top of page
Signing a Contract


Self Storage: Storage Containers v Warehouse Storage

Updated: May 17, 2021

Choosing the right self-storage facility for you is massively important to ensure that your items stay safe, secure and free from damage. There are many aspects that should be considered before selecting a self storage unit.


If you need frequent access to your Storage unit, it is good idea to choose a facility that is close to where you live, but also consider the accessibility to your unit. For example, there are many Self Storage Facilities that consist of sectioned rooms inside a warehouse which means the arduous task of lugging your goods from your car or the back of a van all the way to your unit, which can be hard work and time consuming. Most facilities do not have proper parking spaces and so transporting the goods from the truck to the unit and back can be difficult. If you have any health concerns or if you are unable to find any help, look for a unit that you can drive straight up to the door, even though you may have to pay extra for it. It will be worth the effort.

Also, if you are constantly wanting to move things in and out of your unit, warehouse self storage facilities are far from ideal. Deliveries on pallets? no chance! the corridors do not allow for forklifts and some warehouse self storage units are even up stairs!

Looking at Warehouse Storage

On New Year's Eve, 2018 in Croydon, London, a Self Storage Facility warehouse containing 1,198 rented units was destroyed in a fire. The whole of the four-storey Shurgard store on Purley Way, Croydon, was alight, with up to 120 firefighters tackling it. Customers were told it was "highly unlikely" any items would be salvaged.

Graham Ellis, assistant commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said it was "challenging" to contain the fire. "Self-storage units are generally full of items like furniture which when packed tightly provide a lot of materials to burn and so these sorts of incidents tend to create large fires that burn hard for a long time, creating a lot of smoke," he said. At this point it is unclear why the fire started but it is important to take this example of Storage Facility dangers into consideration.

Warehouse Self Storage Facilities tend to be a big warehouse with corrugated walls segmenting the units, and importantly may or may not have a roof over the unit. They design them like this to keep air flow, stopping damp etc which is great until you think about what this means in terms of fire safety. If one unit catches fire, the fire is more likely to spread to others.

Likewise, some removal companies offer Storage which may consist of putting your valuables into wooden crates and then being stacked within their warehouses. If for some reason one was to catch fire, it is likely the fire will spread to all of them and then the building. Always make sure you have insurance for your items and be aware of the fire risks associated with each Self Storage Facility.

So what other types of facilities are there?

Storage Containers. They are safe, secure, wind and watertight which means they are no different in terms of keeping your items safe and free from damage. In fact an argument could be made that they are even more secure than a self storage building as the structures are usually made of stronger materials, the doors are certainly stronger and harder to penetrate, and the lock boxes, in addition to proper container locks, offer superior protection against bolt cutting.

Access is easier, as you can usually drive straight up to your unit. Some companies will even have forklifts and can unload pallets putting them into your Storage Container for you. Some may charge and some may not, always ask if you want this feature.

In addition, because they are a contained space, this offers superior protection in terms of fire and explosions. A fire should not spread as quickly compared to a warehouse facility and depending on how long it took a fire team to get to the units, would be more manageable. This doesn't mean that a fire would not spread to other containers however, so always make sure you have insurance on your valuables whatever the type of unit you choose.


The amount of space you need is another factor that can help you to choose the right unit. Some container self storage facilities may offer only 20ft containers to store your items and if you don't have much to store, this may not be ideal. Try to choose a facility that offers differing sizes to give you options down the road. You may find that a 20ft Container is great right now, but you may want to reduce later down the line. Here at Spalding Storage for example, we offer 6ft, 8ft, 10ft, 20ft & 40ft Storage Containers, and at no extra cost and subject to availability, you can change the sizes to suit you. When you are comparing sizes, try to look at the square footage and compare. Some warehouse self storage facilities are even more expensive per square footage than the equivalent storage container.


Security is an important factor because you want your goods to be safe when you come back to get them. Check to see if the facility has CCTV and alarm systems and locate yourself where the cameras are. Also, check if the facility is fenced all the way around, and if they have a security gate that closes out of hours. Is there any staff on site during specific hours? Some facilities aren't manned and some facilities have staff on site 24/7. If you are planning to store a lot of valuable items like jewelry, expensive equipment or any other precious items, then you want to feel assured these items are safe.

You should be able to access your goods 24/7 for free. Some storage units have restricted times for access and if you want to access at a time when the facility is closed, you have to pay extra. Removal companies will have to find and get down your crates to which the almost always charge a fee. Look for a storage facility that gives you unrestricted access round the clock.


It may be an obvious statement to make but price is a big factor. Try to compare all these options to find a price that is right for you. Finding a storage facility just slightly further out of a big city or town may save money significantly, but could be more hassle to get to. Try to think about the local area the facility is located in, does moving my goods out of town mean bigger moving costs in hiring vans, and fuel costs every time I need to go to my unit? Is the going price for one town more than another? Taking the time to research these factors will ensure you feel safe and assured that your possessions are kept free from damage.

Final check

Units should be clean, dust free and obviously units should be free from pests, small rodents and other insects. Though most professional units are pest-free, it’s a good idea to check the precautions that have been taken to keep these insects and animals at bay.

Finally, before you sign the contract, check through the agreement to look for any hidden clauses or hidden charges. If you find any, discuss it with the storage facility and get it cleared before you enter into any kind of agreement with them. If the terms are unacceptable to you, never hesitate to look for other facilities..

Visit our Container Size guide for more information on Container sizes.


bottom of page