Wood is used in many different ways, both inside and outside the home. How you care for your wood furniture will depend on: how it is used, what type of finish it has and how you want it to look. However, whether it’s a lacquered dinning room table, polished wood floor or unfinished patio furniture, all wood furniture needs:
Untreated wood is beautiful, but it is also susceptible to moisture damage and staining. Finishes make wood more durable and enhance its appearance. The type of finish used depends on the intended use and desired appearance of the furniture. It’s a good idea to know what type of finish your furniture has; this will allow you to give it the best possible care.
As the name suggests, unfinished wood is wood in its natural, unfinished form. It has a warm, soft appearance, but it is susceptible to stains and water damage. Unfinished wood can be treated with polish to give added protection, but this will dramatically alter the appearance of the wood and it may be difficult to return it to its natural appearance.
Penetrating oil finishes are a liquid finishes that are rubbed into wood to provide protection and to enhance the grain and natural beauty of the wood. The oil penetrates the wood then, after a period of exposure to air, it hardens to form a tough, solid coating on the wood fibres. This coating acts as a sealant which protects the wood. Oil finishes don’t form a film on the surface of the wood, so the wood retains more of its natural look and feel then with any other finish. Examples of oil finishes include: linseed oil, Tung oil and Teak oil. Oil finishes provide some protection, but they don’t make the wood completely resistant to water or stains. Oil finishes also need occasional re-application. Regular polishing with a good oil-based polish will help maintain the appearance and protective properties of the finish. Wax polishes should not be used on oil finishes.
Protective film finishes, which include lacquers, varnishes and polyurethane, form an impenetrable protective film on the surface of the wood. This film provides a high level of protection, but also significantly alters the look and feel of the wood. Generally, wooden furniture treated with a modern protective film finish will need very little care. However, it is important to protect the finish from scratches and dulling. Regular polishing will help protect the finish. You can use either a wax or oil polish, but choose one and stick to it. Mixing oil and wax polishes will give your furniture a gummy feel.
Like wood treated with a film finish, painted wood is low maintenance. Painted finishes can be polished with a light wax-based polish to protect the surface and add shine. Oil-based polishes shouldn’t be used on painted finishes as they may cause damage.
Antique wooden furniture and furniture finished with shellac may require special care. We recommended that you consult a professional before applying any products to such finishes.