An armoire, whether antique or modern, can be a difficult thing to prep for moving and storage. They are almost always heavy, bulky, and awkward to handle. And of course, they may be precious. The dollar value of any piece of furniture that’s been in the family for more than a generation or two is impossible to calculate, and even if you’ve only recently acquired a lovely old armoire, protecting it while moving is crucial.
The easiest way to pack any large, delicate object is in pieces, so the first thing to do is take the drawers out of your armoire. This may not mean taking out the contents, unless those are breakable. Keeping clothing or bed sheets in each drawer may make them heavier and slightly more difficult for packers and movers to deal with but it also provides internal structural support and padding.
Wrap each drawer in a thick blanket or bubble wrap, and label them as fragile if necessary. Long distance movers need to know what can be packed under heavy items and what needs to go on top, and armoire drawers can’t support much weight on their own. They need to be placed carefully in the mover’s truck.
Once the drawers are dealt with, remove any protruding knobs or latches on the armoire if it’s possible to do so without damaging it. A knob can catch in a doorway and snap off, or punch through the wood behind it if it accidentally bumps into a wall. If you can’t take them off, apply extra thick padding around the knobs.
The whole armoire can be padded with a roll of protective wrap or old blankets. You don’t even have to risk staining or damaging your own bedspreads- head down to the nearest Goodwill store and you’ll be able to pick up some great packing materials for a few dollars.
Make sure that the packing tape you use to secure the padding in place doesn’t come into contact with the wood surface. If it sticks, tape can be hard to remove. Older furniture is particularly at risk- strong tape can take the varnish right off and leave an ugly scar. Either make sure there is always something underneath the tape or twist it round so the sticky side is facing away from bare wood.
Take care to pad the feet with a single layer of thick fabric. Packing wrap may tear and leave the wood exposed and multiple layers can leave the armoire on uneven, unsteady feet. It may be safer to transport a large piece of furniture on its back or side, but remember that the structures weren’t built to withstand weight in these directions. The armoire may be less stable but it won’t be as strong lying down.
If you’re moving to storage, a wooden armoire will also need to be protected against damp and dust. The best thing to do is keep all your blanket-wrapped furniture under plastic covers. That way it will stay padded and protected from more or less anything it may encounter in storage.