Self-storage units don’t have to be a space you visit once or twice a year to dig something out of a stack of boxes. They can be highly organized, easily accessible spaces that can free up necessary space in your home or office. To get the most out of them, though, it is best to plan ahead before you start loading up the truck. Here are steps to help you plan:
Step 1: Plan What You Will Store
- Start by identifying items that will be packed in boxes and stacked.
- Prioritize boxed items you will want to access most frequently (they’ll go closer to the front of the unit).
- Group by fragility or weight – heavier, sturdier items should be stored on the bottom of stacked items, fragile items on top.
- Consider awkwardly-sized items that won’t stack well, including how often you will need to use them, and how heavy they are.
Step 2: Choose the Right Size Unit
A little additional space makes moving around within the unit much easier. It also gives you room to add those unplanned items that always seem to pop up. Our professionally trained storage facility managers can be quite helpful in determining how much space you will need.
Step 3: Organize and Pack Your Items with a Plan in Mind
Organizing and efficiently packing your items will take a little time, however, the up-front effort will be well worth it when you’re able to easily unload and organize your items at the storage unit. Here are some tips for packing:
Invest in Supplies
- Use boxes, not plastic bags. Boxes are sturdier and stack well, taking up less space. Many moving companies require that goods be packed in boxes for transport. Also, sealed plastic bags can trap humidity which can cause damaging mildew.
- Invest in good quality, sturdy boxes and packing materials. Boxes should be sturdy enough to hold up under the weight of the stack. You may be tempted to get boxes for free from supermarkets and liquor stores; however, the mismatched shapes and sizes will impede your ability to organize most effectively. You can buy standard-sized boxes and specialty boxes for items such as TVs, videotapes and pictures.
- For wrapping breakables, paper will do, but bubble wrap can be used repeatedly, is cleaner, and because it is transparent, makes identifying contents easier.
- Most people end up needing more tape than they thought they would when packing. Your self-storage manager can help you estimate how much tape you’ll need for the number of boxes you’ll be packing.
For your convenience, packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap and tape are available for purchase at the storage facility.
Packing in Boxes
- Fill boxes to capacity. The contents in half-empty boxes can shift during transport or lifting. Corners and sides can collapse if there’s nothing to support them. Paper can be a great filler for the dead space in a box.
- Distribute the weight in packed boxes evenly. Make sure they are not too heavy for you and others who may be lifting them.
- Wrap all fragile items and breakables such as dishes, glasses, ornaments, etc. separately. Pack these items tightly into strong or reinforced boxes, filling any gaps with paper or filler. Mark “Fragile” on any boxes containing breakable items.
- Clearly label all boxes on more than one side so you can easily identify the contents.
Packing Other Items
- If you plan to store clothes, think about investing in a wardrobe box with a built-in hanging rod. These are available for purchase at our office.
- Large appliances must be prepared correctly for proper storage:
- Defrost refrigerators and freezers thoroughly to avoid water damage and mildew growth. Tie down the appliance doors during transport, but leave them slightly ajar once in storage.
- Drain washing machines, and tie down hoses and cords before storing them.
- Wrap mirrors and pictures in protective covering such as bubble wrap and mark them as “Fragile.”
- If storing photographs, consider a climate controlled unit where temperature fluctuations will not damage your photos. If you store loose photographs, place them between pieces of clean cardboard and consider taping them together to avoid curling.
- If you’re storing upholstered products such as mattresses and sofas, consider investing in covers for additional protection. These are available at our office.
- Electrical equipment such as TVs, stereos, and computers should be packed in their original boxes whenever possible. If using other boxes, choose ones that are as close in size to the original as possible, and fill all gaps with paper.
- Disassemble furniture such as beds and tables before you store them. Wrap and cover the separate sections, clearly mark them and keep them together. Keep assembly components such as screws and bolts together in a plastic bag, mark them clearly, and tape the bag to the appropriate piece of furniture. (Use tape that is safe for use on furniture, or tape the bag to an inconspicuous place on the piece.)
Step 4: Unpack and Arrange Items Efficiently
As you arrive at the facility and begin to unload, arranging your furniture, equipment, boxes, and other odds-and-ends efficiently in your storage unit will make a big difference in maximizing its convenience.
- Keep a fold-up step stool in your space for accessing higher up hard-to-reach areas.
- Frequently-used items should be placed near the entrance for easy access.
- Unload the largest items and place them against the far wall, as well as along the sides of the unit.
- When arranging items, leave an aisle space for easy access to your items. You can either leave aisles between your stacks of boxes and furniture, or line up all your furniture and boxes against the outside walls of the unit in a “U” shape, leaving the inside of the U as open space.
- Be sure when stacking boxes and containers that you can clearly see the labels you put on them. When stacking boxes, always make sure to put the heaviest boxes at the bottom to avoid damage. Stack boxes and similarly sized items together to save space.
For furniture and other large items
- Break down furniture into smaller pieces, if possible. Take the legs off of tables, disassemble bed frames and lean them against the wall, etc.
- Store large pieces of furniture vertically to save space. Stand sofas on end when possible.
You may be thinking that all this planning, preparing and setting up your self-storage unit may seem like a big project. You’ll find the time and effort are worth it, though, when you discover the peace of mind that comes with knowing your belongings are protected, conveniently accessible and well-preserved.