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Dawn Matthews  |  June 18, 2024

Tips For Maintaining Your Furniture

10 Minute Read

When you’ve invested in some fantastic solid wooden furniture that you absolutely love, you want to keep it looking as good as possible, for as long as possible. While wear and tear is inevitable, there are a number of things you can do to keep your furniture looking fantastic, and so that you don’t have to replace it.

Maintaining your furniture and keeping it looking good in your home isn’t just about saving yourself money on buying replacements – although that’s an important consideration, of course! It is also about the environment. While buying from companies that source their wood from sustainable forests is a given, buying less frequently is one of the most sustainable things you can do when shopping for your home. The old saying “buy nice, or buy twice” came about for good reason, after all! Buying quality furniture and taking care of it properly can mean it last a lifetime.

So, keeping your shelving, tables, chairs, and outdoor furniture in great shape has several benefits – your home continues to look great, you save money on replacements, and because there is less demand for materials as a knock-on effect, the environment benefits too. Now we’ve covered the reasons that you should maintain your furniture, let’s get into how to do it.

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General Maintenance Tips for Solid Wood Furniture

Keeping your wooden furniture in great shape starts with where you place it, as well as ensuring it is in a suitable environment. If it is possible, situate your wooden furniture out of direct sunlight. This will help to prevent fading, which is an especially important consideration when your furniture has a finish matches other items in the room.

The environment that your wooden furniture is in is important to consider too. Since wood is impacted by temperature and humidity, if you’re placing the items in a space that has high humidity – such as a kitchen, bathroom, or a conservatory, ensure furniture in that room has been treated with an appropriate wood finish. This will help to prevent issues such as warping and swelling.

You’re almost certainly taking care of most of these points of general maintenance as part of your normal housework routine, but make sure you follow these steps regularly:

🧼  Dust your wooden furniture regularly with a soft cloth – dust allergy sufferers may find they sneeze less when dusting if the cloth is damp!
🧼  Using coasters and placemats is essential – it might not prevent all possible stains and scratches, but it goes a long way to avoiding them.
🧼  Mop up any spills immediately. Even plain water can stain your furniture, so prompt clean-ups are essential – and it is even more important to wipe up straight away if it is food that will stain, such as tomato-based sauces.
🧼  Avoid using harsh chemicals and abrasive materials – these will damage your furniture and can leave marks that mean you need to refinish the piece to remove.

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Indoor Furniture Maintenance

Indoor furniture maintenance is relatively simple to stay on top of, especially if you’re taking the steps we’ve just suggested. Depending on how often you’re using the piece of furniture though, you’ll want to carry out further maintenance such as polishing and oiling the wood.

Polishing and Oiling

Oiling and polishing indoor furniture regularly – around every six months – will keep it looking perfect for longer. Clean the wood thoroughly using soapy water or white vinegar, and then allow it to dry. Apply a small amount of linseed, or Danish oil by adding a little to a clean cloth. Apply it with the grain, rather than across it, and rub it in. Allow the oil to penetrate the wood for up to half an hour, then wipe off any excess with a dry cloth. If you need to apply a second coat, you may want to lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper between coats. After you’ve finished, you can polish the furniture using natural waxes such as beeswax.

Preventing and Repairing Damage

Repairing accidental damage to pine furniture can be relatively straightforward – but it depends on what the damage looks like. Minor scratches can sometimes be treated by rubbing the inside of a walnut over the scratch to conceal it, and olive oil and vinegar applied with a soft cloth can help blend scratches into the surrounding wood.

Deeper scratches and gouges may require wood filler that matches the colour of the furniture. Apply it according to the instructions on the package, then sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper, and take steps to refinish with a matching wood finish.

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Outdoor Furniture Maintenance

Wooden garden furniture requires a bit more care, since it is typically exposed to the elements more. Even if you only leave your furniture out during the summer, it will be exposed to the sun, wind, and rain, all of which can cause damage. To maintain your outdoor wood furniture, you’ll need to regularly clean it with a soft brush and mild soap solution. Ensure it is rinsed free of soap residue, and ensure it dries completely to prevent moisture damage, especially if it is being put away for winter under a cover – you don’t want mould spots or the moisture to freeze.

Protecting your outdoor furniture from the elements is essential, so be certain to apply protective wood finishes regularly. Our outdoor care pack contains everything you need to treat your furniture from the greying effects of sunlight, and the Osmo oil we include provides a durable finish, as well as protecting against mould, algae, and fungal attacks. Applying a coat of Osmo oil each year will help to keep your furniture in great condition, ready for the next summer.

In addition to regular maintenance of your furniture, keeping it covered during harsh weather – even summer storms – and moving it indoors during the winter are both essential steps to take. You can read more about protecting your outdoor wood furniture in this post.

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What To Do If Your Furniture Is Beyond Regular Maintenance

When your furniture gets to the point that you’re ready to replace it – perhaps because it is scratched, damaged, or maybe dated, you might be able to get a few more years from it by refinishing it. Refinishing wooden furniture isn’t too difficult with the right materials, although you’ll need the time and space to do it – but it is well worth the effort to do it. To start with, you’ll need to collect together the materials that you need, which may include:

🪵  A selection of sandpaper of various grits
🪵  An appropriate wood finish, in the colour you want
🪵  Brushes and clean cloths
🪵  Protective items such as gloves, mask, and goggles
🪵  Natural stripping solution (this is optional – depending on what was on the wood, you may need to remove the previous finish)
🪵  Drop cloths or newspaper to protect the space you’re working in

You’ll need to start by cleaning the furniture thoroughly. Mild soapy water is often enough, but if it is grimier then cleaning with white vinegar may be necessary. After you’ve cleaned it, wipe it down and allow it to completely dry.

Next, you may want to remove the old finish – you’ll also want to take this step if there’s damage to the wood. Using sandpaper, start with a coarse grit and gradually move to a finer grit. Always sand with the grain to ensure a smooth finish and avoid scratches.

When you’ve finished, wipe the piece down again to avoid any dust getting into your wood finish. Apply the finish evenly, according to the instructions. Several coats may be necessary to get the finish you want. After you’ve applied the finish, an additional sealant or finish may be required, especially if your furniture is being used outdoors. Then, buff and polish, and you’re done!

If these steps don’t appeal to you, and you’re set on replacing your furniture, then be certain to reach out to your local charity shop to see if they will take it. You might not see the potential in refinishing the piece, but there are plenty of people who will love it, either with the existing scratches or damage, or they’ll be ready to sand it down and refinish it with a new wood finish. Of course, when you’re choosing your new furniture, make sure you buy from manufacturers who source their wood from sustainable forests, and if you need bespoke sizing, look to handmade furniture companies like ours, since they can make the perfect size that you need.

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Our Final Thoughts

Keeping your wooden furniture in great condition is important for a few reasons, but since you take pride in your home, keeping it looking good is likely to be your main motivation. It is relatively simple to look after wooden furniture, and doing so regularly is better than once every couple of years when it gets bad.

As always, if you’re posting on Instagram about carrying out your furniture maintenance, make sure you tag us in your post – we're @bensimpsonfurniture.

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