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Antique Furniture Repairs: Your Questions Answered

As one of Ireland's most established furniture restoration specialists, we are often given beautiful pieces of antique furniture to repair. Some of these pieces may be a treasured family heirloom.

Therefore our clients naturally feel pretty protective of them. As such, we often get questions from our clients about everything from our restoration techniques to how to properly maintain antique furniture. To make this information that much more accessible, we have compiled the most common questions below.

What are the tips for caring for antique furniture?

Caring for antique furniture requires special attention to preserve its beauty and value. Here are some tips to help you take care of your antique furniture:

Dust regularly: Dusting is crucial to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime on the furniture's surface. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a feather duster to remove dust gently. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.

Avoid direct sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade colour and damage the wood or upholstery of antique furniture. Keep your furniture away from windows or use curtains, blinds, or UV-protective films to limit sun exposure.

Maintain stable humidity and temperature: Extreme fluctuations in humidity and temperature can cause wood to expand or contract, leading to cracks or warping. Aim for a stable environment with a 40-60% humidity range and temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C).

Use appropriate cleaning products: When cleaning antique furniture, choose products that are gentle and specifically designed for wood or delicate surfaces. Avoid harsh chemicals, ammonia-based cleaners, or furniture polishes containing silicone, as they can harm the furniture's finish.

Protect the finish: Antique furniture often has a delicate finish, such as varnish, shellac, or wax. To protect the finish, use coasters, placemats, and tablecloths to prevent heat, moisture, and spills from directly contacting the surface.

Handle with care: When moving or rearranging antique furniture, be cautious to prevent accidents and damage. Lift the table instead of dragging it, and use padding or blankets to protect the corners and edges.

Regularly inspect for pests: Antique furniture can be susceptible to infestations by insects like termites or beetles. Conduct regular inspections to check for any signs of pest activity, such as tiny holes, sawdust-like frass, or insect carcasses. Consult a professional if you suspect an infestation.

Maintain a proper storage environment: If you need to store antique furniture, choose a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area. Protect the furniture by covering it with breathable materials like cotton sheets, and avoid placing heavy items on top that could cause damage.

Seek professional help when needed: If your antique furniture requires significant restoration or repairs, consult a professional furniture restorer or conservator specialising in antique pieces. They can assess the condition of the furniture and provide appropriate advice or restoration services.

Should I oil my antique furniture?

The decision to oil antique furniture depends on the type of wood, the condition of the furniture, and the recommendations of experts or professionals. In general, oiling antique furniture is not necessary or recommended for all pieces, as some may have finishes or patinas that should be preserved. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

Original finish: If your antique furniture still retains its original finish, it's generally advisable not to apply oil. The original finish contributes to the piece's authenticity and value. Oiling may alter the appearance and potentially remove or damage the original finish.

Existing condition: Assess the condition of the wood before deciding to oil. If the wood appears dry, cracked, or lacks luster, it may benefit from some form of moisturising treatment. In such cases, it's best to consult a professional furniture restorer or conservator who can recommend the appropriate approach.

Type of wood: Different woods have varying needs for maintenance. Some woods, like teak or rosewood, naturally contain oils and may not require additional oiling. Others like oak or mahogany may benefit from occasional oiling to maintain their beauty and prevent drying out.

Furniture usage: Consider how antique furniture is used. If it's a decorative piece that only undergoes a little wear and tear, oiling may not be necessary. However, if the furniture is frequently used or exposed to changing environmental conditions, oiling can help protect and nourish the wood.

Choice of oil: If you decide to oil your antique furniture, choosing a suitable oil is important. Avoid using any oil that contains chemicals or additives that could harm the wood or the finish. Look for high-quality, natural oils specifically designed for furniture, such as linseed oil or tung oil. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and first test the oil on a small, inconspicuous area.

Application technique: When applying oil, use a soft cloth or brush to apply a thin and even coat. Allow the oil to penetrate the wood for the recommended time, and then wipe off any excess. Avoid leaving pools of oil on the surface, as they can attract dust and become sticky.

Regular maintenance: Oiling antique furniture should be done sparingly and as needed. Over-oiling can lead to a buildup of residue and an unnatural sheen. Instead, focus on regular dusting and maintaining a stable environment with proper humidity to preserve the wood.

Do you still have questions about antique furniture repair? Then please get in contact with us today.

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