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Caring for your Wood Furniture
By BatSheva Vaknin
There is nothing like wood furniture to add elegance and beauty to a home. Whether it is a thick, all-natural butchers block table, an Art Deco wooden dresser, a simple mahogany dining room table or a sleek, modern coffee table, wood furniture is a staple in homes across America and the world. Make sure your wood tables, vanities and dressers stay gorgeous for generations to come with these simple solutions and guidelines.
Stain, Stain, Go Away!
Ever gasped after a child inadvertently left a giant scratch in the surface of your dining room table? Or cringed when a well-meaning adult accidentally knocked over a drink onto your beautiful wood coffee table? Well, fear not. One of the best attributes of wood furniture is that it is simple to touch up or renew its original luster.
Small nicks and scratches can usually be disguised with the help of a store-bought scratch cover product. For larger scratches, try using a felt tip pen or shoe polish in a color closely matched to the finish of the furniture piece. Shoe polish applicator bottles filled with the stain work well for the cover-up job, as do Sharpie markers. Coloring in the scratch is easy and surprisingly effective.
Get rid of pesky water spots on your wood furniture by allowing the spots to dry completely, then rubbing real mayonnaise onto it with a soft cloth, until the spots disappear. Erase color rings left on tables by cups and glasses with a homemade mixture of cigarette ashes and cooking oil. Prep the stain first by scrubbing it with an abrasive pad or sandpaper. Then, rub the oil and ash concoction into the wood.
And what about candle wax, marring the beautiful finish of your wood dining room table? Wait until the wax cools, then apply ice. Once the wax becomes extremely hard and brittle, gently scrape it off with a plastic spatula. Finally, polish the table with a rich cream polish, and buff away any residue.
Remove or Disguise Scratches and Stains
Nicks, Scratches Magic Marker or Shoe Polish
Water Spots Mayonnaise
Color Rings Sandpaper, Ashes and Oil
An Ounce of Prevention, a Lifetime of Protection
Prevent serious damage to your wood furniture by taking care not to position it in direct sunlight. Unless you are going for the weathered picnic table look, shield all wood furniture from the drying influence of the sun. Also, protect your dining room table’s finish using an inexpensive table pad when the table is not in use.
When eating a meal or entertaining guests, use a tablecloth or placemats to protect the finish of a wood table, especially when serving hot food. Place hot serving dishes atop a hot pad and candle holders over a large felt protector with a plastic top, since plastic prevents wax from running.
Use coasters beneath all glasses and mugs to protect your coffee table, dining room table and wood dressers from unsightly rings and water spots. Beware, because not all coasters are created equal. Metal coasters can sweat onto the wood, and plastic coasters can react with certain finishes on some wood furniture pieces. So consider choosing wooden coasters with felt backing and a waterproof material on top to further ensure the longevity of your wood table tops. The best coasters are those that taper up on the sides, preventing leakage.
Protect Your Wood Tables from Damage
Protect From: With:
General Harm Table Pad (when not in use)
Sun Damage Location out of Direct line of Sun
Heat Damage Tablecloths, Placemats, Hot Pads
Wax Felt Protector with Plastic Top
Water Damage Wood Coasters with Felt Bottom and Waterproof top
Proper Care and Cleaning
Polishing wood furniture every week goes a long way toward protecting the finish from damage and helping your wood tables, chairs and dressers look their best. Beware, though, of cheap polishes, or any polish that contains silicone or alcohol. Alcohol can do permanent damage to a wood surface, as can any household cleaner that contains ammonia. An excellent polish can be easily made at home, by combining lemon oil with 3 parts olive oil.
Now that you know about polishes, don’t forget to clean your wood furniture as well. Regular cleaning is especially important for coffee tables and dining room tables where food and drink are daily staples. Use a very mild soap, such as a diluted mixture of hand soap and water, as a cleaning agent for your wood furniture. And if you really want to ensure your dining room table or heirloom wood desk stays beautiful, have your wood furniture buffed and polished by a professional service once or twice a year.
Make Your Own Polish and Cleaning Agents
Homemade Wood Furniture Polish = 1 part Lemon Oil + 3 parts Olive Oil
Homemade Wood Furniture Cleaner = Hand Soap + Water
*Stay away from Alcohols and Ammonias
Now you are fully armed to properly care for your wood furniture. And don’t be disheartened if you are unable to make a nick or small stain disappear completely. Signs of use can add character to a piece of wood furniture, and are often barely noticeable. Whether it is a dresser, coffee table, bookshelf, desk, or dining room table, wood furniture is the perfect addition to any home.
About the author:
A Yale graduate, BatSheva Vaknin writes plays, screenplays, and articles on topics ranging from finding the world’s greatest pizza to decorating a child’s room. She has just completed her first novel.
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