So you’ve realized you’re tired of your messy garage, home, or workplace and you need more space. More and more people are turning to self storage everyday to manage inventory, maintain records, or to simply de-clutter their home or workspace. Storage comes in a variety of shapes and sizes; ranging from drive-up outdoor self storage units to indoor climate controlled storage. Every facility has its own unique characteristics with some offering RV storage, vehicle storage, and even wine storage.
This guide was written for anyone who is interested in using storage for business or personal reasons. We want to help the entire process go as easily as possible, and to let people know how to best organize and protect their goods in self storage units. The self storage guide below will lead you through an introduction of what mini self storage facilities have to offer in terms of amenities and storage types, as well as explain how to best go about packaging and moving your goods into your mini storage unit.
What is Self Storage?
Self Storage facilities rent self storage space to individuals and businesses on a month-to-month basis at an affordable price compared to residential and office space. Unlike other forms of storage, you personally manage what you put in and take out of your storage unit; with no special machinery needed to access the contents of your self storage space at any time.
Types of Self Storage
There are various forms of self storage types today, ranging from drive-up units that can be accessed directly from the driveways within a facility to indoor climate controlled units where heat, cold, and moisture are monitored to protect tenant’s belongings from being affected by drastic daily and seasonal changes in climate.
Uses of Self Storage
The following are some examples of the ways people use storage today:
- As an addition of space to your home for seldom used items such as seasonal decorations or sports equipment
- Storing excess inventory
- Business storage, such as storing medical, legal, or personnel files
- Pharmaceutical drug storage
- Freeing up cluttered office space by moving business files off-site
- Freeing up parking spaces in your garage
- RV Storage*
- Car Storage*
*Only some of our facilities offer car storage and RV Storage.
Check our self storage locations to see if a facility near you offers these amenities!
You will find a variety of different amenities offered at each self storage facility, depending on it’s age, quality, and type. Examples of some amenities are drive-up units, climate controlled storage, individually alarmed units, 24 hour surveillance, well lit hallways and grounds, 24 hour unit access, wine storage, package drop-off and business centers. Different amenities will stand out to you as you compare self storage facilities; and it is important to choose a facility depending on what is important to you. For more information on the different amenities offered at our self storage facilities, look in our self storage amenities section.
As more people choose self storage every day; the range of sizes, types, and features offered continues to expand. Whether you own a business, or are looking to clear out your house or garage, self storage is an easy solution for short or long term storage. The following guide will give you a quick overview of how to plan your move from choosing a unit size to preparing your belongings to be stored. As with a lot of things, it is worth measuring twice to only cut once, and some simple planning can save you a lot of money and time when it finally comes to storing your belongings.
Asking the Right Questions
It is important to know ahead of time what exactly you plan to store in your self storage unit, and for how long you plan to be storing it. As people use storage for all different types of reasons, you may want to ask yourself the following questions before storing your goods:
Once you have an idea of how much stuff you are planning on storing, call a facility manager and ask questions to determine if you can fit your belongings in a smaller size to save money. Oftentimes, people think they need more space than they do, and end up paying more than is necessary. To reach a facility near you, visit our self storage locations page, and ask one of our facility managers to help you decide exactly what size you need.
- What am I going to be storing?
- Will I need access to any specific goods in my unit on a frequent basis
- When will I be moving my stuff?
- How long do I plan to store my belongings?
- How much space will I need?
- Do my belongings need to be protected from humidity or large swings in temperature?
- Will I be using storage to store inventory or files for my business?
- What size might I need? (information on self storage sizes)
- What amenities do I care about at a self storage facility? (ex. security, temperature control, package delivery, RV storage)
- When I compare self storage facilities, which one offers the amenities I’m looking for?
- Will I be using a moving company?
Here is a quick overview of everything you should know if you’re planning on moving your belongings into self storage units.
- Decide what day you will be moving your belongings into storage
- Visit the facility ahead of time and consult the storage manager on what type of storage you will need—often times you will find that you did not need as large of a unit as you thought
- Take inventory of what you have
- Visit our size guide to help you determine exactly what size you may need
- Call ahead of the date of your move and reserve the unit you need—some facilities will give you extended hours if you need to move in very early or are running late
- If you’re planning on staying for a long time, ask the manager what specials they offer for long term storage—oftentimes you can save a lot of money by paying ahead of time
- We offer free move-in trucks at most of our facilities, so it pays to call ahead to ensure one will be available on the day of your move
- Create a list of items that you need to store
- Choose which items you want to keep with you and set them aside
- Get an idea of how many boxes you will need and which items you may need access to while your goods are in storage
How you pack and store your goods will determine how well they fare in the move and storage process. It is very important to label each box that you place in storage, so that you know what is in the box and where it should be placed in the unit. Some common examples of ways to label your boxes to prepare them for your move-in day are as follows:
Boxes should also include labels describing what is in the box, in case you have to retrieve something at a later date from your unit. Try to keep similar goods in boxes together, and label what exactly is in the box. An easier way to do this is to label boxes according to what rooms they are from with a brief description of what is inside. That way, you will know where to move the boxes to once you go to your new place.
