Storing furniture seems like a straightforward concept, right? Get a couch, put it in a humid concrete or sheet metal box, come back when you’re ready for it. Using that storage philosophy, your couch will most likely end up covered in mold and mildew. If you want to avoid damaged furniture from improper storage, you have to be careful when choosing a unit and preparing each individual piece of furniture for storage.
Threats to stored furniture
The major threats to furniture fidelity in a storage unit are moisture and humidity, which cause mold and mildew. With this in mind, finding a climate-controlled storage unit is a requirement in some climates, a nicety in others. Storage in Texas can lead to heat problems and increased mold issues if rain leaks into the storage unit. Comparatively, storage in California enjoys moderate, stable temperatures and lower levels of humidity.
Other threats include an over-packed storage unit, where you’re jamming pieces into the unit to make them fit. Any time you move, you risk minor damages— hitting doorways and catching snags are common causes of marked furniture. But if you’re trying to fit all your grandmother’s antiques in a 5×5, you risk serious damage— tearing fabric, gashing or cracking leather, or leaving deep scars in the wood.
With the right size storage unit and the right level of climate protection, it’s all about protecting the furniture from the risks it might face. From an old bench to a leather sofa, these general tips can help minimize the perilous scenarios that arise when storing furniture for an extended period of time.
Basic furniture storage how-to
First off, disassemble as much furniture as you can before moving. This will make your life much easier. Unfortunately, there will always be some things that can’t be taken apart, so these pieces will have to be transported whole. When storing furniture in one piece, try to keep it upright in the furniture’s designed position. For example, store a couch in a sitting position rather than up on one end. Doing this will eliminate the risk of damage from improper weight distribution, and help the furniture keep its desired shape.
Be sure to raise all furniture off the floor for ventilation, especially sofas and couches. Adding ventilation from below will reduce the chances of mold and mildew developing. Also avoid placing pieces in direct contact with the walls of the unit. The theory behind this is that concrete walls can store moisture from leaks and transfer the wetness to your beloved furniture. Ventilation is incredibly important. Avoid plastic-wrapping furniture for storage, as plastic wrap seals in moisture. Instead, cover furniture with some sort of cool and porous cloth. A canvas or linen cover will allow moisture to move freely.
Not all furniture is made equal; some types require further preparation before they can enter storage. When storing leather furniture, polish and wax the leather to keep it in good condition and to repel moisture from seeping in. If you’re using a non-climate-controlled unit, be wary of storing fabrics for longer than a year. Fabrics tend to become brittle and fragile after lengthy exposure to heat and humidity.
Storing wood furniture takes extra effort
It’s necessary to treat your wooden furniture before storing it. Finishes such as linseed oil and furniture polish will help ensure your precious wood furniture stays moisturized, and decrease the chances of mold forming. Make sure to cover the furniture to prevent scratches forming during transport.
When storing wooden furniture, beware of termites. If your region is known for having a termite population, steer away from using wooden pallets to raise the furniture. One piece of wood might attract termites, and adding more wood is asking for trouble.
Always be conscious of weather issues. Drastic changes in humidity and temperature can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to damage over a long periods of time. In some severe cases, extreme changes in temperature can crack or destroy certain pieces of wooden furniture.
Storing mattresses to keep things cozy
Sure, you can throw your mattress in the unit as is, but that would expose it to dust, bugs, heat and humidity. All of these factors will chip in to ensure the transformation of a great mattress to an unusable one. However, there are some tips and tricks that will allow you to keep that mattress in excellent condition.
In general, mattresses suffer from many of the same perils as any other stored furniture item. But one major concern with mattress storage is avoiding an insect infestation. It’s common practice to cover the mattress with a mattress storage bag. Mattress storage bags are usually 2mm thick to protect the mattress from most insects, dust and water.
Finding a climate-controlled unit is desired if the mattress is to stay in tip-top shape. Store the mattress in a cardboard box full of packaging peanuts, or elevate the mattress using pallets. As long as the mattress isn’t in direct contact with the floor, you’ll avoid condensation buildup between the concrete and the mattress.
Lastly, store your mattress standing up vertically. Laying the mattress down and storing heavy objects on it could alter or damage the mattress’ inner workings, and distort the original shape.
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