Basic routine care of antique furniture
To keep your beautiful pieces in tip top condition and ensure you will be admiring them for many years to come, see our simple routine cleaning and care tips:
Keep it simple. Much wooden furniture does not require much treatment to keep it in good condition, and doing any extensive treatment at home is likely to result in some sort of damage. If a piece requires extra TLC or restoration, seek the advice of a professional. Provided damp or insect infestation is kept at bay, wooden furniture should survive very well. If these do become an issue, then again we would suggest you solicit professional help.
Cleaning, waxing or polishing – clean surfaces gently with a, soft, dry, lint free cloth or a soft brush to remove dust and dirt. A microfiber cloth is ideal for this. Try to dust at least once a week to avoid any build up. Wax may need applying, very sparingly, but certainly not regularly. Perhaps every year or so, and speak to a professional about the best wax to use. Linseed oil waxes do not provide as much protection as a good quality unstained beeswax product, and some contain harsh solvents which are not suitable. Modern furniture polishes are completely unsuitable, as they contain compounds which can actually soften and damage original finishes.
Never use abrasive cleaning agents or cloths as these can cause extensive damage. Rub gently and evenly to avoid affecting the patina of the wood.
If you are waxing the piece yourself, preparation is key. Surfaces should be clean and dry, with any grease removed with a very mild detergent solution. Dry the area thoroughly, and use the product according to professional advice and the manufacturer’s recommendations with a light touch.
The optimum environment will also help. Don’t stand valuable antique furniture in direct sunlight, as ultraviolet light can cause damage to antique varnishes. If the wood is untreated, UV rays can bleach the wood and cause structural damage. It also increases heat on the piece which can cause major problems. Try to avoid major fluctuations in temperature which can cause wood to contract or expand and cause cracking or warping. A dehumidifier is a good idea if you feel the atmosphere is too damp, as moisture can create it’s own problems, encouraging fungal issues and warping. On the other hand, a humidifier or bowl of water simply placed on a radiator can counteract any problems caused by an overly dry atmosphere, such as shrinking and warping.
Wooden furniture often has a variety of decorations; metals or ormolu, which will require separate handling. The internet is a great source of info n caring for these materials, or ask a professional for advice. Upholstery will also need different treatment. It will benefit from regular dusting, or very gentle vacuuming. Leather can be quite difficult to condition, but try keep it clean, removing dirt and debris which could cause scratches on a regular basis. Leather cleaning solutions and conditioners are readily available, although a gentle wipe with plain water should keep it clean between treatments.
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