Caring for your Furniture
General Rules for the Care of Furniture
Keep furniture out of direct sunlight. Wood furniture will change colour, move and crack in a conservatory. We cannot accept responsibility for furniture in these types of rooms.
Avoid placing furniture in front of or under windows.
Place furniture away from central heating and air conditioning vents.
Use coasters, placemats and tablecloths to protect furniture during use. Blot up spills immediately.
Lift and place items instead of sliding across furniture surfaces.
Rotate accessories on your furniture periodically.
Avoid prolonged use of plastic and rubber items on your furniture.
Dust your furniture regularly and polish every 4-6 months.
The variations in grain pattern and colour are what give real wood its natural beauty and timeless appeal. Different woods have different characteristics and no two pieces will ever be exactly the same. Your piece of furniture will be unique to you to look after and treasure. Real wood furniture will improve with age, the minor marks and knocks picked up through use will add character and the colour and texture will acquire a patina as the wood mellows.
Wood lives and breathes and reacts to its environment. It is natural for wood to shrink and expand depending on temperature and humidity. It is therefore best to avoid placing furniture in direct sunlight or in contact with radiators. In certain situations it is preferable to use veneers instead of solid wood in order for the furniture to perform better.
Where a furniture range is described as rustic, the construction is usually a little cruder and the finish less uniform than the more highly finished products on offer. For many rustic ranges, timbers with a lively grain pattern are selected which are often more prone to movement. The presence of small cracks, knots and imperfections in the wood give the furniture more character and are to be expected.
Wooden furniture comes in a variety of finishes which require a small amount of care to ensure the furniture continues to look good and perform well.
Traditional wax finishes need to be re-applied periodically to prevent the wood drying out and to maintain a protective finish. Marks and scratches can often be removed using very fine steel wool, working with the wood grain, followed by re-waxing. Often furniture is finished with wax which contains a stain which will deepen the colour of the wood. Natural Beeswax is suitable and is available in either clear or dark colours. A small inconspicuous area should be tested before wax is applied to the rest of the furniture, in case it is incompatible with the existing finish.
Many products are finished with a clear protective lacquer either on the natural wood or on top of a stained finish. This offers a degree of spill and heat protection and spills can be wiped with a slightly damp cloth, however hot objects will damage wooden surfaces and so protective mats should always be used. Solvents and alcohol can damage lacquers and they should be cleaned using a non-silicone ammonia-free furniture polish, such as Natural Beeswax Polish.
Used for the most part on hardwoods - oil does not completely seal the wood surface, so any spillages should be wiped up quickly. You may find, in centrally heated environments, your wood may start to dry out - applying a suitable wood oil will remedy the problem. Yearly or so should be sufficient.
Taking good care of genuine hardwood furniture will help it last a lifetime and longer. It's easy and largely a matter of common sense.
Heat, humidity and hardwoods
Approximately half the weight of freshly sawn wood is water? Hard wood furniture is crafted from wood that is carefully dried, retaining just enough moisture for the furniture to properly acclimate to the relative humidity in your home. The wood in furniture continues to exchange moisture with the air, shrinking and expanding in response to changes in relative humidity.
Like your own skin, solid hardwood furniture's natural response to extremely dry air is to lose moisture and shrink a bit. The halves of an extension table may part slightly or a few tiny openings may appear on a solid wood surface. This will correct itself as the relative humidity rises, and the hardwood absorbs enough moisture to expand slightly.
On the other hand, if you don't have an air conditioner or dehumidifier, your home's relative humidity may get too high. Parts of your hardwood furniture may absorb excess moisture from the air and expand, perhaps causing drawers to stick. Once again, this will correct itself as your home's relative humidity decreases. The quality and sturdiness of your hardwood furniture are not affected by these natural changes.
Here are some ways to ensure your solid hardwood furniture's longevity:
For your comfort, as well as to protect your hardwood furniture, use a humidifier in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer to keep the relative humidity at 25 to 35 percent.
Avoid placing hardwood furniture directly in front of radiators, heat runs or fireplaces.
Don't expose hardwood furniture to continuous direct sunlight. Draw the curtains occasionally.
Store table leaves as close as possible to the table. Keep them in an upstairs closet rather than in a damp basement, so that the table leaves are adjusting to the same relative humidity.
Tender Loving Care
It's surprisingly simple to protect and enhance hardwood's natural beauty. All that's needed is some tender, loving care. Here are a few tips from the experts:
Read the manufacturer's care directions for wood furniture carefully and keep them handy for future reference.
Hardwood furniture surfaces also can be cleaned with a mild non-alkaline soap and water. Use the suds on a damp sponge or cloth, but be sure to pre test the solution on an out-of-sight-section to make sure it doesn't damage the finish. Dry immediately with a soft cloth and buff lightly, following the grain.
Hardwood finishes benefit from an occasional waxing or polishing. A paste wax can be applied every six to twelve months. Remove old wax first with a mild non-alkaline soap and water solution.
Avoid waxing urethane-finished furniture. Waxing these surfaces causes them to gather dust and dirt rather than repel it.