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Shape-up Summer

July 1, 2002

11 Min Read
Shape-up Summer


The outside of your facility is where customers get their first impression. Here are a few guidelines to keeping your outdoor environment looking sharp.


Kill weeds with a commercial weed killer as soon as they appear, especially in cracks between the building pads and the pavement. Lawns should be cut weekly and fertilized periodically during the year. Consider having an irrigation system installed to automatically water the lawn and flowerbeds.


Gutters should be checked frequently to ensure they are free of leaves and other debris. Give gutters a thorough cleaning every spring and fall. Also, make sure down spouts are draining water away from the building. If not, consider adding extenders.

Patch Repair

Rely on professionals to do this labor-intensive job, or consult your asphalt-maintenance contractor to determine how deep the pavement replacement should go. In general, the removal depth should be equal to 1.5 times the original pavement thickness.

Street Maintenance

Few things are more annoying--or potentially dangerous--than potholes. Whether you have a single pothole or several on your property, customers will notice these pesky craters.

Speed Bumps

Speed bumps will slow down customers and increase safety. Make sure speed bumps are the adequate size. The recommended size is 24 inches wide by three inches high and run the width of the road-striped with yellow or white reflective paint and seal coated.

The Roof

Regular inspections of the roof are crucial. A small leak could do serious damage. Look for any signs of leakage inside vacant units. You should also do regular inspections from the rooftop. If you have a built-up roof, look for bubbles or cracks in the asphalt topping and loose flashing attachments. When inspecting metal roofs, check for missing or loose screws, deteriorating rubber washes, separation of lap joints, and exposed sealants that have cracks or bubbles. With standing-seam metal roofs, you should be on the lookout for separation of panel laps, loose flashing fasteners and exposed sealants with cracks or bubbles. Also, consider hiring a professional to inspect the roof on the inside and out every two to three years.


If you don't have guard posts, get them. They can protect sensitive areas such as the front office or corners. If you already have bollards, consider using a post sleeve rather than scraping and painting them regularly. Post sleeves eliminate the need for scraping or painting. The polyethylene thermoplastic sleeve easily slides over existing guard posts, withstands weather and traffic, and can be custom fit. While the standard color is yellow, custom colors, logos, safety warnings or symbols are also available.

Exterior Building

Regularly check for damage caused by people or nature. Look for cracks, rust and fading or peeling paint. Cracks should be filled to prevent water leakage into the units. Rust should be removed and the area repainted to prevent further deterioration.


Storage buildings, unit doors, bollards, keypad holders and the office should be repainted if they look "tired." Check with the manufacturer of metal buildings and doors for recommendations on what kind of surface preparation and paint should be used, otherwise you could end up with peeling paint.

Coating and Refinishing

Rather than painting worn surfaces, consider using a product that revives the original paint color. Coatings can restore paint to its previous luster while protecting it from future degradation. They also add a protective layer against exposure to outside elements such as salt, dirt, wind, heat, ultraviolet rays and acid rain. The products also have a temperature-reduction feature. Most coatings can restore any colored surface including doors, exterior buildings, metal gates, signage and gutters, and come with a guarantee against cracking, chipping, peeling, discoloration or loss of gloss.


Several times a day, check the grounds for litter, including natural refuse such as leaves, stones, twigs, etc., and man-made rubbish like paper, bottles, cans and cigarette butts. Haul boxes, mattresses or other furniture tenants leave behind to the dumpster.


Signs should be bright and easy to read. When signs begin to show wear such as faded lettering or graphics, replace them. Also, switch bulbs regularly. Signs that are missing letters are unattractive and unprofessional.

Asphalt Overlay

This is an affordable method to keeping your roadways clear of potholes and other asphalt problems. The overlay thickness should be a minimum of 1.5 inches, with a maximum of 2.5 inches. In addition, a seal coat should be applied to the pavement every three to five years. Seal coating will extend the life of the pavement.

Flowers, Trees and Shrubs

Pruning helps keep plants healthy. Shrubs should be pruned into an attractive shape. Flowers should be regularly fertilized and kept free of weeds and insects. Many types of flowers need regular pruning to accelerate growth. Flowers or shrubs that die should be removed immediately and replaced with new foliage. Trim tree branches that threaten power lines or are a threat to the building during severe weather. Large dead or dangling branches can also be a hazard and should be removed.

Security and Safety

Having security in place isn't enough. Cameras, door alarms and perimeter gates should be in good condition to deter crime and keep employees, tenants and their belongings safe.

Door Alarms

Wired door alarms should be inspected every time a unit becomes vacant to ensure the sensing device is working properly. Look for damage to the door switch or the magnet. Also, check wires for fraying or damage. Examine brackets for breakage or tampering. Batteries in wireless door alarms should be tested often and replaced as needed.


The most important thing about cameras is keeping out dust and dirt. Dust or vacuum camera equipment, equipment area, the monitor and video recorder regularly. If needed, hire a professional to clean the video recorder heads. Inspect equipment weekly for broken or dusty lenses, split or frayed wires, and tampering. Also, make sure your cameras are focused and angled where you want them.


Lighting is crucial to deter crime and keep customers safe. There should be enough fixtures to adequately illuminate all corridors, driveways and areas between buildings. Burned-out bulbs should be replaced as soon as they are discovered.


Doors are the hallmark of self-storage facilities. If a customer experiences difficulty when opening or closing his door every time he visits your facility, he'll be frustrated and unimpressed.

Door Numbers

Let's face it, door numbers will fade or crack over time. Instead of painting door numbers repeatedly, consider purchasing high-quality vinyl numbers. They are easy to read, easy to apply and will fade less than painted numbers.

