases, moving straps can help!
Moving straps will help you lift heavier or non-traditional shaped furniture while taking some of the strain off your back.

If you’ve got a move coming up and you’d rather leave the math equations and sofa-catching to professionals (who wants to ask their friends to do that?!), we have movers who can help!