- Load First
- Load Last
- Do Not Load
The following is some common moving equipment you should consider using when moving your items into storage.
Utility dollies allow you to move several boxes and other heavy objects with ease and comfort in and out of your storage unit. We offer utility dollies at all of our facilities for our customers' convenience.
Appliance dollies are specifically designed to carry large appliances, and keep your valuables securely in place with their adjustable sizes and straps. Oftentimes appliance dollies can be rented with your moving truck, and are highly recommended if you plan on moving any large items such as refrigerators, TV’s, or stoves.
Furniture pads keep your furniture safe from scuffs and scratches during the move, and help keep them in mint condition while they’re stored. Old blankets can also be used to protect your goods during the move.
If you plan on moving a lot of stuff, and are not planning on using a moving company, we highly recommend you use a moving truck. Not only will you protect your car from dings and damage to the upholstery, but a moving truck will help the entire moving process go faster and smoother. Many of our mini storage locations offer moving trucks for rent to help make your move as convenient as possible. Remember to reserve a moving truck ahead of time to ensure that you have it on the day you plan to move in. Again, we highly stress that if you do not use a moving company you should rely on moving equipment to protect yourself from injuries, and to make the move go as smoothly as possible.
Packing Your Unit
The following are some general storage tips that should be followed when packing your unit:
- Keep items you’ll need frequently near the front of the unit
- Create walkways in your unit to maximize the amount of items you will have access to
- Place pallets and boards on the floor of your unit
- Stack no higher than 3-4 boxes high
- Use bubble wrap to wrap delicate goods
- Never place heavy boxes on top of boxes containing delicate goods
- Do not place boxes, linens, or furniture directly on the unit floor
- Fill all open spaces in boxes with packing material
- Place blankets over furniture to protect it from scratches, dings, and dust
- Leave doors to appliances slightly ajar to allow them to breathe
- Review your contract as to what you can store; items that are flammable or combustible may never be stored
- Do not store any perishable goods
- Drain any machinery of fluids before storing to prevent possible leakage and damage to your goods
- Trash cans are perfect for storing garden and cleaning tools such as brooms and rakes
- Always use the highest quality locks available for purchase. For a couple more dollars you can purchase a disc lock at the facility, which are much more secure
- Do not store family heirlooms or high priced jewelry in your unit. A safety lock box at a bank is much more appropriate for such items
- Dehumidifiers can be utilized if you live in a humid area
- Pots and pans can be stored in large furniture or refrigerators to save space
- Metal and wood should be treated and covered before storing
- Shelving is perfect if you plan on storing businesses records
- Keep negatives of photos with you if you can
- Plastic garbage bags can be used to store pillows and smaller items such as kids toys and sports balls.
- Never put food in your unit
Protecting Your Goods
The following are some general guidelines on how to protect different items you’re going to be storing during the moving and storing process:
Appliances should be cleaned and dried before storing. For refrigerators and freezers, remember to leave the door slightly ajar. It is especially important to clean stoves and cooking equipment before storing them. You can stack boxes on larger appliances such as freezers and refrigerators, which can also be used as extra storage space inside. If you know you will not need to access an appliance until you move into your next home or office, you should store it towards the back of your unit in a less accessible space.
All exposed metal items should be wiped down with a cloth with some machine oil to protect them from rusting.
Books, Documents, and Records
First and foremost, do not leave boxes on the floor as they may absorb moisture through the concrete. Instead place all boxes on pallets so that there is space between the boxes and the floor. When books are placed on boxes, they should be laid flat to protect their spines, and any extra spaces in the boxes containing books should be filled with packing . Be careful not to put fragile items in the same boxes as books as you risk the books moving and damaging your belongings. Remember to store documents and records with labels facing outwards, so you can easily identify and retrieve a document or record. Records and documents should be organized according to year and type as each state has limitations on how long you are required to keep legal, health, and personnel files.
Linens, Bedding, and Clothes
We recommend all clothes be stored in wardrobe boxes to protect them from dust and pests. Linens, bedding and clothes can also be folded and stored in dressers, chests, and other furniture with extra drawers. Never store boxes of clothes directly on the ground.
Glasses and Dinnerware
We recommend that dish packing boxes be purchased to store fragile glasses and dinnerware. When storing glasses and dinnerware in regular boxes, you should individually wrap each piece. Place padding filler on the top and bottom of the box and fill any open spaces with packing, so that the pieces do not rub against each other or move around. Never place heavy objects on top of boxes filled with fragile dinner or glassware.
