These heirlooms are often dirty and damaged. It is possible, however, to restore unwanted furniture to heirloom beauty with some simple cleaning steps.
“A dear friend of my mother was selling her home in Illinois to relocate into a retirement home,” says Susan Tyra of Upland, Calif. “She had three beautiful pieces of furniture: a hutch, a side board and another matching cabinet. Her children were not interested in the pieces and I offered to buy them from her.”
When the furniture was delivered, she saw that years of use had left the pieces covered in dirt and grime. She wanted to restore the items without inflicting further damage. Her research suggested that most furniture-restoration projects involve three steps: clean off the grime, restore the finish, then protect the wood from further damage.
It’s crucial that the products used to clean the wood don’t damage it. You don’t want to use any product containing silicone because silicones impregnate the wood fibers and can prevent the wood from accepting a new finish. It keeps wood from breathing, so over time the finish will develop cracks.
You also do not want to use water-based products to clean wood because the water will soak in and ruin the surface. And never use soap to clean a wood surface because it will remove the moisture from the wood.
On the recommendation of a friend who operates an antiques store, Carrie Leeper of Generations Antiques and Art in La Verne, Calif., Tyra used Touch of Oranges Wood Cleaner to remove the dirt and grease and restore moisture to the wood. “Once the dirt and grime from all the years of use was removed, it came out gleaming.”
After cleaning, assess the finish for damage. It’s important to retain the existing finish when restoring used furniture, because stripping and refinishing can greatly diminish the value of an antique. The antiques store owner suggested Howard Restor-a-Finish to blend out scratches and blemishes and to restore the color and luster without dissolving the existing finish.
Lastly, it’s important to seal the finish and protect the wood from heat and cold and from grease and grime. A properly applied protectant will add years of service to fine furniture. Susan applied a thin coat of Touch of Beeswax Wood Preserver to her newly restored furnishings.
If you’re faced with the task of selling or distributing – or keeping – heirloom furniture, remember that you’ll get much more value from your pieces by using the three-step restoration method: carefully, clean the grime; restore the existing finish (don’t strip it); then protect the finish to prevent further damage.
For more information about the restoration products, visit www.woodrestorationkit.com or call (800) 867-2643.
– Courtesy of ARA Content