Whether you’re downsizing, renovating your home or moving to a place where you can’t take everything, you might need to put some of your furniture in storage. While care must be taken when storing any of your possessions, wood furniture requires special handling if you want to avoid scratches, cracks or mold.

The same basic rules apply whether you’re preserving an antique bedroom set or a modern coffee table. Follow these seven steps to give your wood furniture the extra protection it needs.

1. Treat Before Storing.

If wood dries out, it’s more susceptible to cracks. To prevent that from happening, treat your wood furniture with furniture polish, which adds moisture, before storing it.

2. Climate Control Counts.

Temperature changes can cause wood to expand and contract, which over time “could impact the look or strength of the piece,” said Amy Snell, executive director of the Wood Component Manufacturer’s Association.

Humidity is another concern, as humid conditions promote the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause wood to rot. A temperature-controlled environment is the best way to prevent that from happening, Snell said.

3. Take Precautions at Home.

If you skip a climate-controlled storage unit and choose to keep your furniture at home in a basement or attic, for example, consider buying a humidifier, dehumidifier or humidistat, “all of which can be had for an investment of less than $300,” said Erin True, co-founder of Urban Wood Goods, based in Gurnee, IL.

4. Take It Apart.

If your furniture can be disassembled, take the extra time before storing it to take it apart. For example, you might take the legs off a wooden chair or take the drawers out of a wooden bureau. By storing a piece of furniture in several smaller parts, you can make better use of storage space while ensuring that each piece is protected.

5. Make Sure There’s Enough Space.

If you bunch up your belongings, you run the risk of objects brushing up against each other, which could lead to cracks in wood tables or chairs. That means you should avoid stacking things on top of your wood furniture.

6. Keep It Covered.

Placing a protective cover over your wood furniture can help keep it from getting scratched or otherwise damaged. Many people make the mistake of covering wood furniture with plastic, but doing so can create condensation and cause the wood to swell. Instead, cover your furniture with cloths, furniture pads or moving blankets to shield it from light, moisture and dust.

7. Raise It Up.

If your wood furniture is placed on the floor of a storage unit, you it could be damaged if the unit floods. By setting your furniture on top of planks or blocks, you keep it out of harm’s way.

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