Basic Maintenance

Every time a unit is vacated, take the opportunity to do some basic maintenance. Sweep out cobwebs and dust that gathers around the door. Make sure the door is securely attached to the wall. The screws may have backed out after continual use. Oil or lubricate the springs with a light coat of oil to reduce friction and rust. Also, check the tension and make any needed adjustments. Check pull cords for fraying. If a door is dented, consider purchasing a dent tool kit. Several door manufacturers offer these easy-to-do kits. Lastly, consider steam-cleaning all exterior doors once a year.


Keypad maintenance should include periodically checking seals or gaskets for leaks. In humid climates, moisture can get inside and cause damage over time. Make sure sprinklers are not directed directly at the keypad. Once a year, open the keypad and inspect it. Any worn or corroded areas can be cleaned with alcohol and a toothbrush.


Have at least one smoke detector in the main office or lobby. Check the batteries often. Also, keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them. Emergency numbers should be kept nearby. Keep other nonemergency numbers easily accessible. This includes 24-hour plumbers, window-replacement professionals, electric and towing companies, and the local police and fire departments. Have a map of the property with exits highlighted hanging in the front office. Consider posting the map, along with a list of rules and regulations, inside each unit.


Slide gate chains should be lubricated and checked for tension. Sprockets, or gears, should be inspected for wear and replaced when needed. Caution should be exercised in opening the operator and removing the cover. Power to the operator should be shut off. Slide gate rollers should be checked for wiggle and replaced if wobbly. Vertical lift gates with belts should be checked for wear and tightness. The tighter, the better. Some vertical gate operators have bearings that need to be greased. The balance of the gate needs to be checked or adjusted once per quarter. The changes in seasonal temperature can affect this. The battery also should be checked. Generally, all safety devices should be tested. Loop detectors can be checked with the site golf cart. The safety sensor on a lift gate can be tested by hand. When pushed on it as it comes down, it should immediately go back up. Inspections inside the gate operator and around working parts of the gate should be done visually. Any repairs or adjustments should be referred to a professional.


Once you have lured the customer into your office with your great curb appeal, maintain that good impression. That means your office should be sparkly clean from floor to ceiling.

The Office

Floors should be vacuumed, swept or mopped daily. Sundry-item displays should be dusted weekly and always kept well stocked. Dust windowsills, blinds, countertops and vents regularly. Empty wastebaskets daily. Make sure the area behind the counter, including the manager's desk, is neat and clean. Stacks of newspapers, magazines, coffee cups and fast-food wrappings are messy and unprofessional.


If possible, stay away from light-colored carpets. Stains tend to show up more. Regardless of color, carpets should be cleaned about every six months. You can hire a professional or tackle the job yourself. However, keep in mind professional carpet cleaners, although more costly, use high-powered machines and chemicals you're not privy to when renting a cleaning machine. One alternative is to purchase one. This could save time and money in the long run, especially if your carpets dirty quickly.

The Public Restroom

Do a walk through a couple times a day to make sure it is clean and stocked with paper products and hand soap. Graffiti or vandalism should be taken care of immediately.


Windows should be washed at least three times a week with a good commercial cleaner. About once a month, remove screens and storm windows and wash windows inside and out with a commercial cleaner or vinegar-and-water solution.

Office Equipment

If you allow customers to use your fax machine, copier or phone, you need to ensure these items are working properly. Keep office equipment free of dust. Regularly inspect it to make sure ink and paper are stocked, and keep the manufacturer's number close by in case you need repairs. Outdated equipment should be replaced. Telephones should be wiped off several times a day with a disinfectant such as Lysol to reduce the spreading of germs.

Storage Units

Clean, dry units will keep customers happy. Every unit should get a thorough inspection once a tenant vacates.

Keep It Clean

When a unit becomes empty, grab a broom. It's time to do some basic maintenance. First, if anything was left behind, pitch it. Next, sweep out the unit. Swipe corners and walls for cobwebs, bugs, dust and grime. The floor may also need a good mopping. If the unit has an upleaseant odor, use a commercial deodorizer to freshen it. Check for insects or rodents. If there is a pest problem, take appropriate action: Hire an exterminator, use a commercial insect killer or set traps.


Look for water spots, stains or leakage. Run a duster or broom over the ceiling to get rid of dust and cobwebs.

Empty Units

Lock all vacant units with inexpensive yellow padlocks that are all keyed alike. This will keep out transients and criminals.

Sources: Tom Berlin, Pogoda Management Co.; Rick Dodge, Rib-Roof Metal Systems Inc.; Doug Paige, Camera Janitor; Bill Rice, Vivilon Coatings Inc.; Teresa Sedmak, Everbrite Inc.; Todd Slyngstad, Silicon Valley Paving Inc.; Daniel Webster, WHAM Security Systems; and previous Inside Self-Storage articles.

Resource Directory

Aztex of Houston

Duracool Inc.

Roof Hugger Inc.

Rib-Roof Metal Systems Inc.

Rooftech Inc.

Target Sales

Uniflex Professional Roof Coatings

Everbrite Inc.

United Coatings

Vivilon Coatings Inc.

Ideal Shield

Fay & Sons Signs

Sign Systems NW

Tag A Room

BDH Systems Inc.

Doors & Building Components Inc.

Janus International Corp.

Quick SwitchTM LLC

Roll Right Industries Inc.

Trac-Rite Door Inc.

U.S. Door & Building Components

Wayne-Dalton Corp.--Door & Systems Division

Windsor Door

Door Numbers
Classic Design Awards Inc.

Quik # - Door Numbers

Sign Systems NW

Virginia Tag Service

Security Hardware
Ark Automatic Gate Systems

Autogate Inc.

Digitech International

Flair Security Products

PTI Integrated Systems

Quikstor Software & Security

Sentinel Systems Inc.

WHAM Security Systems Inc.

Camera Janitor

Crest Electronics Inc.

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