Tips to Care of Wood Works in Home
General Maintenance Tips
A frequent dusting off your furniture will help maintain the luster of both oil and lacquer finishes. Use a dry, soft cotton cloth.
Use common sense and don’t place wet or hot objects on your wooden furniture. Use trivets and coasters to prevent damage, and wipe up spills promptly.
Excessive or prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade the color of your furniture and dry the wood. Use window coverings or tablecloths to prevent daily direct exposure of your furniture to the sun. If you leave objects such as candleholders or vases on an uncovered wood surface, rotate them regularly to prevent dark or light spots.
As part of natural aging, your wood furniture will typically develop a beautiful patina and undergo color changes, depending on the wood. Cherry typically darkens while walnut tends to lighten with time. Pine, alder, and red oak tend to turn a golden color as they age.
Tools for Dusting
Classic feather duster: An ostrich-feather duster removes dust from easily damaged, delicate surfaces, such as silk lampshades, mirrors, picture frames and art, and fragile collectibles.
Treated cloths: For dusting, soft, scratching cloths pick up and hold dirt. Use them in place of silicon sprays, which are not recommended for fine wood furniture.
Lambswool duster: These contain lanolin, which attracts dust and makes it cling to the cleaning tool. They’re also effective for dusting carved or turned areas that clothes can’t reach. A long handle makes them ideal for hard-to-reach areas, including light fixtures and ceiling fans.
Soft, lint-free cloths: Clean cotton T-shirts or diapers are commonly used. Dampen them slightly to help trap dust.
Terry towels: Use a clean dry towel to remove any moisture left from dusting with a damp cloth.
Cleaning Wood Furniture
Dust your furniture. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to go over all of your furniture before you wipe it down. This will lift any dust and other small particles that might otherwise get ingrained into your furniture when washing.
Feather dusters aren’t as effective for furniture because a feather duster won’t lift any particles. Some feather dusters also have sharp quills which could scratch your furniture.
Start on a small surface. Unless you know for sure what kind of finish your furniture is, paint, stain, or another treatment, it’s best to start with the least harmful cleaning products in a small area. Grab a cotton ball or soft cloth. Moisten your cotton ball or cloth with warm water and add a drop of dish soap or dishwashing detergent. Start wiping an inconspicuous area of your wooden furniture like the inside of a leg.
Right now, you want to test to see if the detergent is going to be harmful to your wood furniture. Let the treated area sit for a minute or so and look for any discoloration.
If you don’t notice any unwanted change, your solution is safe.
If you do notice a change, then continue with only warm water and a damp cloth.
Mix water and dish soap. If you didn’t notice a change when you tested your furniture. You can mix water and dish soap in a bucket. Mix 1 gallon (3.8 L) of warm water and 1/2 cup of liquid dish detergent. You want to add enough soap so your water is soapy. Start wiping down your furniture with a damp cloth that you dipped in your solution.
Be careful not to soak the wood. Keep your cloth or sponge damp but not soaking wet. Too much water will ruin the wood.
You can also use mineral oil to clean your wood in addition to or as a substitution to detergent.
Wax or polish your wood. After you’ve thoroughly wiped down your wood, protect it by applying a wax or finish. You can find a variety of wood-specific sprays and polishes at any home goods store or grocery store. Look for sprays that contain silicone oil for protection. For waxing, use only a soft cotton cloth or wax brush. Apply the wax a little at a time and rub it into the wood in a circular motion.
Once the wax begins to look dry or hazed over, grab a new cotton cloth or wax brush and buff the wax going in small circles over the waxed area.
Different waxes will require you to wait different amounts of time before buffing. Read the directions on your wax for best results.
Test a rub-on oil, spray, or wax on a small area of wood to ensure it does not cause damage to the wood’s finish.
Wooden Dining Table Care
Dust often. Small particles of dust may seem harmless, but enough buildup can scratch the wood’s finish. Dust at least weekly with a soft, lint-free cloth (cheesecloth, a cotton diaper, or a cut-up old t-shirt all work wonderfully). Stay away from Pledge and other dust polish, as they contain silicones that can soak into the grain of the wood and damage it for good. Instead, lightly dampen a cloth with water or use a microfiber cloth that will cling to dust particles on its own.
Open the mayonnaise. If you have watermark rings in your tabletop from wet glasses, chances are it’s in the wax, not the wood. Rubbing with mayonnaise should get the marks right out.
Placement matters. Don’t place a wood dining table over a radiator or right next to a heat register. The temperature swings could damage the wood with warping or splitting. Also, store any extra leaves near the table itself. This ensures that the leaf will not warp or swell/contract differently from the table. If you store the leaf in a basement or attic, the moisture and temperature differential could take its toll.
Watch humidity levels. As with all woodwork, from flooring to trim, from dining tables to other furnishings, try to keep humidity levels in your home between 40 and 45%. Any lower could crack the wood and any higher could cause swelling. For most of us, this means running a humidifier in the winter and an a/c or dehumidifier in the summer.
Make it shine. Like we pointed out above, not with a silicone product. Rather, polish with a hard, carnauba wax. Use two of those soft, lint-free cloths again: one to apply the wax and another to polish.
Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks
Consider your floor’s finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish — common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.
The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes. If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.
Dark spots and pet stain: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.
Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.
Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don’t work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you’re done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.
Watermarks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.
Clean Grime from Woodwork
Painted Surfaces: Scrub with soap and warm water.
Clear Finishes: Mix up equal parts of paint thinner and a mild soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap, and apply with a sponge or paintbrush. Wipe the solution away with a rag to clear the dirt; you’ll likely remove a thin layer of varnish or shellac, too, because the grime has melded with it.
