Planning Your Metal Storage Space

Prefab industrial storage building

When acquiring a new storage space, assembling your metal storage kit is only half the battle. Thanks to the superior design of steel building kits, it is often easier to plan and assemble a storage structure than it is to plan the interior layout of the storage space, and move in items and equipment.

However, with some prior planning and forethought you can make your storage building easy to access and use, while making the most efficient use of your new space.

Make the Most of your Wall Space

When deciding upon the square footage of a storage space many owners think about storing the majority of tools and equipment within the floor space while some of the most spacious storage areas in the building are often underutilized: the walls. Storing items along the walls can help free up floor space and also make many tools easy to access and see. Look into hanging racks, shelves and pegboards to place on your interior walls. Most home renovation and DIY stores offer a wide variety of shelves and organization units in all shapes and sizes, and if you have some previous building experience it is also fairly easily to design and construct your own storage units that can be custom designed to fit your storage needs.

When utilizing vertical storage space make sure all organization units are securely fastened to the walls to increase the safety of those using the building and to make sure that everything stays in place in areas with inclement weather. If the size and type of items you will be storing are likely to change frequently invest in adjustable shelving units so you can adjust the height and number of shelves to be most effective.

If planning for long-time storage of similar items use color coding and labeling to help keep tools organized and easy to find. Label individual shelves by category, such as Cleaning or Household items and store similar items together. Place pegboards on the wall to hang smaller tools and outline these items with a permanent marker to ensure they are always put back in the correct place and help quickly identify which items are missing when they are not in place.

Be Smart about Water

Regardless of the level of precipitation in your area, storage areas are prone to house standing water and moisture in the walls and ceiling. Make sure to protect your building and the items within it by planning for this excess water. Store items that are prone to water damage at least several inches off the floor. If feasible placing a submerged drain in the center of the structure can help take water away from the walls and foundation of the building.

Steel is not only great for the exterior of your building but also the interior. Build shelving units out of stainless steel to ensure they are durable, water resistant and free from rust. Place shelving units a few inches from the wall as well as from the ceiling to avoid trapping moisture between the two and to prevent condensation buildup on the walls from leaking onto your equipment.

Take Care of your Walls

The walls are literally the building block holding up your structure, so make sure you put forth the effort to take care of them to ensure the longevity and stability of your building. This proper care starts as soon as the building is erected; be sure to apply the appropriate finishes to your walls. Not only does paint spruce up the appearance of your building but also many paints contain protective layers of polyurethane and other protective polymers. If you want to invest in color paint, consider covering walls with a clear shellac. A clear layer of paint is often cheaper than color paint but still offers added protection from moisture and rust. Consider also applying this clear coat to your floors as the frequent moving of heavy objects and foot traffic can scratch and mark floors allowing dirt and moisture to live in the cracks.

When hanging items from the walls be wary of how much vertical load your walls can handle. Make sure storage racks and the items themselves are attached in a way that will evenly distribute their weight. Try to avoid propping items up against the wall as these unsecured items can cause damage to the walls as well as present a safety hazard for those using the building. Use slated wall panels for adjustable shelving units to minimize damage when consistently rearranging and altering shelf height.

Plan for the Most Efficient and Safe Use of Space

Put some thought into what items will be kept inside your new storage unit and how you can best organize these items. Be mindful of how often these items will need to be accessed. Place items that will be used infrequently near the back of the structure or on the uppermost shelves, while placing more commonly used items where they can be most easily reached. If you're storing larger or more heavy items invest in a trolley to more easily maneuver items around the unit.

Before placing items in storage create a simple diagram laying out how you plan to store items. This will allow you to map out pathways and ensure you have enough room to maneuver once inside your new storage unit and it will also serve as a helpful reminder of where items are once everything is in place.

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Take Care of the Exterior

The proper care of your new building doesn't stop with the interior. It is important to also take care of exterior facing walls and roof panels as these are the surfaces subjected to all weather, outside heat and animal and human interference. Routinely clean the exterior of your building using a mixture of warm water and household cleaner. If a stronger substance is needed mix in a little bleach and use a low-pressure power washer to remove dirt. Learn more about roofing options for your building.

Protect your building against animals that can harm your exterior walls or foundation. Regularly apply bug and rodent repellent around all sides of the building, as well as using mesh wire to cover any gaps around the base of your building. If you have an overhanging roof also place mesh fencing on the underside of the overhang to prevent birds, bees and wasps from building nests. Also place moisture absorbers and the proper water pipes and drains around the base of your building to keep water from pooling around the foundation. To learn more about landscaping around your metal or steel building read our landscaping guide for beginners.


Author: Conrad Mackie