The Cosy Home guide to caring for wooden furniture

A cosy home guide to looking after wood furniture

Here at Cosy Home, we love wooden furniture – there’s something so, well, cosy about it. From fine antique shop finds to comfortable, shabby, painted kitchen chairs, wood complements every type of decor and belongs in every room. Here’s how to look after your favourite pieces.

1. Painted wood

Painted chairs are easy to care for.

Painted furniture should need very little maintenance, making it an ideal choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Every so often, put a drop of washing up liquid into a bucket of warm water, wet a cloth then squeeze it out as much as possible and wipe all the surfaces of the furniture down.

Painted furniture takes on more character over the years, with knocks, chips and scuffs all contributing to that shabby chic look. If your chair or table is looking more shabby than chic, though, it could be time to repaint.

Lightly sand the surface of the furniture to ‘key’ it, and provide a roughened grip for the new coat of paint, working with the grain of the wood.

Wipe with a damp cloth to remove any sawdust. Apply a coat of undercoat and allow to dry, then apply the top coat. If you want to create a shabby chic look, once the top coat is dry you can use a fine grade sandpaper to remove the paint from high wear areas like edges and chair arms.

For a vintage look, you can also apply a layer of wax over the top of the paint so that it looks aged. This doesn’t work with all types of paint, though, so read labels carefully first.

2. Waxed wood

Waxed wood needs regular maintenance to look its best.

Waxed wood has a lovely, soft shine and is fairly easy to care for, but it is vulnerable to damage such as ring marks caused by hot cups. Depending on the wear and tear it receives, waxed furniture should be periodically re-waxed with clear wax.

A kitchen table, for example, which gets a high volume of traffic, may need to be re-waxed a couple of times a month, whereas for a chest of drawers it may only be required every six of twelve months.

Use a good quality solid wax, which will nourish and protect the wood. Avoid spray polishs which normally contain silicone and give a bright, artificial-looking shine. It’s best to use a clear wax for maintaining waxed tables as in time, a coloured wax will make the table top darker than the legs.

Every so often, you may need to sand down the piece of furniture, working with the grain, and re-wax it from scratch by applying several layers of wax. Allow each one to dry before applying the next, but don’t leave it too long as it may set too hard to polish off. This is also a good opportunity to change the colour of the furniture with coloured wax, if you like.

3. Lacquered and French polished wood

Antique furniture that’s been lacquered or French polished should only be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth, and any damage should be restored by an expert.

Modern pieces that have been ‘lacquered’ with a polyurethane varnish can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. This type of finish is generally very hard wearing, but can be damaged by hot cups and plates or if water is allowed to sit on the surface.

This type of damage can only be invisibly repaired by sanding down and re-sealing the whole surface, which is best tackled by an expert. Chips and cracks can sometimes be repaired by rubbing a special wax stick (available online and from hardware shops) over the damage, then polishing with a soft cloth.

4. Outdoor wooden furniture

Teak furniture that’s oiled will retain its rich colour.

If your outdoor chairs and tables are made from teak, you have two choices. Regularly wiping the furniture with a damp cloth and them applying teak oil will keep it protected and maintain the rich, dark colour. Alternatively, you can let the furniture fade to a pretty silvery-grey but it will be more prone to splits and damage than treated wood.

A regular clean with specialist mould and mildew protector will help keep the wood in good condition, and always try to store furniture under cover in poor weather.

Oak furniture takes a long time to season so during the first year of usage will need regular oiling with linseed or teak oil, paying particular attention to joints and ends. Afterwards, maintenance can be reduced to once a year.

(Top photo credit: Shutterstock)

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