• TriniHelper

Caring for wood

Wood is an important aspect of nearly every home. From wooden floors to furniture, to cupboards and shelves and doors, you will no doubt find something made of wood if you look around your home right now.

Wood has been used for home fixtures and furnishings for hundreds of years and is popular because of its beauty and durability.

In fact, quality wood furnishings can last for generations and can be passed on as family heirlooms.

But wood requires a certain level of maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Even the strongest wood can be susceptible to scratches, weather damage and other blemishes but if you follow these tips, you will keep your wood furnishings looking like new for a really long time.

The simplest thing you can do to protect your wood furnishings is to keep them clean.

Dusting regularly will prevent airborne particles from accumulating and scratching the surface.

When dusting wooden furniture, always use soft materials like a cotton or microfiber cloth to remove loose dust. Coarse brushes or cloths may leave scratches. For hard to reach places or for furniture with ornate designs, a feather duster will be more effective.

But sometimes, simply dusting your wooden furniture isn't enough and a deeper cleaning is required.

People make the mistake of using chemical cleaning agents and other harsh cleaning liquids but this is a definite no-no. These can damage your furniture beyond repair.

A mild detergent and water is usually enough to clean sticky spots and simple stains. Simply dip your cloth in soapy water, wring off the excess water and wipe your furniture clean. Make sure to wipe with a dry cloth afterward.

Wood must be kept dry to prevent mold, mildew and fungus.

For tough marks and stains, try using natural ingredients instead of chemical agents.

For example, vinegar can help reduce the look of dark spots from water damage.

White rings from wet glasses can be treated with a mixture of toothpaste and baking soda.

And as strange as it sounds, mayonnaise can help remove crayon marks from wood surfaces. Just apply the mayonnaise over the affected area, let it sit for a few minutes and wipe off with a damp cloth.

As always, wipe with a dry cloth afterward.

To prevent major damage, take steps to protect your wooden furniture.

Always use coasters and avoid placing drinks on wood tables to prevent water rings. Use place mats when resting hot plates or pots on wooden table tops to avoid heat damage. In the event of food or drink spills, be sure to wipe immediately and dry thoroughly.

Another common mistake people make is placing furniture meant for indoors outside. Different types of wood react to environmental factors in different ways. Direct heat from the sun may cause wood to contract, contort and fade while wood exposed to cold or rain may soak up moisture and swell. This can be avoided by following manufacturer's directions. Place indoor wooden furniture away from windows or other areas where they can be exposed to direct sunlight and heat such as near stoves or fireplaces.

From time to time, your wood will need re staining or repainting because it is natural for wood to fade over time.

In this case, the wood must be stripped of all remaining stain by sanding and buffing and applying fresh new coats.

You may want to consult a professional for this procedure.

Wood may also need polishing or buffing to renew its shine.

However, be sure to use the correct products for this. Most polishes will contain petroleum or silicone oil that will not only produce a shiny finish, but offer some protection. But using too much can cause a sticky build-up on your furniture.

Some furniture may need waxing instead of polishing. Never use both products at once as this will create a gooey, sticky residue.

Waxing may be a more complicated procedure as the furniture has to be stripped of existing wax, sanded and re-waxed in a particular way to ensure a smooth, even finish.

You may also want to consult a professional for this process.

Another thing to consider is bad odors. Wood may not be as absorbent as fabric but it can still absorb unpleasant scents and odors, especially if your furniture has been in storage for some time. It can smell old and musty and make your entire home smell bad.

To get rid of unpleasant scents, clean your wooden furniture with baking soda. Baking soda neutralizes odors without the harsh effects of chemical cleaners. Charcoal can also help to absorb unpleasant odors. Place an open pan of charcoal inside drawers and cabinets to absorb smells that emanate from inside.

"Airing" your wood pieces by placing them outside in a cool, shady spot can also help to neutralize bad scents.

Wood is also very susceptible to insect damage. Termites, and other insects make their home in wood and can reduce an expensive piece of furniture to a useless pile of dust in no time at all.

Ensure that your wooden furniture is treated to repel insects and monitor for any insect damage such as holes or wood dust.

If you observe signs of insect damage in a piece of furniture, be sure to isolate that piece from any other wooden furniture in your home to prevent the insect infestation from spreading to other pieces. Depending on the severity of the infestation, fumigation may be necessary to protect your other furniture.

Ultimately, wood is one of the strongest materials yet can be very fragile if not treated properly.

Wood furniture can last for decades once it is handled with care.

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