What You Need to Know About Storing Photos & Books in a Storage Unit

Posted on 2019-08-06 in Blog

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Did you know that self-storage units are commonly used to store books and photos?  

Photos and books are held onto because they hold sentimental value, monetary value, or both. Book collections, especially, can have tremendous monetary value. And while photos hold sentimental value, they are often considered priceless and irreplaceable, depending on where and when they were taken.

The most common reasons our customers store their books and pictures at our self-storage facility is because:

  • They are saving them for future generations or for someone special and they wanted a safe place to keep them.
  • They downsized and no longer have the space at home for them.
  • They reclaimed their basement, spare room, or garage and needed another means to store them.

When storing books and photos, humidity, temperature and light can cause irreversible damage to these precious items if not managed correctly:

  • Photos can become permanently faded, rippled, cracked & brittle.
  • Books can swell, become warped and the paper can become brittle too.

This is why it’s best not to store them in attics, basements, garages or sheds. These places are often damp, experience major fluctuations in temperatures and humidity, and can have unpleasant pest issues – none of which are good for storing books or pictures.  

For ultimate protection and safeguarding of your photos and books, store them either a temperature controlled or climate-controlled storage unit. Temperature controlled storage regulates temperature, while climate-controlled storage regulates both temperature and humidity levels.

While there are many opinions about what the optimal temperature and humidity should be for storing books and photos, from reputable institutions and experts around the world, a good rule of thumb is that if you’re feeling warm and sweaty, your stored paper items are likely experiencing the same thing. 

Now, just the act of moving books and photos into a self-storage unit does not instantly preserve or protect them. If not properly prepared for storage or stored properly inside a self-storage unit, these valuable items can still get damaged or fully ruined. It’s also important to rent a self-storage unit from a reputable storage company who maintains a secure and clean facility. The last thing you need to worry about is your storage unit being broken into or pests like rodents, feeding, gnawing or burrowing into your stuff.

Here’s how you can help safeguard your photos and books while in self-storage:

Tips for Storing Photos in a Self-Storage Unit:

  • Make a digital copy of your photos prior to self-storage.
    • This 100% guarantees that your photos will be preserved forever.
    • Make sure to store them on a USB or cloud.
  • Store loose pictures in a photo-safe container & do not over or under-fill.
    • Look for photo-safe plastic containers containing uncoated polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester as these can withstand temperature fluctuations.
    • Also seek out containers that are free of acid, lignin and PVC.
    • When filling your photo storage box, stack the photos so that there is minimal room to move around, but still a little breathing room.
    • Don’t overfill these containers because your pictures could stick together or get bent or creased.
  • If using photo albums, use acid-free albums, and avoid over-filling them.
    • Overfilling can cause bending, creases or spillage which can all damage photos.
  • Avoid using tape, paperclips and rubber bands, which deteriorates and scratches paper.
  • Avoid self-storage units with windows and don’t store directly under fluorescent lights.
    • UV and fluorescent lights break down images over time.
    • Keep photos in a dark corner of your unit.

Tips for Storing Books in a Self-Storage Unit:

  • Use a shelf inside your storage locker.
    • Place your books upright and use bookends to prevent angling, which can cause damage to the book spine.
    • Stack books flat, with larger books on the bottom.
  • Use acid-free and lignin-free cardboard boxes, and either:
    • Pack books flat, with larger books at the bottom.
    • Pack books with the spine down.
  • When stacking books either on a shelf or in a box, keep stacks short.
    • This helps prevent the bottom books from being damaged by the weight of the books stacked on top of them.
    • Rule of thumb is to keep stacks no higher than 12 inches.

One final tip for storing books and photos in a storage unit is to keep them off the ground, even if they are tucked away in boxes. We suggest using a pallet or shelf and leaving at least 4 inches between your stored books and photos and the walls, ceiling and floor.

If you’re currently using ‘regular’ self-storage to store books or photos, or any other valuable items that don’t fare well in humidity, here are 6 tips to help limit humidity inside your unit.

If you’re looking for safe, secure, affordable temperature controlled self-storage, consider Storage Solutions Woodstock. Our facility is located minutes off Hwy 401 and Hwy 403, providing easy access to customers in Woodstock, Tillsonburg, Norwich, Ingersoll, Thamesford, Beachville, Drumbo, Innerkip, Shakespeare and other Oxford county communities.

Contact us today for more information, to set up a tour of our facility or to take advantage of our $1 move in special!

Your friends in self-storage,

Storage Solutions


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