How to Protect a Wooden Chest of Drawers

Protect a Wooden Chest of Drawers

Wooden furniture is a perfect addition to any space. A wooden chest of drawers is a gorgeous piece which can add a bit of a classic touch to the room it’s in. They blend in great with all sorts of décor and styles while also being sturdy enough to last many years. 

There’s nothing like a good old piece of wooden furniture, but in order to reach a ripe old age worthy of passing it through the generations, it needs to be cared for. Keep reading to learn more about how to protect a wooden chest of drawers.

How to Protect a Wooden Chest of Drawers

There is very little worse than having a beautiful old piece of furniture fall to pieces and become unusable. This can happen to wooden pieces, including a chest of drawers, that was not properly taken care of for an extended period of time. Thankfully, there are ways to help protect the piece, so that it stays sturdy and useful for years.

Clean With a Gentle Soap

It is outdated advice to oil wood as it has been found to cause more long-term damage like swelling and cracking. Cleaning the wooden chest of drawers with a damp cloth and a gentle soap gives it moisture which helps preserve the finish while still keeping it clean and dust-free.

Cleaning regularly helps to keep away potential problems as well as catching any of them before they become too much to handle. Not to mention, it keeps the piece looking shiny and new.

Take Preventative Measures Against Scratching

There are many things that can scratch the beautiful wooden chest of drawers, from cats to accidentally placing something rough on it. Scratches are both unsightly and can let in harmful substances that will damage the wood.

Here are some methods to help prevent scratching:

  • Apply a water-based polyurethane varnish
  • Keep up with waxing or polishing
  • Place a protective mat, pad, or glass cover on top
  • Use coasters or other covers to place things on
  • Use double-sided tape, aluminum foil, or cellophane to deter cats

Nothing is entirely scratch proof, but at least some of these methods can help make things a little more scratch resistant or even prevent scratches entirely.

Keep it Out of Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight will discolor wooden furniture and dry it out to the point of cracking. Therefore, it is best to keep the wooden chest of drawers out of direct sunlight or risk it becoming brittle and discolored. Keep it out from directly in front of a window and it should stand up to the test of time. Additionally, keep it out of very moist or very dry areas.

Line the Drawers with Felt

Using felt inside of the drawers helps keep both the contents and the drawer itself safe and protected. It helps deter too much moisture, rattling, banging, and other damaging effects from opening and closing it. 

Additionally, lining the drawers with a high-quality felt will also add a pop of color and subtly add some personal style to the piece without it being overbearing.

Do Not Overload the Piece

While it might be tempting to stuff every inch of the chest of drawers full of clothes or other materials, be careful not to overfill or overload the piece. While most wooden furniture is very sturdy and can handle a lot of weight, constant stuffing or heavy loads will eventually cause the wood to weaken, bend, or even break.

Move Carefully with Help

Do not try to move a large piece of furniture alone. Always get some assistance either using furniture moving pads, slides, dollies, or another person. Be careful when moving the piece as to not damage the chest of drawers, the walls, or other furniture. Also be sure to take the appropriate time and not rush, otherwise it could seriously risk bodily injury to those involved.

Apply a Varnish, Lacquer, or Other Sealant

Applying a sealant of some kind to the wooden chest of drawers can help add waterproofing, rebuild the shine for an old piece, or give it a new look entirely. There are some sealants out there that also add a clear coat to preserve the original look, while others can stain the piece. These also help moisture-lock the wood so that it doesn’t get too much added on but retains what it has to keep from becoming brittle.

Keep Up with Regular Pest Control

A wooden chest of drawers is a perfect space for a lot of pests to get into, nest, and become a huge problem. Keep up with preventative measures within and around the piece to help keep pests away. This should be part of the regular pest prevention methods of the space as a whole but keeping up with it is a definite way to keep pests from ruining the chest of drawers or becoming a huge problem.

Manage Repairs Before They Become a Problem

Accidents happen. Once something needs to be repaired, try not to wait until it becomes a major issue. Catching it when it’s small is going to be infinitely easier to handle than when it becomes a big deal. Fill in small scratches, fortify the seams if they’re pulling apart, and tighten the bolts.

Additionally, if there are larger issues than can be fixed alone, consider taking the piece into a shop that specializes in furniture restoration where it can get a professional’s touch.

Make Sure the Piece is Secured

It is recommended to secure any piece of furniture over 3ft tall to the wall in order to prevent tipping. This is especially so in areas where small children, pets, or the elderly frequent as they pose a greater risk to accidentally tipping a piece. A fallen piece of furniture not only can damage the piece itself, but also anything on or around it, including people.

Additionally, if a piece is not level, it poses a greater risk for tipping. Either secure the piece to the wall with a metal bracket, furniture straps, or other options that will not damage the finish of the wood or the wall to which the piece is to be secured.

What is the Difference Between Wax and Polish?

Furniture polish is primarily there to protect against normal wear-and-tear while also bringing out a fabulous shine to the wood. It also helps reduce the friction upon the wooden surface and therefore making it more difficult for dust to cling to it. Furniture safe wood polish doesn’t leave a film behind or build up, but it does need to be used relatively frequently in order to keep up its protection. It’s also not always that great at waterproofing, though it can help a little.

Furniture wax on the other hand is a thick application that creates a fantastic barrier against water damage and scuffs. It is typically more effective than polish, but it cannot be used as frequently otherwise it will cause a thick buildup on the surface. This would in turn cause discoloration and loss of shine. It also requires buffing in between treatments and cannot have polish placed on top of it or else it will remove the wax.

What are Felt Lined Drawers for?