Disassemble all beds and tables, and wrap their legs in paper or bubble wrap—in cases where tables will not disassemble, the best idea is to lay padding on the floor and store the table upside down. Keep all upholstery off of the floor, and wrap mattresses in mattress covers to protect them from dust and pests. Mattresses and sofas should be stood on their side to conserve space and utilize the height of your unit as most units are 9-11’ tall. We also recommend that all furniture be draped in dust covers to protect them from dust, pests, and possible moisture depending on your climate. Lastly, if you live in an area that is subject to extreme heat or cold, we highly recommend renting a climate controlled unit to prevent warping caused by drastic changes in temperature. If no climate controlled units are available in your area, the next best thing is to choose an indoor unit that faces the hallway as it will be less subject to changes in temperature as opposed to drive-up units.
To store seasonal holiday decorations, we recommend that you place them in the original packing, or place them securely in boxes; making sure to fill any gaps with packing material. As you will have to use decorations at least once a year, we recommend that you keep them in an accessible part of the unit with the label facing outwards. Don’t place heavy boxes, chairs, or furniture on top of boxes containing holiday decorations.
Electronic data should be backed up in several different ways before being stored in storage. Place all electronic material in boxes to protect them from dust and moisture depending on the climate in which you will be storing. Fill all extra spaces in the box with packing material to keep electronics from moving and being damaged. Climate controlled units are recommended if you will be storing sensitive electronic equipment.
Lamps and Light Fixtures
Lamps and light fixtures should be stored in boxes filled with packing paper. Lampshades should be kept separate and placed in dust covers. Lampshades should be the highest item in a stack of boxes to keep from being bent or torn.
Mirrors and Pictures
Mirrors and pictures should be placed in dust covers and placed on their edge. Do not stack anything on top of mirrors or pictures as they may morph or break.
A good rule of thumb when storing photos is to make sure they do not become too hot, cold, wet or dry. To ensure this, we recommend you store photos in climate controlled units, as they will prevent extreme temperature fluctuations and excessive humidity.
Consult your storage agreement to find out what can and cannot be stored in your storage unit. Some common things that cannot be stored in any storage unit are live animals, perishable items such as food items, explosives, flammable liquids and fuels, toxic materials, firearms, jewelry, irreplaceable items, used tires, drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Climate Controlled Storage
Severe hot or cold weather can damage items stored in storage units. Important documentation for your home or business, computer equipment and electronics, wood or leather furniture, photographs, books, clothing, artwork, and other valuable possessions can be destroyed if not properly protected. If you live or work in a geographic area with these weather conditions, climate-controlled storage units provide the ideal solution for storing your personal or business-related items.
Climate control maintains a steady temperature of 55–80° using central air conditioning and heat. Maintaining a controlled environment prevents:
Climate-controlled storage units are typically part of a finished building with indirect heating and cooling (compared to air conditioners or heaters within individual units). The enclosed environment of these buildings can also provide increased protection from dust, dirt, and flooding. It also provides a pleasant temperature while you are retrieving, or organizing your stored belongings. In most cases there is an additional cost for climate control; however, it is ultimately an excellent return on investment in loss protection.
- Warping, cracking, and splitting
- Rust, yellowing, and corrosion
- Mold, mildew, and bacteria overgrowth
- Infestation of wasps, mice, termites, and other vermin
How to Choose a Climate-Controlled Space
Follow these steps to determine whether climate control is an appropriate investment for your needs:
Step 1: Consider Your Geographic Area
As a general rule, the temperature in climate-controlled storage units should not fall below freezing in the winter, or rise above 90°F (32°C) in the summer. If the geographic area where you live or work exceeds 90 degrees in the summer but does not freeze in the winter, air-conditioning would be a viable option to consider. Same with only extreme cold temperatures – a heated storage unit would work well. If your area experiences both extreme hot and cold temperatures, climate control may provide the best benefit.
Step 2: Consider the Type/Value of Items you Plan to Store
Some items are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than other items. Certain wooden furniture, fabrics, electronics, and other materials may warp or breakdown due to extreme conditions. If you are storing these type of items, climate control may be a valuable option. Also, if you are storing higher priced, valuable items, it may be wiser to store in climate controlled units to prevent any damage due to weather conditions.
Self Storage Tips for Business Owners
Self Storage allows you to archive your business files, or place your possessions in a safe place for any amount of time.
A cramped workspace can make it difficult to find what you need, distracting you from the business at hand. Excess inventory, samples, supplies and paperwork tend to pile up quickly in small spaces, requiring extra effort to keep things organized. You may have considered renting additional commercial space or trying to squeeze more room in your home-based office, but were turned off by the cost and the excessive time it would take to organize the project. That’s why, for today’s businessperson, self storage is a cost effective and efficient solution.
Business Storage Uses:
- During remodeling, redecorating, or downsizing your business
- When relocating your business
- Storing seasonal furnishings such as patio furniture, grills, outdoor kiosks, etc.
- Storing excess inventory before the start of the holiday season
Most of the time, people do not put much thought into how they are going to pack and store their belongings. By planning ahead, you can conserve space (possibly rent a smaller unit), and protect your goods from being damaged. A little planning can save a lot of time and frustration leading to an easier, hassle-free moving experience.