How to shield your wood furniture from the damage of time
As kids we mostly took for granted the old furniture we grew up with. It’s been in the family since before our time and it smelled weird. Years later, we inherit these same pieces that we have since developed a nostalgic love for. They were welcome additions to our own furniture collection – all of the pieces we personally picked. Now, we are fond of it all. Collectively, we want them to stay in the family and remain in solid condition and live forever if possible.
There are things you can do to ensure that they are protected for a long time…
It’s always best to keep your wood pieces out of the sun. Even if it’s just sunlight beaming thru the window its contact to say, wooden kitchen cabinets, can have a damaging effect. We’ve all seen colors fade on signs that have been left in storefront windows for too long. The same thing can happen and the hue of the stained wood is also adversely affected. If there is no way around having furniture in the path of the light, consider curtains, or even covering the wood itself.
Sadly, even heating vents, those things we love because they keep us warm, can be damaging to wood. This is especially true if the pieces are sitting over or right next to the vent. It will affect the finish and dry out the wood, so you’d do better to keep your furniture as far from any heating vent as possible. Interestingly, natural humidity can also wreak havoc on our beloved items. Ideally, keep the furniture you wish to preserve in a room that has a consistent humidity level between forty and sixty percent. Once it reaches seventy percent or beyond, the wood is vulnerable and prone to warping, cracking and chipping. Running an air conditioner or keeping your windows open are two ways of reducing humidity.
Obviously, there’s always a threat of water damage. How many times have we seen a ring left from the condensation of a drinking glass? Coasters are a must; otherwise you risk permanent damage to the finish. Additionally, make sure to keep your kitchen hood running or have windows open when cooking. Even the steam can affect your kitchen cabinets. This really is the truth of the matter – you’ll never be able to keep your treasures fully protected. There are the everyday factors of life that are unexpected but common. In the case of water rings, there is an old home remedy that may have positive reverse effect. Simply rub mayonnaise on the affected area and the ring should disappear.
You may even find issue with potted plants. Sure, they add a universally appreciated element of beauty to any home, but they can also be responsible for extreme damage to wood surfaces. Be certain to check for water leaks after watering your plants that are on wooden surfaces. Avoid the transfer of moisture; you may even put additional layers on protection under the pot. A plastic or glass tray work perfectly and protect against water damage.
Wood tabletops endure much. In many homes they are used every day. That’s why having a tablecloth is so important, it guards against scratches, stains and random marks. Obviously buying one is far more affordable than replacing a table! Have a few tablecloths on hand, they are available in styles that will fit any occasion or motif.
Then there are the practical care habits that you hopefully already implement, such as polishing and oiling. If you have a particularly high quality finish on your wood furniture you may only need to do polishing once or twice a year. Don’t opt for commercial polish, natural wood oil is better and it is successful in actually penetrating the surface and adding oil within, making it healthier. Be mindful when cleaning and polishing with a cloth to rub with the grain of the wood.
You can’t dust enough. You know it just from observing your own home. Everything gets dusty prematurely. At least that’s how it seems. Those molding ledges are filthy! Didn’t we just dust them? Time has a way of sneaking by and when it comes to dusting you need to be proactive. It may seem unlikely that damage could occur just because the wood has been sitting under a layer of dust. But the problem really occurs when the dust is affected by humidity in the air, causing it to stick to the surface and ruin the furniture’s finish.
There is an answer to the stuck-on-dust scenario, however. Since particularly thick particles may scratch the wood when caught on the surface of a dry cloth, use a damp (not completely wet) one instead. That will remove that adhered dust while flattening it so it won’t be abrasive to the surface.
A final note – if some of your aged furniture qualifies as antiques you may want to check with a professional before adding any modern polish and cleaner. They could be worth money in their original state so you probably want know whether or not to leave the surface of your antique wood furniture untouched. I hope you find these essentially home improvement ideas helpful in keeping the wood items in your home properly protected.