Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Storage Ideas

Storage is always a necessity. Many times we find ourselves with more stuff than places to put it. And being a lover of old buildings, storage was something not really considered so many years ago. One reason is they were not consumed with materialism and the accumulation of stuff. It also was a matter of society not making as much stuff and thinking we need to hang onto it. We have all sorts of things from food, to ghastly amounts of paper goods, to holiday decorations, to seasonal clothing, to other prized stuff. But what do we do with it? Where is the best place for it? And how do we store it?

My last house started with little storage, but after about 20 years, I had so many nooks and crannies filled with shelving and drawers that I did not realize how much stuff we had until we moved. Then it was hard to find a place for them that was much bigger. Why? No storage. I am trying to change all that. Do I build it? Buy it? Metal? Wood? Plastic? Oy the choices.

Basement Storage
Basements are great places to forget about, hide things, or just store stuff. But the problem with basements is they have a high relative humidity, or even worse, water. High relative humidity will cause mold spores to grow, which could render your stuff yucky.

The first order of business is to keep it dry. Redirect downspouts so water does not come in. Regrade the lawn away from the house. Install a dehumidifier with the ability to drain. If you don’t empty the bucket regularly, then you are not keeping the relative humidity consistent. I ended up installing a condensate pump, which is used for HVAC, and stuck the drain hose outside a window.

Next is to keep everything off the floor. Even if you do not get water, cardboard and other absorbent materials will wick moisture from the concrete. Use some old bricks, concrete blocks or sacrificial wood to prevent dampness or direct water from the floor.

Attic is pretty much the opposite. It should be the driest place in the house, but if it is in the unconditioned space (above the insulation), then you will have weather extremes, from freezing to sweltering hot. Make sure whatever you put up there can handle it. Certain items like paper can be affected by wide swings of temperature and relative humidity, so keep more sensitive things in your conditioned living space.

Living Space
If your house has a high relative humidity, or always feels wet, be sure the storage space or containers can stay dry.

Shelving Systems
To say metal is best assumes the metal components are sturdy, rust resistant, and easy to assemble. The stability of a metal shelf relies on the size and design of the legs or a good secure anchoring systems, and the ability of the shelf to securely hook onto the legs or supports. If it is anchored to a wall, do the tug test. If you can pull it out, it is not good enough. There are several types of wall mollies (screw into wall mounting systems) to choose from.

I like the “L” angle commercial shelves that have many holes for attaching shelves and cross braces. Baker’s racks are great too. There are several surplus and used equipment suppliers in the state that sell them at a big discount.

The plastic coated wire shelves are OK, but not as good in moist areas, and the wall mollies are poor, but you can upgrade.

Wood is another product that can be poor or great. I hate anything with particleboard, which is pressed sawdust, wood shavings, or wood chips and a resin. They can hold very little and sag with moisture and weight. Plywood, or multiple layers of veneer, gets better with the more layers it has. Solid wood is best, although knots can weaken a board. A distance more that 24 inches for any ¾ of an inch thick stock will bend. If you want a stronger shelf, secure a 2 inch wide piece under the front edge for greater stability. Unfinished wood can absorb moisture and get mildew or rot.

You can go back to college, where you buy some concrete blocks and some 1×12 or plywood. Put the concrete blocks on the floor about 3 feet or less apart (depending on the load) and then put the board over it. Stack another block on top, and so on.

Plastic can be very good, although cheap will perform poorly. While it will not rot, it can shatter from too much weight or degrade with extreme temperatures or sunlight.

Happy Hoarding!

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