Self Storage Jargon Buster

Access period – The hours each day between which a tenant is permitted to enter their storage unit. Can vary from ordinary office hours (9am–5pm) to so-called ‘extended hours’ (often 5/6am–11pm) or even 24 hours with some providers.

Archive boxes – Large cardboard boxes designed for holding office records during the set period that they need to be retained for; used mostly by professional archiving companies (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Biometric security – A system for controlling access to storage units based on physicSelf Storage Fingerprintal details, such as fingerprints. It usually works by having the customer register their fingerprints with the company, so they then need only to touch them against the biometric reader in order to release the facility’s outer lock on future occasions. This would normally only be a means of securing the perimeter of a storage facility rather than the actual units, which are still most often protected with metal padlocks.

Bubble Wrap – The trademarked name for thin sheets of plastic that are covered in small round pockets of air. Available in both different widths and different sizes of bubbles, its role in self storage is to protect delicate materials, such as ceramics and glassware, from being damaged by cushioning them against impacts (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Container storage – Self Storage Defined container(see left) The name for self storage units which have been created from disused shipping containers; they are characteristically smaller than the storage units of warehouse developments, and more likely to be run on a single-site basis. 

Dust-sheets – A thin covering (cloth or plastic) used to cover objects while they’re not being used so that dust and dirt won’t accumulate on them; useful in self storage units, where dust will build up over time  (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Storage facility – The site where a company’s storage units are located, usually also including the reception area, packaging shop, loading bay and car parks. They vary in design from large warehouses, in which everything is under one roof, to more diffuse layouts, where metal containers or garage lock-ups may be spread over a bigger area.

Foam corners – Smooth caps made out of foam that are used to protect the wooden corners of tables and picture frames from contact abrasion (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Hand trolley – Self Storage Hand Trolley(see right) Wheeled metal vehicles designed for pushing larger objects around once they’ve been loaded onto the bottom (flat) end. Usually provided free of charge by the larger storage companies to assist customers with moving their goods in and out.

Loose fill – Polystyrene shapes used for filling the empty space around small objects stored in larger cardboard boxes, to protect them from impacts.

Packing tape – Thin plastic tape with an adhesive on one side, most often used in the self storage industry for sealing shut cardboard boxes (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Pallet truck – Self Storage Pallet Truck(see left) A wheeled vehicle with two lengthy prongs designed for moving pallet-mounted objects around. Large self storage facilities usually make them available to customers free of charge.

Polychips – Small shapes made from polysilicon that serve the same purpose as Loose fill.

Public liability – The legal responsibility a self storage company has towards its customers to protect their possessions from harm. If this has not been performed to a high enough degree by the company, then the customer may be able to bring a lawsuit against it.

Rollup (roller) door – The type of metal covering most storage units have over their entrance. Unlike other doors, it doesn’t open outwards but instead is a flexible, articulated metal panel that is rolled up and then secured above the opening.

Sackbarrow/Sacktruck – Self Storage handtruck (see right) Two wheeled trolley that bears heavy loads using the pivot principle, pushed by hand.

Sofa/mattress bags – Plastic covers for protecting soft furnishings from dust and light damage whilst in storage (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

SSA UK – The Self Storage Association, the UK industry body that represents the self storage sector. It has over 250 members for whom it organises conferences and events, lobbies other organisations, and establishes industry codes of practice. All companies that have membership display its logo on their websites and promotional materials. 

Storage unit – A space, usually measured in a square feet, which self storage companies provide for their customers at an agreed rate per month (or every four-week period) for them to store objects in.

Tenancy agreement – Self Storage Signing ContractThe contract between a storage provider and its customers, which lays out the price they will pay alongside any attached conditions. These will usually include both the process which is enacted if a tenant fails to keep up with their payments and the amount of notice they need to give when planning to move out.

Tissue paper – Thin sheets of firm tissue used for protecting delicate surfaces while they are stored, such as the seats of a sofa (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Wardrobe boxes – Tall cardboard boxes used for keeping clothes in shape while they are stored (see ‘Things to buy when packing for storage’).

Warehouse storage – The name for storage units which have been built as rooms inside a large permanent structure. This is typically the design favoured by all the large-scale, multi-site operators as it allows a huge number of differently sized units to be put up in a single place at once.