My Night Stand Came Packed In Spray Foam Insulation

Here’s something to break the monotony of your day. Reader Jim sends these pictures of the night stand he ordered from Amazon.com. It came packed not in peanuts, but covered in spray foam insulation. He says it took him half an hour to hack through the sticky stuff to get to the furniture. Weird, yes, but the item did arrive intact… so maybe they’re on to something.

I ordered a maple night stand via Amazon.com. It was actually sold/shipped by one of their vendors called Vision Decor. I was surprised when the package arrived. It was HUGE and it weighed a lot — far larger and heavier than I expected a night stand to be.

It was covered in multiple layers of cardboard and tape. When I finally cut through to the middle I discovered that the entire box had been filled with that spray foam typically used by plumbers and construction workers for insulation. My father-in-law and I spent half an hour hacking through the stuff to finally get to the night stand within. It was tough stuff. And it tended to stick to skin.

Now, I appreciate that my night stand arrived in good condition but I must say that removing the foam insulation was tantamount to carving Mt. Rushmore.


Are you sure that’s a night stand and not an alien facehugger pod? Jim? Jim, are you there?

Comments

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  1. AndyRogers says:

    AT&T should start shipping their empty plastic bags, ahem… iPhones in this stuff…

  2. Bozman8 says:

    seems like overkill. but then again i recently had two wooden pieces of furnitiure arrive scratched and dented.

  3. MercuryPDX says:

    This reminds me of Demolition Man (Snipes/Stallone 1993). Sly crashes a car and the safety device is foam that fills the entire car.

  4. Darkwish says:

    That’s funny! I bet it made one hell of a mess! But at least it arrived in good shape!

  5. freshyill says:

    I’d be worried about putting a big gash in the wood while trying to cut that stuff open. I can’t see this being a good idea for most products, but when you’re dealing with assembled furniture, maybe it’s not that bad.

    Maybe if the put a string or wire in it that will slice through it as you pull it, that would help.

  6. IphtashuFitz says:

    Having spent a few winters working as a drivers helper for UPS I can say that this is an excellent way to ensure something makes it safely to its destination. I’ve seen package delivery people (and not just UPS) throwing packages with total disregard for what’s inside. About the only way that night stand could have been damaged is if somebody threw a spear at the package.

  7. zigziggityzoo says:

    That’s freakin awesome.

  8. weakdome says:

    I definitely read this headline and saw:

    “One Night Stand Came Packed In Spray”

    … and didn’t even think twice about it.

  9. warf0x0r says:

    I hope that stuff is eco-friendly… or at least no worse than packing peanuts.

    On a side note Amazon should be ready to send Demolition Man to your door safely now.

  10. mike says:

    @IphtashuFitz: I don’t know…that sounds like a bet to me…

  11. mike says:

    @weakdome: I read it that way too.

  12. bohemian says:

    After having a UPS driver throw and break a solid oak chair I don’t consider this overkill.

  13. ivanthemute says:

    Beautiful, beautiful. Now, if Amazon does this in a huge box for 1 dvd, that would be overkill. For a nightstand, not so much.

  14. katylostherart says:

    creativity points awarded.

  15. MyPetFly says:

    First, I hope the furniture was in a bag, and THEN surrounded by foam.

    Second, what might have made things easier would have been to fill the carton halfway with foam, let it cure (if they had the time), spray some sort of mold release compound (PAM?), and then fill in the rest of the box with foam, giving you a two-part thing-a-ma-bob. Not perfectly easy to open, but easier.

  16. gqcarrick says:

    I would rather just have biodegradeable packing peanuts, then you could always reuse them and they are environmentally friendly.

  17. Zwitterion says:

    This is a great idea. To make this even better, how about putting that night stand in a plastic bag, that way the nightstand could be pulled out of the bag, rather than picking the insulation from the stand itself.

  18. mythago says:

    “About the only way that night stand could have been damaged is if somebody threw a spear at the package.”

    Jesus, guy, don’t give UPS any ideas!

