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How To Make Barn Storage With Pallets and Tarp

Updated on July 18, 2014

Why Barn Storage?

If you are moving to the country or if you know someone who has country property than utilizing a barn or an old build to store your belongings can save you hundreds of dollars in monthly storage fees. Commercial storage facilities can cost between $100.00 and $500.00 dollars per month depending on the size that you need. If you have access to a building even if it is a bit of a ruin with some free pallets and some cheap tarpaulin you can devise a reasonably secure makeshift storage facility and you will save thousands on commercial storage.

Barn Storage

Is Barn Storage Safe?

Most outdoor commercial storage containers are unheated so your household items will be exposed to atmospheric climatic conditions even though they are inside a metal structure. The barn storage is no different in the concern of atmospheric exposure; it is a little different, however, in the structural protection that is provided. The commercial metal storage containers, though many are not completely rodent proof, do provide a form of rodent control by limiting the spaces where rodents my get into the structure. The barn storage structure provides little protection against the numerous rodents that roam freely in your region of the country. As a result taking precautions to protect your items from rodent damage or infestation are necessary, but easily accomplished. Rather than storing your vulnerable items in cardboard moving boxes and plastic bags you will want to store your belongings in cheap plastic totes. Another concern depending on the build or barn structure's integrity may be the elements of the weather, but by putting pallets down on the floor and covering your belongings with a tarp the problems rain and snow and wind are eliminated.

Storing Your Belongs In Plastic Totes

To protect vulnerable items from rodents storage of items in plastic totes is necessary.
To protect vulnerable items from rodents storage of items in plastic totes is necessary.

Storing in Plastic Totes

Plastic totes are available in many different shapes and sizes and for storing items that need to be protected from all elements they are the achilles heel. Many people purchase cardboard moving boxes when storing their belongings because of the economy of cardboard, but plastic totes are not much more expensive. Competitive pricing has driven the cost of plastic totes down drastically. Consumers can now purchase plastic totes of all sizes very economically. Plastic totes that will hold as much as an average sized moving box that retails for $3.00 can be bought for around $6.00 each. When you consider the added protection of your property that is stored in the plastic totes and the longevity of the totes the extra cost is quite justifiable.

Plastic Totes are an Economical Choice

Plastic totes are sold in many convenient sizes.
Plastic totes are sold in many convenient sizes.

Plastic totes can be readily purchased in sizes that will uniformly fit all of your perishable items with no more strategic packing effort than moving boxes require. There are totes available on the consumer market as small as one cubic foot in volume and as large as a jockey box that fits across the entire width of a standard sized pickup truck box.

Small plastic totes work well for the storing costume jewelry and household ornaments and craft materials. The average sized totes are good for storing clothing and shoes or boots and household appliances and puzzles or games. The larger plastic totes can protect wall hangings and pictures with frames and if you need to store bigger items there are larger plastic totes yet. Some of the biggest plastic totes are six feet long and three feet in width. With all of your belongings protected in plastic totes your only needs to worry will be to get the totes up off the ground onto some form of subfloor and to cover them over some how.

Pallets make good flooring and are available FREE

Many businesses give pallets away FREE!
Many businesses give pallets away FREE!

Pallets Make Ideal Flooring

There is no better flooring for storing your plastic totes up on than pallets because pallets allow for the drainage of any moisture that the totes may be subjected to and they are abundantly available on the market for free. Many business give their used pallets away for free to avoid the hassle and cost of disposing of them at the landfill. By looking online or in the classified ads section of your local newspaper you can easily locate the businesses that have pallets to give away, but because there are numerous uses for free pallets they are becoming a hot commodity. People are beginning to use free pallets for building all types of innovative structures so once you locate some free pallets you will have to pick them up in a hurry; they are usually given away on a first come first served basis so do not delay.

Pallets on the Ground as Flooring

Put the pallets down on the ground side by side and stack your plastic totes on top of them.
Put the pallets down on the ground side by side and stack your plastic totes on top of them.

Why Pallets Make Good Flooring

First of all as mentioned earlier on today's market you do not have to pay for pallets - they are available for free. Secondly, pallets are built very sturdy and can carry a great deal of weight, therefore your heavy totes stacked up high will not cause them to sag allowing your totes to topple over. Thirdly, because the pallets are 4 to 6 inches in height they keep your belongings well up off the ground where everything will stay nice and dry. Lastly, pallets are constructed with plenty of space between their boards which allows for drainage of any moisture and if there be any moisture around or under the pallets their design provides good circulation of air flow to continuously promote drying. With your items packed in plastic totes and stacked up on pallets all you need to do then is have everything covered.

Use Cheap Nylon Tarps To Keep Everything Dry

Nylon traps are convenient to work with and they are very inexpensive. One single large nylon tarp will likely cover your entire pile of stacked totes. However, the totes will unlikely be stacked uniformly and if only draped with the tarp in the arrangement will allow for flat spots or hills and valleys in the tarp which can create areas for moisture collecting. Therefore, it is very important that the tarp hang over the pile of totes in a tent like configuration that allows for the shedding of any moisture that could otherwise accumulate. To create a tent like design which is higher in the center of the tote stack and lower on all four sides you can fasten some nylon rope above the tote pile to drape the tarp over.

Hang Tarp Over Ropes

Stringing nylon ropes above the pile of totes across each end and down the center to support the tarp allowing the tarp to drape over the pile like a tent.
Stringing nylon ropes above the pile of totes across each end and down the center to support the tarp allowing the tarp to drape over the pile like a tent.

You can anchor the nylon rope to the walls across each end of the tote pile. Use large wood screw anchors that penetrate deep into the good sturdy studding of the wall. The ropes will sag under the weight of the tied down tarp so be certain to anchor the ropes at least one foot higher than the highest point of the tote pile. Then draw the rope as tight as possible when you tie it off. To get the rope tighter, at the wall put a 1 inch thick by 12 inch long stick on the rope and twist it into the rope causing the rope to twist around the stick and after the rope is really tight from wall to wall nail the one end of the twisting stick to the wall so that it does not untwist. After the rope at each end of the tote pile is drawn tight string another rope from the middle of one end rope to the middle of the other end rope and tie it as tight as possible tying the two end ropes together. These three ropes now will support your tarp - just drape the one large tarp or a few smaller tarps over the ropes. Another nice fact about using pallets for flooring is that you can easily now tie your tarp down to the many exposed boards of the pallets. Be certain to tie your tarp down at every tarp ilet to secure the tarp well. The tighter that the tarp is secured the better its performance and condition will serve you. The great thing about stringing the rope to make a tent over your pile of totes is that when you need to access your belongings you can easily untie and open up one section of the tarp and enter in under the tarp to locate your items.

Barn Storage Can Save You BIG Dollars

Save on monthly commercial storage costs - store your belongings in a building or an old barn.
Save on monthly commercial storage costs - store your belongings in a building or an old barn.

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam


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    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I bet that would work well in a garage or shed too to keep moisture out and keep the items off the floor.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Out here in San Diego you just can't find a wooden pallet because kids steal them to build bonfires on the beach. When I was in New Mexico we used to store our stuff in my Uncle's barn. Great hub!

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thanks Bill;

      One year ago there were so many free pallets available in my area that I thought about utilizing them for some type of business opportunity. However, so many others apparently shared my vision and now the abundant availability of free pallets is picked up rapidly. No longer can one, after locating free pallets, decide to pick them up at a latter date; they must be picked up immediately - or they will be gone.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have written several articles about my love affair with wooden pallets. We use them for every imaginable project around our little urban farm, from framing chicken coops to storage as you suggested. Great ideas here.


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