The Ultimate Storage Guide
As most of us have likely experienced at some point or another, the process of moving can be both exciting and headache-inducing. Between all the planning, organizing, and packing (while simultaneously trying to remain afloat through day-to-day commitments), the stressors can really start to pile up. One thing that should not contribute to your stress is figuring out how to keep your prized possessions in tip-top shape during the move.
If this has been nagging at the back of your mind, don’t despair! We might have the answer for you: storage units. Whether you only need a temporary location to house belongings until you’re settled or if you require a longer term solution after downsizing—storage units can provide a fantastic option for saving space and keeping your living quarters free of clutter.
When considering storage space, one might expect that there’s a one-size-fits all approach and package deal to the process. After all, how hard could it be to find a place to stash away all those old knick-knacks and Christmas fruitcakes until the time is right to unveil again (or re-gift)? Surprisingly, there is a lot to consider when sourcing storage facilities to meet your needs. If you’re a first-timer struggling to identify or secure your best storage solutions, look no further. Take a peek at this Ultimate Storage Guide to learn the ins and outs of storage options and general best practices for storing items.
Considerations Before Renting A Storage Unit
So, you’ve already made the decision that you need some sort of storage space? Fantastic! But... now what? You might be wondering what size unit you’ll actually need or what features even come with various storage facilities. Those are great questions.
Before locking yourself into a contract for a unit, make sure you’ve taken into consideration quite a few factors regarding what you’ll need from the storage space overall. With so many minute details to keep in mind, the task of choosing the right storage option might seem a bit daunting. Don’t worry; we have got you covered and are here to leave you with more answers than questions.
Storage Sizing Options
An entire sizing guide could be written on the vast array of unit options and various measurement standards available. But to keep things simple for those of you that just need some general direction for eyeballing what’s out there, here is the lowdown on popular storage unit sizes that are ideal for storing your goods.
Small units tend to be predominantly utilized for holding seasonal items and personal keepsakes, as well as little boxes or small pieces of furniture (i.e. lamps, desks, end tables). Specific measurements do vary, but common units within this sizing realm would include 4’x4’ lockers, 5’x5’ walk-in closets, and 5’x10’ small rooms.
On average, you would expect anywhere from 25 to 80 square feet of space when opting for a storage unit on the smaller side. As an example, dorm room furniture including chairs, dressers, and a sofa would likely be perfect for a 5’x10’ space… with some wiggle room for extra boxes!
Medium units are superb for holding the contents of a larger garage or one to two bedroom apartment. Typically units within this size range span 80 to 150 square feet. Common selections include 8’x10’ units for studio apartments, 5’x15’ spaces for two individual rooms, and 10’x10’ units for three separate rooms.
For example, a two bedroom apartment with the classic furniture pieces and appliances could comfortably be housed within a 10’x15’ storage unit during a complex renovation.
For storing items from a two bedroom house or slightly bigger living space, a large unit is an ideal choice. Usually storage spaces within this sizing category span 150 to 300 square feet, allowing you quite a bit of extra space for stashing those personal belongings!
As a quick frame of reference, standard sizes for large storage units include 10’x15’ for four rooms, 10’x20’ for five rooms, and 10’x25’ for six rooms, among other options. So if you are in the process of building your dream home, consider storage facilities within these parameters for optimum space.
Extra Large Storage
The hulk of storage unit sizes, extra large facilities are often selected when you require more than 300 square feet of storage space. A good rule of thumb would be to consider if your items and belongings require more space than a 1 ½ car garage would allow. If the answer to that question is ‘yes’ or ‘possibly’, then extra large storage might be a safe choice.
Beyond merely serving as a gigantic room for large boxes or an overabundance of furniture, extra large storage units are phenomenal when it comes to vehicle storage, such as cars, trucks, farm equipment, or even boats. As an example, a 10’x30’ unit could easily hold two vehicles or one large boat. So if you’ve got extra seasonal equipment taking up precious space around your personal home, an extra large storage facility is a likely solution.
Storage Unit Features
Once you have made the determination about which storage unit size you’ll need for all of your stuff, now comes the fun of figuring out which features you’d like! From climate control to security cameras, who knew that storage facilities could even present so many options? Let’s take a look at a few game-changers and deal-breakers that should be weighed when choosing your storage provider.
