By Rebecca Korach Woan
Preservation and Care of Antique and Fine Wood Furniture
Antique and fine wood furniture requires special care to preserve it for future generations. Here are some recommendations:
Avoid placing fine furniture in strong sunlight. Sunlight might feel wonderful to you or your pet, but it is devastating to your furniture and will lead to fading and cracking of the finish. Draw curtains during the day, or use sun blinds or UV filters on the windows.
Throw away all spray or aerosol furniture polish to prevent anyone from using them on your fine furniture. The silicone in these products builds up and prevents nourishing wax from feeding the wood. Furniture needs only an occasional wax every six months (we suggest timing it for when you change your clocks), with carnauba (vegetable in origin), paraffin or beeswax. Try to wax one day and buff the next to allow the wax to nourish the wood.
Dust often with a soft clean cloth for maintenance. Use a vinegar solution (one tablespoon to a half pint of water) to remove grease and food deposits.
Avoid placing heavy items on furniture to prevent marks and indentations.
Extremes in humidity and temperature will accelerate cracking and loosen joints and veneer.
In summer, maintain temperatures of 70-75 degrees (F) and a relative humidity (RH) of 55%-65%. In winter, maintain temperatures of 65-70 degrees (F) and relative humidity of 35%-45%. Keep from placing furniture in attics, basements and near active fireplaces and heating vents. Monitoring temperature and RH can be done with inexpensive thermometers and hygrometers purchased at electronic or hardware stores or humidity sensors installed with a home security system.
If the furniture is in need of repair or restoration use only reputable professionals who specialize in the care of fine furniture.
Rebecca Korach Woan is a Principal with Chartwell Insurance Services.