Storing anything made of wood in a storage unit in the heat of summer can be a tricky task! If you have furniture going into storage, such as wooden tables or hutches, rocking chairs and sideboards, you will have to go through a process in order for the pieces to stay in perfect condition. Wood furniture requires the same conditions as lumber, but, because it has a finish to it, there is the possibility of damage such as warping or the finish peeling. The following are a few steps that can be taken.
If you are going to store your wood furniture in a climate controlled storage unit, you are in luck. Big temperature changes can cause wood to expand and contract. This causes cracks and breaks. This can make the look of the piece diminish and the strength of the wood to weaken. Humidity can cause mold and mildew, which will make the wood rot. Climate controlled is the best type of storage. But..if you can’t store the furniture that way, then having a humidifier or a dehumidifier can save the furniture.
First, clean and wax the wood furniture so that it provides extra moisture in a storage unit that isn't climate-controlled. Remove the drawers from the dresser and store them separately if space permits. Vacuum with a brush to remove any excess dirt, and clean all the surfaces with a gentle solution of soap and water. Let the furniture air dry fully, preferably in sunlight. Then, apply furniture protection spray, as well as leather conditioner, when applicable. Protect any wood finishes with a coat of wax to seal the wood and reduce the risk of mold development. Wipe down metal elements with oil to prevent tarnishing and rusting.
Before you head over to storage, make sure that you empty out the furniture. Drawers, cubby holes, cabinets and secret spaces should all be completely empty. If something like a pen or a crayon or even papers are left inside a piece of furniture in a storage unit with no climate control, they can melt and the colors can get into the wood and stain it forever. Some furniture can be best stored by taking it apart. Take legs off of tables and doors off of hutches if it is possible to keep the integrity of the piece. This also makes room in the storage unit by making the space taken up by the furniture smaller and more compact. Protect small protruding elements with felt or rags. Pack all the detached pieces from one furniture item together and put small hardware parts (bolts, hinges, etc.) in sealable plastic bags. Tape the bags to the corresponding furniture to prevent losing or mixing the small parts.
Do NOT wrap wood furniture in any type of plastic. Avoid suffocating the wood! Bubble wrap or plastic stretch film to protect the exterior of the item is fine when you are moving from one location to another. But once you get to the storage unit, plastic comes off. Wood needs to breathe. You can use old sheets or painters blankets to cover the furniture. This will allow the wood to breathe and keep dust and dirt away. Also, make sure that you have enough space between pieces of furniture. You don’t want them to accidentally rub against each other if you are pushing and shoving things around in another part of the unit. This can cause scratches and even breaks. You should also try to avoid stacking things on top of the wooden furniture because it will put weight on it and in a hot storage unit, the weight could change the shape of the wood piece with bowing and bending.
And finally, you should keep the furniture elevated while in storage. Put it on pallets or on cinder blocks. If something were to happen and water was to leak in, you have the furniture high so that it won’t get any damage. Furniture is expensive and it increases in value with age. You want to do everything possible to keep your investment safe.