Full Service Storage vs. Self Storage
There are quite a few tasks in life that just seem to flow more smoothly when you do them yourself. However, packing and organizing boxes for storage might be one of those gray areas for many of us. As such, it is important to consider whether full service storage or self storage suits your lifestyle and item storing needs the most. If you’re unsure, let’s break down some of the pros and cons that come with each option.
Full Service Storage
Storage companies that offer full service amenities or facilities can best be conceptualized as a “valet approach” to item storing. Several full service facilities provide the option to have their very own moving staff pick up your boxed and bulky items to be delivered to the designated unit, themselves.
Many of these types of storage companies boast extensive customer service options that allow for scheduled pick-up or delivery of the stored goods (sometimes from the convenience of a smartphone app). In addition to these perks, you may find that some full service facilities provide a high level of organization and documentation by cataloging your belongings for you in the form of photographs.
Essentially the idea with full service storage is that you make the payment, and they handle the rest—from packing and labeling to storing and arranging everything.
With so much convenience packed (pun 100% intended) into one service, why wouldn’t you go this route? Well, full service storage is known to carry a bit of a heftier price tag than merely shoving your goods into a self-servicing space.
If you aren’t planning on storing a large number of things (or they aren’t particularly valuable possessions), self storage may be better worth your while when it comes to affordability. Also worthy of consideration is the level of user accessibility to the unit.
Do you suspect that you might need to grab something on a whim someday? Having the peace of mind knowing that your items are safely and securely stored away within a well-monitored and locked building is fantastic, but it could compromise how readily available your items are to you. Unless the storage facility has 24/7 access, you may find yourself having to wait to grab what you need.
But, what if it’s a holiday? That wait could be a bit longer. Being mindful of the hours of operation and requirements for retrieving your belongings can save you quite a few headaches if you’re a last-minute planner and choose to go the full service storage route.
Undoubtedly the most common type of storage available, self storage provides consumers the opportunity to easily and affordably house their belongings. Convenience and accessibility shine when it comes to self storage.
Many units are completely self serviceable, allowing for 24/7/365 access. Security does vary from facility to facility, as some of these operations are housed entirely outdoors with each individual unit being exposed to passersby. Though, it is admittedly not too uncommon for some facilities to offer the added protection of gated access to the units.
Prices will vary depending on the size of your storage space and the length of time that you will be renting the unit, but self storage in general poses a wonderfully inexpensive option for many people.
Whether you are merely seeking a temporary solution for housing your belongings during a renovation, or if you’re needing a long term way of stashing the less valuable overflow from your most recent move, self storage is a phenomenal option.
If the lower cost and ease of unit access both make self storage seem like the clear victor for you, hold on just a second! While it is true that convenience and reasonable pricing are huge anchors when it comes to selecting a storage provider, there are a few other factors to keep in mind.
First, if you elect to use a self storage unit, you will be responsible for the process of planning, boxing, delivering, and organizing all of your belongings into the unit, yourself. If you do not have your own moving truck or vehicle, then this means the responsibility for renting one rests on you.
Further with self storage facilities, you are the one primarily accountable for the security of your stored goods. While some companies may offer insurance, this is an option that more commonly is presented by full service providers.
Outside of the occasional gated surroundings, your main method of protection for your stored items relies on a high quality padded lock securing your unit. If you don’t mind the more limited features and potentially diminished security systems, then self storage might be for you.
Climate and Temperature Control
When it comes to unit characteristics or factors that are ideal for storing your assets, one thing that is often overlooked (but quite valued) is the concept of climate and temperature control. With the rising popularity of more luxury items being placed into storage units, temperature and climate controlled storage is a crucial investment for many of us.
It is important to draw the distinction that not every storage location that offers climate control also provides temperature control and vice versa. The difference between these two levels of control tends to be with humidity.
While a temperature controlled facility might only manipulate temperature, usually climate controlled locations will manage the humidity in addition to the temperature. But for the sake of your items’ integrity, it is imperative that you inquire as to which factor is being controlled, if not both.
Under either scenario, the value of controlling a certain temperature and/or humidity is due to how each impacts the moisture level of your storage unit. When humidity increases, the air’s ability to hold heat also increases. Alternatively, when the humidity is lowered, temperatures will likewise decline.
Maintaining an environment with lower moisture levels helps keep bacteria from thriving, as well as prevent the formation of mold and mildew on your stored items. Paper-based items, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wood, dust, wallpaper, fabric, upholstery, and several other types of products all greatly benefit from being in a climate and temperature controlled unit.
