How to Care for Wood Furniture

Like leather, wood furniture can last a very long time if cared for properly. Unfortunately, wood furniture suffers most from improper care or neglect than other types of furniture. But the potential benefits of properly cared for wood furniture far outweigh furniture with other coverings. Solid wood furniture can last hundreds of years and become a family heirloom if taken care of.

The most harmful element for wood furniture is sunlight. As with leather, constant exposure to direct sunlight and heat can cause wood furniture to fade. Darker wood furniture may bleach out in the sun, while lighter wood furniture may become darker over time. Extreme changes in temperature can have an adverse effect on your wood furniture also. If your wood furniture is exposed to extreme temperature changes, it can warp over time. Make sure that your wood furniture is not placed over a floor or wall vent.

The finish of wood furniture is something that is very important to be aware of. Like leather, wood furniture finishes react differently to certain elements. Some rubber lamp bases, plastics and cords can harm the finish of a piece of wood furniture. It is best to keep a piece of felt or leather between the wood surface and the harmful item.

Liquids of any form are very harmful to the finish of wood furniture. The most common water damage is cup rings from a glass that was left on the wood furniture with condensation on the outside surface. It is a good practice to always use a coaster when eating or drinking on your wood furniture.

If you do get liquids on your wood furniture, it is best to make sure that they are promptly and thoroughly cleaned up. Begin with wiping the wood furniture with a clean cloth soaked in mild soap and water, followed by a clean damp cloth and finally with a third clean cloth. When you are cleaning wood furniture, always make sure to rub with the grain of the wood, not against it.

It is important to clean and maintain your wood furniture regularly, starting with a regular dusting. Depending on the finish that your wood furniture has, additional cleaning may be a good idea.

  • Polyurethane finishes are more water resistant than others and it is acceptable to wipe down with a damp cloth, and then wipe dry.
  • Shellac finishes are extremely sensitive to water. Wood furniture with this finish should only be dusted or vacuumed, avoiding any oil or damp furniture polishes. Shellac finishes can become sticky if exposed to water or a humid environment.
  • Painted wood furniture should only be cleaned with a damp cloth soaked in mild soap and water, then immediately blotted dry. If your painted furniture has suffered an irreparable stain or damage, it is possible to strip and refinish the wood surface.
  • Oil finishes on wood furniture require specific maintenance suggested by the manufacturer.
  • Wood furniture with a lacquer finish should be waxed once a year. However, as the piece ages you will find that it needs waxed less often because of buildup.

Any minor damages to your wood furniture such as scratches, scuffs or marks can be touched up with sticks or scratch removers that can be found at most furniture stores or hardware stores.

In addition to general cleaning and maintenance, it is a good idea to purchase a protection plan for your wood furniture. Protection 1st plans pick up where your manufacturer’s warranty leaves off. Manufacturer’s warranty guards against product defects, but a furniture protection plan can help you take care of accidental breakage and damage to your wood furniture. Scratches, watermarks, burns, warping and component failure can be repaired under such a furniture protection plan. Some exclusions may apply, but a furniture protection plan will help ensure the value of your furniture investment nonetheless.