7 Ways to Care for Antique Furniture

Because of its age, rarity, monetary or sentimental value, antique furniture requires special care to preserve its beauty and integrity. Improper handling, inadequate storage spaces, poor placement, and cleaning products not designed with antique finishes in mind are just some of the things that can cause your precious pieces to slowly deteriorate–and sadly, most of them simply cannot be replaced. If you have antique furniture, here are 7 care tips that will make it last for many years to come.

Protect It from the Sun

Sunlight is very damaging to antique furnishings of any kind. The sun causes wood, finish, and upholstery to fade or yellow, so avoid placing antique pieces in sunny areas of your home. If you have antiques located near windows, keep your blinds or drapes closed or cover your pieces to block out sunlight. Rearrange and rotate antique furniture that may already have been exposed to the sun to prevent further degradation.

Move or Rearrange with Care

Antique furniture should be handled very carefully when moving or rearranging it. Always lift pieces instead of dragging them to prevent weakening of joints, legs, or feet. Lift chairs by the seats, not the arms and move tables by holding onto aprons instead of tabletops or legs. When opening drawers, gently tug on both knobs or pulls instead of just one, taking care when the drawers stick or don’t roll out smoothly. Always use an old sheet or blanket as padding when moving furniture, especially when placing something next to it or on top of it when it’s being transported in a moving vehicle.

Prevent Surface Damage

It’s best to avoid placing food and beverage items on your antique furniture–but if you must, use coasters, placemats, and potholders to prevent heat or moisture from marring surfaces. When placing or moving decorative items on antique tabletops or shelves, lift them instead of sliding or dragging them when placing them in their new locations.

Clean It Properly

Antique furniture should be cleaned with products designed specifically with them in mind. Pay special attention to the finish on your pieces before selecting products to clean and maintain them. If you’re unsure about what to buy, ask a professional for some advice. Antique dealers and restoration experts will know what products are best and may be able to give you some recommendations. As a general rule, most furniture oils and silicone-based polishes should be avoided. Along with leaving behind residue, they often damage the finish when used over a long period of time, leaving surfaces more prone to scratches. Most professionals recommend using a soft, slightly damp cloth to wipe away surface dust, followed by a light coat of furniture wax to restore its luster. After applying a light coat of the wax, gently buff your furniture with another soft cloth using light circular motions.

Keep Furniture Away from Heat

Heat will dry out antique furniture, causing irreparable damage. Place or store your furniture far away from stoves, fireplaces, vents, or heat sources of any kind to prevent your timeless pieces from shrinking or loosening up from the heat.

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Don’t Store Antiques in Humid Conditions

Like heat, humidity is something that will compromise the condition of your antique furniture. Never place or store antique furnishings in a humid room or storage facility. Excessive moisture may eventually cause wood to mold or rot–so keep your antiques out of humid areas and use a dehumidifier when necessary.

Consider Restoration

Since antiques are not immune to damage, there may come a time when one of your treasured pieces needs attention or repair. If this is the case, you might want to consider restoration. Before repairing or doing any type of restoration yourself, do some research and find out if the work is within your capabilities. Restoration is irreversible–so if you don’t feel comfortable tackling such an important project yourself, seek the help of a professional. Consult a reputable restoration expert, as they can give you advice and go over all of your restoration options. Although restoration might be the best solution, you should consider it carefully as it will forever alter the history of the piece.

When cleaned, handled, and stored properly, antique pieces can survive many generations, each carrying with them a unique history that will be appreciated by heirs and collectors alike.

Guest post from Jean Clark. Jean writes for BackgroundCheck.org.

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