So if you’re planning on storing clothes, furniture, or anything that meets the aforementioned description, you most likely will need to invest in a unit that offers this service.
We've already briefly touched upon the concept of insuring your stored items earlier in this guide. But just to reiterate, it is strongly recommended that you pursue some type of coverage for your valuables that are being kept in storage.
In addition to providing some much appreciated peace of mind, insuring your storage unit’s contents will afford you the opportunity to replace anything that might accidentally become broken or regrettably stolen. Some storage companies actually provide their own insurance options, but prices and policies will vary, so do your research.
Before you commit to any policies offered by your chosen storage facility, don't forget to check if your home owner’s insurance or renter's insurance cover storage units! Your current policy may insure your tucked away goodies, so double check before adding more to your storage bill.
It goes without saying that the price you pay for your storage unit may not exactly be the same as what your neighbor pays for theirs. Your individual unit's price tag depends on a myriad of factors, including what city you live in, which vendor you choose as your storage provider, the actual size of your unit, and how long you intend to rent the unit. Phew… that’s a lot of factors, to only name a few!
With all of these cost-related considerations in mind, it may appear to be one gigantic guessing game. But, it doesn't have to be! Doing some research on your area’s storage market and planning accordingly can help ensure that you budget appropriately and avoid sticky situations.
When shopping around, make sure you ask about any package deals they may offer. For example, some storage facilities might give you your first month for only $1.00 if you sign a six month contract. Different seasons that tend to accompany more transience (i.e. summer) could also bring along more deals and exclusive price packages, so keep your eyes peeled!
One final quick reminder is that extra features such as climate control and delivery assistance can drastically boost the cost of your storage space. We cannot emphasize enough—make sure you plan accordingly based on what you actually need. Planning ahead and optimizing space in your storage unit can also help keep costs down; make sure you’re renting the correct room size rather than throwing items into an overly spacious unit willy nilly.
Paying attention to these smaller pieces of the pricing pie can really add up over time, either in terms of costing you quite a bit more or considerably less.
Preparing Your New Storage Space
Congratulations on finding and booking your brand new, safe, and secure storage unit! Now that you’ve got a place to house all of your personal belongings, you’re going to want to craft a plan. Obviously if you’re utilizing full service storage, your job is already done, since they’ll typically handle the packing and moving for you.
However, for those of you who have opted for self storage, make sure you take a look at our following suggestions, and visit our in-depth guide on How To Prepare Your Stuff For Storage, to ensure that you have the smoothest item storing experience possible!
Cleaning Your Unit
This may sound silly, but giving your storage unit a thorough scrub can set you up for better success long-term in maintaining the integrity of your stored goods. While it does not necessarily need to sparkle and shine, ensuring that it is free of debris and dirt is a good place to start.
If you want to go the extra mile, scrubbing down the walls and floors with a disinfectant soap is certainly not a fruitless effort, since it may catch any brewing bacteria left over from former, less vigilant occupants.
You will want to take this opportunity to additionally inspect for any damage to the unit, itself. Check all walls and the roof for any cracks or spots that might be prone to leaking, as this will save you a lot of heartache in the long run (especially if your unit is not temperature or climate controlled).
Spreading out a tarp over the floor may also serve as a valuable added layer of protection against potential pests or weather-related concerns.
Cleaning Your Belongings
When it comes to frustrating situations, very few things can top the experience of grabbing a special piece of furniture from your storage unit, only to have the strong scent of must and mildew permeate throughout your clean house as a result.
In order to avoid this scenario, it is imperative that all items are thoroughly cleaned prior to being placed within your storage unit. While everything does not have to be completely spotless, a good rule of thumb to remember is that the cleaner everything is when you put it into storage, the cleaner it will be when you take it out of storage.
With this in mind, it is generally considered wiser to air on the side of caution and clean everything as meticulously as possible to avoid potential damage or long-lasting odors later.
So before you start chucking everything into your unit, keep these following points in mind:
- All hard surfaces should be wiped down with some sort of all-purpose cleaner.
- Clothes should be washed, and any lingering stains should ideally be removed.
- Cloth-based couches and/or furniture pieces with cushions should be vacuumed and, if possible, scrubbed with an antibacterial cleaner. Pro-tip: make sure you let everything fully dry before tucking it away into storage!
