How to Care For Wood Antique Furniture

Wood antique furniture is an investment that can be a great addition to any home. However, it is important to know how to care for your pieces so that they can last for generations to come and remain in good condition.

Identify the Type of Finish on Your Piece

There are two main types of finishes used for antique furniture: oil and film. These types of finishes differ in how they protect the wood.

A finish is intended to prevent the wood from absorbing dirt and moisture and, in some cases, decorate it with color or shine. Whether or not your antique furniture has a finish will indicate how it should be cleaned and maintained.

Determining the Finish of Your Antique Furniture

Before you can begin to clean your antique furniture, you will need to test the wood to determine what type of finish it has. The test is simple and inexpensive, and it can help you make an informed decision about how to care for your antique piece.

The test involves pouring a small amount of denatured alcohol into a bowl or disposable cup and rubbing the wood on it to see if the alcohol dissolves or does not. The result of this test will indicate how the finish is made and if it should be cleaned with any special tools or techniques.

If the wood does not dissolve, it has a traditional finish that should be cleaned with a dry clean. If it dissolves, it has a shellac finish and the wood will need to be completely refinished.

Another type of finish is called a water base or varnish. This finish offers the best protection from water, but it also stains easily and requires regular refinishing. Despite its superior protection, this type of finish is not often found on antique furniture.

Walnut, Cherry and Amboyna Burl

There are many different varieties of hardwoods that can be found in antique furniture. Walnut, for example, is native to Southeastern Europe, Central Asia and Western China, and it has been used in furniture making for centuries. It comes in various colors, but it’s most popular for its figured veneer and beautiful burrs.

Amboyna, on the other hand, takes its name from the Ambon Island group in Indonesia and is a highly prized wood among antique collectors. Its red-brown heartwood is a favorite for fine furniture and turned objects, but it can also be found in lighter tones and is available as veneer.

Adding Color to Your Antique Furniture

One way to add a touch of color to your antique wood furniture is by painting it with paint that has been specially designed for this purpose. These paints are nontoxic and biodegradable, so you can use them on any wood furniture without worrying about harming the piece.

These paints are available in clear and colored versions. Choose the color that will most complement your antique piece.

Waxing Your Antique Furniture

After you have thoroughly cleaned your antique wood furniture, you will want to give it a coat of wax. There are many different kinds of wax that can be purchased to suit your tastes and needs, but make sure you get a natural, beeswax polish to enhance the natural beauty of the wood and provide a protective layer.

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