Care and Maintenance of Wood Furniture

General Information About Wood Furniture


Polishing Wood furnitureToday's furniture lacquers need very little care. Old, clean undershirts and cloth diapers make excellent dusting cloths. Dust will cling to the cloths if they are lightly dampened but not wet. There should never be moisture left on the furniture after dusting. Dust in the direction of the grain pattern to prevent noticeable scratches from dust particles. Spray furniture waxes and polishes are not necessary and can cloud the furniture finish. Wood furniture does not need to be "fed" with lemon oil or other preparations. If you wish to use furniture polish, consult your furniture retailer for a recommended product.


When caring for your fine furniture, use a gentle touch and the mantra that "less is more." You don't need an arsenal of cleaning products nor do you need to spend hours keeping your furniture in nice condition. Some folks claim, "Dust protects antiques." We recommend keeping the dust at bay so that you can enjoy your furniture, but rather than polishing your furniture, spend your free time on the tennis court or reading in the garden!


Every six months or so, there may be a need or desire for more thorough cleaning of wood furniture than routine dusting. The furniture may be washed with a mild soap intended for that purpose or a furniture cleaning product available in most grocery stores. Following the directions on the product, use a soft cloth and wipe with the grain. A furniture polish may be applied if a little more shine is desired.


Spilled liquids should be wiped from the surface immediately with a soft, slightly damp cloth, in the direction of the wood grain. Use a blotting rather than a wiping action. Water left over a long period of time will cause white spots in the finish. Alcohol, perfume, after-shave and medications can cause severe finish damage.


Remove household dust with a soft, clean cloth, dusting with the grain. The cloth may be dampened with a furniture dusting-aid product, or a furniture care polish may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the product. Avoid products that leave an oily film on the furniture since they may cause a clouding of the finish and have a tendency to collect dust.


Over time, scratches from normal use may be noticed on furniture. These can be touched up with a scratch remover or special touch-up pens or sticks available at your furniture dealer or at many paint stores.


What are the main types of furniture care products, and which one do you recommend ?

Answer: There are three basic types of furniture care products: silicone cleaners, waxes and polishes. We recommend avoiding silicone cleaners and waxes. While silicone cleaners create a high degree of shine, silicone seeps into even the highest-quality finishes, creating a barrier that will not accept stain or lacquer. This makes it virtually impossible to re-finish or touch-up your furniture.


Waxes should be avoided because their regular use may result in a build-up of wax film on the surface of the furniture. This build-up could actually attract dirt, smoke and other pollutants in the air, resulting in smudges and streaks. Also, many waxes contain grit that can permanently damage furniture surfaces if used improperly.


Polishes, which we recommend, contain detergents, emulsifiers and mineral oil. The detergents clean dirt from the furniture, the emulsifiers give it body to clean and last longer and the mineral oil is left behind as a barrier for dirt and moisture that could harm finishes. There's no grit to harm the finish, no wax to build up and no silicone to raise the sheen and act as a barrier for touch-up and refinishing.


Vacuum gently or brush with a soft bristle brush. Clean acrylic fabrics with mild soap and water. Fluff cushions periodically to maintain original fullness.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and HumidityFine wood furniture should not be exposed to extreme heat or humid conditions, such as placing it near a heat outlet or an open window. Try to avoid direct sunlight which may cause certain finishes to fade.


In addition to sunlight damage, wood suffers when exposed to extremes in temperature and humidity. Do not store wood furniture in an attic, storage facility or moving van where temperatures are outside the 65 - 75 degrees fahrenheit range or humidity drops below 50%. If you are away from home for extended periods of time, try to maintain temperatures and humidity levels that are kind to furniture. If you have a piano in your home, these temperature and humidity suggestions will also help it stay in tune and maintain its quality.


Living with wonderful furniture and protecting it from damage is often a matter of common sense. Wood furniture is happiest when it lives in a room that's between 65 and 75 degrees fahrenheit with the relative humidity in the 50 - 55% range. Furniture should not be placed in direct sunlight because it will fade and dry the wood.


Do not place plastic, rubber or hot objects directly on a wood finish. Chemicals in plastic and some rubber may soften or discolor the finish if left in contact with the furniture for a long period of time. To avoid these markings, place a strip of felt, leather or cork under accessories.


If you're moving when it's very cold or hot outside, try not to move furniture directly from cold to warm or warm to cold conditions without allowing it to acclimate. A good way to do this is to slowly adjust the temperature in the house - heat or air conditioning. If you have a garage, it can be a good place to bring furniture up or down halfway to temperature before moving it into your home or onto a moving van. Protection It's a good idea to use coasters under glasses and cups that rest on wood or marble tops since moisture and heat can cause damage. Prevent scratches by placing protective felt disks under lamps and accessories that rest on wood and marble tops. Some rubber or plastic feet on trivets and other accessories can damage wood finishes by chemically reacting with the finish.


Use care when moving anything on a wood top. Pick it up and move it rather than sliding it across a wood surface to prevent scratches or gouges. If you choose to use a piece of glass on top of a chest or dresser, place felt disks between the glass and the wood to allow for air circulation.


HardwareThe brass hardware used on most fine furniture has a protective finish that prevents tarnishing, so all it needs is an occasional dusting. Alcohol and ammonia can remove the finish, and without a finish, the brass will darken in color and develop a patina. We recommend simply dusting your hardware. If you decide to polish your hardware, consult your furniture retailer for a quality brass polish and remove the hardware from the case piece before working on it.


StoneEmperadora marble and travertine lend wonderful colors and textural accents to furniture. Although stone is strong, it needs to be protected from breakage, liquids, sunlight and temperature extremes. To care for your stone tops, dust with a lightly moistened, soft, clean cloth - as you would your fine wood furniture. Use coasters for wet glasses or hot cups and place felt disks under accessories.


If you are storing or moving your marble top, make sure it does not stand on end. It should be stored flat without heavy objects resting on top of it. If you're moving the marble, have your movers crate it in a cushioned wood frame and lay it flat in a protected.


Remember the golden rule about wood furniture: If it going to get scratched or dinged, it will happen in the most obvious spot! So you can't overprotect your furniture tops and corners, which are the most subject to visible damage.

General Information About Wood Furniture