- Leather-based furniture should be cleaned with either a gentle soap or leather cleaner.
- Any and all appliances should have both the inside and outside disinfected by both wiping down the surface and rinsing appropriate pieces with soap, bleach, or vinegar.
Protecting Your Possessions
Once all of your precious possessions have been cleaned (and allowed ample time to thoroughly dry), your next step is to ensure that you have protective measures in place to facilitate every item maintaining its quality within the unit. As a first recommendation, if you have any furniture that can be disassembled, it is best to do so both for the sake of saving space and for reducing pressure on the “joints” of the furniture if things get stacked on top of it.
All accompanying nuts and bolts can be placed into sandwich bags and taped to the furniture piece(s) to make things a bit easier when the time to reassemble arrives (and keep rust at bay).
Beyond deconstructing furniture where relevant, here are some other suggestions for safeguarding your stored items:
- For wooden and leather furniture, apply a protective spray treatment to minimize the impact of scratches and general weathering within the unit.
- All boxes should be sealed as tightly as possible in order to keep moisture out (again, this is imperative if your unit lacks climate or temperature control features).
- If you are storing cords or electronics, wrapping them in plastic or placing them into plastic bags will help reduce the likelihood of moisture-related damage.
- When it comes to sweaters, clothing, or stuffed animals, these cloth-based items will benefit greatly from being packed into wardrobe boxes or zipped inside garment bags.
- Glass items ideally should be encapsulated in bubble wrap and packed carefully into boxes. Labeling these designated boxes as fragile can also help prevent any future mishaps with mishandling, so keep that in mind!
- Mattresses can be a bit tricky, but fortunately mattress storage bags do exist, so we would highly recommend investing in one to seal moisture out!
Organizing & Maximizing Your Unit Space
Arguably its very own science, storage room planning and organization has remained the bane of many self storers’ existence. It is quite an arduous task to undo the damage of haphazard item cramming into a storage unit, so tackling the task mindfully and proactively will save you quite a few headaches later.
When it comes to the best practices for organizing and maximizing your unit’s space, here are some of our top tips.
Take Inventory of Your Items
The key to keeping everything neat and tidy is awareness. If you know what you have, then you can better determine what similar items can be packed together.
For example, if you’re primarily utilizing a storage facility to hold seasonal decorations, you’d want to combine similar items, so that Christmas knick knacks aren’t mixed in with Valentine’s Day banners ... although, that could make for an interesting celebration!
Once you’ve identified and sorted your goods into piles based on themes or likeness (i.e. clothes in one pile, electronics in another pile), you can make a list so that you know what specifically is being kept inside your storage unit, as well as potentially where it’s being kept.
This also has the added bonus of allowing you to easily label your boxes as you pack your piles away, but we’ll get to that in a second. In addition to listing all of your belongings, you might want to further consider taking photos and/or notating the relative value of pricier gadgets, just in case anything gets stolen or damaged.
Pack Mindfully & Label Boxes
Now that all of your soon-to-be-stored belongings have been categorized and inventoried in the form of a list, it’s time to start boxing ‘em up! As a general rule, it is often advised to use one or two box sizes for your items.
This not only helps with the process of stacking everything inside the unit, but it also allows for better accessibility and organization, since you won’t need to finagle ill-fitting items into various locations.
As you are carefully packing away your memories, be mindful of arranging items in such a way that they will not easily become broken or damaged (see the “Protecting Your Possessions” section for more details). Labeling your boxes with the specific contents or at the very least the “themes” (i.e. decorations, winter clothes) will assist greatly in the future when it comes time to retrieve your items for the occasion.
Organize Your Storage Unit
Congratulations on successfully sorting, boxing, and labeling all of your goods! Now it’s time to arrange everything within the unit, itself. There are truthfully a myriad of ways that you can keep your storage unit organized, so pick whatever strategy works best for you and stick to it.
Combining methods can work, too, just make sure everyone with access to your storage facility is on board. This will ensure that items don’t get misplaced or potentially broken if something heavier gets inadvertently stacked on top of its container.
Organize By Mapping
One of our personal favorite options when it comes to arranging one’s storage unit is through the process of mapping. Since you’ve already created a list of themes or categories (and labeled individual boxes accordingly), you can map out where you want everything to be.