  19. surgesilk says:

    Dont call me guy, friend.

  20. Just dump some acetone on it and it’ll melt away, along with the furniture finish (I think it’s acetone…)

  21. mgy says:

    That’s a nice night stand. Link?

  22. RothRandom says:

    @MercuryPDX: Holy crap, that’s the exact same thing I thought of at first. XD. Makes me wanna watch that movie all over again.

  23. kyle4 says:

    That’s a lot to go through. As he said though, it wasn’t Amazon who shipped it, the company that did package it that way.

    I also got to put it out there that Meg Marco is my favorite Consumerist writer. I pretty much read all the posts she makes, the Jim joke at the end is why.

  24. garethkeenan says:

    @IphtashuFitz: The UPS driver who does picks ups for my company tells us to “pack everything as if it is going to fall 5′ off a truck.”

  25. acasto says:

    OMG… that is hilarious! Wendy’s and McDonalds should start doing this so that by the time you realize they forgot your fries you’re three years older.

  26. @MercuryPDX:
    haha, thought the same thing…

    Yeah, I thought I was history too. What the hell happened? All of a sudden, this car turned into a cannoli.

  27. Myotheralt says:

    @garethkeenan: at least he is honest

  28. zentex says:

    @Ash78: it is indeed

  29. jsnorcal says:

    That stuff is really interesting to work with. There are different systems but it is usually stored in 2 separate 55 gallon drums and it is forced into a nozzle which combines the 2 chemicals to create very cool reaction. You squirt it in and it expands at a high rate and usually you close the box to control the expansion. It isn’t biodegradable but the company will take it back and recycle it at your cost. Here is a quote from their literature “Highly compressible, they occupy only 10% of their original volume in a landfill. Instapak foam is biostable. It will not degrade and contribute to air or water contamination.”

  30. Carabell says:

    This is stupid. What if a little old lady ordered this, would she have to get the neighbors to help her ? What if you lived in an apartment and only had a few screwdrivers for tools ?
    If this came to my house, I wouldn’t even know where to start to get the nightstand out.

    Use peanuts and those air bags like everyone else

  31. jelleric says:

    @surgesilk
    “Dont call me guy, friend.”

    That’s the only time in the history of the internet that I have actually LOL’d.

  32. ilovebananas says:

    I would be mortified to have to cut through this giant block of hardened foam…wouldn’t it ruin the nightstand since that stuff sticks/ruins pretty much everything it touched? Or was the stand shrink wrapped to avoid the foam…?

  33. HeartBurnKid says:

    @surgesilk: Don’t call me friend, pal.

  34. macinjosh says:

    All of a sudden, my night stand turns into a cannoli!

  35. MissPeacock says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Don’t call me pal, buddy.

  36. horatio80 says:

    I used to work a gift shop that sold large fragile stuff and we would use this foam to ship but we would add the foam it in two stages with the item covered in plastic this would allow for the foam to be easily removed. It worked great we never had any thing we shipped this way damaged in shipping.

  37. Tmoney02 says:

    @garethkeenan:
    I have had at least one USPS clerk tell me the same thing, “Package an item so it can withstand a 5 foot drop.” She went on to say this was in case the package fell off the sorting belt and also packages drop down in the sorting process.

  38. Craig says:

    I’m also really curious as to whether or not the nightstand was wrapped in something else before the foam was applied, since I assume the foam could have a detrimental effect on the nightstand’s finish.

  39. whatdoyoucare says:

    @horatio80: Wrapping the item in plastic before spraying it down seems like a much better way to package it.

  40. jfmcanally says:

    @mgy: I’m the Jim in the story. You can find the night stand at: Beahm Kristen [www.amazon.com]

    PS. They did wrap the nightstand in plastic so it didn’t stick to the furniture but it DID stick to all the cardboard. There was an outside “box” – actually a couple of layers of cardboard strips with packing tape. Then there was the foam. Most in the solid chunk you see but also some had penetrated into some plastic bags making weird-looking cyst things.

