Properly caring for fine wood furniture will keep it looking great, but it will also extend its life and preserve its value. When you invest in high-quality, classic, wood furniture, it should last a lifetime, and may even become a family heirloom. With all the commercial wood-care products available today, it can be hard to know what is beneficial versus what can damage your furniture. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your collection in top shape.
Basic Considerations for Fine Furnishings
The greatest enemies to wood of any type are sunlight and extremes of moisture or dryness. Temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees are optimal. Exposing furniture to direct sunlight can quickly degrade wood finishes, especially if it is exposed every day. Ideal relative humidity level is between 50 and 55 percent, but harsh winter temperatures drastically reduce humidity levels. Use a humidifier to restore moisture levels, but take care to place it far away from wood items. Excess moisture can be equally damaging. Always use coasters and placemats and keep liquids away from fine wood surfaces whenever possible. Use felt pads on the undersides of lamps, candlesticks or other items that could scratch, and take care never to slide anything across finished wood.
Regular Wood Furniture Cleaning and Maintenance
Experts say that less is more when cleaning fine furnishings. For regular dusting, use old T-shirts or socks dampened slightly with water. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches. Ensure that no moisture is left behind. Ideally, this is the only type of regular cleaning your items should need. It is a common misconception that wood requires waxy polishes or oils. These products can actually cause the finish to become cloudy or develop buildup. In addition, oily residue left on the surface will attract dust and create a grimy film that eventually will require stripping. Hardware and drawer pulls should be dry dusted; any moisture or chemical products may harm their protective finish.
Special Furniture Care Needs
Even with the greatest level of care, accidents do happen. For sticky spots, dampen a corner of a soft cloth with a soap-and-water solution. Wipe the area gently to remove the spot and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Furniture polish is generally effective for small scratches and minor stains. For deeper scratches, water spots and serious stains, professional attention is crucial for restoring fine furniture. DIY products such as wood filler and scratch repair crayons can cause further damage or permanently mar surfaces, and likewise for anecdotal remedies like mayonnaise and mineral spirits. Never use any product, natural or commercial, unless your furniture’s manufacturer or a qualified professional recommends it.
The professionals at Guild Hall Fine Furniture of Salt Lake City understand the importance of protecting your fine furnishings. They can provide all the information you need for caring for fine furniture and protecting your investment.