Antique Furniture Guide: How To Take Care of Your Family’s Heirloom Furniture

January 19th, 2023 Blog

Furniture is functional household equipment and accents in your home made of wood, metal, plastics, upholstery, and other materials. Wooden furniture may be the most common furniture piece seen in many homes.

Among the types of furniture are those that are already antique. They are intricate pieces from the 18th or 19th century that require extra care. They may be Victorian, Chippendale, Queen Anne, Georgian, Hepplewhite, Edwardian, or Sheraton.

If you have them at home, you might wonder how to take care of them. Keep reading to learn how to care of your family’s heirloom furniture.

What is antique furniture?

You may mistake antique furniture for vintage and vice versa. The difference lies in age. Antique is at least 100 years old, while vintage furniture is less than that.

Antique furniture is known for its sophisticated craftsmanship and ornamentation for decorative purposes. These designs represent the time they were made, whether it was during the 19th or the 18th century. 

Several antique pieces of furniture come from the Victorian, Chippendale, Queen Anne, Georgian, William and Mary, and Edwardian eras. They are also known for having furniture styles and designs, such as regency, art deco, and gothic.  

Many people collect antiques, and they usually get these from auctions and antique stores. Others have antique heirlooms displayed and used in homes for years, among which can be antique wardrobes. These are usually passed on through generations. 

Antique Furniture Care Guide

Proper knowledge of antique furniture care will help you sustain the quality of your heirlooms and allow you to pass them on to your kids. Below are tips for cleaning wood furniture that will preserve your family’s heirlooms.

Ensure the right environment

Antique furniture is intricate and requires the right environment. There are different types of wood for them, including rosewood and satinwood.

This right environment means avoiding areas with direct sunlight because ultraviolet rays (UV) can damage them. If it’s impossible to put them in dark places, use curtains or shades to diffuse or block the sunlight completely.

Temperature and humidity are also crucial for antique furniture care. Don’t place them near heating and air conditioning vents, fireplaces, or stoves. Extreme heat can loosen glue joints, marquetry, veneers, and inlays.

Meanwhile, high humidity can shrink or split your antique heirlooms. They shouldn’t be too dry or too damp. Using humidifiers or dehumidifiers can help maintain your home’s humidity.

Clean and polish properly

When cleaning your antique furniture, dust them using a soft and dry cloth. Avoid washing them with water as it may cause discolouration and rotting.

For polishing, it’s best to use high-quality furniture paste wax instead of furniture oil. Oil may refresh the antique finish but can attract dust and dirt. Coating your furniture with thin paste wax can give them a smooth protective layer. If you’re looking for an organic option, you may use beeswax.

Handle and move with care

Sometimes, you move your furniture for cleaning or rearranging purposes. For antique furniture, even handling needs careful attention.

Before lifting, you should check for loose or broken joinery to prevent further damage. You should carry antique pieces on their most sturdy parts (e.g., seat rails for chairs, aprons or skirts for tables).

You should never drag large pieces on the floor. They are best lifted when moving. Mirrors, glasses, and marble tops should be carried vertically and covered with moving blankets or paddings for protection.

Prioritize the original finish

Antique pieces are known for their timeless and authentic finish. One type of finish is lacquer. It’s the reason why they’re valuable and sentimental for owners.

Keeping the original finish may make you think about refinishing. However, it’s a process that may strip the original varnish away, which can never be retrieved.

Restoration may be the option since its primary goal is to conserve and enhance the initial appearance of your antique furniture. It involves cleaning and some cosmetic repairs.

Both wood furniture refinishing and restoration are complex and elaborate and only done when the antique furniture needs them. If you don’t know how to do these processes, then it’s best to consult refinishing and restoration experts.

Pro Tip

Don’t use linen cloths when cleaning your antique furniture. They may shed and leave fluff that can cause damage to them.

Preserve Your Family Heirlooms for Future Generations

Take care of your family’s antique heirloom furniture to preserve its value. Doing this can be a hassle but manageable when you know the proper ways. All your hard work in maintaining the quality of your antique furniture will pay off when you hand it down to your kids.

Get the best help for antique furniture care from Woodcraft. Contact us, and let’s discuss how we can help preserve your family’s heirlooms.

FAQs on Antique Furniture Care

How can oil finishes harm antique furniture?

Furniture oils can penetrate wood fibres that may seep through cracks and staining underneath the wood. This seeping can damage the antique furniture more, which affects the existing scratches or dents.

What happens when you expose antique furniture to sunlight?

Sunlight has ultraviolet rays (UV). These rays can damage the antique piece’s finish, which may result in cracking, flaking, and fading.

How do you restore antique furniture?

Clean the furniture by dusting them off and wiping dirt and grime using a soft and dry linen-free cloth. Then, coat it with high-quality paste wax. If unsure, it’s best to seek a restoration expert’s help.