Home Decor: Caring For Wood Furniture

Tips on how to treat and protect wood furniture. Repair nicks, scratches and watermarks with household items.

Wood furniture is perfect for every home. It goes with everything, is easy to care for, and adds class and elegance to all types of decor. Below are some basic tips for caring for wood furniture.

Although wood furniture is easy to care for, it's also easy to damage. Nicks, scrapes and watermarks are just a few of the things that can mar your furniture if not properly maintained. If your wooden piece is one of history or value, and not intended for every day use, you should take steps to ensure its protection. When placing flowerpots, knick-knacks and picture frames on wood, make sure the surface is protected. You can do this by placing felt on the bottom of the object or placing the object on a protective covering such as a table runner or doily. If you'll be putting a beverage down on wood furniture, use a coaster in order to avoid watermarks or heat damage. Every day wood pieces such as kitchen tables don't require quite as much caution, but it's good to use place mats to protect the wood and make it last longer.

Be sure to dust your wood furniture at least once a week to keep dust particles from building up. It's best to use only a slightly damp cloth for this task as common waxes, sprays and polishes can leave a buildup on the surface of the piece. When it is time to polish the furniture, you can buff the piece with a paste wax, or use a little lemon oil. It's best to use only products containing natural ingredients. For the best furniture cleaning options, ask the salesperson or antique dealer from whom your purchased the piece what he or she recommends, or call the manufacturer. Never use any product containing alcohol as it will cause the wood to dry. Silicone cleaners can harm your wood furniture as well. When polishing, go with the grain. Once or twice a year you can wash your wood with a mild soap formulated especially for this purpose. Murphy's Oil Soap is ideal. Never spray any product directly onto wood. Spray a soft cloth with the product and apply to the wood that way.

If you have one of those homes that get very dry in the winter, you may want to use a humidifier to keep your furniture from getting too dry. Dry heat can cause your piece to crack. Avoid direct sunlight as well as this can cause discoloration. In order to avoid extreme temperatures, keep your wooden furniture away from heating or air conditioning vents and fireplaces.

When treating wood for a stain or scratch, it would be a good idea to test the treatment method first on a hidden area of the table. The last thing you want is to cause more visible damage.

If you happen to spill a beverage on your wood furniture, or if you get one of those unsightly water rings that come from placing a glass down unprotected, you have several options for treating the piece. First, wipe up the liquid immediately. If a stain or watermark has been left behind, try rubbing the wood with some white, non-gel toothpaste and wipe with a clean cloth. If you don't happen to have any of this type of toothpaste available, you can also follow the same steps using mayonnaise or salad oil. Something else to try is to cover the area with a bath towel and apply a warm iron.

If you spill liquid on paper, and the paper sticks to your wood furniture, this also comes up easily. Rub the area with salad oil or mayonnaise and it should be easy to remove.

Nicks and scratches are easy to repair, or at least hide. If you mar cherry wood, try applying iodine to the spot using a cotton swab. If the wood is dark, you can use a matching crayon. A waxy paste shoe polish works for this task as well.

For any other repairs, you might want to call in a professional. Unless you're well versed in wood restoration, it's best to leave this to someone with experience.

Caring for your wood furniture isn't difficult at all. In many cases, the wood can be treated with items found in your home. With proper upkeep, today's wood piece can become tomorrow's heirloom.

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