If you're placing items into storage, you know you don't want to put anything directly on the floor. Water leaking in from another unit -- not to mention the dust that's usually on the floor -- can ruin your belongings. Sometimes putting a piece of plastic down, like a tarp, offers basic protection, but getting as much as you can off the floor is often better. A fast solution is to find a cheap pallet and place everything on that, but spending the money on heavy-duty shelving is often better, especially if you have a lot of boxes.
Box Weight and Stack Steadiness
Unless the items you have packed in boxes are very light, you're not going to be able to stack many of them on top of each other. The bottom boxes could be crushed by the weight of all the boxes on top of them. Also, if the boxes are of different sizes, especially if they're boxes from places like grocery stores (in other words, not the traditional moving-box sizes), the stacks could be very unsteady.
Heavy-duty shelving units that are freestanding alleviate these problems by removing all that weight from the bottom boxes. The shelving also gives the boxes more stability by providing a consistent base. The only real disadvantages to using the shelving are that boxes that are bigger than the shelf spaces won't fit, and the shelving can be an issue in earthquakes since you won't be able to bolt it to the walls or floor. However, you can help stabilize the shelving a little more by ensuring that larger items are placed in front of the shelving. Depending on the space you have and the unit's layout, you might be able to wedge enough against the shelving to help keep it upright.
Be aware, though, that quakes would be an issue for stacks of boxes on a pallet, too, so you wouldn't fully avoid that problem by using pallets.
Pallets do work for very large boxes that won't fit in the shelving, of course, and they're good for smaller piles of boxes in very small units. Sometimes the storage facility will offer the pallets for rent for a very low price, or even for free, which is helpful budgetwise.
But if you think you're going to have to stack more than four boxes in each pile, investing in shelving may save you some heartache down the road. If you want to find out more about ways to protect your belongings in storage, talk to the people in the front office at storage facilities in your area. They know what can happen in a storage unit and will have several strategies for protecting your belongings.
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