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Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: Renew, Renovate

July 1, 2004

17 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: Renew, Renovate

Renew, Renovate, Remodel
Remarkable products to create an aesthetically pleasing facility

By Amy Campbell

We all know an extensive marketing program and a good location are keyfactors to self-storage success. Excellent customer service is equallyimportant. But often, owners and managers focus so much energy on sales andservice they forget another key componentfacility maintenance. A well-maintained facilityinside and outtells tenants you care aboutthem and their belongings. Leaky roofs, noisy birds and cracked tile or stained office carpet shoutsneglect. Its important to keep your facility in the best shape possible. Thismonth, Inside Self-Storage brings you some innovative ideas to renew, renovateand remodel your facility.

Up on the Rooftop

One of the biggest liabilities a self-storage owner has is thefacility roof. Damage to the roof in any form can expose tenants goods to theelements. Snow, sleet and rain are obvious causes of concern. But what abouthigh winds? Small openings into storage units can allow dust and debris to blowin and cause damage. Because a good roof only lasts about 25 years, you canexpect to replace it. But rather than replacing the entire roof, you may want toconsider retrofitting.

Previously, youd have to remove that old roof to put ona new one, and expose the interior of the building, says Dale Nelson,president and co-owner of Roof Hugger Inc., an Odessa, Fla.-based company. Allof the items that are stored are then exposed to the elements while the new roofis installed. That includes dirt, rain, wind, sunlight and the debris thatfalls during installation, which could take up to three or more days. Withour system, that exposure is eliminated, Nelson explains.

The Roof Hugger system is a subpurlin, specifically engineeredto fit over existing ribbed metal roofs of any profile. The notchpunchedsubpurlin nests into and over existing ribs and fastens directly into thestructural purlin below. New panels are then installed over the old. Thesubpurlins are made of hitensile, 16-gauge structural steel. They are G- 90galvanized, pre-punched to match existing roofing profiles, pre-punched forfasteners, and come in 10-foot lengths that are banded, crated, shrink-wrappedand shipped directly to the jobsite.

The end result is a building with two roofs, consideredvirtually impenetrable by the elements, says D.V. Red McConnohie, co-ownerand designer of the patented system. Two roofs are much better than one, and the air cavitybetween them makes the building much cooler in the summer and warmer in thewinter, and gives it more stability overall.

The dead air space between the existing and new roof acts asan insulating cavity, Nelson explains. Of course, you need to ventilate thatcavity to ensure there are no condensation issues. It really does a tremendousjob of not letting that heat act like a radiator down through the interior ofthe building. Without even adding insulation, you get a great thermal benefit.If you do spend a few extra dollars and put insulation in that cavity, you get areally terrific system.

The cost of retrofitting, which should be done by aprofessional, runs about 35 cents to 60 cents per square foot. You would haveto compare that to tearing off the old roof, exposing tenants belongings tothe elements, and disposing of the roof you just removed, Nelson says. It is very often less expensive to use ourretrofit framing system than it is to go through all the other steps.

Another advantage to retrofitting is the ability to addcolored panels. The new generation of paints and finishes are reallyexcellent, with outstanding colors that will last 30 years, Nelson says. Itcan really allow owners to update, modernize and add value to their facilities. In addition to a new roof, it also adds curb appeal that willincrease the resale and marketability of the facility.

Attracting customers is, after all, the ultimate goal. Retrofittinga new roof over the old one is a very nice, one-time, long-term fix. You caneasily expect another 30 or 40 years of uninterrupted performance from your newroof, Nelson says. Also, youve increased the facilitysmarketability, the curb appeal and the resale value.

Bye-Bye, Birdie

Another roof-related problem is birds. Self-storage facilitiescan quickly become bird havens. Birds are attracted by three things: a foodsource, a water sourcewhich is often created by condensation from airconditionersand shelter, says Bruce Donoho, owner of Bird-B-Gone Inc. TheMission Viejo, Calif., company manufactures products that prevent birds fromlanding and nesting.

There are many reasons birds of any kind are unwelcomeselfstorage tenants. They can cause damage to units and stored items, and theyare messy, causing health concerns. Birds carry 36 known, transmissiblediseases. Its carried primarily in their feces, says Donoho, adding thatmany storage owners or managers underestimate their bird troubles. When they doacknowledge a problem, they run off to buy a well-know product: the plastic owl.Plastic owls dont work, he says. Thats usually the first thing people trybecause it is inexpensive and they think it will work, but it doesnt.

