If you have recently inherited or purchased some wooden antiques, you're probably hoping to have them for a long time. However, you may also wonder how to take care of the wood so that it remains attractive and intact. Fortunately, wood is a strong, durable substance that often takes on new beauty as it ages, but antique furnishing do require special care in order to remain intact and attractive. Here are three ways that you can keep your wooden antiques in your family for many more generations:
Keep Household Humidity Levels Between 50 and 55 Percent
One of the worst things that can happen to fine old wooden antiques is for the wood to dry out to the extent that it cracks and warps. This can be prevented by maintaining optimal household humidity levels. You can do this by using a humidifier or by placing a bowl or kettle of water on top of a hot radiator or wood stove. An inexpensive item called a hygrometer can be purchased at home improvement retailers that will measure the amount of humidity in the air, allowing your to use
- Be careful not to allow household humidity levels to go above 55 percent -- too much moisture in the atmosphere will encourage the growth of mold and mildew spores, and these can cause wood surfaces to deteriorate and become discolored.
- Air conditioning dries out the air considerably, so be sure to monitor humidity closely during the summer months.
Never store your antiques in attics, basements, or worst of all, outdoor storage sheds. These places will either be too hot and dry or too chilly and damp.
Position Antiques Away From Household Hot Spots
Although it's tempting to pull that antique rocker right up next to a hot fire on a cold winter's day, you should keep your wooden antiques away from fireplaces and other heat sources. Heat can warp wood and cause finishing to crack. Antiques should be positioned at least two feet away from heat sources of any kind. This also includes sunny windows -- you'd be surprised at the amount of warmth that the sun beating down on wood can generate. Besides, continual exposure to the sun's rays can cause wood to eventually discolor.
Move Antiques Carefully During Relocation
Antiques are frequently damaged during moving. Besides practicing the obvious safety measure of handling the furniture very gently, you can minimize the chances of this happening by taking the following precautions:
- Use thick wrapping blankets or bubble wrap to provide a protective layer between antiques and the hard surfaces of the moving conveyance.
- Remove drawers from antique dressers and wrap separately.
- Remove glass doors from hutches and wrap separately.
- Take care when wrapping that tape does not get onto the surface of the furniture -- it may strip the finish when removed.
- If you're moving on a rainy or foggy day, make sure that your antiques are wrapped up tight, and use an outer layer of waterproof material to guard against damage by atmospheric humidity.
Hiring a moving company that is experienced in moving household goods and other expensive furnishings is an alternative to trying to do it yourself. Also, keep in mind that your insurance policy may not cover the costs for antiques that are damaged in transit if you are handling the physical aspects of the move yourself.
Additional Tips for Keeping Antique Wood Glowing
- Clean antique wood on a regular basis by first dusting thoroughly with a soft cotton cloth. Use a sable brush or brush attachment on your vacuum to remove dust and grime from curlicues.
- Use oil soap to clean the wood, and dry it well afterward.
- Softly rub furniture polish containing lemon oil into the wood.
The above guidelines will help you keep you wooden antique furniture intact and attractive for many years to come.