Not only will this allow for effortless retrieval at a later date, but it keeps things looking great, since you don’t need to dig through a bunch of random boxes that you’ll likely not want to pack back up.
Once your map is drafted (pro-tip: make sure that you incorporate pathways to your boxes and sections for increased ease of access), you should have an easy guide for placing the boxes into the unit and grabbing whatever you need moving forward. Don’t forget to post a copy of the map within the unit, itself! It’ll make a nice reference later on.
Organize By Priority
One other popular organization strategy is to organize based on priority, rather than merely mapping based on categories or object uses. So if winter is on its way, you might not want to throw all of your winter clothes at the very back of the unit.
In this case, outlining what you need based on your list(s) will allow you to then place less important items towards the back and more important things towards the front. Even if you don’t want to draft a detailed map, keeping a rough outline still might pose as a useful reference sheet for quick item retrieval.
One final organization tactic for keeping your storage unit spic and span (and easily navigable) is through the process of simply maximizing space. If you don’t want to worry too much about drawing a map or thinking through what you’ll need for which season or occasion, then you can simply focus on placing everything in such a way that all items can be viewed clearly and accessed without too many obstacles.
One of the best ways to maximize your unit’s space is to work from the bottom up; stack your heaviest boxes at the very bottom and work towards having the very top layer contain your lighter loads. Installing shelving can also allow for more flexibility when it comes to organizing large or strangely shaped pieces that can’t be comfortably arranged in a box.
There are so many creative ways and approaches to maximizing one’s unit space for optimum organization, so do some research and find whatever method will best work for you!
Protecting Your Stuff: How To Keep Your Storage Unit Secure
What you choose to store in your unit is completely up to you. But if you want to ensure that your belongings stay put, make sure to invest in a safe and secure storage facility. Not all storage companies are equal, and some put more emphasis on protecting their customers' units than others. Before you sign the dotted line on your storage contract, check to see if your provider offers some of these standard safety features.
Gated or Passcode Protected Entry
The best line of defense begins at the entry of the facility. Find out if your storage provider requires any sort of authentication before entering the building to ensure that potential thieves aren’t free to peruse the area after hours. A gate that surrounds the perimeter is a great deterrent for individuals with sticky fingers. In addition to causing a barrier for gaining entry, a fence can also make it difficult for a vandal to make off with any heavy or hard-to-hold items.
The most secure storage facilities will give each tenant their own access code, which is updated regularly when each storage contract is terminated. By constantly updating codes for current unit holders and previous tenants, it decreases the likelihood of an access code getting leaked to untrustworthy sources.
For those with bad memories, look for a storage facility that offers unique security cards. A simple swipe from your driver’s side window and you’re in!
Additional Outdoor Precautions
In addition to a gated entry, the most secure storage facilities offer ample lighting. Having a well-lit space is essential in not only safely accessing your storage after dark, but in deterring thieves that can be easily spotted in the bright light.
On-site management should also have a presence beyond just the front desk. Having guards that patrol the perimeter goes a long way in demonstrating that the facility is serious about safety.
Maintenance is also a crucial part of keeping any property safe. Thieves are trained to spot weaknesses in infrastructure and capitalize on those as ports on entry. A damaged fence, burned out bulbs, or a malfunctioning keypad are all potential security threats and should be remedied immediately. Visit the storage facility you’re interested in and see for yourself if everything is in tip-top shape, or if you can spot a few areas that require attention. Facilities that are understaffed or lack the required resources can leave their tenants more susceptible to theft.
Digital Security Features
In addition to physical barriers and patrols, check to see if your storage provider also offers protection via digital surveillance systems. Having an “eye in the sky” is a great way to ensure consistent and reliable monitoring throughout the facility. Unlike foot patrols, digital surveillance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s never a shift change or a sick day that could leave your unit vulnerable. And with advances in surveillance technology, installing and maintaining closed captioning video monitoring is more affordable than ever.
Check with your storage facility to see what kind of digital surveillance systems they have installed. If possible, make sure that the video is recorded digitally and not on tape, as the digital option offers superior quality without a risk of lapse in coverage.
Motion detectors are also great security features that better track movements of both tenants and potential thieves. These are especially helpful during the late night and early morning hours when fewer people are accessing their storage units. Triggering a motion detection sensor at 2 a.m. alerts facility managers to activity – and they can decide whether or not it's suspicious.
