How to Load your Storage Locker to Maximize Space and Keep Items Safe

Getting items into storage can feel great: all that stuff, now out of sight and out of mind – pheuf!

But putting all those items away is a bit of an art in itself; at least, if you want to keep your belongings safe, clean and organized for when you want access to them in the future. This will take a bit of planning on your part, but if you’re prepared in advance, then it’s really not a difficult task, and more than worth it when you open up your storage locker to retrieve items in the future.

Here’s 12 tips to help you maximize the space in your self-storage unit, and to help you keep your items in self-storage protected, organized and ready for easy access.

1. Cover the floor of the storage unit with a thick sheet of plastic

Often, self-storage lockers are outside, and if this is the case with your self-storage locker, then the locker itself is left more susceptible to the effects of weather. A way to combat against fluctuations of weather is to cover the floor of your unit with a thick sheet of plastic before you load the locker with items. Not only will this guard against temperature change, but it will also protect the bottom of your boxes from condensation.

2. Prevent Squatters

Avoid unwanted critters by placing mothballs, rodent bait and moisture absorbers in key areas of your storage unit, such as the corners, back wall and front door.

3. Start Big, Go Small

When loading items into your self-storage unit, always start with the largest/heaviest items on the floor, building on top of them with progressively smaller and lighter items. Be cognizant, though, of items with sharp corners (such as tables or boxes) when stacking them on top of furniture with fabric (such as a sofa) so as to prevent the corner from leaving an imprint in the furniture’s fabric.

4. Stack Tiers

Try to arrange things such that you keep an even line from side to side of the locker. Begin in one corner of the back wall, lining it with items of similar depth until you reach the other side. Stack the tier as high to the roof as possible, and then begin the next tier. Flat items, such as mirrors, pictures/paintings, screens, etc., can be used to fill in gaps, allowing you to build a tier that is as straight and flat as possible. This will maximize the space used and keep your items stacked together in a structurally sound manner.

5. Create an Aisle

If you have space in the locker, plan to leave an aisle down the middle (or two aisles if you have a very large locker). An aisle is a great way to leave access to your storage items once you have filled the unit.

6. Utilize Shelving

Again, if you have space, bring shelving units into the locker and fill those with your items for ease of access. The shelving units themselves will make it much easier to design aisles in your locker as well.

7. Use Space Twice

There is no reason you can’t make more space than what appears in your storage locker. Large pieces of furniture often have hollow spaces that can be utilized: fill cupboards, drawers and any space underneath or above any item of furniture; smaller suitcases can go inside larger ones. In other words, try to use space twice.

8. Dismantling Furniture

While most blog posts of this sort suggest to take your furniture apart, we would advise against this. Taking your furniture apart is added time, both to take it apart, and to put it back together. Moreover, things don’t always go back together the way they were before you took it apart: simple fluctuations in temperatures, for instance, can alter the shape of parts, making it very difficult to reassemble. Of course, items like beds will need to be taken apart – a grand piano will not move without disassembly! – but most items can be stored without needing to dismantle them. It won’t take up more space this way either: a table may have legs/feet, but this does not mean that it cannot sit upside down on another table and have the space between its legs filled with other items, such as boxes. Loading a storage locker is like a game of Tetris or trying to complete a puzzle: view every object as a piece of a puzzle, and find a way to fit everything together as tightly as a Tetris row.

9. Storing Mirrors and Paintings

Always store mirrors and paintings standing on end. Lying such items flat will leave them more at risk to damage, as other items can fall on top. Paintings that lie flat for extended periods may also have the canvas droop/warp, damaging the painting in other ways. Always try to protect these items by covering them with a blanket or, for the safest and cleanest protection, using mirror/picture boxes. Wrap the items inside these boxes with bubble wrap and/or paper, or, best, poly wrap (which is an incredibly thick tissue paper with a plastic layer on the outside).

10. Storing Appliances

If you are storing refrigerators, freezers, washing machines or the like, be sure to always leave their doors ajar. This will allow for air circulation to dry out any lingering water, and will allow anything still frozen to properly melt/dry: you do not want to leave an environment ripe for cultures of bacteria, and you also want to avoid a puddle-ly mess on your unit’s floor.

11. Leave certain items to the end

Certain items should be left to the end: items of particularly odd shape, outdoor items, tools and items that you will need first, such as rugs. Oddly shaped items will make it difficult to create perfectly stacked tiers; outdoor items and tools are often dirty and/or have sharp edges that can damage items nearby, and rugs are really the first thing you will need when it is time to move your items out of storage. Additionally, if you do have outdoor items or tools that you are storing, it is highly recommended that you drain these items of any liquids, especially fuels.

12. Throw Things Out!

The best way to save space in your storage locker is by putting less into it. There is no purpose to keep something you will never need again, so do not be afraid to discard of items you no longer require. In other words, purge as much clutter as possible to avoid cluttering your self-storage unit.

Stick to these storage tips, and you will not only keep your storage items safe and protected, but you will also have a clean and organized self-storage locker, ready for ease of access. Speak with your Real Storage agent today to arrange your load-in or if you have any questions about your self-storage unit.  Alternatively, you can search your ideal unit by visiting our storage size estimator.