Renting a self-storage unit can be an excellent solution during the home-moving process because you get that extra storage space where you can temporarily store some of your stuff until the transitional period is over. If used wisely, a storage unit of the right size can prove to be a smart way to fix your sudden insufficient storage problem for a fixed amount of time.
Have you noticed the careful selection of the words “temporarily” and “fixed amount of time”? Despite the obvious advantages, paying for a storage unit may also prove to be a bad investment in the end, especially if you don’t have a clear fool-proof plan on how to prevent that extra storage room from becoming a heavy financial burden in time.
We’ve also explained in great detail how to pack for storage – that is, how you should prepare your furniture, clothes, books, dishes, breakables, and other household items before you place them in storage. And if you have managed to find a self-storage facility that matches your requirements and fits your budget, then let’s discuss the best way to pack a storage unit.
Here are the top tips for packing a storage unit like a pro packer:
Use the right type of boxes
The very first thing you need to do when packing a storage cell is to keep in mind that the type of cardboard boxes you use to store your stuff will make a huge difference. The condition and the sizes of the storage containers may seem like the least of your worries but it’s definitely a detail that you should not underestimate.
For smooth and problem-free packing of your storage unit,
- make sure the boxes you intend to use are 100% dry, strong and sturdy, with no missing flaps and no signs of previous damage. This is especially important for cardboard boxes that are not purchased brand new;
- inspect all cardboard containers for signs of infestation and if you happen to have even the slightest of doubts, throw them away;
- try to use boxes that have similar sizes so that you can stack them high one on top of the other in an attempt to maximize the vertical storage space that you are paying for anyway.
As a rule of thumb, if you plan to rent a storage unit for a long-term period (more than a few months), then it will pay off to purchase all your storage boxes and packing supplies new. Yes, using second-hand boxes will enable you to save more but such containers can never be trusted for long-term storage.
Might come in handy: Where to get free moving boxes
Pack your storage unit like a pro packer
Follow these steps to learn the best way to pack a storage container so that you maximize the storage space in the most efficient of ways.
Step 1. A master contents list is a must
You’re going to need a detailed list (aka a master contents list) of all the belongings you plan to place into the storage cell. Do not skip this step even if you’re blessed with a very good memory.
In reality, that list will serve two purposes at the same time:
- you will know exactly what is being stored in your storage unit just by consulting that universal contents list of yours, and
- if your stored items got damaged or destroyed due to a natural disaster, your detailed inventory would help you file an insurance claim.
Do not forget to label properly each and every cardboard box that you introduce into the storage unit as part of the inventorying process. Be specific when marking what’s inside each box – instead of writing KITCHEN on a few boxes, write down the concrete kitchen item that’s inside – TOASTER, CUTLERY, etc.
Read also: How to make a moving inventory
Step 2. Partly filled boxes stack poorly
Having cardboard boxes of similar size will help you stack your storage containers higher. However, your attempt to take advantage of the vertical space should not jeopardize the overall safety. Keep in mind that half-filled or partly-filled boxes are more likely to crumble under the weight and may collapse as a result.
There are three safety principles you should follow when packing your storage unit:
- Fill each box to its full capacity. If impossible, insert sufficient padding materials such as packing paper, newspapers and all types of clothing to fill in any remaining empty space inside.
- Heavier items intended for storage should go into smaller boxes while more lightweight things should be placed into larger packing boxes.
- Do not make storage containers heavier than you can handle comfortably, and more importantly – safely.
Check this out: How to pack boxes the right way
Step 3. Furniture pieces should go first
How to pack furniture in a storage unit? Your best bet to maximize the storage space is to get any furniture pieces first into the self-storage unit. Any disassembled beds, armoires, chests of drawers, desks, mattresses, tables, chairs and so on should be placed in the back section of the storage cell, positioned firmly against the wall. This way, you can use those furniture pieces as an excellent foundation for stacking while you will also get a clear view and unobstructed access to all your belongings.
Make sure all furniture pieces are properly packed in moving blankets and wrapped up in stretch tape to keep possible dust and moisture away.
Did you know: How to move heavy furniture by myself
Step 4. Storage unit organization is key
In most cases, to pack a storage unit efficiently means to pack it safely – if packing safety is compromised, then true packing efficiency can never be achieved. The following tips for packing a storage unit have been specifically selected to provide unmatched organization and safety inside your storage container.
- Group all your things in terms of stackability. Cardboard boxes full of books can serve as good stacking foundations while containers full of fragile items (china plates and crystal glasses, for example) should not have anything on top of them.
- Pack everything tightly. All your things placed in storage should be organized in a tight and compact way so that the storage unit space can be used in the best possible way.
- Arrange things in terms of accessibility. The items you think you will need to access the most should be packed to the front of the storage cell.
- Store only dry items inside the unit. Even slightly wet boxes or household items will most likely cause serious damage when stored for a prolonged period of time due to possible mold growth.
- Leave a passage inside the unit. Knowing how to pack things in a storage unit is all about thinking a few steps ahead – that is, thinking about the next time you will need to retrieve an item. Make sure you leave a walkable path through the middle section of your self-storage unit unless you plan to take out ALL of your stored stuff the next time you need to reach an item at the back.
Useful advice: THE.BEST.packing.tips.EVER
Step 5. Hazardous items are a no-no
Remember that you are not allowed to store hazardous or perishable items in your storage unit, so just don’t do it. Anything that is flammable, corrosive or explosive is forbidden for storage, as is any item that will degrade over time and can produce or release fumes or odors (like food, for example).
Here are the top 7 things that you should never put into a storage unit.
Cost-saving info: How to get good deals on storage units
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