Many different factors can have negative effects
on wood. Whether its sunlight or condensation
from a glass, there are many steps
you can take to help preserve your
wooden furniture. One
of the primary factors affecting how
wood ages isn’t the sun or water, it’s
There are several outside influences that you
should be aware of and try to avoid. One
of the biggest is the sun. Constant exposure
to direct sunlight can cause a wooden object to
lose color over time. Dark woods will often
bleach while lighter colors may darken. The
color of the wood isn’t all that is affected
by the sun’s rays, the finish on the wood
may begin to crack or peel because of damage to
the molecules that hold the finish together. In
general this means you don’t want your wooden
furniture in the direct sunlight. If it can’t
be avoided then the best steps you can take are
placing blinds or curtains in the nearby windows.
Another important issue is changing temperature. Over
time wood can warp if exposed to extreme temperature
changes, so make sure you aren’t placing
any wooden furniture over floor or wall vents. The
air from the heating and air conditioning will
damage it over time.
Some rubber lamps bases, cords and some plastics
can harm the finish of a piece if left in place
for an extended period of time. The best
solution is to place a piece of felt or leather
between the object and the surface to lessen the
chance of damage.
The finish on a wood will affect how likely it
is to be harmed by liquids, like glasses coated
in condensation that are placed on its surface. You
should always use a coaster or other insulator
between your glass and the wooden surface because
water can leave white marks or cause damage to
the finish that has to be professionally repaired.
*A helpful tip: if you find that drawers become difficult to open over time, remove the drawer and rub a candle along the glides. The wax from the candle will cause the drawer to slide more easily.
If you do get any liquids on your furniture it’s
important to clean them up immediately and to be
through. You should wipe the piece with
a clean cloth soaked in mild soap and water, then
use another clean damp cloth, followed by a third
clean cloth. Always make sure to rub with
the grain of the wood.
As with any furniture it is important to clean
and maintain your piece. You should dust
the piece regularly, but here are some additional
tips based on the type of finish you have.
Polyurethane finishes are relatively simply to
care for and are often more water resistant than
other finishes. To care for these finishes
simply wipe down with a damp cloth periodically,
then wipe dry.
Shellac finishes are very sensitive to water
and can become sticky if exposed to an extremely
humid environment. Because of this you should
either dust or vacuum furniture with this finish,
while avoiding oil or damp furniture polishes.
Painted finishes should only be cleaned with
a mild soap and water on a damp cloth and then
immediately blotted dry. Stripping and refinishing
is an option you can consider but should only be
considered if there is no other choice to repair
the surface of the piece.
If your piece has an oil finish you should check
with the manufacturer regarding suggested care. With
a lacquer finish you should wax it once a year
early on. As the piece ages you will see
that it needs waxed less often because of the buildup
from past waxings. You can wax as needed,
it doesn’t need to be each year because waxing
can restore shine and help protect your piece.
Any minor damage such as scratches or marks can
be touched up with touch up sticks or scratch removers
that can be found in many furniture or hardware
One of the best ways to take care of your wood
furniture is to purchase a protection plan, like
Protection 1st. It picks up where the manufacturer’s
warranty leaves off. Manufacturers warranty against
construction defects, but a protection plan can
help you take care of accidental breakage and damage. Scratches,
watermarks or burns can be repaired under such
a plan, as can warping and component failure. Some
exclusions may apply, but a protection plan will
help ensure the value of your investment.