Bird-B-Gones product line includes bird spikes and birdgel, both of which prevent birds from landing; electrified track systems, whichdeliver a mild shock; bird netting that can cover a small or large area; ultrasonic systems and more. The product a facility ownerneeds will depend on the type of bird roosting on the property. Donoho suggestsowners talk to one of the companys bird-control specialists. We can helpthem solve the problem, or we will refer them to one of our authorizednationwide installers who will look at the property for free, makerecommendations, and give an estimate. Some of the products can be installedby the facility owner or manager.

Seeing birdsand the mess they leave behindat aself-storage facility is almost a guarantee a customer will look elsewhere tostore his goods. If a customer goes to a facility and sees birds feces andnests, theyre not going to want to put their belongings in a place where theycould get damaged, Donoho says. It also affects the overall appearance ofthe buildings exterior.

In the Green

Self-storage owners may want to consider adding more green totheir propertiesno, not money, but grass! Some commercial developers areleaving asphalt and concrete in the dust in favor of a new grass system calledgrass pavers. The three-dimensional product allows access on top of the grasswithout damaging the root zone, which is key to a grass systems survival,says Dustin Glist, media and information director for Aurora, Colo.-basedInvisible Structures Inc., a manufacturer of a porous paving system calledGrassPave2.

GrassPave2 is 100 percent grass coverage, so you dontreally see the root zone at all, Glist says. Made up of sand, it isconsidered the best medium for growing grass. Then you have an engineered basecourse, which is a sandy gravel mixture under the system. It is similar towhat is underneath asphalt or concretethats the actual load-bearingcomponent. Our grass pavers disperse that weight from contact with the tire tothat base course. Thats how you can have a drivable or parkable surface.

According to Glist, there are four key reasons more developersare choosing grass pavers over traditional materials: economics, storm-watermanagement, aesthetics and the environment. The most obvious, he says, isaesthetics. A self-storage facility with lush lanes of grass will be moreattractive than one with concrete sidewalks and asphalt driveways.

Possibly more important, however, are storm-water-managementand environmental issues. There are federal laws mandating businesses keepthe same amount of storm-water on a site as during predevelopment, Glist says. Porous pavers can do that. They allow the waterto percolate back into the groundwater supply without causing flooding anddetriment to other peoples sites or overloading the citys storm-sewersystem. In addition, the pavers actually clean thestorm-water. It cleans the pollutants from cars and trucksthe hydrocarbons,the heavy metals, and the nitrous oxideskeeping them from reaching streamsand waters, Glist points out.

Economically, porous pavers will save a self-storage ownermoney in the long run. You dont have to have a detention system. You dont have to put in other components to help you meetsome of these requirements.

Because pavers are essentially gigantic lawns, they need to bemaintained like any grassy surfacemowed, fertilized, watered and plowed insnowy climates. While that may seem like more maintenance than an asphalt driverequires, Glist disagrees. Studies have shown asphalt needs to be resurfaced everyfour to five years, and replaced every eight to 15 years. Grass pavers can last60 years. It is 100 percent grass coverage, so the plastic will never be exposedto the sun. There wont be the resurfacing costs, replacement costs, anddrainage and conveyance components that come with asphalt.

Installation costs run close to that of concrete and slightlymore than asphalt. But after that first four years, youll be saving a lotof money by using these types of products, Glist says. One area of savings could be cooling. Developed areas encompassing buildings, roofs, concrete andasphalt structures absorb the suns UV rays and emit them back into theatmosphere, causing higher temperatures in those areas. Its what scientistsrefer to as heat-island mitigation.

Basically, they convert the light into heat. In cities and parking lots, you end up with significantlyhigher temperatures than you would in a natural zone, Glist says. GrassPave2 can mitigate some of that heat-island occurrence.It absorbs more of that UV radiation instead of emitting it back into theatmosphere, so you end up with a significantly cooler surface. In addition,the CO2a greenhouse gasemitted from the grass pavers is converted intooxygen. It actually cools the immediate surrounding area. It both mitigatesthe heat island and provides an air-conditioning effect.

Catching Rays

Climate-controlled facilities could benefit from newhigh-tech, solar-power systems such as the one by Bergquam Energy Systems Inc.The Sacramento, Calif.-based company developed a hot-water method of solarheating that is used for solar HVAC systems and provides air-conditioning andspace heating to buildings. Because selfstorage facilities have ample rooftopspace, solar collectors are an ideal method for heating and cooling, says ownerJames Bergquam. Ironically, solar collectors produce cold air using heat. Chilledwater can be circulated through the coils, then distributed as cold, conditionedair, Bergquam says.

