Finishes are affected by relative
humidity. Just as the wood expands and contracts, so too does
the finish, which becomes brittle and crack. This is called crazing.
What can you do about crazing?
Restor-A-Finish is a great multi-purpose product that penetrates
through the existing crazed finish and stain, bringing up the
color and restoring the luster.
Just as sun damage to the skin
is cumulative and permanent, its effects on wood are just as
destructive. Diffused sunlight over a long period of time can
be as detrimental as direct sunlight over a short period of time.
Sunlight can turn a clear finish yellow.
How can you avoid sun damage? The only good news about sun damage
is that it's easy to avoid. Draw the drapes, pull the blinds
or have a UV-filtering film applied to your windows.
Termites are a menace to North
American homes and are often found in older homes. Hopefully,
you'll notice an infestation of termites in your home before
they reach your furniture.
The termite solution? Professional
fumigation is the best remedy.
The wood beetle is a nasty archenemy
of European antiques. It's not as common in North America. Nevertheless,
you want to be aware of the wood beetle in case you bring an
antique from overseas into your home and infest the rest of your
The wood beetle lays its eggs
in the crevices in wood; the larvae hatch and eat their way through
the wood creating a series of tunnels. As the beetle ages, it
digs its way out of the wood leaving a hole, flies off to lay
its eggs and continues its life cycle.
A tell tale sign that you have
wood beetle is the pile of frass (wood dust and insect excrement)
on the floor. Another sign of a serious infestation is to pick
up an item; if it is very light, likely a large portion of the
inside has been eaten away.
How to rid your furniture of
this pesky insect? Isolate the infested object. Ensure that the
infestation has not spread. Hope that this infestation happened
during the winter because the easiest way to get rid of this
bothersome bug is to place the item outside on a dry sub-zero
A great deal of surface damage
can be prevented if you always remember to use coasters, mats
and trivets and avoid placing hot and/or wet items directly on
Scratches Never slide anything (vase,
plate, serving dish etc) across a surface because it will scratch.
A very light scratch can be treated with Restor-A-Finish. Deep
scratches require the skill of professional restorers.
Liquids Spilled water should be thoroughly wiped
up immediately. Alcohol and solvents (nail polish, nail polish
remover, perfumes) should be dabbed, not wiped because they can
act like a furniture stripper and damage the finish. White rings
left from either a hot drink or a wet glass should be attended
to right away. A little Brasso applied with a clean cloth may
do the trick. Or, I have found that Restor-A-Finish works well
to remove white rings. Always test on a small area first.
Candle wax Wait for the wax to cool then
gently loosen using a fingernail to remove.
For daily cleaning, use a clean
cloth or a clean duster. For those who like to use something
more, I recommend Orange Oil because it works well to clean and
polish wood finishes. I like it because it doesn't leave a wax
build up and doesn't contain linseed or silicone oil. Avoid aerosol
spray polishes because they can contain silicone oil and other
agents that can be harmful to your furniture.
Every couple of months, wax
with a good quality paste wax that can be found in any hardware
store. If you wax too much, it can dull the finish and attract
dust. To remove a waxy build up, apply varasol with a clean cotton
cloth. Proper waxing will bring up the color and grain of the
wood and protect it. Rub a small amount on a soft cloth and apply
it in circular motions. Let it dry, then buff with a clean cloth.
Remember to treat your antiques
with care. They are old and should be given the respect that
their age commands. Pick up chairs from underneath the seat;
not by the arms. Lift a large piece of furniture; dragging it
can put excessive pressure on the legs. Tables should be lifted
by the apron; not by the top or the legs because they could be
loosened. Open drawers using both draw pulls; not just one. Sit
squarely on a chair; don't tilt back on it.
For more information, on Restor-A-Finish
and Orange Oil visit http://howardproducts.com.