Reclaimed wood furniture is beautiful, good for the environment, and, best of all, unique. If you have the means and recently picked up a table, chair, backboard, or similar piece handmade by a skilled woodworker or carpenter, lucky you! Now, as you proudly display it in your home or office, be ready to keep it looking great with a bit of basic maintenance. Here are a few tips for maintaining reclaimed wood furniture, so it remains lovely and lustrous-looking for an exceptionally long time.
Keep It Out of the Sun and Away From Humidity
Like anything made of wood, modern reclaimed wood furniture can suffer considerable damage from direct sunlight and moist and humid environments. As for the sun, the light contains ultraviolet rays, which can cause the finish on furniture to fade. Move furniture away from places where the sun is most concentrated. Keep the drapes or blinds drawn during the day when sunlight is spilling in. Covering your windows with UV-film can add another layer of protection if you prefer a brighter room.
Another note regarding heat: make sure your furniture isn’t positioned too close to vents that are consistently emitting hot or chilly air. After a while, your piece can crack or warp, just like it would if left outdoors.
As for humidity, keep it low. High humidity can cause wood to expand, crack, warp, and bend, and in some cases even develop mold. Modern reclaimed wood furniture favors a humidity level of no more than 35 to 45 percent. Control your home’s climate with your HVAC system, keeping temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, and install a humidifier or dehumidifier as the case and climate demands. Keeping water in mind...
Fluid and Flame
As appetizing as a lovely, reclaimed wood dining room table can make a meal look, make sure there’s always a layer of separation between the wood and cup or plate (and that goes for any piece of furniture). Coasters, placemats, trivets, and the like look great while performing the particularly important function of keeping the wood safe from fluids and hot objects. When you place a glass with a layer of condensation around the exterior down on any wood surface, it will “sweat,” drip, and swiftly leave a discoloring ring in the finish or varnish.
Likewise, pots, pans, plates, and bowls that are hot from the oven or microwave can silently burn a ring or other marks into the wood. Don’t let candles drip or topple onto the surface and mark it up either. It might seem odd to have to go to such lengths to preserve wood that’s been exposed to the elements for decades, but it doesn’t need any further “personality” added! Keep your reclaimed wood furniture safe and dry.
Keep It Clean
When cleaning day arrives, go a little easier on your modern reclaimed wood furniture than on the pieces you picked up at a big box or furniture store. In general, it’s smart to do a periodic wipe-down with a lint-free cloth to remove any dust on the surface of the wood. Never employ any dusting or cleaning sprays that can build up and dull the finish. If there are cushions, remove them and vacuum the area underneath; then vacuum the cushions. Some cleaning sites recommend purchasing a small, soft, yet stiff brush to get into any tight corners and remove dust and grime. As for cleaners, professionals recommend a natural solution of vinegar and olive oil on unfinished furniture, which does no damage and leaves behind no buildup. Mix up a batch using a tablespoon of vinegar and an ounce or three of water, then add it to the wood and wipe it in gently with a soft cloth. Finished furniture surfaces, on the other hand, can be gently cleaned and polished with wood and oil soaps. Before you bring or have it delivered home, however, ask the carpenter or woodworker for advice on the best way to clean and treat the wood. They’ll provide a thorough lesson in its proper cleaning.
Protect It From Pets
If you have a pet, unless you can keep them exiled from the room where the furniture is located, you might want to rethink purchasing a piece of reclaimed wood furniture. Cats must scratch and dogs must chew, and unless they’re exceedingly well-behaved they will go to work on any exposed segment of wood. If you can’t bring yourself to keep your furry friend out, there are things you can do to divert them from the furniture. Keep scratching pads and posts nearby and spike them with catnip so the kitties will find shredding the pad more fun than attacking your exquisite new coffee table.
Keep cat and dog claws trimmed so they aren’t looking for a way to wear down their nails on the furniture. Double-sided tape and spritzing sprays that smell pleasant to humans but offensive to cats and dogs (lemon, orange, vinegar, peppermint, eucalyptus, and the like make them crinkle their snouts and walk away) is another way to make the furniture off-limits to them without punishing them.
If you notice scratches and other marks in the furniture’s wood and you’re feeling handy, there are a few simple fixes you can use to fix things up. Sometimes you can get away with fixing scratches and discoloration with shoe polish or markers, but look for products that specifically do this rather than raiding your junk drawer. Deeper scratches should be treated with wood putty, fine sandpaper, and stain, but this might be a bigger project than you’re prepared to handle. Again, consult with the carpenter or woodworker and see if they can perform repairs and major refinishing. Otherwise, don’t overlook the ease of finding a charming cover or felt mat that can cover up any damage without taking away the attractiveness of the piece.
Still looking for tips for maintaining reclaimed wood furniture? The biggest rule is to treat it with tender loving care so it will last longer. Be careful while moving it, even if only a few feet. Place it away from your home’s foot traffic, and “no shoes or feet on the furniture” should be house law. Take care of your furniture and it’ll provide you with quality looks and comfort for decades!