Monday, February 23, 2015

BARN LOFT STORAGE CONTAINER IDEAS

Taking stuff to the barn this weekend had us wondering how best to use our storage.  We'll have questions about other types of storage ideas (a few of you have already found some great ideas!) but for this first post about it, we want to ask about storage containers...

Loft in barn
These are the two lofts in our new barn, one at each end of the building.  They are four feet deep, sixteen feet long and have about six feet clearance above.  They're even big enough to get up there and walk around.  We wanted them so that we could use them for storage of items that wouldn't fit in the house, rarely used items, for example, holiday decorations, extra dishes and supplies, etc.

Barn loft
So our question is this; does anyone have any advice for storing things in an environment like this?  Obviously we know cardboard is a no-no.  We want something that will keep the things inside as safe as possible from bugs, rodents, etc., and that won't collapse if we stack things on top of them.  


We immediately thought of Rubbermaid storage totes, but there are so many different types...different types of lids, taller, shorter, wider, etc.  We looked at the Sterilite brand at the store the other day but they seem kinda flimsy to hold up for several years of storage.

Any storage suggestions?  
Brands?  Sizes?  Styles?


27 comments:

Gail said...

I have barn envy!

steakandeggs said...

We did craft shows years ago, and use the hard plastic totes with the flip top lids. They are strong and stack well. We still have them and store stuff in the attic. We store our dug potatoes in them in the extra bedroom. A few small bugs can get in but not a big problem. I know that mice will chew the softer plastic one. We use the really hard plastic for some feed and the mice don't bother them. Our feed stores carry a round hard plastic half barrel. Price between $6.50 and $7.00. They will stack and have a ring to lock the lid on. You may check with the feed stores if you interest in those. Happy shopping.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i use all kinds of plastic storage in my garage attic and the mice seem to get into all of them. now i just put mouse poison up there all the time and it seems to take care of them. i lost a lot of stuff to those mice!

Linda said...

Which ever kind you choose have some sort of label/inventory system so you aren't hauling every single box down & opening it just to find that one perfect thing you have to have right now. I speak from experience :)

ladyhawthorne said...

I agree with Linda on the labeling. Another thought is color coding the totes, like red for Christmas, etc. You can also use the metal trash cans with lids, mice can't chew through those. If you opt to put out poison for the mice just make sure any local cats can't get to it...or just keep barn cats!

donna baker said...

Wood flooring and for the containers, just make sure there isn't a whole under the handles as I have found that mud daubers love to crawl inside the tiny hole and build those nasty nests. That being said, if I've learned anything all these years of storing stuff in my garages, houses and barns, if you have to store it away, you might save yourself the insurmountable problem of getting rid of all that stored stuff. Just sayin'.

Tewshooz said...

Hard plastic will become brittle and crack if you live in really cold winter climate. We don't buy Sterilite for that reason. Rubbermade totes are good, but mice can still get in. 5 or 6 gallon bucket with GammaSeals are mouse proof and bug proof. Also 55 gal drums with those spring loaded rings like they use at moving companies. I use Rubbermade totes for all inside storage of 'stuff'. The only thing I store in my barn are hard goods like tools, metal fence posts.

Anonymous said...

You can get the 27 gallon black storage box with yellow lid from Costco for $ 8.99. They are really tough.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

I agree with Tewshooz!

Tomato Thymes said...

I agree with Tewshooz also.

Kev Alviti said...

The blue drums made out of thick plastic with lids that clip on. Just make sure you label them well so you don't have to open them all to find what you want.

FionaG said...

Good luck, LOL. We use hard plastic containers but if a mouse (or rat) wants in..........

Anonymous said...

I have used Stearlite bins (have a whole garage full of them) for years and they have held up beautifully.

Margaret said...

The colour coding of bins is a great idea. I didn't do that but do keep bins for different purposes together (i.e. Christmas, Halloween, etc). The most helpful tool I use, however, is a labeling system.

I basically attached labels to all 4 sides & the lid of each box with a number - that way you can see the number, no matter how the bin is positioned. I then have a list with a table that shows the bin number on the left & the contents of the bin on the right (in list form, which is easier to quickly scan than paragraph form). When I am looking for one particular item, I can easily scan the list to see which bin it is in. It's also a breeze to change the listing as you add and/or remove items from each bin or when you want to add more bins or change up the contents of a bin. I keep the listing on a hook right next the bins so it's always at the ready when I need it.

