Quick Guide: Packing your self storage unit

Quick Guide: Packing your self storage unit

If the amount of new storage providers registered with us is anything to go by, the need for self-storage has boomed in the past few years.

Although typically associated with house-movers, there are now a number of reasons people choose to use self storage to store their goods. The sector is now not limited to individuals as businesses also now make up a good proportion of the customer base.

This ‘boom’ has diversified the kind of items stored, no longer limited to furniture and bulky items, storage units in the UK now house anything from records, specialist art, antiques and even clothes. With many items being high in both monetary and sentimental value, ensuring that they are packed and protected properly before placing in self storage will help keep the risk of damage low should any unforeseen circumstances arise.

Storage Insurance

Regardless of whether you are an individual or business owner, purchasing self storage insurance for your items is the first thing you can do to protect your items, in fact most storage providers now won’t accept customers without it. Storage insurance will help safeguard against associated risks for goods in storage such as fire, flooding, theft, vandalism, sprinkler damage and harm from moth and vermin (for full details of our comprehensive storage insurance and what is covered, see the full policy wording). 

Future-proofing and damage limitation

Most people will complete their self storage unit tenancy without any issues at all, however in the unfortunate event that you do experience any of the major risks, the best outcome would be damage limitation, the absolute worst would be total destruction. Relying on insurance alone is not enough and, even with the correct insurance policy in place, there are always some items that cannot be replaced.

Fortunately, there are some incredibly easy steps to take that will ensure your goods are as protected and as safe as they can be which will help in minimising any risks and potential damage.

Choose the right packaging

Keeping your items safe and secure whilst in self storage is the main objective when it comes to packaging. Consider the size of box against the weight of the goods you want to store, for example, large cardboard boxes filled with books, records or magazines will result in heavy items that are difficult to handle and stack, even with a comprehensive store insure policy the risks associated with damage due to collapsed boxes won’t be covered! A large box, under-filled also loses strength in terms of ‘stack-ability’ and so smaller boxes are much better for heavier items.

For items that are prone to mould and mildew (such as clothing and books) ditch the cardboard completely and go for plastic containers with lids that can be sealed with tape to ensure they are airtight. Cardboard is a natural absorbent and will attract any dampness in the environment - transferring it to all those rare first edition books or vintage clothes. If you are looking to store fabric items, make sure they are all clean and dry before packing as this will help eliminate any risks of damage from mould or vermin.

Quality AND Quantity

Investing in good quality packing material will keep your more fragile possessions well protected whilst in storage.  Decent, heavy-duty, strong cardboard boxes will offer better shelter for the goods wrapped up inside - this also lessens the risk of damage when in transit. Purchasing a good quality packing tape will ensure your boxes do not come unstuck at the base when you are carrying them.

In terms of quantity, it is better to over-estimate the amount of boxes you need - overfilled, bulging boxes are more difficult to store and can become weakened.  It is also a good idea to have boxes in a variety of sizes.  A stack of paperback books for example can be very heavy so smaller boxes are better, whereas, items like duvets and pillows take up a lot of space, but are relatively light making bigger boxes a suitable choice.

Labels, labels, labels

Everything is so much easier when we are organised and labelling is simple, easy and quick - no special tools required! Writing on the tops and sides of boxes will help you identify at a glance where things are located, making it easier when loading or unloading to know where to put stuff. When storing fragile items, labelling boxes with ‘do not stack’ or ‘this way up’ will help avoid breakages.

Keep it together…

Dismantling items like bed bases and bulky furniture is much easier and efficient for moving and storing, however make sure that you keep all the fixtures and fittings together and that they are easy to find when required. Use polythene wrap or tape to help keep odd, awkward or matching items together, similarly, any fixings and specialist tools can be attached to the item in a sealed bag so you know immediately where they are and what item they go with.

To self storage we go

So you have created an inventory, protected and carefully packed your items, labelled the boxes and dismantled any bulky items (remembering to store the fixtures with them!), what’s next?

One last task to complete before you can confidently say you have protected everything within your power is to make sure your storage unit is packed correctly. Rather than chucking in boxes randomly, having a method means no more madness when you want to retrieve an item(s).

  1. The first rule when utilising space within the storage unit is to pack the bulky items and heavier boxes first. By placing these heavier items around the edge of the unit (against the walls/side) you will create a protective barrier for the smaller items whilst maximising space. Remember to pack your most used items nearest to the door, believe us - you do not want to empty your entire self storage unit just to locate some paperwork you put at the back of the unit.
  2. If you are trying to utilise the space - once all the regular shaped items are stacked, use the smaller items to fill any spaces or unused gaps. Packing items tightly will help to balance your boxes and prevent any toppling over.
  3. If your self storage provider agrees, placing shelving and racking in your storage unit will help you to organise those odd shaped items that don’t quite fit in a box. This can also be a good way to keep carboard boxes off the floor to minimise moisture.
  4. Using dust sheets to cover larger items like furniture will help to keep the dust and dirt off. If you need to store items directly on the floor then consider placing old carpet or even another dust sheet on the ground to protect the item from scratches.
  5. Lastly, make sure you arent storing anything hazardous or dangerous as not only are these items prohibited, resulting in breaking the terms of your lease, but your storage insurance will also be invalid. If you are not sure what can and can’t be stored in a storage unit then check your lease agreement or ask the storage provider. For storage insurance take a look at our policy to see what is and isn’t covered.

Related articles

Still can’t find what you need? Feel free to contact us for advice or check out our Quote and Buy Online tool for a comprehensive quote and instant cover.

Get a QuoteWhen compared against cover from storage providers - customers typically save money with us

Patrick Pellens

Author: Patrick Pellens

I started in the insurance industry in 2003 specialising in Personal Insurances such as Motor Bike, Car and Home Insurance.