How to Pack Your Storage Unit Like a Pro

Jon Fesmire |

One advantage to renting a storage unit rather than, say, a larger home or office is savings. Self storage space simply rents for less than residential or commercial space. However, you’ll want to maximize your savings without packing your unit so tightly that you can’t get to anything.

Here are our tips for packing your unit in a smart, efficient way.

Declutter First

Whenever you decide to use self storage, whether you’re just renting a unit or you’re bringing a few more boxes in, declutter first.

You might think that because we work in self storage, we want people to rent as much space as possible and store everything, but that’s not so. We want people to use their storage units well, and that means storing important things, not everything.

So, when you’re just about ready to get a storage unit to make space at home or at work, go through everything and get rid of things you don’t need. This is a subjective process, but we have. Our article, Alternatives to the KonMari Method, provides the basic steps. For a deeper dive, read our post 5 Best Books on Decluttering.

Disassemble Furniture

You can save space in your storage unit by disassembling furniture, especially larger pieces like kitchen tables, bed frames, and headboards. Disassembling is basically assembling in reverse. Take out the manual for that table and look over it. If you no longer have the physical manual you can probably find one on the manufacturer’s website.

If no manual is available, look over the connecting parts to figure out how they’re put together.If this is tough for you, ask a friend who knows something about carpentry.

Gather the tools you’ll need to take it apart. This may comprise one or two good screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a small hammer, and a hex wrench. Of course, all these must fit with the bolts, screws, and so on that hold the furniture together.

Use Appropriate Containers

What do we mean by appropriate? There are many box sizes, and some moving kits come with small, medium, and large boxes. We’ve learned over the years that it’s best to mostly stick to one box size, and small moving boxes work best. These are still a good size, but they’re sturdy and stack well. Document boxes fall into this category and work well.

Strong plastic bins work well, too, and bins of the same type are built to stack. They’re as sturdy as if not more sturdy than document boxes and are often airtight.

Pack Boxes Tightly

What do we mean when we refer to packing paper? This is newsprint paper (but not actual newspapers) that crumples easily and creates excellent padding inside boxes. We recommend it for storage, when you’re shipping items, and so on. Anytime you need to fill extra space in a box to protect the items and keep a box from collapsing, packing paper is a top choice.

Pick a Size

Once your stuff is packed, you’ll be able to pick the right unit size. When you do, keep in mind that you should create one or two aisles in the unit, depending how big it is. This will make it easier to get to everything without having to move entire stacks. If you need to access a book you know is in one low box, it’s better to move the boxes off that stack and retrieve it, rather than having to move another stack or two.

Stack Heavy to Light

The heavier the box, the lower it should go. You might make a few short stacks of book boxes, put some kitchenware boxes (with plenty of packing paper in the empty spaces) on top of those, and some boxes of clothing or sheets and blankets on top.

You can put boxes under a strong, assembled table, and some boxes on top. However, don’t put boxes on a couch, as this can deform the cushions and even the furniture piece itself.

Ready to rent that unit? Then check our listings. They cover the U.S. and Canada, making it easy to find a top facility near you.