By Barry Goodknight
The word "furniture" tends to evoke only thoughts of wood.
However, furniture may have components of every conceivable
material, including metal, bone, plastic, shell, leather and
fabric, as well as paints and natural and synthetic resins.
these materials must be taken into account to properly care
and maintain furniture.
The practice of caring for historic furniture has changed
dramatically in the last few years. Until recently, furniture
was viewed as primarily functional, and thus it was considered
acceptable to repair damaged or broken furniture with whatever
means were available so it could be used again. If the paint
varnish was in poor condition, it was routinely removed and
replaced with new paint or varnish, or in some cases simply
coated with a new layer of finish over existing layers. Today,
the monetary, cultural and artistic values of historic
furniture demand that the "age old" practices be reviewed.
The environment can have a profound effect on the preservation
Light, particularly visible and ultraviolet (UV) light, is
damaging to organic materials such as wood. Damage from light
cumulative and irreversible. A table top exposed to diffuse
light for several years will suffer similar effects of light
damage as a table top exposed to direct sunlight for a shorter
time. Light provides the energy and increased temperature
necessary to chemically degrade finishes and wood colorants,
and in severe cases, cause the wood cell structure to break
down. Clear finishes often turn yellow or opaque in response
light, and the color of the wood itself can also change. The
resulting damaged finishes and bleached wood cannot be
to their original color without stripping and refinishing, a
practice not recommended as loss of the "patina" or evidence
use can affect the furniture's monetary value.
To limit the effects of light, move all furniture out of
sunlight, utilize blinds or curtains to block the intensity of
sunlight and allow it to diffuse evenly throughout a room, and
keep lights in rooms turned off when not in use. UV light,
which is particularly damaging to wood and fabrics, can be
screened out by applying a UV-filtering film to windows.
Furniture can also be affected by the amount of moisture in
air. Wood and other organic materials respond to changes in
relative humidity (RH) by expanding or contracting as they try
to maintain equilibrium with the moisture in the environment.
Ideally, RH levels should be maintained within a 40%-60%
If the RH is too high (above 70%) wood and other materials
expand. If they are constrained in any way, they may split
shrinking when the RH drops to a lower level. Furniture
are also affected as differences between the response of wood
and its coating to changes in RH may eventually cause a
to detach. A prolonged high humidity environment will also
promote the possibility of mold growth and insect infestation.
To prevent damage, place furniture in areas of minimum
temperature and RH extremes, thereby avoiding attics,
basements, active fireplaces and heating vents.
Monitoring temperature and RH in an environment can be done
with small, inexpensive thermometers and hygrometers purchased
at electronic or hardware stores. When necessary, the RH can
modified to stay within acceptable ranges through the use of
humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
There are a variety of products developed especially for
furniture care as well as other commercial products available
that afford similar results.
Polishes, waxes, oil treatments, stains and preservatives are
formulated to provide your furniture protection from the
elements and regular use.
Which products are right for your furniture depend on the
amount of use as well as climatic conditions. We've tried a
number of products over the years and have found some to be
better than others, while almost all products provide some
level of protection and care for your furniture.
Furniture waxes afford the longest lasting protection for your
furniture finishes and are available as a paste or liquid.
furniture paste waxes are colored to help disguise minor
scratches and other surface blemishes.
Lemon oil and other pure oil polishes can leave behind an oily
film that actually attracts dust and moisture to your
surface. It's a common myth that you need to fed the wood.
Furniture cleaners and dusting aids help to protect the
furniture finish and are recommended for regular use. The use
of these products helps to avoid scratching the surface when
dusting furniture with a dry rag.
Most furniture polishes are emulsion base and can be used
regularly on most furniture surfaces. It's a good idea to
and remove any wax from the surface prior to using a furniture
polish to avoid a cloudy appearance.
About The Author: jwpincorporated.com