8 Tips for Hardwood Furniture Care
Are you considering buying hardwood furniture to add some natural beauty to your home? Before you invest, it's important to understand two key environmental elements that can affect the longevity of your furniture: temperature and humidity.
Hardwood furniture is highly sensitive to changes in relative humidity, which can vary greatly depending on the season and climate of your region. When humidity levels drop, the moisture content in the wood of your furniture can decrease, leading to cracks and shrinkage. Similarly, as humidity rises, the wood can expand and contract in response. Therefore, to ensure your hardwood furniture remains beautiful for years to come, it's crucial to maintain stable temperature and humidity levels in your home.
Top Tips to keep furniture from cracking
- Optimal temperature and humidity levels are crucial to maintaining the health of your hardwood furniture. Ideally, keep your home at a moderate temperature of around 21°C-22°C and a relative humidity of 50-55%. This will help prevent the wood from drying out or absorbing too much moisture.
- Avoid frequent and sudden changes in relative humidity, as these can cause significant damage to your furniture. Exposure to humidity levels above 70% can lead to cracking when the piece contracts rapidly due to a sudden drop in humidity. Similarly, relative humidity below 30% for an extended period of time can dry out the wood, causing it to crack.
- Sudden changes in climate can also be detrimental to the health of your hardwood furniture. Wood is most likely to crack when the temperature and humidity change suddenly from hot and humid to cool and dry. Therefore, try to maintain stable temperature and humidity levels in your home.
- To maintain optimal humidity levels, consider using a humidifier in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer. This will help prevent your furniture from drying out and cracking due to fluctuations in humidity.
- Store your furniture in a dry, cool place to prevent cracking and warping. Avoid storing your furniture in a basement, attic, garage, or warehouse, as these areas are often subject to high humidity levels and extreme temperatures.
- Excessive heat and dryness can cause wood to split and crack. Therefore, keep your furniture away from all heat sources, such as radiators, heat runs, or fireplaces, if possible.
- If you must place your furniture near an air duct, use a shield or guard plate to direct heat away from the furniture. This will help prevent the wood from drying out and cracking.
- Regularly dust and clean your furniture to prevent dirt and dust from accumulating on the surface. This will help prevent scratches and damage to the wood.
- Consider using furniture covers to protect your hardwood furniture when not in use, particularly during the winter months when humidity levels are low.
- Avoid placing heavy objects on your hardwood furniture, as this can cause the wood to warp or crack over time. Use coasters or placemats to protect the surface of your furniture from scratches and damage.
Seasons - Summer vs Winter
If you own fine furniture (or are contemplating purchasing it), you should be aware of the effects humidity has on wood. Temperature and humidity can vary greatly from season to season, and it's important to understand how these changes can affect your furniture.
In the summer, humidity is typically higher, which can cause wood furniture to absorb excess moisture and swell. To prevent this, it's important to keep your furniture stored in a temperature range of 18-25°C and a relative humidity of 55%. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can be used to help maintain the proper humidity level.
During the winter months, humidity becomes low and the air can become very dry, which can cause wood furniture to lose moisture and shrink. Wood burning stoves can also cause the humidity level in your home to drop dramatically. This can lead to cracking and other types of damage to your furniture. To prevent this, it's important to use a humidifier in winter to maintain a proper level of moisture in the air.
It's important to note that frequent and sudden changes in humidity levels can also be detrimental to your furniture. For example, if you frequently switch between heating and cooling your home during the summer and winter, this can cause the wood to expand and contract rapidly, leading to cracking and warping.
In addition, it's important to keep your furniture away from direct sources of heat, such as radiators, heat runs, and fireplaces. Excess heat and dryness can cause wood to split and crack. If you must place furniture near an air duct, use a shield or guard plate to direct heat away from the furniture.
Wood is a wonderful and natural material, and imperfections are a part of its beauty. However, by taking steps to maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels, you can help prevent damage and ensure that your furniture lasts for many years to come.
For further information on the effects of humidity on wood furniture, you can check out the following resources:
Woodworking Network - Understanding Moisture Content and Wood Movement
Popular Mechanics - How to Prevent Wood Furniture From Cracking
Wood Magazine - How Humidity Affects Wood Movement
The Spruce - How to Protect Wood Furniture from Humidity and Temperature Changes
Great Care & Maintenance Products
Here is a list of products we suggest to use on your hard wood furniture.
1. CANADIAN BEESEAL
Since it is made from natural ingredients, Beeseal can be applied directly with the hands, or with a sponge.
1. Make sure to apply Beeseal on a dry surface with no visible dirt.
2. Take a small amount of Beeseal with your fingers, a cloth, sponge or brush. For hard-to-reach places, use an old toothbrush.
3. Apply in a circular motion on the surface to be treated.
4. Prefer an application in thin layers to avoid darkening the color of your leather.
5. Remove the excess by rubbing lightly with a dry cloth.
Your surface will be protected, without being greasy.
2. CIRCA LEMON OIL
When it comes to applying oils to unfinished and lacquered pieces of furniture, we recommend using a lemon-based oil such as CIRCA 1850.
To apply, simply put the oil into a spray bottle and let it soak into unprotected wood. For hard woods with a sealer from India, just spray and wipe off.To avoid scratching the wood, we suggest using a soft, lint-free cloth or microfiber cloth for application.
Avoid using paper towels, as these can leave scratches on the wood surface.
While linseed oil is another option for wood furniture, it's important to note that it is a highly flammable product and should be handled with care. If you choose to use linseed oil, be sure to store it properly and away from heat sources, and use caution during application to avoid any potential fire hazards.
Comparable products to CIRCA 1850 lemon-based oil that are available on the Canadian market include Minwax Tung Oil Finish, Watco Danish Oil, and Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. These products can also be found at local stores such as Walmart, HomeHardware, and Reno-Depot, with prices ranging from about CA$9.99 to CA$19.99.
In summary, when applying oil to your wood furniture, be sure to use a soft, lint-free cloth, choose a lemon-based oil or another suitable product, and exercise caution when using flammable products such as linseed oil.