Alarmed units are also a very effective deterrent to theft. If anyone tries to access your belongings without authority, an alarm will sound. Even if they were able to sneak over fences and around guards, a blaring alarm is a great way to ensure nobody accesses your unit but you.
A secure storage facility will also train its employees to employ safety protocols daily. This includes training maintenance to look for damaged or broken safety features or having storage managers double-checking locks at the end of their shifts.
Choose The Best Storage Lock
Keep in mind that no matter how safe and secure the storage facility may be, you still want to employ your own security measures to ensure the protection of your belongings. Statistically speaking, whatever lock you choose needs to withstand striking, picking, and a swift clip from a pair of bolt cutters. Your best line of defense is investing in a strong storage lock.
Opt for Cylinder Locks
What are cylinder locks for storage units? They’re the most secure option on the market! Cylinder locks house the locking mechanism within a cylindrical shape, similar to how the lock works on your home’s front door. Because they don’t stick out of the unit door, they cannot be cut or easily drilled or picked.
However, storage unit doors must be manufactured specifically to accommodate cylinder locks. The lock is designed to fit within the storage door, effectively eliminating the shackle and hasp system.
Check with your storage facility to see if their units can be secured with a cylinder lock prior to purchasing. Because these locks are so new, some facilities have a different way of utilizing them. A facility manager may ask you to return your cylinder lock key at the end of your lease. Others may just replace the cylinder lock completely after each new tenant. If this is the case, the latter option is the most secure, as there is no way to know if a previous tenant made a copy of the storage key.
Disk Locks Are A Good Alternative
Among the most popular options for storage unit locks is a disk lock. Their design makes them strike-proof, pick-proof, and drill-proof, and their thick shackle makes it difficult for bolt cutters to inflict damage. In addition to featuring a stainless-steel design, disk locks also employ a complex lock mechanism that includes anti-pick pins. Breaking these locks aren’t for the faint of heart; they require heavy electrical equipment and a lot of effort.
Although disk locks may be considered the industry standard when it comes to secure storage locks, not all unit door latches can accommodate them. Before selecting your storage facility, make sure that their unit doors can safely and securely fit a disk lock.
Stay Away From Padlocks
When it comes to your unit’s safety, don’t settle for sub-par storage locks. More often than not, combination or standard padlocks are not advanced or reinforced enough to deter a determined thief. These locks may be the most cost effective, but they can be easily picked, sawed, or cut, leaving your valuable possessions in peril. And when it comes to cost, it’s likely that the cost of a better lock pales in comparison to the value of your possession that have been pilfered.
If you are set on a padlock model, then at least consider a closed-shackle model. These locks resemble traditional padlocks with one major exception: the shackle is completely encased. The “U” shaped bar at the top of the lock is designed to be shorter and thicker than most padlocks, and by enclosing it in an outside casing, it’s more difficult for bolt cutters to reach.
Don’t Skimp on Security
In most cases, storage facilities that employ most or all of these security measures come at a higher price point than rock-bottom options. But don’t let that dissuade you, as the investment is well worth it. In addition to a safer storage environment, you’re also buying peace of mind that your belongings are in safe hands.
If your items were ever stolen or damaged, it's likely that the cost would be high – and in the case of cherished heirlooms, priceless. Paying more for security now could help you avoid incurring those costs in the future.
Specialized Storage vs. Self Storage
When it comes to storing certain items, it's best to consider specialized storage options versus traditional self-storage units. If you’re looking to stow away seasonal items, sports equipment, clothing, or other like items, a self-storage unit is the way to go. But if you’re looking to relocate your collection of wines, artwork, or musical instruments, you may want to consider a specialized storage unit.
How To Store Wine
Whether you’re an amateur collector or a self-proclaimed sommelier, the proper storage of wine is incredibly important to ensure your bottles’ longevity. Make sure to take the following into consideration when shopping for your specialized storage unit.
Temperature is Key
Heat is the number one enemy of wine. A climate controlled storage unit is a necessity in ensuring that your bottles are kept at a consistent temperature. Ideally, wines should be kept within the range of 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets much hotter, you run the risk of “cooking” your wine, which results in flat aromas and flavors. Any colder, and prolonged storage could lead to a lack of moisture which might dry out the corks. This would then allow air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine.
