Doing Self Storage the Right Way Means Avoiding These Mistakes

When one considers self storage, it’s a simple concept: a safe space for you and your family. It is simple. It isn’t rocket science to move items into storage safely. That doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t made during this process though, and some are mistakes that can have a detrimental and lasting effect on your storage belongings.

At Sentinel Storage, we make every effort to keep our clients’ belongings safe under our watch, and this includes arming you with the knowledge necessary to execute a smooth, safe, and successful move into self storage. Read on to learn about all the potential mistakes you need to avoid to accomplish your self storage project the right way.

Arriving without a plan

Showing up at your self storage facility excited and ready to load your unit is a good attitude to approach your day with, but if you don’t also approach it with a plan, then things can get messy fast, and your attitude can change even faster. Arriving with a plan is paramount to success.

Devise your plan backwards. What do you want to accomplish? You want to load your storage unit in a way that accomplishes 3 things:

  1. Optimal use of space.
  2. Store your belongings safely and securely.
  3. Keep your belongings organized so that you can locate them easily.

Thinking backwards should push you to avoid the mistake of bringing your belongings to the unit in any order whatsoever. Each item you bring to the unit should be brought with an aim in mind: does the load require a heavy or a light item next? Large or small? Does it need something to fill a small gap, or are you starting a new row and require an item to serve as a base for more items on top?

Asking yourself what the load requires every time you bring an item to the unit will ensure the unit is loaded in a way that maximizes the use of space and keeps your items safe from damage.

Moreover, asking what the load requires of an item will also have you notice more easily when an item should be left out until the end of the load, rather than simply grabbing the next item from the truck. There are likely items you will want access to more regularly, and these items, therefore, need to remain out until the end. If you bring items in any order whatsoever, then these will most certainly get lost within the unit, resulting in an Easter egg hunt when you need the item.

A lack of organization

This mistake is related to the last one, but rather than thinking of the load itself, here we want to concern ourselves with individual items. Large pieces of furniture, like a sofa or china cabinet, are clearly what they are, even if they are wrapped in blankets. Other items, like those packed in boxes, are more easily disguised, which is why labels on all of your boxes are very important to know where everything is.

Your aim should be packing boxes with items all from the same space so that you can label the boxes easily: “Contents of Master Bedroom Bedside Table (Hers)” should articulate exactly what is in the box, and makes for a concise label. Packing boxes with items from all over the house will see your label become more of a list and hard to discern. Keep like items together for better organization. 

We want to take this organization to the next level though. Creating an inventory of your storage items before you pack them away in boxes will serve a number of purposes. For one, the inventory provides a very helpful tool when determining the amount of space you will need in storage for your items. Often, facilities will ask if you have an inventory when trying to suggest a unit size for you, and, with one, you’ll make both of your lives much easier.

On top of this, your inventory list will serve as a reminder to you of certain items in your storage unit. When items go in, it can be easy to forget about some of the more obscure items or recently purchased items. Taking a quick peek at your inventory list 6 months later will remind you of the new Swedish swimming goggles you bought on sale at the end of last summer that went into storage for the winter, for example. It may sound like a bit of a pain to create an inventory today, but tomorrow you’ll be grateful you did.

Leaving belongings susceptible to damage

Perhaps this is obvious, but it is surprising to us as to how many tenants store their belongings in a way that leave them susceptible to damage. Planning your load properly is an important way to combat potential damages, but protecting them before they go into storage in really your first way. We’ve seen it too many times that we feel compelled to state the obvious: pack items in boxes, and wrap furniture in protective moving blankets.

When it comes to packing boxes, always use clean paper, not newsprint, as the ink from newsprint can rub off on your belongings. Line the bottom of boxes with crushed/crumpled paper before putting anything inside, and, if an item is at all fragile, then wrap it in paper before placing it inside the box. Keep items packed together tightly to prevent movement, and fill any gaps with extra paper, including the top of the box, for increased durability, before sealing it.

Do try to utilize boxes for as many items as possible, as they are easier to stack in your locker, and keep your items in the safest conditions. Of course, furniture and other larger items will not fit in a box, and these items require being wrapped in moving blankets. Use packing tape to tape the blanket onto the item, but avoid taping to the piece itself, electing to pull the tape the entire way around the item on top of the blanket, taping the tape to itself on the other side. With upholstered items, be warry of pulling the tape too tight, risking leaving an imprint on the fabric.

Avoiding mistakes is the first move to accomplishing self storage the right way, and those mentioned above are the most glaring and common mistakes tenants make. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our advice or your storage project, speak with your Sentinel Storage adviser today.