The one other thing to keep in mind is that since you need to use a ladder to access your storage areas, you have to be careful about using bins that are too large and/or heavy to safely haul up a ladder.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Now I want a barn of my own...

Delores said...

Not sure what kinds of storage bins like Rubbermaid you have available there but I do know one thing for sure.....smaller bins for heavy stuff and larger bins for lighter stuff. You'll thank yourself later.

Practical Parsimony said...

I do the number label on all sides and top, like Margaret does. A mouse can get in any plastic by chewing or squeezing in. Christmas decorations will get bugs or chewed up by mice. Keep the Christmas decorations inside. Put the dishes outside. Remember, anything that will be harmed by heat, freezing, or dampness should not be put in the barn.

One thing that will assist you in storage is putting shelves above head height in the bar. That way you will not be using walking around space. Shelves that are too low will just take up floor space. I have new lawn chairs that fold. I am putting hooks about five feet off the ground so I won't have to left them too far. Yes, they will not be sitting on the ground ready to slide down.

A block and tackle would help hoist items to the loft. It would be cheaper than falling off a ladder.

Midnite Baker said...

Go Ask Martha:
http://www.themarthablog.com/2015/01/organizing-the-basement-canning-jars.html
She is very particular about her storage boxes. Check out the slide show of 16 when you have time.

Ninaschen said...

Not sure what brands of storage containers are available in the US but my one hint that hasn't already been mentioned is, if possible, use clear containers so you can see the contents easily.

Colleen said...

Map out your storage loft in quadrants—there is a left, right and back side of it, too.

Then organize your things according to usage. Invest in different colors of plastic containers so you can color-coordinate these items (i.e., green is for outdoor accessories, red is for holiday gear, etc.).

Or purchase a labeling kit from a crafts or home improvement store.
If you're concerned about rats and mice you might consider in getting New metal barrels or metal trash cans with good, tight fitting lids. Mice can't chew through metal like they can plastic.
Consider using the space between the rafters as well.

FionaG said...

Just another thought. I know you are talking 'loft' here but I thought I would mention this too. We use second hand wardrobes in our big shed. We find them very handy for storage. We try to get the old type that have been made really well and with good quality wood. The more draws they have the better.

Wean said...

I learned the hard way, many years ago when starting my life in the country, that rats will get into anything ! I lost lots of my precious belongings because I didn't know this.
An old farmer told me of a method he used to combat the problem. He used galvanised metal feed bins and surrounded those with a fine mesh screen.
It could present some problems with lifting the bins up onto the loft areas, but it must be do-able.
Those beams will make lovely climbing frames for Mr Ratty and his friends !

Colleen said...

http://atticmaxx.com/category/photo-gallery/ clever idea for loft storage solutions

http://www.familyhandyman.com/garage/storage/garage-storage-diy-tips-and-hints/view-all#step9 storage solutions not just for the loft space

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/garage-ceiling-storage/

Daphne Gould said...

Well mice can chew through any plastic. I have them in my plastic compost bin (very thick hard plastic) because they have chewed a hole in the side. It is hard to keep them away from anything food related. They can get into non food related plastic, but they don't have the desire as much. If you use plastic to store, make sure it is very hard thick plastic and cross your fingers. Metal is a whole lot more expensive, but safer too.

TexWisGirl said...

we have an open-sided loft in our barn, too. we store a few things in there. cardboard boxes rot away. plastic is okay as long as nothing inviting is inside for rodents, raccoons, squirrels, etc. still, plastic will eventually break down in the extremes of texas heat and freezes. but you need something almost airtight as the dust and pollen will blow in and get into everything if not protected. i, personally, would love to have metal storage chests, but we use plastic bins, too.

texomamorganlady said...

I have to agree with the above, the rodents will chew right into the plastic, even if the things in there don't seem to be something they would want. We had horse tack and odds and ends stored in big wood shipping containers, they chewed into those too, made nests in the horse blankets and defecated all over everything, ick! I have to recommend metal. but you can spray-paint it nice colors, and even paint designs if you are feeling artistic!

Meg said...

I agree with Lynda - it's really important to have some kind of label system! It will save you a lot of time that you can invest in fighting critters.