    I’m not so much upset about having to hack through the stuff as I am the total NON-eco-friendly nature of this packaging technique. I thought about dissolving the crap in acetone but wasn’t sure that would be anymore environmentally friendly.

  41. @MyPetFly: Would be tough as the nightstand has a lip. Also, the picts don’t have any stuff on them.

    I doubt it was that filler foam plumbers use b/c I can attest that that stuff sticks to EVERYTHING, especially hands. I have been thinking about using that to ship some wine I have to ship. I wanted to put the bottle in a plastic bag, squirt some into the box, but the bottle+bag in, then after the bottom foam cured, seal the bag and fill the rest. Even if the bottle breaks, the foam is waterproof, as is the bag.

  42. OKJeff says:

    The vendor touts this practice on their website.

    [shop.visiondecor.com]
    (bottom of the page)

    Specialized Packaging – Our packing procedures are specialized for safe delivery of all items, backed by 6 years of experience in the furniture shipping industry. Our revolutionary shipping process ensures an unprecedented no-damage success rate of 95%+. Depending on the item ordered, 1 or more of the below processes may be used in packaging your item.

    *Complete 3-step process and 2-person inspection of the item prior to shipping for 100% quality assurance
    *State-of-the-art packaging using an ISTA-approved injected foam material for optimum protection

  43. This stuff goes on hot (if I remember correctly), so I’d be worried about it messing up the finish. Other than that, great idea.

  44. horatio80 says:

    The stuff we used did not go on hot.

  45. SinisterMatt says:

    That’s an interesting idea. If only I could use something like that to ship books (though not in a large box like that).

    Cheers!

  46. donkeyjote says:

    @MissPeacock: Don’t call me buddy, man.

  47. jimv2000 says:

    Should have filled the box with molten steel. That would have protected it.

  48. jbrecken says:

    Do they use that stuff on pieces with spindly legs? Sure it might not break in shipping, but I’d be too worried about breaking it getting the packaging off.

  49. privateer says:

    I have had UPS deliver more boxes with gashes, punctures, monster dents and various other gory wounds than any other shipper by far. Five-foot drop? More like drop kick. UPS is the General Sherman of shipping: War is hell. No apologies while we burn your possessions.

    At least if USPS tortures a package destined for me, they put it in a zip-lock bag and stick a little note on it that says: “Sorry we destroyed your stuff! P.S., have a nice day!” Then they draw a smiley face.

  50. dj_skilz says:

    It seems like someone forgot a step in using Instapak. I have ordered allot of DJ equipment, and many lighting effects are shipped in cartons using Instapack. It works well on preventing any movement/breakage on the lenses and bulbs of the effects.

    Here is some info on Instapak;
    [www.instapakquick.com]

    I wonder why the plastic wasn’t used?

  51. mexifelio says:

    Great for the environment! :|

  52. DaisyGatsby says:

    @donkeyjote: Don’t call me a man, jackass.

    (Movie references FTW)

  53. chrisjames says:

    Awesome. Where can I get some of that spray foam? I think I’ll start sending Christmas gifts like this. This will be the perfect year to give gift cards.

  54. econobiker says:

    Early ’90’s I temp worked for a computer printer rebuild firm that refurbed printers and the dot matrix heads for same(think autoparts stores of that time,etc). Worked in the shipping area where we used the two part foam. It was a challenge to spray the bottom foam, place the protective sheet on it, place printer and docs in, place another protective sheet, spray second foam, close and tape box. We had a little competition to see who could make the best “football” (USA version) shapped box- a brown box with so much foam in it that the bottom and top bulged like a football but without the foam getting out and onto everything. With four people we were once able to get a box almost eliptical or ovoid in shape. Trick was to have everything placed and the box taped before the second layer of foam was really going…

    Heaven knows how the printer fared from the internal pressure but it sure wasn’t getting damaged by UPS…

  55. Pasketti says:

    I bought a new toilet mail-order, and it was similarly packed.

