DIY How To

How to Look After Your Wooden Furniture

As an organic material, wood responds to its environment. This is why wooden furniture needs more care than plastic or metal might. Light, heat and moisture can damage wood and will get worse if exposed for a long time. They can potentially be infested with insects that eat away at the wood too. So, looking after your wooden furniture is imperative.

Tips to keep your wooden furniture in top condition

Causes
Light can cause irreversible damage to wood. It turns light wood dark and dark woods light and can also can leave the finish and stain looking cracked, discoloured or opaque.

Wood is porous, so when it comes into contact with water, it absorbs it, causing it to swell. When it dries out, the wood shrinks. This can cause splits or cracks in the wood, and consistent high humidity could cause mould to grow too.

In the right conditions, insects will burrow into the wood, eating their way through it, and then lay eggs. When they hatch, the babies will eat their way out, leaving exit holes. This could compromise the structural integrity of the furniture.

How to Handle Your Furniture
When moving your furniture, lift it rather than dragging, utilising two people if necessary. Dragging can cause stress on the legs or feet, and could cause them to break off. If you're transporting furniture in a vehicle, cushion items from contact by other items.

The finish of your wooden furniture can be protected from water damage with tablecloths, glass table tops and drinks coasters, and avoid placing potted plants on to the surface. Don't place in direct sunlight, though the use of blinds and curtains will minimise damage. Avoid putting wooden furniture near places where the environment fluctuates, such as near radiators or in bathrooms where there is a lot of moisture or heat.

Cleaning
Always avoid any kind of wood cleaners, polishes or sprays that contain silicone. Though it makes your furniture shine, it could stain your wood and mean that you could need your furniture stripping back to bare wood. Some chemical polishes can leave residue that builds up over time and can affect the finish of the surface.

Instead, use wood-friendly polishes that are approved by furniture makers, such as renaissance wax, or natural beeswax. Apply using a lint-free cloth or steel wool in a circular motion. Leave for a couple of hours for the wood to absorb some of the wax, then wipe away the residue by wiping with the grain. Make sure you fold the cloth as you go so the excess wax doesn't build up. You need only do this once or twice a year. If your piece is an antique, then it is recommended that a professional do the waxing, as half the value is in the finish.

Ongoing care should wiping over the furniture with a damp cloth, then drying and buffing. When your furniture loses its shine, that's when you know you need to polish it again. If you clean the metal hardware on your furniture, then remove it first, as the compounds used to clean metal with will damage the wood and the finish. Alternatively, simply buff it with a soft dry cloth and it will look just as good.

If you know or suspect your wooden furniture to be infested with insects, then first wrap it in plastic so it is isolated, and contact a conservator.

So if you're looking for a new piece of wooden furniture, like the solid oak extending dining tables & chairs from Top Furniture, then make sure you look after it so you get a long and happy life out of your furniture.

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