Tips for Care Woodworks
Keep your furniture out of the sun. The temperature of the summer sun coming through a window can go above 140 degrees. It will cook fine finishes, fading and destroying them over time, and dry out and shrink the wood, which will cause cracks.
Don’t place wood furniture near heating units or vents. Dry heat will cause the wood to dry and shrink, leaving cracks. Use a humidifier in the drier months to bring the moisture up to the 40 to 45 percent level.
For a quick-fix touch-up, use the appropriate color shoe polish on scratches and chips, especially to make them less visible on the feet of furniture. Carefully using a matching-color felt-tip marker first will hide it even better.
When polishing metal hardware, take it off the furniture first. Take your time and make a note to remember what piece goes back where. Use a quality metal polish to get it shining again. Once it’s buffed, put it back on, being careful not to scratch the wood surfaces. I recommend that you don’t try to do this all at one time. It can be a lot of work, so take a few days, doing a few pieces at a time, instead of getting tired and frustrated with trying to do too much.
Wood isn’t hungry! You cannot feed furniture. No matter what the advertising says, wood cannot be fed or nourished or enriched with polishes or oils. Once it has a protective finish over it for beauty and protection, the wood is sealed. Polishes and oils will not penetrate it.
There are several ways to remove the white hazy ring or spot that the hot coffee mug or hot pizza box made on your table. The least invasive way is to rub it with a mild abrasive, such as non-gel toothpaste mixed with baking soda or cooking oil mixed with ashes. You can rub it in a small spot with your finger or use a soft cloth on larger areas.
Another method that has excellent results is to place a soft cloth or towel over the spot and iron it carefully for 10 to 20 seconds at a time with the iron at a medium setting. You can turn the iron up a bit if needed. Always keep the iron moving and check your progress frequently.
When shopping for new or antique furniture, look at the back, inside and undersides of furniture and drawers. Many times it tells you more about quality than looking at the “show” side. The so-called “secondary” words can speak volumes about the age of the item and the quality of construction.
Restoring or refinishing an older or antique piece of furniture to its original glory might seem like a good idea, and many times it is. But it’s important to get advice from someone who is knowledgeable about the item you are considering. You may find that your piece is valuable and just needs a proper cleaning. Any more extensive work should be left to a professional.
Special care for hardwood floors
The moisture content of wood is tied directly to the relative humidity of the surrounding air. The higher the relative humidity, the higher the moisture content of the wood. Wood absorbs moisture from the air and expands as a result. Even just a few days of exposure to high humidity can cause wood flooring to cup. When a wooden board cups, its edges are higher than its center. Cupping can also happen when spilled water is absorbed by the wood. Once cupping has occurred, it takes a while for the wood to restore its internal moisture and flatten out.
When extensive moisture or humidity causes the wood to expand significantly, adjoining boards start pressing against each other. In extreme cases, this increased pressure can cause the affected boards to lose their structural integrity and crack. To avoid cupping, keep the indoor humidity level in your home or job site within 45-60% range. Never allow indoor humidity to rise over 65%. Maintain optimal humidity levels by keeping air conditioner or dehumidifier running during hot humid summer weather.
Never Do To A Wood Floor
- Do not use abrasives or harsh chemicals to clean your floor. We do not recommend the use of ammonia, vinegar, dishwashing detergent, powdered all-purpose cleaner, Endust, Pledge, oil soap, or any type of wax or silicone base products on your floor.
- Do not use hard casters on any furniture directly on your hardwood floor. Casters can cause isolated wear areas on your floor and increase the frequency of recoat and refinish projects.
- Do not use steam mops on your hardwood floor. The use of water in all its forms, including steam, on the wood floor, should be limited to the degree possible. The high heat from some steam mops can also serve to thermally break down your floor’s protective layer over time.
- Do not pour cleaning product directly on the floor. It may be tempting to create a puddle of cleaner and spread it out over your floor but this approach can have the same effect as using too much water when cleaning. Cleaning products that are applied too liberally in spots can absorb into a wood, cause swelling, and an uneven look over time.
- Do not wait too long between refinish projects. Any wood floor finish will eventually show wear patterns and surface scratches. When you begin to see dull traffic areas, it is time to consider re-coating your floors. Re-coating is a one day process, and cost much less than sanding/refinishing. You should plan on re-coating hardwood floors every 3 to 5 years depending on traffic patterns and wear. Do not wait until you wear through the finish to the bare wood or sanding may be required.
- Do not wear high heel shoes on wood floors. High heel shoes can cause denting in hardwood. It is wise to leave high heels at the door and make sure that they are always in good shape. Damaged high heels can quickly become a chisel on your wood floor.
- Do not leave the legs of your furniture unprotected. Protective pads should be added under the legs of every piece of furniture that comes in contact with your hardwood floor. The weight of furniture left unprotected can damage the finish and the wood over time.
- Do not drag furniture or heavy appliances over your hardwood floors. Heavy furniture should be lifted carefully off of the floor and placed back on the floor once in their new position. Felt pads, furniture straps, and additional assistance are all good ideas when moving heavy objects over wood floors.
- Do not let your dog’s nails remain untrimmed. The sound of dog nails as they skitter across a wood floor is not just annoying, but those nails will ruin your finish and eventually ruin your floors is they remain untrimmed. Both you and your pet will be happier if you trim their nails when required.
- Do not allow pet stains remain untreated. If Fido or Kitty have an accident on your wood floor, be sure and address the issue immediately. The longer urine sits on a wood floor, the worse it is for the floor. If the accident happens on an area rug or throws rug, make sure to clean and dry both the rug and the wood floor underneath the accident.
You may like our related posts