By Stacey Dale, Property Manager
People who use self storage regularly may be experts in maximizing the space inside their storage unit. But for the first time storage user, it’s a good idea to take some time and really think about it before you just move all of your stuff in there and then can’t get to anything! So, let’s review how to make the most of your self storage space, no matter what size storage unit you have.
First, make sure you have your items in the right size containers or boxes. Using containers or boxes that are too small will end up taking up more space than you think. If you only use small boxes, you are not accounting for odd size or shape items, and then you may only be able to put one or two items in each box which leads to lots of boxes. But going with larger boxes for those odd shaped things will allow you to pack more efficiently and better utilize the space inside each box, and in turn inside your storage unit. Keep in mind that plastic tubs and containers are not square. They have rounded edges and are usually tapered, which does waste space in those areas. Boxes have straight edges and can be stacked right up against each other without wasting any space in between.
Secondly, be sure to label your boxes clearly and large enough to see. I recommend a large black marker and printing neatly. Be sure to list what is in the box and what room it belongs to in your home. You can also date them to help you remember when you placed them in storage, if that is important for any items. Then make an inventory list to keep track of what is inside the boxes. You can keep a copy of this in your vehicle, at home and also taped on the wall just inside your storage unit. Be sure to update it as you move things in and out of your storage unit.
Next you want to group together items such as holiday decorations and clothing so they can be boxed up and stored together. Keep each holiday together, and keep each season of clothing together. You can also box up clothing by the family member’s name as well. Make sure to securely tape the boxes shut, and close container lids tightly. This way you can just grab the boxes and go, and not have to pull things out before you head back home.
Make sure you place items that you don’t need right away, or are going to be stored for a long period of time, toward the back of your storage unit. Then place the items you are going to frequently use toward the front of your storage unit for easier access. As seasons and holidays come and go, remember to rotate your boxes to always keep the items in the back that will not be used again until the next year. If you keep rotating as you take and bring items to and from your storage unit, you can get what you need more quickly and with less effort.
Place heavier items on the bottom and stack lighter items on top. This will help prevent damage to your items and also help prevent containers or boxes from getting crushed or falling over. Don’t stack them too high either, as that can be dangerous. You also want to pack heavier items (books for example) in smaller boxes and lighter items (linens for example) in larger boxes.
You can also use furniture inside your storage unit as a base to stack other smaller items on top, underneath and even inside cabinets and drawers. Make sure not to damage any furniture when doing this, for example:
- Don’t put really heavy items on top of couch cushions or they will crush the foam over long periods of time.
- Don’t place anything on top of furniture than can scratch or damage it, unless you place a moving blanket and/or plastic cover on top first for an added layer of protection.
- Don’t overpack inside drawers or cabinets and risk damaging the mechanisms that make them work.
- Wrap legs of tables and chairs to prevent scratching from items being moved around underneath.
- Use plastic furniture covers on couches, chairs, mattresses and so on. Even if you don’t place anything on the furniture, just moving around and accessing your storage unit to take things to and from could lead to scratches or damage if you bump into them.
If you need to stack boxes on the floor, you can place pallets underneath to keep them off the concrete. This will help with air flow underneath and can prevent moisture build up which can come up through the concrete.
Remember to keep an aisle open down the center in small storage units (5×5 to 10×10), and two aisles in large storage units (10×15 and larger) for easy access to everything. Be sure to have the labels facing the aisles so you don’t have to move boxes around to find those. And only stack as high as you can safely reach without risking injury. To make the most of the vertical space inside your unit, you can place metal shelving units against the walls so you can easily stack higher in a safe manner. Don’t get plastic shelves or ones that are really inexpensive, because they will bend and could even fall under heavy boxes. Metal ones that have shelf weight limits clearly marked are the best option here.
Following these easy tips will help you maximize all the space inside your storage unit. The last thing you want to happen is to just shove everything in there and run out of space, or have to pull half of your stuff out to get to that one item in the back. A little planning and organization will go a long way!
If you have other storage tips to share, you can post them in the comments below. And if you are ready to starting using self storage, you can rent a unit online now or contact any of our property managers for more information.
Good luck and happy storing!