What to Put on The Floor of a Storage Unit?

Storage units provide a safe and efficient place to keep extra household items or small business inventory. But before you start packing, take the time to think about what should go on your storage unit's floor to protect your belongings

Storage units are extremely convenient and increasingly common across the country. However, many people don’t know what they should put on the floor of their storage unit to protect their items.

Put these on the floor of your storage unit to protect your items:

  • First, place a layer of pallets down to elevate the items
  • Layer a tarp or plastic sheet over top to protect from water damage
  • Consider other measures to prevent damage, such as pest traps or kitty litter to absorb humidity

In addition to protecting your belongings from water damage and pests, you should also consider how the size and organization of the unit and the temperature and humidity fluctuations in it may impact your belongings. We’ll cover all of that and more below.

Protect Your Items by Placing Barriers on the Floor of the Storage Unit

The most common form of damage that occurs inside a storage unit is water damage from the floor. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, expect water to find its way into the storage unit via the floor or entering through a leaky roof. The best way to protect against that is to layer protection between your items and the floor.

A wood pallets.
To protect your belongings in a storage unit, place pallets all over the floor and cover them with a sheet of plastic.

Here’s the best way to layer items on the floor and protect from water damage:

  • The first thing you should do is place a layer of pallets down. Pallets will elevate your items several inches, much higher than any water could reach. They are also plenty strong, so don’t worry about breaking them.
  • Cover the pallets with a sheet of plastic. Water on the ground will still evaporate as the unit heats and cools throughout the day and night. That water vapor can still cause issues on the underside of sensitive items. A layer of plastic sheeting or a large tarp will prevent that from being an issue.
  • It’s also best to place a tarp over top of important items. Even if your storage unit is very new and nice, leaks can still happen!
  • You can also use shelving to elevate small items. It also makes it much easier to organize.
  • Vacuum seal any documents. This helps to keep documents dry and prevents the retention of moisture which can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. 

Protect Your Belongings from Moisture

If you do not have a climate-controlled storage unit, you must take steps to ensure that the temperature and humidity are kept at a constant, steady level to protect your belongings. This is more of an issue in high-humidity areas, so keep that in mind if you live there.

A climate control unit control panel.
If your storage unit is not climate-controlled, you should check the temperature and humidity levels regularly.

This is important for everything you put in storage, but especially important for certain items: 

  • Items made out of wood, like furniture, artwork, or musical instruments can become warped, cracked or rot from moisture.  
  • Leather items, upholstery, clothing can become discolored and susceptible to mildew and mold. 
  • Items made from untreated metal, like certain furniture, car parts, or even records can crack or tarnish.
  • Paper items like important documents and photographs can fade, degrade, or otherwise become illegible.
  • Antiques and collectibles, or items with sentimental value should also be protected from temperature and humidity related damage. Older items are typically more susceptible to moisture damage, so keep that in mind.
A woman choosing at the hang clothes.
Clothing can become discolored and susceptible to mildew and mold. 

In addition to checking humidity levels regularly and making sure you only store completely dry items in the storage unit, you can used desiccants like silica gel packets, salt, rice, or kitty litter. Leave large containers of them (a gallon or so) around the unit, remember to change them every few months.

Tips for Keeping Items in A Storage Unit in Good and Safe Condition

There are many things to consider when selecting a storage unit. These include, cost, location, and whether a storage unit is in a self-service or full-service facility. Crucial to maintaining your belongings in a safe condition is how you organize your things in it, whether it is temperature controlled, and how secure it is from pests (or intruders!).

Organize Belongings in a Way That Won’t Damage Them

Mark the floor of the storage unit with tape to map out where you will put everything. This creates a useful visual to also determine not only where things will go and if they will fit in the space, but also to map out a path that allows access your belongings carefully without damaging them. 

The worst way for something to get damaged is if it were to fall or get crushed while you were attempting to extricate another item. Proper organization removes that issue.

A woman walking along the aisle of the storage facilty.
Adding shelves to your storage unit will help you organize your items and protect them against standing water.

Also, purchase shelving units that will allow you to use the vertical space in your unit to store items without worrying about things getting crushed. A shelving unit also provides elevation and therefore protection from standing water on the ground. Two for one!

Use Insulation for Longer Term Storage

If you plan to use the storage unit for a long period of time, installing insulation is another way to control temperature and humidity in storage. 

Insulation can be installed in the walls and roof to keep the building from overheating in the summer and becoming extremely cold in the winter. Some types of insulation can also create a “full vapor barrier”. This helps in avoiding condensation and moisture build up. 

This is only worth doing if you’ll be storing items for multiple seasons or even years. The extra insulation can prevent such wide swings in humidity and air conditions within the unit, which is important for long term storage.

Protect Your Belongings from Pests

Especially during colder seasons, rodents and bugs are on the lookout for warm, dry shelters. A nice cozy storage unit is like a 5-star hotel for those little travelers.

A pile of box sealed in a room.
Packing your items in tightly sealed boxes or containers will protect valuables from pests.

Thankfully, there are effective and affordable ways to prevent rodents or other bug pests from setting up shop in your unit and eating or otherwise damaging your items:

  • Pack stuffed or paper goods carefully in tightly sealed containers, so that rodents cannot tear them apart to use for bedding or nesting. Plastic containers that rodents cannot chew through are ideal.
  • Do not bring food into the storage unit, when you are working in it, and never store food in storage so that mice are not attracted to it. If you are using containers that once stored food to pack your belongings, make sure to clean and sanitize them thoroughly before using them to store items.
  • Wrap your upholstered furniture in plastic to protect it from rodents. Make sure to do it effectively, though, as rodents and bugs can find and fit through very small holes.
  • Set deterrents like rat poison, mouse traps and fly tape to capture pests. You can also use cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil around the storage unit since mice and a few other pests are repulsed by the smell of peppermint.

Padding the Floor of a Storage Unit: The Best Defense

As we mentioned in the beginning, the #1 cause of damage inside storage units is water damage from the floor.

The best way to prevent this is to do this to the floor of your storage unit:

  • Place a layer of pallets
  • Cover those pallets with plastic sheeting or tarps
  • Add pest traps, like sicky pads or mouse traps

In addition, it is a good idea to take steps to control temperature and humidity in your unit, assess the degree to which the storage facility provides security for your belongings and, to protect against the unpredictable, insure your belongings in storage.

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