How To Care For Your Vintage Wooden Furniture
Whether you have a treasured family heirloom or a vintage wooden furniture piece found in a garage sale, you want your antique wooden furniture to look its best. If it is cared for correctly, it can last for several more generations. Remember that wooden furniture needs special care and certain conditions for lasting durability and beauty. Here are some expert hints for taking care of your antique furniture:
1. Dirt and Grime
You may have purchased a vintage piece of wooden furniture that is layered with years’ worth of dust and grime. Regardless of what you have heard, a little warm water and a mild liquid soap will not harm wood. You just need to be careful that the water does not completely soak the piece. Gently scrub the furniture off with the water and soap mixture. Fancy grooves and other hard-to-reach areas can easily be scrubbed with an old soft toothbrush. Use soft cloths to wipe off the grime and dry away any moisture.
2. Quality Wax
Now that you have cleaned away dirt and dust, you need to protect your wood furniture’s finish with a quality wax. The soft paste wax is the best to use. Most wax product labels will instruct you to add a thin coat of wax to the furniture and wait for about 5 minutes. Take a clean, soft cloth and gently buff the whole piece. After about an hour, use the same cloth to buff the wood again—this time, with a little more strength. The piece will regain its stunning shine that will last for quite a while.
3. Direct Sunlight
Sunlight may be invigorating through your windows; however, it is a sworn enemy of your wooden furniture. The same damaging UV rays that are harmful to your skin is also damaging to wood. Over time, exposure to the heat and rays of the sun will fade and destroy most of the furniture’s finish. It will also cause the piece to shrink, dry out, and crack. If you must have a piece of wood furniture near a window, consider pulling the blinds or investing in UV ray film for the windows.
4. High Heat
Just as your favorite wooden coffee table loathes sunlight, it also can be damaged if you place it near sources of heat (i.e. vents, fireplaces). Heat shrinks wood and encourages it to discolor and crack. During winter months, consider using a humidifier in your home. It will keep the moisture level comfortable for you and your wooden furniture.
5. Color Blending
Do you notice a little nick or scratch on your furniture? Try this little tip that the experts use. Find a matching shoe polish color and dab a little on the flaw with a cotton ball. Gently buff to blend the color. You can also use a matching felt-tip marker that is specially made for furniture. If the scratch or chip is deep, consult a professional furniture restorer.
6. Metal Polishing
If your vintage furniture piece has metal hardware, you should carefully remove it to clean it right. So nothing gets confused, write down each piece and where it goes. Polish each metal piece with a quality polish and carefully reattach it to the furniture. Be careful that you do not make any scratches. If the piece is intricate and has a lot of removable hardware, take your time for a couple of days. It will not be as tiring and you will do the job right.
Your favorite wooden furniture has a protective finish that will keep it safe and beautiful. Although special oils and polishes bring a pleasant shine to the finish, they do not penetrate it. The polish advertisements that talk about “feeding and nourishing” your wood are off base.
8. Water Ring
Are you sickened because someone left a hot tea cup or plate on your grandmother’s dining room table? That white spot or ring is not permanent. Just take a deep breath and get a little toothpaste (non-gel) and baking soda. Gently rub some of the mixture on the spot with a clean, soft cloth. With a little rubbing, the spot will disappear. Apply a little wax and buff the spot until it shines. Some homeowners have had good luck with an iron set on medium heat. Put a soft towel over the spot and gently iron over it for about 10 seconds. It can effectively remove the white ring or spot.
9. Vintage Wooden Furniture Quality
Do you frequently come across vintage wooden furniture at garage sales? With a little detective work, you can see if you are buying a quality piece or not. Look at the secondary woods that create the back, insides, and bottoms of the piece or its drawers. If they are made of good woods with quality workmanship, the piece may be a good buy for your home. Who knows—it may be worth thousands!
10. Contact a Professional
Restoring vintage wooden furniture can be a rewarding job; however, you should talk to a professional first. In most cases, your piece may need some deep cleaning and a good waxing. Before you consider stripping the wood and re-staining—beware. Even if the finish is rough, some valuable wood pieces keep their value with the original finish. If you take it off and add another, you could be stripping away much of the piece’s value. Always consult an experienced and knowledgeable furniture expert before you do any type of refurbishing.
If you would like Capital Bargain Barn to give you an estimate on vintage wooden furniture, please fill out the contact form on on our site and tell us some of the specifics, we’ll be glad to help!