Self-storage doesn’t have to be a space you visit a couple of times a year to dig something out of a stack of boxes. It can be a highly organized, easily accessible space that frees up necessary space in your home or office. To get the most out of your unit, it’s best to plan ahead (…. before you start loading the truck). This step-by-step plan should help you along the way:
WHAT WILL YOU STORE?
1. Depending on what you plan to store, you may want to think about making an inventory.
2. Start by identifying items that will be packed in boxes and stacked.
3. Prioritize boxed items you will want to access most (they’ll go closer to the front of the unit).
4. Group by fragility and/or weight – heavier, substantial items should be stored on the bottom of stacked items, delicate items on top.
5. Consider awkward-sized items that won’t stack well, including how often you will need to use them, and how heavy they are. Group these items in a similar way you did the boxes.
WHAT SIZE UNIT?
Nobody wants to pay for space they don’t need. But a little extra space makes moving around within the unit much easier and gives you room to add unplanned items.
Only you know how much stuff you have to store, but the friendly Self Storage staff are always happy to help if you are unsure.
BE ORGANISED – PLAN YOUR PACKING
Organizing and efficiently packing your items will take time and concentration. 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 rather than plastic bags. Boxes are sturdier and stack well, taking up less space. Many removals 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 for years 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. If you’re storing long-term, you may want to invest in plastic stacking boxes.
•For wrapping breakables, paper will do, but bubble wrap can be used repeatedly, is cleaner, and because it is transparent, makes identifying contents easier.
Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap and tape are available for purchase at most Self Storage facilities.
•Box up everything that you can. Anything un boxed has an increased risk of being damaged when you access you unit.
•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. Foam peanuts or paper is useful for filling in the gaps in boxes.
•Distribute the weight in packed boxes evenly. Make sure they are not too heavy to be lifted. It’s better to have lots of small light boxes, rather than a few large heavy boxes if possible.
•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.
•Pack books flat to avoid damaging their spines.
Packing other items
•If you plan to store clothes, it’s worth investing in a wardrobe box with a built-in hanging rod. These are available for purchase from self storage facilities.
Large appliances must be prepared correctly for storage:
- Defrost fridges and freezers thoroughly. This avoids 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.
- Wipe down the inside of appliances with baking soda before you store them to keep them dry.
•Wrap mirrors and pictures in protective covering such as bubble wrap and mark them as “Fragile.” Cardboard corners can be purchased to protect the sharpest, weakest areas of frames.
•If storing photographs, consider a climate controlled unit where temperature fluctuations will not damage your photos. If you do store loose photographs, place them between pieces of clean cardboard and consider taping them together to avoid curling.
•Separate lamp bases and lampshades and wrap them for protection.
•If you’re storing upholstered products such as mattresses and sofas, consider investing in covers, bags or sheeting for additional protection. Storage and moving facilities often sell large heavy-duty bags for this purpose.
•Vacuum-sealed bags work really well for draperies, bedding, and clothing.
•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. Make sure you secure the player arm of a record player and turntable.
•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.) Cover chair legs with bubble wrap or rags for extra protection.
•Spray your wood furniture with a good quality furniture polish before storing it to give it some added protection.
•Treat leather items with a leather conditioner before you store them.
•Wipe down metal objects and tools with a little oil before storing them to avoid rust formation that can occur when the tools are not used regularly.
•When storing a vacuum cleaner, clean out the bag or canister first; bacteria, mold and vermin can accumulate otherwise.
•Consider having awkward or heavy pieces such as exercise equipment packed professionally. Man and Van Move can offer a specialist packing service.
As you go, keep an inventory of every item you’ve packed. Ideally, include an estimate of the replacement value of each item you store so that you have some idea of what to insure the stored goods for.
PACKING YOUR STORAGE UNIT
• Your storage unit should already be clean and swept out, consider putting down protective canvas sheeting, cardboard or wooden boards on the floor for cleanliness.
•Keep a fold-up step stool in your space for accessing hard-to-reach areas.
•Based on the climate in which you live or work, consider putting up moisture absorbers, to protect your belongings.
•Frequently-used items should be placed near the entrance for easy access. This holds true for file boxes and other business items, too.
•To ensure security of valuable items such as computers or TVs, place them farthest from the door, with other items concealing them.
•Unload the largest items and place them against the far wall, as well as along the sides of the unit. See if the storage facility has dollies or other machinery that you can use to unload and place these heavy items. Some self-storage companies will offer these free of charge.
•For archived business documents that you won’t need to access frequently, place them against the far wall of the unit.
•When arranging items, leave an aisle space for easy access to your items.
Planning, preparing and setting up your self-storage unit may seem like a big chore. However, you will certainly find the time and effort are worth it, when you know that your belongings are properly protected, conveniently accessible and well-preserved.