    The toilet itself was in its own box, and that box was in a bigger box, packed in that foam.

  56. sethom says:

    We get stuff like this from vendors…it sucks, literally takes me an hour to work through the box and foam. I broke a lamp stand the first time I got a package. The only way to remove it is to completely cut the box off into several pieces and then cut the foam with a knife. Unfortunately underneath the foam is more plastic wrap and duct tape…go figure

  57. IrisMR says:

    Could be a cool prank and it could be an effective way to protect stuff. Either way… It works! Hey!

  58. Wormfather says:

    I think it says something about our culture, or maybe just me, but when I saw the tag ODD, I sat for 2 minutes trying to figure out what that was an acronym for. Odd.

  59. jfmcanally says:

    I’m the recipient of this package. The nightstand itself WAS wrapped in plastic. Trouble is the sucker was buried under so much of this foam that it seemed like overkill. My biggest beef was the ecological impact of all that foam (which I assume to be non-biodegradable). A few well-placed blocks of styrofoam would probably do the trick and be less matter going into landfills.

  60. ivanthepig says:

    They should just send the insulation foam in a box, and a chisel and a guide on how to chisel your own night stand.

  61. shorty63136 says:

    I have that EXACT same nightstand. Got it from American Furniture in St. Louis.

    Anyway – I think this was, indeed, a bit much. But I do understand how it saved it from being demolished.

  62. Lambasted says:

    Great idea to protect the furniture. I wonder how heavy it is. I hope it doesn’t add to shipping costs.

    This cannot be worse that the sealed plastic shrinkwrapped crap many small items are sold in. Those suckers are absurdly difficult to open. I have often thought about how difficult it must be for the elderly to get them open. I use razors, scissors, and exacto knives to slice my through it.

  63. Vision Decor was the seller. Amazon was not the seller. Let’s give proper credit to the seller.

  64. Mike8813 says:

    @bohemian: I’m with you… I’ve had plenty of busted UPS deliveries that could ONLY have been saved by something this over-the-top. Perhaps the people at “Vision Decor” can coin this procedure as “UPS-proofing”.

  65. DamThatRiver says:

    “Now that’s what I call a sticky situation!”

  66. Eric1285 says:

    I’ve used that stuff to ship things before. In particular, about 5 years ago I shipped 2 full desktop computers (CRT monitors, desktops, keyboards, mice). I put the stuff in plastic bags, boxed them up, and went to down with that spray foam. Worked perfectly, as I shipped everything via UPS ground and everything made it safely.

  67. This is a great idea, actually. It just needs better execution. Wrap the item itself in cardboard/paper/plastic wrap of some sort. And something to easily split apart the foam without breaking off a bunch of pieces.

  68. gonz says:

    Finally, now I know how to save money for my trips to the west coast. Also can I make a human pinatas with this stuff?

  69. MrEvil says:

    This is a bulk Instapak setup, and some users mold their foam pieces on a die rather than just letting foam mold itself to the item. Falcon Northwest Computer Systems I beleive still ships their computers with a similar AB foam.

    Instapak also sells the two chemicals pre-measured and sealed inside a plastic bag for use with smaller items and low volume shippers. One requires a warmer to activate the chemicals and another is a room temperature version. I’ve been wanting some of the room temp bags for quite some time but can’t afford to buy an entire case of them.

  70. Trai_Dep says:

    Any chance of taking this packing material with me the next time I’m seated next to two unruly children in Coach?

  71. I worked in a factory for a month and was the guy that sprayed this shit in ice makers for the insulation. If you get any on you while spraying it in with the gun, you’d be scraping it off with a razor blade for 2 days.

    And that was the worst job I ever had. I got fired. Factories are fucked up.

  72. Skankingmike says:

    why on earth would you use that stuff for something temporary completely unnecessary.

    ECO friendly it is not.

