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Top 20 Tips for Self Storage Success

Aug 17, 2007
Here are the Top 20 Tips to ensure a happy, successful self storage experience. If you follow these top 20 Self Storage tips, it will make your storage experience more pleasant.

1. This is a biggie! Do not store food items or combustible materials such as solvents and paints. As you can figure out, the food will attract rodents and insects and the combustibles may, well, combust in the heat of the summer.

2. Plan your storage space carefully. Place items that you may need to access often in the front. And you will be smart if you rent a unit with a bit of "elbow room" so that you can actually create walk ways in and around your boxes. Be sure to put labels on the boxes and have the labels facing the walk way that you created.

3. Create an inventory of your stored items and keep it in a safe place at home or in a safe deposit box. If you like to be organized, you can number your boxes with large, bold lettering and number the inventory sheet so you know what exactly is in each box. I know this is the "holy grail" of storage organization, but wouldn't it be great!

4. Place your furniture on 2 x 4 boards or on pallets to protect against the changing temperature of the concrete floors. Let's face it, concrete is not moisture proof. And 99% of your Self Storage floors are concrete. If the water table is high in the area where you store, moisture may seep up and dampen your precious items. So use wood (not plastic) to separate your boxes and furniture from the concrete floor.

5. Use uniform size boxes for easy stacking. Any box shop in your town will have sizes that fit together like building blocks. You will be amazed how much more you can fit if your boxes stack properly. Also, be sure your boxes are strong enough to hold 25 to 30 lbs. (It is best not to put too much in each box.)

Cheap, thin cardboard boxes may save you a few pennies when you buy them, but you will regret it when you want to stack your stuff to the ceiling of the self storage unit. Your bottom boxes may crush like a folding chair under an elephant's hinny.

6. List contents of boxes on an Inventory Checklist (see item #3 above) instead of printed on each box. Use the inventory list to number the boxes so they match the inventory Checklist. Keep these Inventory Checklists in a safe convenient place for use when unpacking. You should make three copies of the checklist, keeping one at home, one in a zip lock bag taped to a box in the front of your storage unit, and one in your car. You don't want to have to remember where this list is.

7. Stack lighter boxes on top of heavier boxes. While number 5 above would imply this point as common sense, you would be surprised how often the smaller box of BOOKS get stacked on TOP of the larger box of whicker baskets. Don't be fooled. Don't blindly stack smaller boxes on top of larger boxes. Always consider the weight of boxes first.

8. Dishes and glasses should be wrapped in paper and packed in sturdy boxes. Stack them on top. You can spend a good deal of money buying dish separators and glass separators from your local box shop, but the extra money may not be worth it. In fact, these separators are worth it if you're moving from coast to coast. But if you're just storing glasses and dishes for a period of time in a storage unit, these separators will not only cost more, but they will cause you to need more boxes. You cannot store as many glasses or dishes using these separators so you'll need to purchase several more boxes. Using a generous amount of wrapping paper around each glass or dish will usually be sufficient.

9. Pictures and mirrors should be wrapped in cardboard, marked "Fragile" and stacked on end. The best thing to do is flatten a box and use it as a "sleeve" to encase the picture or mirror. Flatten the box, tape up one end, creating an envelope of sorts, and then slide the picture or mirror into the sleeve. Tape up the top and you're done.

10. Furniture with drawers can be utilized as storage places for pictures, knick-knacks, china, silverware, small items, etc. Wrap them in tablecloths, towels, or blankets to prevent breakage.

11. Larger appliances make great "packing cases" for blankets, towels, table clothes, and clothes.

12. Shovels, hoes, rakes, and hoses can be stored together in empty trash cans. Stack extra cans inside one another.

13. Tables with removable legs should be disassembled to save space.

14. Sofas and loveseats can be stored up on end to save floor space. Always place a protective layer under the item on the concrete. Wooden crates work best for this. Cushions should be wrapped in old sheets and placed on top.

15. Don't cover stuffed furniture with plastic to protect against dust. Instead, use old sheets or blankets. Plastic will retain moisture, making the ideal place to grow mold.

16. It is best to store mattresses flat on top of a level stack of boxes or furniture. If you stand mattresses on their side, prop them up so they stand straight. (They may tend to bend out of shape and become lumpy). Always put a protective barrier between the mattress and the concrete floor (see #4 above). A mattress is nothing more than a big sponge. Once a mattress has absorbed moisture, you might as well throw it away.

17. Wrap stringed instruments in one or two blankets. And don't forget to loosen the strings. If the instrument is small, place it in a large dresser drawer, wrapped in a blanket, so prevent it from being crushed.

18. Do not place heavy or sharp objects on top of upholstered furniture. If you store items for a year or more, these heavy or sharp items will disconfigure your upholstery, or worse, put a hole in it. The only thing you should place on upholstered furniture are small, light items like pillows, small lamps, etc.

19. Always use a good quality lock on your door. Round "disc" locks are the very best to use because they are resistant to bolt-cutters.

20. Always be sure your self storage facility has live-onsite property managers. You want managers to be keeping an eye on your stuff 24x7. Never store at a facility where the managers leave the property unattended every night.
About the Author
David Luce is the Operations Manager for AAA Storage, a private storage company specializing in building and managing clean, safe storage facilities. AAA Storage provides affordable, hassle-free storage in all sizes so that customers only pay for the space that they need. Receive Self Storage Tips and FREE Self Storage Coupons at aaa-storage.com
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