Felt lined drawers both add value and protection to the interior of the drawer. They help prevent dust and other damage to the piece. These drawers are also better for more fragile pieces to be stored in, such as lacework, silk, or even fragile objects such as jewelry and glass.

Additionally, it gives a pop of color when the drawer is open and empty, making room for some subtleties in design choices for the space it’s in. Selecting a high-quality felt and a light glue are essential to making the most of the drawer and the value of the piece, while also keeping with a classy look.

How to Keep Pests Away from a Wooden Chest of Drawers

Unfortunately, that wooden chest of drawers is a perfect place for all sorts of various pests. Termites want a go at that wood, rodents want to nest in the nice warm space. The best way to keep pests away is to prevent them entirely. 

Tuck traps underneath the piece and keep up with regular preventative pest control methods such as sprays or regular pest control visits. Be sure to also get inside the piece rather than just around and under it, taking out the drawers if necessary to get into the back.

Look for any signs of pests while performing regular cleaning as well, just in case any preventative measures are not enough. This could be subtle, like weakening wood or small piles of wood dust in the corners. Should a situation arise, take immediate measures before it becomes a larger problem. Place baits, traps, and even call in a pest control specialist if necessary. 

Be Sure to Repair Small Damages

Keeping up with maintenance of the wooden chest of drawers is essential to keeping the piece looking its best. No matter how much effort goes into protecting the piece, there will always be times where there are accidents. Repairing them when they are small helps prevent them from turning into a lot of problems or one big problem down the road.

Here are some things that can be done about small damages such as scratches or nicks in the wood:

  • Apply a paste wax made specifically for wooden furniture
  • Fill in with a touch-up marker
  • Use a pumice stone to sand down multiple imperfections

Additionally, keep an eye on the handles and the tightness of the bolts. If they keep coming loose, consider adding some thread-lock to the bolts keeping them in place, or wood glue if they are held together with dowel pins or biscuits. This is also something to consider if the drawers or other parts of the wood are starting to pull apart from each other at their seams.

Larger damages could also be repaired by getting pieces from the manufacturer should it still be in production or taking it to a shop where they refurbish furniture. A professional can easily match the kind of wood and the finish of the piece, making it look like there was never any damage in the first place.

Add Furniture Pads or Feet to the Underside

Furniture pads are typically thick felt pieces that go on the bottom of a furniture’s feet or on the corners of a piece that doesn’t have any sort of leg. Adding furniture pads to the bottom of the wooden chest of drawers can help cushion it against the hard floor and prevent scratching on both the floors and the bottom of the piece itself.

If it doesn’t already have them installed, adding adjustable feet can help ensure that the piece itself is level on a floor that might not be or on thicker pile of carpet. Keeping the piece level helps prevent uneven wear-and-tear as well as preventing a tip risk. It also protects the contents of the wooden chest of drawers by ensuring they won’t slip around or roll excessively due to the angle.

Secure the Chest of Drawers to the Wall

Securing any piece of furniture over 3ft tall to the wall will help prevent the piece from falling and potentially causing damage to it, its surroundings, or injuring anyone who happens to be nearby. All methods to secure the wooden chest of drawers are inexpensive and can also help in an insurance claim should something happen.

Such methods include:

  • Fastening with a metal bracket
  • Secure with furniture straps
  • Using Velcro straps
  • Holding it with mounting tape or moldable glue

When drilling brackets or straps into the wall, be sure to mount at least one into a stud in the wall. However, it is much more ideal to mount them near each corner into studs. This keeps the piece more secure than simply mounting into the drywall where it can easily tear out, even with anchors. For antique pieces, pieces where drilling into would devalue, or in situations such as in rentals where drilling into the wall cannot be done, securing it with no drilling options such as sturdy Velcro mounting strips, mounting tape, or moldable glue are also viable options.

Maintain Climate Control

All furniture should be treated with care in order to maintain good condition, and a wooden chest of drawers is no different. Wood is a particularly finicky material that will warp, crack, or discolor if the conditions are not right. Therefore, maintaining a proper climate will help keep the wooden chest of drawers in top form.


Keep the piece away from direct sunlight as this can cause discoloration. Do not put wood directly in front of a window where sunlight can easily damage the piece. It is even best to not keep the wooden chest of drawers in a room that sees heavy artificial light, though that is less of a concern.

In order to keep away light-based discoloration regardless of placement, keep the room dim to dark while not in use. Close blinds or curtains and turn off any unused lights. This also has the benefit of keeping out drafts and lessening the overall electrical costs, so it really is beneficial to more than the wood.


While wood benefits from some moisture, too much will cause it to swell while too little will cause it to shrink. Too much of this back and forth will cause the wood itself to warp. Maintain proper humidity levels with a humidifier in rooms that are too dry and a dehumidifier in rooms where it’s too low. This will also help with the presence of mold.

Additionally, do not place cups, vases, fish tanks, or other liquid-containing objects directly on the piece. This can cause rings, warping, or swelling in the wood. Placing these sorts of things on top of coasters or covers can help protect the wood for a long time.


Try to avoid keeping the wooden chest of drawers away from direct heat sources as well such as vents, heaters, and fireplaces. This can overly dry out the wood causing it to crack. It can also leave marks or cause serious distortion and discoloration, much like if it were to be left in direct sunlight.

Additionally, avoid placing hot objects directly on top of the piece such as hot food, hair styling equipment, terrariums, or electronics that typically get very hot. This can also burn, distort, or even just discolor the wood.


There is nothing quite like a good, sturdy wooden chest of drawers. They fit in to any style and are extremely utilitarian. They can last for generations when properly taken care of, so protecting them is absolutely necessary. Keep them cleaned and polished, in a good climate, and with some additional precautions they can be looking their best for their entire lifespan.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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