7 Tips on How to Care for Antique Furniture

7 Tips on How to Care for Antique Furniture

Antique furniture pieces, though beautiful and filled with memories, are some of the trickiest in the home to care for. Refinishing or careful cleaning are always options (with the right tools and knowledge), but the best route to ensuring your antique furniture lasts longer is through planned preservation. Of course, not everyone is an expert planner, so the seven tips below will detail not only preservation methods, but also ways to care for your antique furniture later in its life.

Reduce UV Light Exposure

Ultraviolet (UV) light is what’s responsible for giving you that annoying sunburn every summer, but it could also be ruining your antique furniture. UV light is extremely harmful to antiques, as these rays can quickly accelerate discoloration. Of course, one option is to install curtains or blinds, but even then, some UV rays can penetrate through. Instead, consider installing UV-resistant window film, which blocks 99.9 percent of UV rays. You still get the light through the window, and the added benefit of reducing temperature levels in your home!

Monitor Humidity in Your Home

Almost as bad as UV light, humidity is another dangerous element that can damage antique furniture! Too much humidity and too little humidity can both be detrimental, so it’s important to control this. Areas that contain antique furniture should be kept between 35 percent to 65 percent humidity, and away from vents or anything else that may contribute to the problem. This will prevent mold growth within the furniture while also preventing any shrinkage, brittleness or warping.

Monitor Temperature in Your Home

Similar to humidity, there is an optimal range for temperature best suited to preserve antique furniture. Try to keep areas that house antique furniture between 68 and 75 degrees. Environments that are too cold can cause brittleness in wood and other materials that may buckle, crack, or worse. Too hot of a space risks the chance of inviting unwanted levels of humidity and the possibility of warping under certain conditions. This is especially important to remember if you ever plan on storing your antique furniture where the temperature is less regulated than your home.

Maintain the Varnish

You will often hear that to maintain the look of wooden antique furniture, you should be consistently using furniture oils to keep it from “drying out.” However, this is a myth! In fact, repeated applications of furniture oils can actually lead to severe degradation over time. It may look great the day you apply the furniture oil, but a few years from now you’ll begin to notice discoloration, dust, and dirt build-up. Instead, try using a dedicated furniture polish manufactured by a Furniture Care Expert. Be sure to dust between applications as well.

Check the Cloth You’re Using to Dust

Most people use a feather duster or everyday rag to dust their antique furniture. Before dusting next time, be sure to check what type of material you’re using! Small scratches and splinters can arise from even the most careful of dusters if they’re not using the right equipment. Feather dusters are not a good idea as broken feathers can be quite abrasive, plus they do not pick up all the loose dust particles. Likewise the everyday rag you’re using could have particle build-up that scratches the surface. The rag could even be in a bad enough state itself that it isn’t useful anymore.

Instead, choose a soft, 100% cotton flannel cloth that can lock onto the dust to remove it.  If you wish, dampen it slightly with the clean water and dry the wood surface immediately.  Never allow standing water or moisture to dwell on the wood surface for any length of time because it may raise the wood grain.

Treat Spills Immediately

Coffee spill
This one may sound self-explanatory, but the faster you can react to a spill on your antique furniture, the better chance you have of preventing (or significantly reducing) permanent damage. When cleaning wood, be sure to first remove the spill with a paper towel by rubbing along the grain. This will ensure that the liquid won’t settle in the grains of the wood and cause further damage. After the spill is removed, use wax over the spot to combat discoloration. If the spill has lingered before being removed, try using lemon oil to combat any discoloration.  If you are left with a milky mark, try to polish it out with a water mark remover.

Repair and Restoration is Best Left to Professionals

Hopefully you won’t need restoration since you followed the preceding steps! But if a repair or restoration is necessary for your antique furniture, keep in mind that it’s much trickier than it looks. Those who are inexperienced or untrained can often damage pieces beyond what they’re trying to repair. For any major repair or restoration to your antique furniture, use a professional Guardsman technician. Contact us today to schedule an on-site repair or restoration for any of your antique furniture!

About us

About Me
Open the door to Guardsman On-Site Care and Repair, and let us show you what we can do to keep you living on your furniture with pride.
We’ll fix and care for your pieces—generally right in your own home or business.