How To Care for Wood Furniture
With the heart of spring just around the corner, we’re looking forward to more consistent sunny days and blue skies. Hopefully, New England doesn’t betray us with a false spring, fingers crossed. But this fresh weather not only affects our seasonal disposition but also affects the behavior of our furniture, ironically enough. If you have wood furniture, go take a look, you may have noticed some separation appear on the wood over the cold, dry winter. This separation is a natural occurrence that happens with anything wood from furniture to flooring in which they release moisture and shrink due to the artificial heat – think of it as the wood breathing. Fear not, any separation will start to subside when the natural humidity returns to the air.
No matter the season, there are a few things you can do to support your furniture’s longevity and sustain this living material with some design self-care. So we’ve put together a list of tips on maintenance and care with guidance from the wood experts at Ethnicraft for you to use now or to bookmark for later!
Consider the piece's lifestyle
While you may love a specific color of wood, it is always crucial to consider your lifestyle before choosing a piece. Factoring in what type of wood will work best for you and your family will help to avoid headaches down the road.
For example, if you have kids who love to have fun with their food at dinner or tend to get creative on the dining table with crayons, oak or walnut wood will be your way to go as these can be cleaned easily. On the other hand, teak requires a more intensive cleaning and care method but will patina and change over time if you have time to keep up with it.
Practice Preventative Care
Whether you own a dining table, coffee table, or sideboard, it is always best to add extra protection between your wood furniture and anything placed on it. Slipping a coaster underneath a hot mug of coffee or a glass of water is the easiest method of preventive care. Additionally, placemats are a great option to slip onto your dining table before a meal to prevent any hot plates or condensation from directly touching the surface. We love the contrast of the Signal Placemat against an oak or teak dining table.
The goal is to prevent any rings from being left on the wood and stop any unwanted moisture from creeping into the wood itself. While this is go-to care for all wood types, teak is a wood that is especially important to avoid adding unwanted moisture too, even water, as this will change the color of the wood.
Another care habit to adopt is to make sure your wood is aging the same across the entire piece by making sure to move the position of trays and decorative items from time to time, especially if the furniture is in a sunny spot. Additionally, if you have an expandable dining table in the sun, we would suggest using the leaves in the table more often than not to ensure that they are aging the same as the rest of the table.
Keep up with maintenance
Unfinished or lightly coated wood pieces, like the majority of Ethnicraft’s collection, should be cleaned with the simplest materials. We always recommend using 100% white cotton, such as an old T-shirt. Wiping down the piece with this will help to remove any dust or build-up that has accumulated.
The first step to remove a simple stain for all wood types is using a 100% white cotton cloth, distilled water, and a small amount of natural soap. You want to wipe the whole piece in the direction of the wood grain. And follow up with wiping the entire piece with a dry cloth.
For lightly oiled or unfinished pieces, annual maintenance helps extend the lifespan of the wood. We recommend oiling the entire surface to maintain the natural moisture and restore the finish once a year in October or November to prepare for humidity leaving the air in winter. The best way to understand unfinished wood is to think of it as skin or hair. When it becomes dry and cold out, we step up the deep conditioning treatments and moisturizer to prevent drying or cracking. Your wood furniture needs the same treatment!
For teak furniture, we would recommend Oculto Oil (9911), which seals the pores of the wood to create natural protection that locks in moisture. Walnut and oiled Oak can also be oiled with Osmo Hardwax Oil (5063 for Walnut, 3041 for Oak). Remove excess oil to prevent any uneven coloring across the furniture, and let an oiled piece sit for 12-24 hours before using again.
Additionally, these oils will not make the wood furniture impenetrable, so immediately remove stains following the previous instructions.
Tackle stubborn marks based on wood type
Disclaimer: Do not use heavy chemical products like Magic Erasers or any cleaning tool with a rough edge. Please consult us or another furniture professional before attempting to sand any Ethnicraft piece.
Walnut pieces can be treated with Osmo Liquid Wax Cleaner 3029 with a cotton cloth to remove most stains (only use in the affected area). For deep stains lightly sand the affected area to remove the mark, then work Osmo Liquid Wax Cleaner into the affected area. Walnut furniture needs to be re-waxed with a new layer of Osmo Hardwax Oil 5063, so remember to re-wax following the sanding.
Scratches or stains on teak pieces can be lightly sanded with extra-fine grit sandpaper (minimum 320 grit) in the direction of the wood grain. Make sure to sand the entire surface to prevent any discoloration or surface unevenness.
Oak (oiled) pieces follow the same care as walnut furniture, except if you find you need to sand and re-wax the table, use Osmo Hardwax Oil 3041 instead. Oak (varnished or painted) should not have any additional oiling or sanding attempted.