Choosing the Right Boxes for Storage

When you go to the trouble of storing your belongings you want to ensure the items will stay dry and damage-free. While keeping things in good condition depends a great deal on where you’ll be storing them, choosing the right type of box makes a big difference too. Here are some quick tips on the factors to consider when choosing containers for storage.

Match the storage container to the use

Before you choose a container for storing your belongings, you’ll want to consider these factors:

  • What will you be storing? Are the items fragile or easily broken? Will the contents easily absorb odors? How valuable are these items?
  • Where will you be storing this stuff? Will you be storing inside your home in a closet where your stuff will stay cool and dry or inside your garage or attic, where they might be exposed to high temps and humidity? Do you plan to use an indoor storage unit, which can offer good protection against the elements?
  • How long will you be storing? Will this be temporary storage that’s part of a move or remodeling project or long-term storage?
  • How often will you need access? Will you be using these items occasionally, so you’d want easier access than something used just once a year or less? 

Once you’re clear about these factors, you’re ready to consider the different types of storage boxes. While these range in price and quality, it’s important to choose boxes or containers that are appropriate for the specific use.

Cardboard boxes

The most economical and versatile option, cardboard boxes are fine for moving and will take care of many storage needs as well. But over time, cardboard can get worn out, especially after being pulled in and out of storage and re-taped year after year.  If you choose cardboard, make sure you start with quality cardboard storage boxes that are in good shape. Another downside is that cardboard doesn’t provide much protection from bugs or rodents — something to consider if you’re storing items in a shed, garage, or attic. However, if you’ll be storing the boxes inside a closet or an indoor storage facility, cardboard boxes can be a budget-friendly choice for most items you need to store.

Plastic bins

While they’re a bit more expensive upfront, plastic boxes for storage will last for years and provide more protection for fragile items as well as from moisture, heat, and humidity. They’re easy to stack so you can maximize your storage space, as well as easier to open and close without having to deal with packing tape. This makes them extra handy for items you expect to need access to. Even if you’re only planning for short-term storage while you’re making a move, plastic bins might be ideal for items you’ll want to keep organized in your new home in the future.

Specialty boxes

There are specialty boxes you can buy that are made for specific items, like dishware, flat screen TVs, or clothing. These boxes are great for ensuring your items aren’t damaged, since they come with special inserts to secure the item for transport. If you’re going to store clothing that’s best kept hanging, consider getting a wardrobe box; it’s a tall vertical box with a built-in bar so you can keep your clothes hanging, while the box helps provide some protection from heat and sunlight.

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Don’t Forget to Label

Make sure you can keep track of what’s in storage with adequate labeling. Trust us, this will make life much easier, whether you’ll be moving or staying put. Most organization and office supply stores will have labels you can easily attach to plastic bins, or you can use Sharpees to write labels directly on a cardboard or plastic box. Whatever type of labeling you use, make sure you label the sides and the top of the bin, so you can still read them even if the bins or boxes are stacked on top of each other. Labeling your containers will also be much easier if you have a system for how they’re packed — they can’t all be “miscellaneous” boxes. Group similar items together and try to create a balance of weight so some boxes aren’t super heavy.

Organizing Boxes in Storage

There’s an art to storage space planning, whether it’s in a closet, garage, storage unit, or portable storage container.

Keep an inventory

It’s a good idea to create a storage inventory on your computer or a smartphone app, or in a good old-fashioned notebook to keep track of what items are where. Keeping things organized will not only save you time, it can prevent potential damage caused by rifling through items or tripping over boxes.

Mix up box sizes

You want to have a mix of container sizes in order to maximize the space. Extra-large boxes are ideal for bedding or lightweight clothing, since they’ll be easier to lift than an extra-large box filled with heavy books or decor.

Place boxes strategically

Put the items you’ll need access to first, or more often, toward the entry area. Place the heaviest and largest boxes with non-fragile items on the bottom, like ones filled with books or winter gear. Make sure you have a safe spot for boxes that have fragile items — don’t set anything on top of boxes filled with dishes or breakables. Consider adding a few storage racks, so you can secure fragile boxes on the bottom shelf and still place other containers above them. If you’re using a storage unit or portable container, create small paths so you’re able to easily access what you need. 

Presto. You’re ready to grab the perfect boxes for your storage needs and have a plan for organizing them. Now, if you need some place to put those boxes, check out our article on choosing the right storage facility.

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