Tetris – yes, that video game of fitting blocks together the ancients is what you should really have in mind when it comes time to load your truck or storage unit with your belongings. Your storage items come in many shapes and sizes, just like Tetris blocks, and just like the best way to beat Tetris, fitting them together as tightly as possible is also the best way to optimize storage. In other words, it’s the best way to save space and prevent your items from shifting and being damaged.

Access Storage provides storage space to tenants across Canada, and we’ve seen some pretty impressive ways to load a storage unit over the years. With our experience, we thought that sharing these tips and tricks with you would help make your storage project a more successful one. Read on for the guide that will help you fit your storage contents together like a game of Tetris, keeping them as safe as possible.

Level 1: The set up

Before loading your storage unit with your items, you should enact some preventative measures to ensure your belongings remain in good condition. If you have rented a drive-up unit, then items may be susceptible to fluctuating weather conditions. It is, therefore, a good idea to cover the concrete floor with a thick sheet of plastic. This will help guard against fluctuations in temperature and condensation from the floor.

Level 2: The plan

It is very important to start loading your storage locker with a plan in mind. Just like in Tetris, blocks are stacked in particular ways, otherwise, you’re filling the screen too quickly, and… game over. The same thing occurs when loading your storage unit: you need to plan out the items you are stacking together.

Start big, and then go small. Large items, such as a dresser, work perfectly as “base” items that you can stack smaller and smaller items on top. Stack tables upside down on top of the dresser, and then fill in between the legs of the table with boxes. On top of the boxes, smaller, lighter items, such as bags of pillows or boxes with lamp shades inside, are perfect to get you to fill the space right to the ceiling.

As you stack items in the locker, stack things in tiers: create a row of “base” items to fill across the back wall, and then build up from there. Do your best to keep the tier (row) as straight/flat as possible, and then begin the next tier the same way, allowing you to stand on top of the “base” items to reach and stack on top of the previous tier.

Each item that is brought into the unit should be brought according to the need of the load (indeed, your truck should be loaded in a similar way, such that you will be bringing similar-sized items at a pace you need them in).

Before you get too excited bringing the items into the locker like this though, keep in mind what you need access to and when. If you have items in storage that you will need access to on a regular basis, then you need to leave those in accessible places in your locker. This takes planning. If you have a significant number of these items, then you may want to plan out your storage unit such that you create aisles for you to access items by.

Don’t start bringing items into the locker until you have a proper plan, or you will be making your life much more difficult in the long run.

Level 3: The tricks for planning

If you want to get the most out of your storage unit, and you will be accessing items on a regular basis, then creating aisles is likely the best plan. A great way to do this is to utilize shelving units to create those aisles. Once you’ve loaded the back space with most of the items you will not need regular access to, then start creating your aisles with shelving units. To do this, of course, you do need to have this decision planned out in advance, leaving shelving out until they can serve this purpose.

Shelving units can be great, not only for creating aisles, but also allowing you to organize contents on their shelves. Similarly, dressers or cabinets can be used like this, as they too have space that you can use twice; store belongings within their cupboards and drawers to maximize the use of space. Then leave masking tape on the outside of each cupboard/drawer, writing a label on it, reminding you of what’s where so that you can find it easily again.

While there are many articles out there that suggest you should be dismantling furniture, this is not the best advice. Ideally, you never have to waste the time to dismantle these items (and the time to put them back together) – utilize them more intelligently by filling their spaces in the above ways. Moreover, there’s a lot of furniture out there that does not go back together in the same condition before it was dismantled. Any furniture that is made with dowels, for example, certainly fits this description. Keep it together unless it doesn’t fit through a door or is too heavy to lift, otherwise always try to keep it as one piece.

Level 4: Specific pieces

Certain items have their own tricks involved, and this includes mirrors and paintings. Both items should be stored in picture boxes to keep them properly protected, but their shape often appears difficult to work with when considering loading (never lie them flat!). This is not actually the case if you work with them well – they’re somewhat like the long Tetris pieces: leave them until they can make 4 complete rows for a maximum score.

In other words, picture boxes can be utilized to fill in the end of a tier that does not quite make the full stretch across the wall. Multiple picture boxes can do this trick for larger gaps. If one section of your tier does not line up flush with the rest of it, then a picture box (or 2) can, again, fill the gap. View picture boxes as gap fillers, and you’ll hit the high score.

Filling gaps is more important than you may first think. Any gap left in your load is simply a space that can allow things to shift – this is even more important when you are loading your truck. Use small items to fill in any gaps. Even go as far as to take old blankets or moving pads and wedge them into gaps to fill the space properly.

Appliances are their own special playing pieces themselves. While they can often be excellent items to use as “base” at the back of your storage unit, you do need to be warry of the fact that they are usually wet or damp. Always try to dry them out as well as possible, but once you are storing it, it is a good idea to leave doors ajar to keep air circulating to avoid mould growth.

Finally, there are other items that should just be left until the end. Any item that is irregular in shape, particularly heavy and/or dirty fits the bill here. We’re thinking of lawnmowers, snow-blowers, and other tools. These belongings are usually horrible for loading and will only create problems in your load, while making surrounding items dirty. Keep them out until the end so that you can avoid the problems they bring with them.

You’re now set for achieving your storage-loading high score! Speak with your Access Storage agent for further information and advice on how to load, or for any self storage related questions.