More important than achieving an ideal temperature is actually maintaining its consistency. Rapid fluctuations in temperature could cause the expansion and contraction of the wine in the bottle, which could summon enough force to push the cork out and cause leakage.
Keep It Dark
In addition to heat, light levels can have a damaging effect on wines. Something as common as sunlight can damage bottles tucked away in long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can both degrade and prematurely age the wine, which is why most expensive wines are stored in tinted glass bottles. These hues effectively act as sunglasses against the sun’s rays.
Household bulbs most likely won’t damage the wine but have the potential to fade labels over a period of time. Fluorescents do emit a small amount of UV light, so incandescent bulbs are best.
And Less Humid
Just like temperature, humidity is another factor that could affect the livelihood and longevity of your wine. Try to find a storage facility that can keep a unit at a consistent 70% humidity. Much like what happens when kept at low temperatures, low humidity can dry out the corks, allowing air into the bottles and ruining the wine. If you aren’t able to store your wines between 50% and 80% humidity consistently, you could place a pan of water in your unit to help improve conditions. However, too much humidity could induce mold growth, so balance is key.
Vibration Free is the Way to Be
Wine bottles are most often stored on their sides for a few reasons. Horizontal storage pushes the wine up against the cork, helping to prevent it from drying out. It’s also more economical in terms of saving space to stack bottles on top of each other horizontally. However, no matter how you stack it, wine doesn’t like to be moved.
Some theorize that excess vibration speeds up the chemical reactions in the wine, while others speculate that it stirs up sediment in older wines, causing them to taste gritty. Whenever possibly, try to find a vibration-free storage facility to keep your precious collection still and steady.
How To Store Artwork
While the ideal place to keep artwork is on your walls to be appreciated, there are times when storage is necessary. If you’re looking to store your pieces for a few months, consider specialized storage to ensure the following features are provided.
Keep It Cool & Consistent
Like wine, art pieces can suffer damage from being exposed to large fluctuations in heat and humidity. Canvas will slacken and stretch, which can lead to paint chipping off and cracking. An ideal environment for pristine artwork storage is around 55% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keeping your paintings properly covered will help to protect them from dust, light exposure, and other harmful environmental factors.
- For framed art pieces, carefully wrap the work tightly in bubble wrap or a blanket, secured with packing tape. For additional protection, pad the pieces with cardboard or pieces of headboard and tape them together.
- To properly package unframed pieces, use a sheet of silicone release paper and cover the front of the canvas with it. Then use glassine paper to wrap the entire piece. Pad these art pieces as well to ensure their safety.
- If you are trying to maximize storage space, adding extra padding between pieces may not be an economic choice. In this instance, you may want to consider using a paint drying rack.
- Try your best to keep paintings away from direct light, heat, and concrete. Concrete floors and walls have a tendency to absorb water and dampness, which your art piece may also absorb through prolonged exposure.
- If you are storing your pieces long term, make a trip to your unit once every few weeks or so to air out your artwork. Aeration can play a large role in preventing humidity build-up, which can be a breeding ground for mold.
How To Store Musical Instruments
Instruments are an investment, and proper care should be exercised if you need to store them for any amount of time. It doesn’t matter if you need to stow a woodwind, brass, string, or piano—make sure your storage unit has the following features.
Just like wine and art, musical instruments can be damaged by prolonged exposure to heat and humidity. Which is why a climate controlled storage unit is very important for proper storage. Large fluctuations in temperature can do more than merely throw your guitar out of tune. The wood can expand and contract with varying temps, causing your expensive instruments to crack.
Humidity also plays a big role in facilitating an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. Unless you’re keen on trying to get mold out of a trumpet, spend the extra money for a climate controlled unit.
Preparation is Key
- In order to ensure your musical instrument can survive the storage process, make sure you properly prepare it before placing it in storage.
- After you give your instrument a thorough cleaning, be sure to disassemble it carefully. This includes taking apart reeds, mouth pieces, straps—anything that is supposed to come apart should be taken apart.
- For string instruments, be sure to loosen strings or bows just in case they experience some contraction and expansion during the storage process. There’s no need for a taut bow in storage anyway.
- Before you pack away your instrument in its case, be sure to drape a clean cloth over it to absorb any moisture.
- For larger instruments, cover them with a large cloth to prevent dust and grime from settling in.
- In the storage unit, keep your instrument out of direct sunlight if possible. Also position them away from vents or doors that could provide constant streams of air.
