Storing Antiques

Antiques, by definition, are old and therefore often delicate, requiring that they be treated with care. Before storing antiques, it’s important to prepare them properly, whether they’re made of wood, glass, ceramic, metal or stone.

Cleaning

Make sure your antiques are squeaky clean before putting them in storage. Dust and dirt may cause them to deteriorate prematurely.

Protection from sunlight

When it comes to antiques, sunlight is likely to be the number one cause of damage, especially for items made of organic materials such as wood, textiles and paper. Light can fade prints and fabrics, and harsh, hot sunlight can cause ceramics to crack or “craze”, as well as speeding up chemical reactions that would otherwise occur over a much longer period of time.

Temperature control

Storing Antiques

Ideally antiques should be stored at a stable temperature. Rapid or extreme changes in temperature can damage most materials. If a self-storage facility you plan on using doesn’t offer temperature-controlled units, it’s a good idea to purchase a smaller temperature-controlled storage bin.

Pest prevention

Moths can quickly destroy antique clothing and quilts, and rats, mice and termites will gladly chew away at wood, especially if it’s old and soft. Even if the pests themselves don’t get to your antiques, the oil from the droppings of various pests, such as cockroaches, can damage them. It’s important to ensure that your antiques are properly sealed before storing them. Also consider using rat traps, roach motels, moth balls and other pest control products to keep them away.

Caring for fabrics

Vintage clothing, quilts and the like should be wrapped in non-acidic paper and then stored in a box or crate before you store them.

Furniture

The same rules apply for antique furniture storage as for regular furniture, although extra precautions should be taken. Be sure to store the furniture on plastic sheeting or raised on wooden palettes to prevent moisture creeping up from the concrete, and cover the furniture with protective plastic. Bubble wrap is a good choice because of the added protection it provides against bumps and scrapes. Although many people use cloth to cover antique furniture items, this can get damaged or moth-eaten. Plastic is a safer choice.

Fragile pieces

Fragile antiques such as those made of glass or ceramic are better kept in a rigid plastic box than in a cardboard one. Cardboard can be easily crushed or dented.

Silverware

Be sure to store all your antique silverware in an airtight container to reduce the speed at which it tarnishes. It also helps to wrap each item individually. This keeps the items from coming into contact with each other and being scratched.