  73. Trai_Dep says:

    @jsnorcal: Gawd. “Bio-stable” is the Orwellian appellation the industry uses for Planet-Raping these days? Good to know.
    May their PR flacks assorted orifices be filled with bio-stable substances, beginning with their reality-distorting mouths.

  74. FLConsumer says:

    Finally! Someone’s finally figured out a way to package items in a way that the UPS monkeys can’t destroy.

  75. wildness says:

    Probably came from China that way – too many things are breaking on the proverbial slow boat from China.

  76. lrapturel says:

    Shhhh… the UPS monkey’s are listening.

    Someone should give the person who did that an award.

  77. tragatz says:

    My plasma TV was to be delivered “in 30 minutes” said the phone call. Five minutes later I was told my TV had a “Fork hole” in it. Not sure this foam would prevent fork holes, but it is a pretty good idea. We ship lots of large aircraft parts using the same foam. Plastic bag always required.

  78. Metropolis says:

    LoL That’s freaking awesome.

  79. I used that stuff when I worked in a frame shop years ago. It IS great. However, the packers should have (and easily could have) wrapped half the table, sprayed in the foam, then done the other half.

    I’ve seen it done well enough to reuse. You end up up with a perfectly fitting ‘mold’ of whatever it is you’re packing.

    The guys who packed your table were just lazy or really under the gun.

  80. y2julio says:

    Um, Why is Amazon’s name/being blamed for this? They didn’t ship or sell the item. They simply acted as the middleman for the real seller of the item.

  81. Channing says:

    Wow. If I opened up the box and saw that I’d either be REALLY mad or rolling on the floor.

  82. theycallmetak says:

    Finally, something I can explain!

    Seriously though?

    Peanuts and airbags for a nightstand? What good is saving the earth from foam when you have to chuck the nightstand because it broke? Peanuts and airbags are not meant to support larger heavier objects.

    The foam shouldn’t stick to anything. I should say it shouldn’t feel sticky. It’s cured way before it gets to you. The fact that it’s sticking to the cardboard means it was shot in the box properly. As a previous commenter mentioned, it’s usually a 2 part solution in plastic drums that comes out hot. It’s liquid when it hits the box and expands to foam even after the box is sealed.

    Without that foam your dresser would have been in pieces.

    The only other reasonably safe way to ship it would be to palletize it and get it shipped by LTL (less-than-truckload) freight carrier, e.g. Yellow, Viking, ABF, etc. I guarantee you would have paid more for it.

    Polystyrene (Styrofoam) is not easily recyclable and a couple blocks would have put too much pressure on your piece and likely broken it when (not if, but when) it got rolled onto it’s side. It’s not the drivers or the handlers doing it, it’s the conveyors at the handling facilities.

    Be grateful you got your item in one piece. Anything other than a pallet or crate and you’d have been looking at a damaged/destroyed item. You would have to retain all packing materials for the carrier to inspect after the SHIPPER files the claim. The shipper would have to reship a new item, costing more fuel, energy, time (theirs and yours) and if they shipped it the same way, you’d be looking at the same thing all over again.

    Just let it go. There are worse things in life than getting what you ordered in one piece.

  83. theycallmetak says:

    If it takes you an hour to unpack an item from the foam, you should be fired.

    For “molds” the foam is shot into the bag which is in the box between the walls and the article to be protected. You can’t really wrap half of an item, then shoot foam.

  84. subterrene says:

    I sold a piece of electronic equipment to this guy in Canada on Ebay, and packaged it in repurposed spray foam, it was a little flaky but not stuck to the item like this nightstand (the stuff had a plastic menbrane around it to keep it from disintegrating). You could have drop-kicked it from the back of a van and it would probably have held up.

    So the guy gets it and writes me back, “Using the spray foam was overkill…”. Tell me: would you rather have something you’ve been shipped protected better than necessary, or underprotected and probably destroyed? Though I do think they should have covered the nightstand with plastic first.

  85. subterrene says:

    @jfmcanally: Actually that foam will disintegrate in sunlight. Not sure if that means it’s “biodegradeable” exactly (fumes & such).