Moving into Self-Storage: The Tools and Supplies, and How to Use Them

Preparing for a move to a new home can be a very stressful period. There are many things to do – a lot of ducks you need to get into a row – to have a smooth and successful move. Utilizing a self-storage unit during transition periods is one way to make the project a lot easier. Ensuring you have the right tools and supplies is another way. Knowing how to use those tools and supplies appropriately also smooths the experience out, of course.

With all that in mind, us a Real Storage decided we would put together advice on the sorts of tools and supplies that are most helpful during moves – along with tips for how to use these best. Read on to learn how to smooth out your moving experience.

The basics

The basic items you really require for pretty much any move are as follows:

  • Boxes of various sizes,
  • Packing tape,
  • Moving blankets,
  • 4-wheel dolly (preferably with a strap),
  • Packing paper (not newsprint),
  • Mattress covers, and
  • Permanent markers.

These tools and supplies will be exactly what you need for the majority of your items.


Be sure that you do arrange a number of sized boxes for the move, utilizing smaller boxes for heavier items, such as books and toiletries, larger boxes for lighter items, such as clothes and lamp shades. Specially designed boxes are also options for things like hanging clothes (wardrobe boxes) and artwork or mirrors (picture cartons).

Packing tape

Packing tape is meant for closing boxes securely and providing a service to label. Do not try masking or scotch tape, as these will almost certainly lose their grip during transport.

Moving blankets

While official moving blankets are the right material for protecting most furniture items, old blankets and linens can suffice, depending on your budget. Pads and blankets also work well to fit between tight spaces in your load, to prevent items from shifting during transport.

4-Wheel dolly

A 4-wheel dolly (with a carpeted surface) will become your best friend. Not only can they make large items of furniture a breeze to move, they can also mean less trips to and from the truck to the self-storage unit, as boxes and other smaller items can be stacked on top, and easily rolled to the destination.

Packing paper

Using newsprint instead of clean paper for wrapping items is inadvisable, as the ink can rub off on items, damaging them. This is particularly the case for any fabrics or china dishes. In certain circumstances, newsprint can suffice, but be sure to only use it with items you can afford to have the ink smudge on (such as used in a box of gardening tools).

Mattress covers

While plastic is typically inadvisable to use for most of your self-storage items (trapping moisture and encouraging mould growth), mattress and box springs are the exception. Mattress covers are large plastic bags made to fit mattresses and box springs, and they come in various bed sizes. It is very easy to dirty a mattress or box spring, and the plastic keeps the dust and dirt away.

Permanent marker

You’ll want to label everything so that you can locate the items you need easily, and so when you move those items into your new home, they will go into the room you need them in. A permanent marker is therefore a necessity.

(For more information on how to pack boxes, take a look at our article here.)

Specialty tools for specific items

Certain items require specific tools and supplies to move. We’ll try to cover all of them here:

  • Tool box,
  • Additional cardboard,
  • Ramp,
  • Poly and picture/mirror wraps,
  • Fridge cart,
  • Ropes, and
  • Piano skid.

Tool box

You never know when you might need to take a piece of furniture apart to make it fit through a doorway. Likewise, you never know when you might need to take the frame off a door to make something fit through it. There are countless circumstances where everyday, household tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and Allen keys, are needed. Having these on-hand during a move is a good idea.

Additional cardboard

Extra pieces of cardboard can come in very handy to slide in between items in your load to add extra protection. If two items fit nicely together in the truck, but one could damage the other, then a simple piece of cardboard can act as the in-between, protecting the more fragile item.


If you are moving a lot of items down a smaller set of stairs outside, then it can be very helpful to have a ramp. Lying a ramp down across those stairs will allow you to utilize a 4-wheel dolly more easily, moving many more items at once, and speeding up the process dramatically. Be sure to not try a ramp on too many stairs though, as the incline will likely become too steep and dangerous.

Poly and picture/mirror wraps

If you are moving expensive artwork or mirrors, then it is advisable to purchase picture and poly wraps. Poly wraps are like giant tissues, with a plastic exterior sheet: wrap your artwork in this first. Add a second layer with a picture wrap, which is a similar large-sized tissue, but slightly more coarse material, and a brown paper exterior sheet. When packing these in picture boxes, always add some crushed paper to the bottom and sides before putting the picture in the box.

(Read our article here for further details on how best to protect artwork for life in self-storage.)

Fridge cart

If you are moving a fridge, then a fridge cart will make the job easier. These are extended two-wheel dollies that have a built-in strap to tie the fridge directly to the cart. They also have added rollers/wheels attached to the back of the cart, allowing you to use those when pulling the fridge up a staircase. Of course, a 4-wheel dolly can be used to move a fridge, but it will include the added difficulty of requiring additional balance and more lifting.


If you find yourself needing an item that is moving up or down stairs that does not actually fit those staircases, you may be in a situation where you need to hoist the item down the side of the building. Here, long ropes will be indispensable. We strongly advise hiring a moving company for something like this, but if this is beyond your budget, then acquiring ropes will be a necessity.

Piano skid

If you are moving a grand piano (again, it is best to hire professionals), then you will require a piano skid. This is an L-shaped skid with felt or carpet covering the surfaces. It will also have two gaps underneath the skid for straps to feed into and tie the piano to the skid.

To do this properly, you’ll want a few moving blankets to lay flat underneath the piano for added protection, along with covering the top of it, to protect the piano from being damaged by the straps. You’ll want a 4-wheel dolly here as well, along with a mallet and flathead screwdriver.

To move a grand piano, you’ll require at least 3 people. Knock off the two legs on the longest side of the piano, leaving the piano standing on one leg (during this process, two people will need to hold up the piano where the legs are knocked off). Also, knock off the foot pedals.

With the piano skid in place and ready, carefully allow the piano to come down to the ground and skid on the side the piano is missing its legs. Then flip the piano up onto its side (on top of the skid), knocking off the final leg once it is in the air. Strap it to the skid tightly, and then tip it on one end to get the 4-wheel dolly underneath. Roll it straight to the truck, and strap it to the truck’s wall, leaving it on the piano skid (and even on the 4-wheel dolly – as long as it is tied tight to the wall, it will not move).

These are some of the most frequently used and most useful tools and supplies you might need during any move to a new house or self-storage unit. We always encourage our tenants to hire a professional moving company (read this article for tips on how to choose the right moving company) when doing any substantial moving, and this is especially the case if things like pianos, fridges, or hoists are involved.

At Real Storage, we provide our tenants with the supplies and tools necessary to complete their self-storage project. Take a look at our online supply shop to get started on planning your move; or speak with your Real Storage agent today for further advice on the tools and supplies required for your move, or for any other moving or self-storage related questions.