Storing Fragile Items

November 21st, 2022

9 Tips for Storing Fragile Items

1. Use the Right Supplies

Overall, packing materials and supplies are essential in helping keep your fragile items in pristine condition when stored. What sort of packing supplies do you need for storing delicate items? It really does depend on what items you are storing.

The most important thing that you need are sturdy boxes, in a variety of sizes and types. Depending on what you are storing, and how valuable these items are, you may want to invest in mirror boxes, dish boxes or wardrobe boxes, which are all specially designed for storing these types of items. Using them (and using them properly), can help minimize and prevent damage to these items placed in these boxes. You can also use quality plastic stackable bins with secure lid. They are a great alternative to cardboard boxes! 

Other supplies you may need or want to consider using include:
  • Bubble wrap – It’s a tried, tested, and true classic when it comes to protecting items in boxes or any packaging. We suggest that you wrap fragile items individually with bubble wrap (and secure it with tape so it stays put). Just laying bubble wrap in a box or covering items with a sheet of it does not stop or minimize items from jostling around and bumping into each other, which can cause damage.
  • Foam peanuts or packing peanuts – This is very commonly used loose fill-packaging that provides extra cushioning to fragile items when packaged in boxes for storage. It’s easy to use too – as you put your fragile items in the boxes or containers, pour the foam peanuts in so that they fill in all the empty spaces.
  • Packing paper or kraft paper – This is commonly used to wrap glassware, books, and items that you do not want to get scratched. It also provides extra cushioning and shock absorbing when bunched up like tissue paper and used to fill in empty spaces in boxes. Newspaper is commonly used in place of these higher quality papers but does not provide the same robust protection. It is very thin and tears easy. In addition it can leave marks or stains on certain items after prolonged storing.
  • Stretch wrap – This stretchy plastic film is great to use if you need to keep items tightly bound. It’s commonly used for wrapping pallets, but it can be helpful when storing large fragile items, especially antique furniture.
  • Packing tape – This is great for sealing up your boxes once they are packed up and ready for storage. Why invest in it? It’s more durable than shipping tape and continues to work in both hot and cold environments.
  • Cardboard dividers or felt dividers - While these are commonly used when shipping items, these are great when storing fragile items because they gently hold your highly delicate items in place, keeping them from jostling about which can result in cracks and breaks.
  • Furniture pads or moving blankets – These heavy-duty cloth coverings are ideal to use when you’re moving and storing delicate or vulnerable furniture items. They basically hug your stuff, creating a layer of cushioning and absorbing any shock.
  • Padded inserts or foam inserts These are fantastic to use when storing fragile items made from glass, ceramic, or porcelain. They are dense but very lightweight so you can fit or mold them to the inside of a box to create an effective barrier of protection. These basically give your fragile items something gentle and soft to snuggle against and into.
  • Markers – We explain these in #5 and #6 below.
Here at Prairie Self-Storage, we make getting supplies fast and easy by offering quality and affordable moving and packing supplies at our storage facilities for purchase. If you don’t have a budget for supplies like these, common household items like towels, sheets, blankets, or comforters can be used to wrap larger items like antique furniture, pictures, artwork, mirrors, and televisions. 

2. Pad Your Boxes

Now that you have the right packing supplies, it’s time to prep your boxes by lining them before you start to fill them. Why? This adds an extra layer of cushioning and protection. Your fragile items will have something extra to support them anytime the boxes are moved around. What do you pad them with? Bubble wrap, foam inserts or padding, even packing or kraft paper. If you don’t have any of that, consider using an old towel.

3. Wrapping Your Fragile Items

Depending on what you are storing, use one of the appropriate packing supplies mentioned above in #1, to individually wrap each fragile item you want or need to store. Be sure to use tape to secure the wrapping around the item so that it remains in place, and therefore can do its job. If you need cardboard or felt dividers to keep the items from touching each other, this is the time to add them to the box. Once those are in place, cover with packing peanuts, foam padding, bubble wrap or bunched up packing paper.

4. Pack Light

No matter how well wrapped your delicate items or antiques are, if you put too many in a box, the chances for damage increase. It’s very important when storing fragile items to leave lots of extra space in these boxes so items have room to breathe and shift. That ‘breathing room’ is filled with packing peanuts, foam padding, bubble wrap, packing paper, or household towels or bedding so that when the items do shift, they are coming into contact with soft, gentle materials designed to absorb shock, cushion and protect them. Whenever your packing boxes in general (fragile items or not), consider following the tips and advice in our how to pack a box infographic. Another important reason for packing light is because boxes are commonly stacked when stored away. If they are over-filled, become too heavy or bulge out, as they are stacked, they could crush boxes beneath them, damaging what’s inside. How many items per box is best?  That really depends on the size of the box, the type of the box (is it a specialty box that already has dividers in place?), and what you are storing inside.  

5. Take Inventory of What’s in Each Box.

Make a list of what’s in each box or container. This is one of our favourite tips to share, and one that we encourage our customers to do for anything they store. This tip is really helpful when storing fragile items because these type of items are wrapped up so even if you have a clear plastic bin, you cannot see what is inside. That’s not convenient or helpful. In fact it can make it very frustrating and time consuming to find something that you need. Taking inventory is pretty easy. Simply list the contents on the outside of the box or jot it on a price of paper and tape that to the outside of the box or container. If you’re worried the paper may get damaged or torn, put that in a plastic sleeve and affix that to the box. You just need to pull out the sheet of paper to update it or replace it.

6. Mark These Storage Boxes as ‘Fragile’

The items in these boxes are fragile, and it’s important that this information be clearly and boldly noted on these boxes. It acts as a visual reminder and will help ensure that they are handled with care by you or anyone else who happens to be moving them or has access them.

7. Stacking Matters

In this blog post we’ve commented on stacking boxes already, but it’s a pretty important thing so we’re still dedicating a section to it. Really, no matter what you are storing or for how long, how you go about stacking stored items matters.  We suggest that anytime you stack boxes, you always put heavier items on the bottom, and light ones on top. If you’re storing fragile furniture, we do not suggest you lay anything on top of these items. Even with furniture padding on them and a layer of stretch wrap, you could still damage the furniture by storing things on top of them. If you are storing lots of things and many differently types of things, #8 can really help.

8. Consider Shelving

Using shelving in your storage areas at home, work or in your self-storage unit is a great way to help organize and further protect the items you are storing. It keeps them off the ground, helps control how high you stack boxes (there is only so much space between shelves), and the shelves offer a study base to store your fragile items on.

9. Security, Security & Security!

Fragile items often do have high monetary value (and sentimental value) and even with insurance, these items may not be replaceable. It is truly in your best interest to find a self-storage facility that is secure and makes your security a top priority. Here at Prairie Self-Storage, we offer 24-hour surveillance, gated access, well-lit yards, and we have staff regularly observing our facility doing security checks. Learn more about what really makes a self-storage facility secure. Another important security must-have is a lock on your storage unit.

We hope that you find these fragile storage tips helpful! Please like us on social media, and check out our website for more FAQ's and unit availability!

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