How To Save Your Wood Furniture From Harsh Conditions

Written by on January 21, 2014 in Lifestyle - No comments | Print this page

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A close friend of mine often recalls the pleasant summer days he spent at his grandfather’s farm in the Midwest. He was about ten years old at the time and his memories are filled with images of the large farmhouse, filled with pieces of heavy, solid-wood furniture, window shades with dark patina, and various fixtures from years gone by.

His mother and father eventually inherited the farm and traveled back from their home in California, hoping to recover some of those cherished heirloom pieces. However, the furniture wasn’t at all in the condition they remembered.

Over the years, the wood had become deteriorated by the changing seasons and unforgiving climate.    The farmhouse, as big and beautiful of a structure as it was, wasn’t an ideal place to store fine furniture.

Photo by Flickr User Tekke

Avoid Temperature Fluctuation

Furniture professionals have professed for years that repeated temperature swings will significantly shorten the life of any wooden furniture.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened at the old farmhouse.

It was built in the days before HVAC and central heating and cooling systems. It depended on a classic wood burning stove along with a couple of radiators to maintain its indoor temperature. This system causes some rooms to be damp and cold in the winter and others to be hot and humid in the summer.

Eliminating these extreme changes in temperature, as well as stabilizing the level of indoor humidity are critical to preserving wood furniture over the long haul. This fact is one of the main reasons we have seen such an increase in climate-controlled storage units in recent years.

Maintain Optimal Climate Range

Quality HVAC units can consistently control temperatures throughout a home within just a few degrees, and the ideal thermal range for wood furniture is between 68 and 74 degrees.  Further, unlike wood stoves or outdated wall or gravity furnaces, they can safely maintain a home’s indoor climate when occupants are away for an extended period of time. Modern HVAC systems are also able to keep humidity at a comfortable level.

   

Photo by French Finds

Limit Sun Exposure

Another threat to your furnishings is extended exposure to sunlight. If you have certain windows that allow high light throughout most of the day, avoid positioning furniture there. Alternatively, you can install shades or window coverings to prevent sun exposure.  The most immediate threats of sunlight are fading, peeling, and cracking.

Be especially careful to avoid exposing just one side of piece of furniture to sunlight; you may end up with a two-tone table or chair if you aren’t careful. All of these precautions can be applied to leather upholstery also.

Use Wood Care Products Carefully

Regularly dust and clean your wood furniture. Use furniture care products formulated for your specific finish, and be sure to test any product out on an inconspicuous area before applying to a large area. Use only as directed and don’t over polish your furniture – four times each year maximum.

Find Climate-Controlled Storage

We mentioned rental storage units earlier. It’s not uncommon for families to store valuable furniture in their attics or basements. However, temperature swings in attics can be extreme and basements can collect a lot of moisture.

In most climates they are not suitable for wood furniture storage. It is worth the price to secure a climate-controlled storage unit for your furniture, rather than storing it in your attic or basement.

       

Photo by Jason Meredith

Remember, today’s old, unwanted furniture pieces are tomorrow’s antiques. Keep your furniture in pristine condition for future generations by storing it either in the living area of your home or climate-controlled storage unit.

Barina Craft, a maker of top-quality home bars has even more information on how to care for your wood furniture.

Featured images:

Nicole Bennett understands the importance of staying cool and saving energy as she works for http://www.tomsmechanical.com/, an HVAC company in Arlington, TX.

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