There are four main things to keep in mind when building a wardrobe. As with any construction project, planning and measurement are crucial, both to ensure safe and sturdy construction, and to make sure that the finished product meets expectations. Materials should be chosen based on budgetary, structural, and aesthetic grounds. Special consideration should be given to the carpentry and joinery involved in building wardrobes. Finally, attention should be devoted to finishing the wardrobe, as wardrobes tend to be working pieces of furniture, and require finishing touches that combine aesthetic appeal with durability.
A wardrobe should be big enough to hold all of the clothing that it is expected to contain. Clothing should be measured while it is on hangers to see how much space will be required. Building a larger wardrobe than is strictly necessary at the time of construction is almost always a good idea. A second set of measurements should also be taken, to make sure that the wardrobe will fit comfortably in its intended location and to make sure that it can be moved to that location through any stairways, doors, and hallways along the way. Plans for wardrobes can be purchased either online or at home improvement stores and are a good choice for less experienced carpenters.
Many materials are suitable for building a wardrobe. Particle board or oriented string board are very inexpensive, reasonably durable and available with laminate finishes that disguise their appearance. These materials are heavy, however, and are apt to be damaged when moved. Plywood is another good choice for wardrobe construction, and is both lighter and more durable than engineered materials, although it is usually more expensive. Very light plywood can be used to build a wardrobe, with the structural strength provided by internal wooden framing.
The most expensive option for this project is solid wood construction. Some wood, such as white pine, is available in large pieces at a relatively modest price, but such soft woods are prone to incidental damage. Hardwoods, such as oak, are much more expensive but are also lovely and can be used to construct wardrobes of heirloom quality. Hardwoods are the most durable construction option.
The carpentry skills needed to build a wardrobe are modest, but there are some special requirements to consider. Drawers should always be designed with extra clearance inside of their frames because wood swells as the humidity changes, and drawers that fit snugly will tend to stick fast in humid weather. Dado joints are adequate for holding shelves and framing members together, but dovetail joints are stronger and are a better choice. Hidden casters on the bottom of a wardrobe make the task of moving it much easier. The wooden back of the wardrobe should be attached at several different points, as it serves an important structural function by bracing and strengthening the wardrobe.
Finish and hardware are the last things added to a wardrobe and are, therefore, among the most visible. A few extra dollars spent on handles and drawer pulls can make a major difference in the final appearance of a wardrobe. If the wardrobe is not made of a laminate material, it should be finished, usually with stain, and then covered with a layer of varnish, as it will inevitably need the protection offered by a sturdy topcoat. Paint is an option here as well and is especially appropriate when building a wardrobe for a child’s room.