- Whenever you’re ready to retrieve your instruments, make sure you give them another thorough cleaning before playing.
Final Things To Consider
By now, you probably feel as though you know all you can about storage units. But here are a few more things to consider to make absolutely sure you’re getting the best storage for your needs.
Should I Get Storage Insurance?
Often times, storage insurance is not a required condition of renting a unit. However, purchasing an insurance policy is a great way to ensure that no matter the circumstances, your items are covered. Most bare bones plans run only $10 or less per month and could be well worth the investment should your unit suffer from unforeseen issues like flooding, fire, or theft.
No matter how many precautions you take, there’s no way you can protect your storage unit from every damaging possibility. You might have scrubbed your storage unit prior to moving in, but if your neighbor stored a mattress infested with bed bugs, your items could be compromised. A heavy rainfall could cause water damage to the storage facility. And even if you can’t see standing water in your unit, moisture trapped behind walls or soaked into your possessions could harbor a breeding ground of mold and mildew.
Storage insurance could especially be beneficial if you’re storing more expensive items, like a classic car, oil paintings, or expensive musical instruments. A couple extra dollars a month in insurance could protect your investment beyond all precautions you take prior to signing a storage contract.
An insurance policy helps fill in the gaps between your careful planning and what the storage facility attempts to protect against. Check to see if your storage facility requires an insurance plan, offers coverage, or recommends a particular kind of insurance. Read over the details of your plan carefully to make sure you understand what is protected prior to signing.
Shop For Specials
Although to ensure the safety of your belongings you shouldn’t skimp on security, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to pay top dollar. Use a few of the following tips to see how you could save an extra few dollars on your storage needs without compromising safety or value.
Expand Your Search
Storage facilities located right in the heart of downtown are certainly more convenient, but they’re often not the most cost friendly. You pay for the convenience of being close to your stuff. But if you don’t need regular access to your items, shop around for storage facilities located further out. Most likely, the rates will be a little lower while still offering some of the higher-end amenities.
Prioritize Your Must-Haves
As with most things in life, the more amenities it has, the more it costs. Take stock of your storage unit contents and see if there are any features you can do without. If you’re not stowing fragile items like artwork, instruments, electronics, or cherished family keepsakes, you may be able to skip the climate control.
If you have lighter items in a multi-story storage facility, taking a unit on a higher floor could save you some costs too. People pay extra for drive-up access, especially if they’re moving in heavy furniture, sports equipment, or even vehicles. Taking the stairs can save you some dollars while also adding another layer of protection to your unit.
Choose Your Unit Size Wisely
As mentioned earlier in this guide, choosing the right unit size is critical in making sure you’re getting the best value for your money. Don’t pay for space you don’t need – make sure you rent the smallest size that can accommodate your belongings to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Deals & Packages
Check with your storage facility to see if they offer any monetary incentives. For example, some facilities will give their clients a discount if they pre-pay their rent or commit to a certain length of time in storage. Someone that only rents for three months may end up paying more per-month than someone who rents out for an entire year.
Similarly, ask if they’re running any specials or programs that could help knock some dollars off your bill. For example, Moishe’s Self Storage offers a Refer-A-Friend program, where if a new tenant signs up for a storage room and mentions your name, you get $50 off your next month’s rent. New customers can also take advantage of their storage specials, including 50% off the first four months’ rent or free storage pick-up when you rent for at least three months.
Storage facilities may also offer a number of concierge services that could offset the cost of storage as well. For those living in the New York City metropolitan area, you can take advantage of Moishe’s warehousing services. For the same price as traditional storage, Moishe’s will send a team of professional movers to your home or apartment. They will load the items into a moving truck, transport them to either the Queens or Bronx storage facilities, and unload the items into a secure unit. Whenever you’re ready to retrieve your items, just call and schedule a drop-off time. All the work is taken out of the equation - at no extra cost to the client.
Store Like a Pro
Now that you’ve learned all there is to successful storage, feel confident in knowing you’re equipped with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Storage units can be a great way to free up space in your home or office, and when researched properly, can be well worth the investment. Avoid common pitfalls and mistakes by taking the time to properly research, clean, prepare, and maintain your unit to ensure your belongings are safely stowed away. And remember—when you’re renting a storage unit, you’re buying more than just a space to store your stuff. You’re buying peace of mind.