Although more costly up front than a traditional heating andcooling unit, solar panels are more cost-effective in the long run. Rather than running off electricity as most commonair-conditioners do, they run off heat from the sun, which is free, Bergquamsays. Because solar panels have no moving parts, such as a motor, there are verylittle maintenance or replacement costs. The energy savings pay back the costbetween a solar and a conventional cooling system in about eight years.

A Splash of Color

Theres no doubt curb appeal plays a huge factor when itcomes to occupancy levels, and a bright facility will attract more attentionthan a drab one. Typically, selfstorage owners have turned to paints in brighthues do the job. Now, some have shied away from buckets and brushes in favor ofpanels and stuccos, products that require less maintenance, last longer, and caneven add exterior protection.

One such product is a composite panel by United Panel Inc., adivision of Stabilit America Inc. The Mt. Bethel, Pa.-based company manufacturesStenni® Composite Panels, an aggregate-faced composite wall panel used in newconstruction or retrofit projects. The panels can give a facelift to olderbuildings with failing brick or block, or dented and damaged corrugated metalsiding, says Lee Anne Slattery, the companys marketing manager. Manyzoning ordinances are now mandating that something other than corrugated metalbe used on self-storage buildings, something more visually appealing. This iswhere Stenni can offer a solution.

The panels are durable, impact- and abrasion-resistant, andmaintenance-free. They are available in a wide variety of colors, textures andsizes. The panel face can be routed to simulate brick, block or raked Precast,and dramatic designs can be achieved by combining colors and rout patterns onthe buildings. All of the panels are made to order and can be cut to requiredsizes at our factory, so you are only paying for material you actually need foryour job, Slattery says. Once at the jobsite, the panels can also be cutor drilled, and easily installed by any contractor or carpenter. They can withstand all types of weather from bitter cold tohigh heat.

The companys Vermont White Stenni panels were recently usedin a major selfstorage renovation project in Swoyersville, Pa., on a buildingmore than 100 years old.

The owner of Wyoming Valley Space Plus wanted to turn thisformer mill and manufacturing plant into a multistory, climate-controlledself-storage facility. Our panels were chosen to reclad the building, alongwith bright blue aluminum to cover the brick pilasters, Slattery says. Stennipanels had a dramatic effect on the appearance of the building. It went fromhaving an old, run-down appearance to a bright, new, aesthetically pleasing one.

Another way to dress up a facility is with an elastomericacrylic finish from Redmond, Wash.-based Stuc-O-Flex International Inc. The resilient, 100 percent acrylic polymer compound looks andfeels like traditional stucco. Its thermoplastic and elastomeric nature allowsbuilding movement while maximizing resistance against cracks in the finishes. Available in 20 standard colors, it can cover a variety ofsubstrates, systems and metal to create a unique building exterior.

It can really add curb appeal, and design elements can beincorporated into the building very economically, says Dan Johnson, thecompanys technical sales manager. At a cost of about 40 cents per squarefoot, the acrylic finish is easy to install and can even be done by a motivateddo-it-yourselfer, Johnson adds.

The finish will last for decades with little or nomaintenance. A water-bleach solution is all that is required. These productshave all been tested to withstand 30 years of exposure, Johnson says. They are breathable membranes.They keep the water out of the building. They can be subjected to freeze-thawcycles or basically any type of weather. We sell it from Siberia to Nigeria.

One other advantage to using the acrylic finish is it createsan additional exterior barrier resistant to fading, UV radiation, salt spray,humidity and mildew. Thats one of the main objectives of the product,Johnson says. As a finish, it kind of functions like Gortex. Its basicallycolor, texture and a weathering membrane. Wind-driven rain at 100 miles per hourcan penetrate the coating from the outside; yet because the product isbreathable, water vapor that may be behind the coating or in the wall cavity canbe drawn out by the sun.

The stucco wall panel manufactured by TransAmerican StrukturocInc. of Minneapolis uses 20-gauge, galvanized substrate primed with anepoxy-baked primer. The proprietary finish contains four sizes of marble crush. With an unlimited color selection, the rollformed panels canadd color and design to a facilitys exterior.

Photo courtesy of Strukturoc Inc.

The panels are easy to install, and require no specialequipment or installation kits. In most cases, erection of the panels isfacilitated by the same people who set the wall framing or apply the roof. Thereis no need for an additional subcontractor whose schedule may effect timelycompletion of the project, says company President Gary Stoecker. Because our system is factory finished, delays due toweather are also diminished.

