Packaging Materials

Self Storage thinking outside the boxMore or less every storage firm that operates more than just a couple of sites sells its own packing materials for customer use. First-time customers are therefore likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer range of choice on offer, and vulnerable to wasting money on all kinds of branded cardboard and foam products that they don’t really need. Here are the essentials: 

Cardboard boxes – Should cost between £2 and £4 for a “medium-sized” one that could take paperback books, ornaments and other lightweight objects, although as “large” ones are often available for less than a pound more it may help to err on the bigger side. Some companies will offer to replace boxes as they wear out for free, and a few even buy back ones that you don’t use in the beginning, removing the problem of purchasing too many. Note, however, that fruit cartons are often available free from supermarkets, and are usually strong enough to meet the demands of storage.  Best buy: Shurgard standard box, £2.90*

Archive boxes – Costing about £4–£5 for a “large” one, these are slightly bigger, sturdier cousins of ordinary storage boxes and are designed to hold files in reserve until they are no longer needed. They would normally only be used by companies looking to protect their professional records, and handily come with a space for writing the “destroy by” date on the side. The best way to use one is to pack lever-arch files alternately the other way up (as if filling all the gaps in a W-shape), so that space at both the top and bottom of the box may be occupied fully. Best buy: Shurgard archive box, £2.90

Wardrobe boxes – Designed specifically for storing clothes, these help to keep their fabric in shape by suspending them from hangers inside box, as in a domestic wardrobe. They usually cost between £9 and £12 at one of the big storage companies, although as each one’s internal space is smaller than that of a typical wardrobe, this may be an expensive option for those wishing to store many garments. Best buy: Shurgard wardrobe box, £9

Self Storage Tape GunPacking tape – Used to seal the boxes, and available for about £3 a roll. If a lot of boxes need sticking shut, it may be worth investing in a tape gun (£8 or so, pictured), which stops you having to cut the tape yourself. Best buys: Shurgard packing tape, £2.48; Lok’nStore Tape Gun, £6

Bubble Wrap – Something to be careful with on price as the larger quantities can get very expensive: it is important to know how much you need in advance. Comes in small and large sizes, with the latter being wider for wrapping around more sizeable objects. Big Yellow sell bubble wrap by the metre (85p small, £1.25 large), making them probably the cheapest supplier. But if you have a lot of the type of delicate ceramic or glass objects that need to be wrapped in bubble wrap for their protection, it might be nest to buy it in a bulk roll: 100m rolls of large bubble wrap cost £30–£55. Best buy: Big Yellow Large bubble wrap, £1.25 per metre

Dust sheets – Useful for covering the floor underneath your possessions or putting over them, as otherwise dust is likely to infiltrate your unit and pile up everywhere, especially around soft furnishings like chairs and sofas. Should be cheap at about £4 each, but note that dust sheet dimensions vary between the big companies. Best buy: Shurgard dust sheet, £3.98

Sofa/mattress bags – Essential for keeping dust or moisture off your soft furnishings while they’re in storage, and cheap (usually around £4) compared to the price of replacing a damaged sofa or mattress . Best buy: Both from Lok’nStore, £3

Foam corners – Foam shapes for cushioning the corners of tables and wooden picture frames so that they aren’t damaged in transit. They vary in size depending on how thick the corners are on the object you want to use them with. Not available at all the main storage companies. Best buy: Only sold by Access, £4 for four

Tissue paper – Soft tissue that’s useful for protecting delicate objects like crockery and ornaments or placing between adjacent pieces of furniture (such as chairs stacked on top of each other). Packets which specifically state the paper is acid free minimize the risk of any damage to objects it is in contact with, and are essential for use in protecting photo-albums and other delicate types of paper. Best buy: Access acid free tissue paper, £3 for 40 sheets

*Please note: The "best buy" judgements have been obtained by comparing the prices quoted online in the packaging departments of Big Yellow, Shurgard, Access and Lok’nStore. They were correct at the time of writing.