Wooden furniture has a character that simply cannot be beat. When it comes to decorating spaces, wooden furniture is practically a given; it is ubiquitous, inherently beautiful and useful to boot. The only true difficulty comes in looking after it! How exactly should you be caring for your wood furniture?
Different Types of Wood
Firstly, you need to be familiar with the different types and finishes of wood that you might come across in populating your living spaces with furniture. Different types of wood can require different cleaning processes, or respond better to some treatments than others; the same goes for wood finishes, which can in some cases be tarnished through exposure to the wrong product.
Softwoods are, essentially, pine and spruce. These are lightweight woods that are less expensive to purchase, and which are commonly used for flooring or cabinetry. Hardwoods like oak, teak and mahogany are denser and harder-wearing, making for better longevity. Manufactured sheet materials like plywood are created from leaves of hardwood, combining resilience with affordability – many furniture items are built with plywood, particularly fitted furnishings like flush shelving or wardrobes.
Whatever the composition of your wood furniture, there are some general rules to follow that can minimise damage over time. For one, wooden items should not be kept near radiators or open windows. Rapid shifts in temperature and humidity can, separately and together, cause the wood to contort, twist and warp.
Fibreboard sheet materials like MDF are particularly averse to water damage, where the wood fibres expand significantly and compromise the strength of the material. Leaving finished woods too close to a window can also encourage discolouration over time, where UV rays can interact with the finish negatively.
When it comes to cleaning, a regular wipe with a microfibre cloth can often be enough to remove the dust from furnishings. Veneered wood furniture can be relatively safely cleaned with any brand of antibacterial spray, but other finishes can be a little trickier; a small amount of diluted washing-up liquid can be enough to lift most stains. Where silicone-based polishes are concerned, be careful about leaving residue after wiping.
Oiled woods – that is, those with a natural-looking finish – should be re-oiled around twice a year to keep them in their present condition. A good tip for if you aren’t sure to proceed is to place a drop of water on the wood; if it doesn’t bead up, you should re-oil. Sand the wood first, and then lightly apply the oil with a cloth or rag and leave to soak in for a day.