How to Care for Custom Timber Furniture: Tips and Tricks
- June 14, 2017
- Guardsman Furniture Repair
Timber is wood in its most natural form. As a result, every piece is different and unique. Unlike plywood, which is essentially thin slices of wood melded together in a factory, timber furniture uses wood pieces cut straight from the tree. The uniqueness of each cut comes from the variance in mineral streaks, grain variations and other natural markers. Since timber is natural, there are certain tips that will be valuable to know for proper timber furniture care.
Because timber comes directly from nature, and doesn’t go through a factory prior to reaching a consumer’s home, it retains a higher level of moisture than other pieces of wood. When freshly cut, timber contains humidity levels as high as 50 percent. It is then dried in order to reduce the humidity level to one that will allow the furniture to acclimate to the humidity of a home (around 12 percent). If you have timber doors in the house, you might notice the door expands, making it hard to shut, during periods of high humidity. Likewise, extremely dry periods will cause the timber’s humidity levels to dissipate, making it shrink in size. To counteract changes in the size of the timber, try to maintain stable levels of humidity throughout the house.
Timber Furniture Care
As with all wood furniture, avoid putting your timber furniture in the direct sunlight. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can dry out the lacquer on the timber, causing it to crack and even fade. If you choose to put the piece of furniture in a naturally lit room, invest in UV-resistant window film that will block 99.9 percent of the rays. Similarly, placing the timber furniture near an air-conditioning vent can also dry out the furniture, cause unsightly cracks in the surface and even distort the appearance.
Since timber contains a level of humidity that requires the wood to be able to “breathe,” it’s important to occasionally move around knick-knacks on top of the furniture. This allows those spots, previously covered by, say, a lamp, to interact with the surrounding atmosphere. If left for too long, heavy objects like bowls, vases and lamps can leave an imprint in the timber — which you definitely don’t want! Another way to help protect your timber furniture from unwanted indentations is by putting felt pads underneath heavy objects.
If the timber piece of furniture you own is used for more than just decoration (i.e., coffee table, desk, dinner table), there are a few things you should know for proper timber furniture care. First, know what type of finish has been applied to the furniture. Some timber pieces are finished with oil, which gets absorbed into the timber and does not protect as much against heat or liquid. If your timber is finished with oil, and the piece will be heavily used, we suggest buying a polyurethane finish to apply over it. Polyurethane finishes are thick enough that they will fill the grain of the timber and protect the surface from stains, scratches and spills.
Protecting timber furniture
Second, timber retains imprints relatively easily, so if you plan on writing on its surface, first place down a protective barrier. This will prevent the transfer of whatever you may be writing onto the surface of the wood. If you plan on using the timber furniture for dining, it is very important to use coasters for both hot and cold drinks. Similar to coasters, we recommend using linen place mats underneath dining plates to help prevent scratches or dents to the surface (always avoid using vinyl and plastic). While we’re on the topic of setting things on the furniture — try your best to directly lift glasses, plates and mugs off the table. Dragging them across the surface can damage the wood!
As with all wood furniture, frequently dusting and cleaning your timber furniture will help protect it from dust particles that could potentially damage the wood. Slightly wetting a soft cloth to wipe across the surface of the furniture will easily pick up dust particles while deactivating any static that could attract dust in the future. But be careful — too much water on the rag can actually stain the wood, so make sure to wipe up any remaining water and moisture with a dry rag when you’re finished! Semi-annual polishing and waxing will also benefit the wood as it will help buff out any surface scratches and restore the finish’s shine. The wax or polish should be applied in small doses, with a lint-free cloth, and wiped along the grain.
Though polishing and waxing can help remove minor stains and markings like water and heat rings, spills and even candle wax residue, other types of damage are not as easily fixed. Spilling nail polish, nail polish remover and even alcoholic cocktails can strip finish off timber. In situations like these, it is best to call an experienced technician, like those at Guardsman.