Maintaining antique wooden furniture

Maintaining antique wooden furniture

” This is how precious pieces retain the shine of old days “

Antique wooden furniture exudes elegance and will add a stylish look to any interior. In order for this to always be the case, great importance should always be attached to proper care. You can find out what to consider here.

Anyone who buys antique furniture often embarks on a special journey through history. Once you have found the right piece of furniture, it is a great pleasure when the interior has been stylishly extended by another noble component. Of course, you also want to enjoy the elegant furnishing objects for a long time and so the question of the right wood furniture care soon arises.

Maintaining antique wooden furniture is not that difficult, but it should not be rushed either, because there are a few things to consider.

What to consider when caring for wooden furniture

As much as it is natural to understand that you want to keep the stylish pieces of equipment in good shape, you should not react hastily when it comes to caring for them. Unfortunately, some antiques are well-meaningly “over-cared for” and treated with the wrong means, which quickly lead to an unsatisfactory result. However, the choice of the right cleaning and care products largely depends on how the piece of furniture was refurbished. For example, is it waxed or polished? Depending on this, very different measures are derived to maintain the wooden furniture.

Biedermeier cabinet cherry wood solid polished

Wood is a material with a high cellulose content. As a result, it absorbs liquids and also stores them, but unfortunately together with all possible undesirable ingredients such as dirt and grease. Untreated wood therefore quickly looks a little dirty. But even many of the traditional coatings do not stop the cells of the wood from absorbing other substances. Commercially available polishes contain creeping oils that do not dry. These get into the cells of the wood with repeated application, but always remain moist there and thereby cause oil rash. The oil can hardly be removed anymore, a radical washing out is necessary before a suitable polish can be applied.

Proper care for beloved antiques

Depending on the coating, certain measures are recommended to take appropriate care of your wooden furniture and to achieve excellent results.

Wooden furniture care for waxed antique furniture

Waxed wooden furniture actually does not require special care. They can be cleaned of dust and dirt with a dry or slightly damp cloth and only require surface resurfacing if they are subjected to heavy use.

Country house table solid wood waxed white

Which surface coatings are most common in softwood furniture?

As with rustic furniture and English antiques, wax polish is usually used here. Carnauba wax is particularly suitable for refreshing, which is applied with a soft cloth in the direction of the fiber run of the wood for furniture care. After a drying time of one to two hours, the surface can then be polished with a soft cloth. As a result of regrowth, even small scratches and quirks are removed. The antique wooden furniture thus gets the typical, semi-matt shine.

Sideboard 4-door softwood 180 cm

How to proceed with furniture care if there are a lot of carvings?

If you want to take care of elaborately decorated furniture, then the surface should be rubbed with a soft brush before the last polishing, so that too much wax can not accumulate in the depressions, which otherwise the dirt will stick to.

TV Sideboard softwood carving

Wood furniture care with shellac-polished coating

If wooden furniture has a polished surface, then this is usually a shellac polish. Shellac is a resin produced by a South Asian aphid and sold in thin leaflets. These are dissolved in alcohol and then applied to the wood layer by layer. After drying, the wood is hard, but always sensitive to the effects of heat and moisture. For the wooden furniture care of such sealed surfaces, a soft, damp cloth is the first choice. It is recommended to use distilled water for the cleanest possible result.

Wood furniture care with shellac-polished coating

Caring for oiled antiques

Oiled furniture is often found in the kitchen. The oil is absorbed into the pores and protects the wood. A suitable oil should be applied evenly again every one to two years – especially with regular use – in order to maintain the same protection. A dry or slightly damp cloth is suitable for cleaning.

Gründerzeit Softwood BuffetThe right place to set up – that’s what matters

In order to properly care for antique wooden furniture, the choice of the right location should already be carefully made. It can be assumed that the pieces of furniture in their first life were exposed to completely different conditions than it is the case today. In the past, there were neither multiple glazed windows nor a constant room temperature due to central or underfloor heating, let alone optimal insulation and insulation of floors and walls.

Wood is a living material that always reacts to the climatic changes in its environment. At high humidity, the wood fibers expand, in a warm and dry climate they contract. This can cause stress cracks on the furniture in the long run.

In which room climate do old wooden furniture stay beautiful for the longest time?

At around 20-22 ° C and 50-65% humidity, it is guaranteed that no stress cracks form or the wood warps.

The antique furniture should also not stand next to the heater or be placed directly with the back wall against an external wall.

As a result, mold can form, which creates permanent damage to the furniture, and also harms the health of the residents.

Caring for wooden furniture: it all depends on the right lighting conditions

Another danger threatens with fading. If wooden furniture is placed directly in the sun, then the UV radiation affects the polish and changes the color, especially of dark woods such as mahogany and beautiful inlays, which lose contrast and color.

Kitchen Mahogany wood
© Iriana Shiyan /

This can be easily counteracted with a mechanical sun protection such as curtains or blinds. It is best to choose a place at all where the sunlight is not so intense.

Tact in the care of wooden furniture

Properly caring for wooden furniture is not magic, if you consistently treat the antique pieces only with the appropriate means and put them in a suitable place. One should refrain from unauthorized grinding or other rabid methods.

Living room Antiques
© /

Even those who are not at all sure how to proceed should not rush anything. In case of doubt, an expert can always be consulted, so that the joy of the purchases lasts as long as possible and they will also be preserved for posterity.

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