Once you have decided which storage unit type and size that you need, you want to ensure you maximize your storage space that you choose. You want to pay for a unit size that fits your needs, and not worry about getting one that is too large or too small. Talk to your property manager for help deciding which size you should opt for as a first step. Next, it’s all about using your storage unit space efficiently and safely and packing it like a pro to get the most benefit.
The key element in this process is organization. You cannot succeed without it. Start off with a list of items that you will access all the time, ones that are seasonal and ones that are just extra and you won’t need for a very long time. This is your base for packing your storage unit. All the items from your list that you won’t need for a long time should go it the back of the unit, and on the bottom. Items that are seasonal should go along the sides and on top of the longer term items. Then, the items you need to get to frequently go in front and on top of everything else. Although putting all the large items on the bottom seems right, it may not make sense if you need to get to them sooner. Taking time during this step will ensure you can pack it properly, keep it organized and gain access to everything with ease. We suggest drawing out what is packed where inside the storage unit, using graph paper, and keep it taped to the wall up front near the door. Also keep a copy at your house and in your car.
Packing your boxes and totes is also essential to a properly organized storage unit. Keep like items together in the same box, label the top and at least two sides of each box and don’t pack them too heavy. As you pack them into your storage unit, make sure the labeled sides are facing out so you can quickly identify what is inside each box or tote. You also want to keep like boxes together…meaning all the kitchen boxes should be together, all the clothes together and so on. Separating them will cause you grief later on. Make sure the heavier, larger boxes are on the bottom and stack lighter and smaller as you go up.
Another great tip to use is keeping your bulky stuff like couches and mattresses along one side of the unit, or in the back corners. Stand them up on end if you can, but be careful not to damage them. We recommend covering them and putting something like cardboard or a packing pad underneath them to keep them off the concrete floor of the unit. This helps cushion them and prevent scratches and damage to the finish. We offer plastic covers and moving blankets for sale in our retail shop inside the rental office. When you stand them up on end, you are maximizing the vertical space in your storage unit, which is often left empty because you cannot easily reach that high to access boxes. If you have a bed frame or other large furniture that can be disassembled, you should do so. Breaking them down will eliminate a lot of wasted space and allow you to group them together in flat pieces. If you are unable to break down certain items like wooden bookshelves, be sure to at least put them against a wall and stack boxes and totes on the shelves and on top. Stick to the rule of heavy items on the bottom shelves with the lighter ones on top to prevent the furniture from toppling over.
Something you probably don’t think about is the size of your boxes and totes. It is a great benefit to use ones that are very similar in size and shape. They are more easily stacked and organized, and will guarantee you are maximizing space inside your storage unit. Remember to place small boxes and fragile items inside cabinet drawers and doors and any open space in your furniture, and even inside refrigerators and other appliances.
Selecting the right boxes is also vital to storage success. They are not all created equal, and can vary greatly in quality and intended use. Free boxes from the grocery and department stores are never a good idea. They are designed with a short life span in mind and will begin to break down and soften in a short amount of time, and can make your items smell like whatever was packed inside before. Do you really want your stuff to smell like fertilizer? I doubt it. We recommend purchasing the storage boxes we offer in our rental office. These are designed for long-term storage, they are made from stronger material, are crush resistant and will stand the test of time. They are also specially treated to prevent mold and mildew. The last thing you want is to come back to your storage unit months later and have all those free boxes smashed in from the weight of what is stacked on top. Or worse yet, they failed so badly that the stack has fallen over inside your storage unit and your belongings are damaged inside. We recommend you speak with our certified self storage manager to discuss how you can benefit from using the right tool for the job.
Everything that is not packed inside a box should be protected with clean canvas, tarps, bubble wrap or plastic covers. Place them between each item, wrap the items in them, and be sure you put them between them and anything you stack on top. This will protect the finish and material of these items, even when outside a box. We offer several protective covers for sale in our retail shop.
Don’t forget to leave space in your storage unit! Remember, you need to get in there and access your stuff. It’s best to create a “U” shape aisle in your unit if it is larger, placing items along the back wall, both side walls and in the front center. This allows you to walk around your entire unit with ease. If you have a smaller unit, try to keep the center open like an aisle. And, if you have a very large over-sized unit, you can create an “A” or “M” shape aisle so you can reach everything even when your unit is 30 feet or more deep or wide. Simply create the “U” aisle with an aisle in the center of the “U”, or put two “U” aisles side by side. This helps you from having to move items to access others, or at the very least minimizes it.
To recap, you need to plan first to ensure you are maximizing all the space inside your boxes and inside your storage unit. Don’t expect to do it all in one day if you want to be successful. You can take several days or a few weeks to get it right before you start the actual packing and moving. If you are moving into a new home, get your storage unit handled before moving day so it is done and you can focus on the task of moving the essentials, which will keep your stress level in check.
Work smart not hard. Even if it seems like too large a task to tackle, you will be thankful you took it on once you finish. You will quickly realize how much easier you have made the entire process, from packing to organizing to accessing your stuff later. By maximizing the space in your storage unit from the day you move in, you can save a lot of time and hassle. Each tip to your storage unit will be quick and painless.