Quality wood furniture can last a lifetime and is often a treasured heirloom, passed down through multiple generations. Still, even the highest quality wood is susceptible to scratches and abrasions if not properly cared for. Here are 10 tips to keep the wood looking its best for many generations to come.

1.  Don’t Mistreat Furniture

To avoid rings and heat damage, always use coasters when setting glasses or mugs on wood tables, and never place hot food directly on them without the protection of a trivet or potholder. Incorporate glass top, decorative placemats or a tablecloth to protect your furniture from food and drink spills.

2.  Avoid Environmental Damage

Sunlight, heat and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your fine wood. Don’t place valuable furniture in front of uncovered windows, vents or fireplaces, as the light and heat can damage and fade the wood.

3.  Dust Often

No one really likes to dust, but the chore is one of the best ways to take care of your furniture. Airborne particles can build a filmy layer on wood that scratches the surface. Frequent dusting keeps this buildup from happening. Always use soft cloth like cotton T-shirts, cloth diapers or microfiber to avoid damage. Lambswool dusters are great for ornate carvings or hard to reach places because they effectively attract and hold dust.

4.  Keep Your Wood Clean

Sometimes dusting isn’t enough and you’ll find it necessary to clean your wood furniture. Never use all-purpose cleaners, which can cause damage to the finish. If you have a spot that is heavily soiled or sticky, dip a cloth in water that contains a mild dish detergent. Wring it out as much as possible and gently wipe the area. Be sure to follow up with a rinse from a damp cloth containing just water, then immediately wipe with a soft dry cloth.

5.  Protect Your Wood

Most commercial polishes and sprays contain either petroleum distillates or silicone oil to for a fresh and shiny finish, and to offer some protection for your wood. Make sure not to use too much product, because it can cause buildup that combines with dirt to create a dull, sticky film. Always be sure to buff well when using products to help avoid this buildup, and never use these products with a wax protectant because the combination will result in another gooey mess.

6.  Wood Isn't Hungry! 

You cannot feed furniture. No matter what the advertising says, wood cannot be fed or nourished or enriched with polishes or oils. Once it has a protective finish over it for beauty and protection, the wood is sealed. Polishes and oils will not penetrate it.

7.  Humidity or Dryness 

Wood fibers absorb and desorb water from the air. Therefore, wood can swell in high humidity and shrink and dry out in low humidity. The pieces are then pulling and pushing against each other and may change enough to no longer fit together. Sometimes wood can even warp over time. If possible, wood furniture should be kept in moderate humidity, around 40 – 45 %.

8.  Mishandling

Valuable handmade wood furniture should always be moved with care and never dragged across the floor. When moving pieces, it is best to have extra help and use a dolly when possible. Other mishandling may include sitting on pieces not meant to hold a person’s weight and setting things on the surface that cause damage. For example, plastic cups and placemats can scratch the surface and the colors can leach into the wood. Soft coasters (on the underside), table cloths, cloth placemats, felt pads (under lamps and such) and writing pads can protect wood surfaces. Nothing hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit should be placed directly on quality wood.

9.  Lacquered Wood 

Wipe with a damp duster. Apply a fine water-mist spray directly to the duster so that you do not over-wet the wood. Wipe dry and buff with a soft, dry duster. 

10.  Lemon Oil

Lemon Oil Treatment is recommended by Thomas William Furniture to maintain the lacquered finish.

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