Basements are most commonly used as storage areas. However, most people just toss stuff down there without a thought. They then find that their belongings have been ruined by moisture or pests. With proper protection and organization, this doesn’t have to be the case. Moisture and flooding are the biggest problems in most basements. Before you organize everything, make sure your belongings won’t be destroyed.
Steve Schulz at Dry Basement Solutions says, “Water penetrating foundation walls is a leading cause of property damage. The foundation itself can weaken and crack if continuously exposed to water. And once the water penetrates your foundation, mold and mildew can ruin a basement and whatever is inside.” With that in mind, here are some tips to get your messy basement organized.
4 Organization Tips for Basement Storage
1. Get Rid of Junk
The first step in any organizing project is to dispose of things you don’t need. If it’s being stored in your basement, a lot of it probably falls in this category. Most people tend to hold onto things they don’t use or need, and a basement creates an excuse to hold onto more stuff. If you don’t have a use in mind for it now, you probably won’t in the future either. Before you begin, get rid of anything that has been damaged beyond repair. These will be the easiest items for you to get rid of, making it easier to get rid of more later. Once you’ve decided what you need, you can start organizing them by theme.
First, focus on seasonal items. Holiday items, winter clothes, sleds, and sporting equipment need to be stored somewhere until they are needed again. Set these aside for storage later. Next, get all of your tools in one area. These also serve a purpose but aren’t needed at all times. You will then need to find all the items that don’t belong in a basement. Food should not be stored in the basement because it can be ruined by moisture. Find space in your kitchen and pantry or get rid of it. Antiques and memories also need to be stored elsewhere. Wood can be ruined by moisture and so can paper and electronic files, photos, and documents. Clothes and home decorations also need to be moved upstairs, stored in plastic bins, or disposed of. Anything that can be damaged by moisture is at risk.
2. Clean & Waterproof
The best way to keep your basement clean and dry is to finish it. This involves electrical and plumbing work, installation of walls, insulation, and floors, and potentially the installation of a sump pump. If finishing your basement isn’t in the budget, there are small steps you can take to at least keep everything dry. Before you begin, you should wash and seal any surfaces. Start with the walls. If there is any mold or mildew, wash it with a mixture of detergent and water and then bleach and water or have it professionally removed. Do the same on the floors. Mold can be dangerous, so it’s smart to at least have it looked at by a professional before you begin cleaning.
Once everything is clean, fill in any cracks in the walls and floors. If there are a lot of cracks, you might have a problem with your foundation. Consult a professional immediately before further damage occurs. If there are only a few cracks, patch them and allow them time to dry. Once they are dry, you can apply a mold and waterproof primer to every surface and add a coat of waterproof paint. If the basement continues to have moisture problems, a dehumidifier can help. Aside from that, you will have to call professional basement waterproofers for more options.
3. Store Valuables in Plastic Bins
You shouldn’t keep your valuables in the open air in even the most waterproof basement. Store everything in plastic bins for added protection. Organize everything thematically. Bins should be labeled and contain similar items so that you don’t have to dig through several of them to find what you’re looking for. And moisture isn’t the only danger to your stuff. Insects and other household pests also love to live in unfinished basements. Everything should be as airtight and high up as possible.
4. Add Wall & Stair Storage
If there is room, add storage space above and below your stairs. Shelves above and below your stairs will be harder for pests to reach because they aren’t on the ground. However, don’t completely shut away from the space under the stairs. This will only make it more appealing to pests. Similar shelves can also be built around the perimeter of the basement. If you want more storage space that’s high up, you can hang shelves from the ceiling. Bikes and other large items can even be hung from hooks on the ceiling. Pests aren’t going to ruin your tools, but it’s still a good idea to install wall storage, like a pegboard, to get them off the floor and your work station. The goal is to get as much as possible off the floor.
Pick One Day Every Year to Organize
Nothing stays organized forever. At least once a year, spend some time organizing anything new that has made its way to the basement. If there are items you can get rid of, dispose of them now. This way, you won’t have a big basement organizing project to worry about down the road. Staying on top of it will make it a small chore each year. What steps are you taking to organize your basement? Let us know in the comments below!