The cost of the panels is based on the amount of materialneeded. However, it is not uncommon to see up to 40 percent savings whencompared to other masonry-type products, Stoecker says.

The panels also require very little maintenance. They will not peel or crack like field-applied stucco or EIFsystems, according to Stoecker. Power spraying every few yearsdependingon the location of the buildingis all thats required. Our wall system hasa working life of more than 50 years.

This is made possible by using G90 galvanized steel withprimer applied to both sides and a covering of Strukturocs proprietary marblefinish. Strukturoc can take the place of lower-end painted steel panels thatdo not offer the aesthetic appeal increasingly demanded by our communities,Stoecker says. Giving a fresh look to an old building is simple andcost-effective and allows an owner to keep in step with a communitys need forgood-looking, desirable buildings.

Concrete Design

Another trend some self-storage owners are favoring involvesthe inside of the facility.Rather than use traditional flooring such as carpet and tile, some owners arechoosing to paint, stain and shine existing concrete floors. Whether yourebuilding or remodeling, this is a very economical way to go, says Dana Boyer,owner of ConcretiZen Innovative Concrete Surfaces, a Phoenix-based companyspecializing in decorative concrete finishes. You can give your building afacelift, make it cutting edge, state of the art and decorative.

Although the process is called acid staining, the acid isntthe ingredient that creates color, according to ConcreteNetwork.com. Metallicsalts in an acidic, water-based solution react with hydrated lime in hardenedconcrete to create insoluble, colored compounds that become a permanent part ofthe concrete. This allows for very creative flooring.

In recent years, many self-storage owners have begun to favorthe easy maintenance of tile over stain-prone carpets. But tile has itslimitations. Styles and colors are discontinued as manufacturers create newdesigns. Ceramic tile and flagstone also require regular maintenance beyondregular sweeping and mopping. With tile, the grout gets dirty and needs to be cleaned andresealed. Thats a lot of tedious work, Boyer points out.

With concrete finishing, facility owners can choose from amultitude of designs, patterns and colors. Staining, etching and scoringconcrete is also very affordable, Boyer says. For example, quality tile andcarpet can cost up to $30 a square yard. The cost for professionally installedconcrete finishes is similar. However, Boyer says, over time, concrete will be the moreeconomical choice. Five years from now, carpet will be worn and stained andneed to be ripped up and replaced, she says. With tiles, manufacturers stop making certain patternsafter a set amount of time. What happens when the tiles break or you have toremove part of your floor? You will never be able to get that same patternagain.

Concrete maintenance is also simple. The floors need to beswept and dry mopped. A mild degreaser can be used as needed. Depending onusage, the floor may need to be waxed once or twice a month, Boyer says. Its very easy to maintain. If you take careof it, it will last a lifetime.

Bollard Covers

Bollards are a must-have at every facility. They can protectthe store front, units and landscaping from accidents. But bollards can require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking fresh. Two productsIdeal Shield® and Post Guardcan help a facility keep bollards looking newwithout the hassle of major maintenance.

Owners and managers of self-storage properties knowmaintaining a clean and secure premise is important to their customers, saysStuart Burnstein, vice president of Farmington Hills, Mich.-based EncoreCommercial Products Inc. Why paint bollards? The product saves time and money by eliminating painting andscraping. Post Guard provides self-storage facilities with attractive,maintenance-free bollard protection.

Post Guard and Ideal Shield are bumper post sleeves thateasily slide over existing guard posts. Installation is effortless, Burnsteinsays. You dont need an engineering degree to install Post Guard. Itsreally quite simple. The sleeves are kept in place by neoprene tape. Onceinstalled, the sleeve cannot be easily removed and requires no maintenance.Prices run from $30 to $70 per cover, depending on the size.


Made of thick polyethylene thermoplastic, the shields aredesigned to withstand any type of weather. Soap and water will remove most dirt and grime. Tougherscuff marks can be removed with nonabrasive cleaners, Burnstein says. Inaddition to eliminating maintenance issues, the bollard sleeves come in avariety of fade-resistant colors so owners can match their facilitys facade.Sleeves with reflective tape for better nighttime visibility are available.Ideal Shield can also mold company logos onto the sleeves.

By eliminating unsightly rusty bollards, the bumper-postsleeve improves a storage facilitys appearance, says Chris Parenti, vice president of Detroit-based IdealShield. The sleeves will help enhance the facilitys image and give it thatbrand new look for years to come. The sleeves also provide an overallcleaner environment, which is necessary to meet the expectations of Americanstoday.

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