China and antiques are often passed on from generation to generation. Whether you’re making a move or want to store your china and antiques away, these precious items require special care. In the case of your good china, these sets tend to be quite extensive and are impractical to have on display. Antiques might be part of a collection or heirlooms you wish to keep safe and don’t feel comfortable using in your home. Regardless of why you have to store your most cherished items, you can follow these steps to make sure everything remains safe, is easy to access, and avoids damage from moisture. Here’s how to correctly store your china and antiques.
Basic Self-Storage Tips for China
There are some basic self-storage tips you should follow when storing china:
- Always store plates, platters, and bowls on their sides, not stacked.
- Don’t allow items to touch directly. Make sure there’s a buffer of wrap or paper between each item.
- Never overpack large boxes with china, as it’s too heavy. Instead, use smaller boxes so they are manageable to carry and also reduces the risk for cracking.
- Avoid storing cardboard boxes in areas that could attract pests. They can chew boxes, which could make for an unexpected accident when you try to lift them!
- Clearly label each box so you know exactly what is stored. If you have multiple dish sets, add the pattern name or a descriptor such as “Blue Flowers”, so you know exactly what pattern is stored in each box.
Displaying China Plates
China plate collections always make an excellent display in your china cabinet, hutches, or on your sideboard. This not only looks good but can also protect your items from damage. China cabinets are designed with a groove to keep your dishes secure. Placing them on their sides in a display case is actually the best way to store them, as it protects them from scratches as well as the pressure of being stacked, which can cause cracks to the glaze. You should always place them well apart so that the edges do not rub together, as this can lead to chips.
When storing china, each plate requires protection. Although it’s common practice to wrap china and glasses in a newspaper when moving, this is actually not a good idea for fine china. The delicacy of the glaze can actually absorb the ink leading to staining. Instead, use actual packing paper or bubble wrap. For very old china, you should consider using an acid-free tissue paper to avoid discolouration. Other safe self-storage tips include foam sleeves, paper towels, or white cloth napkins.
A protective layer should be placed between each plate to protect the plate surfaces. If stored on open shelves, the top plate should also be covered to protect it from dust.
If you will be placing your china in boxes, make sure you add protective foam around the dishes as well. You can stack the dishes as instructed above and then wrap the outside of the entire stack with packing foam or bubble wrap. This will protect the edge of the dishes from nicks and chips if the box is knocked.
If you want to add extra protection for longer-term storage, you can purchase quilted dishware packs. These storage containers are ideal as they are designed to protect your dishes from chips, nicks, and staining. They are available at your local department or housewares stores. Because they are customized to suit the type of dish, they fit snugly for added protection.
You should still wrap each plate as instructed above, but some cases come with special protective sheets as an added bonus.
For larger sets, dishware packs can get expensive. You can always choose cardboard boxes or plastic storage bins instead. For added protection, line the storage bins with bubble wrap to avoid damage. You can also use quilts or blankets to act as a buffer. Another good storage strategy is to use your fine or holiday table linens in your china storage boxes as padding. Since you usually use your fine china for special occasions, this keeps everything you need to set a fancy table all in one place!
Your antique furniture requires special care to avoid damage when in storage. These self-storage tips will help protect your heirlooms and antiques:
- Disassemble it: Because of its age, antique furniture is more fragile. Reducing pressure on the joints will help make it last longer. For tables and chairs that allow for disassembly, you might consider taking the furniture apart before storing it. This reduces stress and allows the wood to remain intact longer. Make sure you place all screws and hardware in a bag and tape it to the bottom of each piece, so you know where to find them.
- Treat it: Wooden, leather, and metal furniture should be treated before storage. Wood requires a high-quality polish, which will help avoid cracking. Leather conditioners are also available to protect the leather from drying out. Metal furniture can oxidize and rust. You can use a polishing cloth and metal cleaner to remove damaging residue that causes oxidation, while also protecting the metal from tarnishing.
- Don’t stack: Although storage space might be tight, never stack antique furniture. This can place pressure on joints while also causing wear and tear on finishes and fabrics. This includes tabletops, which should be laid on their sides to free up space.
- Wrap with fabric: To protect your furniture, wrap it in padded moving blankets or even just old quilts or blankets. This will help keep moisture to a minimum. Never use plastic or bubble wrap, as this can increase the moisture that will lead to mould and mildew.
- Climate control: Choose a climate-controlled storage unit to avoid damage from fluctuating temperatures. This will protect your furniture from damage as the wood expands and contracts with temperature changes.
- Use palettes: If possible, place your furniture on wooden pallets. This provides a little space between the floor and your furniture for better air circulation. It also adds protection in case of flooding. Although this is usually low risk, you never know what can happen!
With proper care, your antiques and china can be stored safely, allowing you to keep it in the family for generations to come. These antique and china self-storage tips will help.
If you would like information on Jiffy Self-Storage units available for your antiques and china, then contact us here.