How to Look After Your Antique Furniture
While antique repairs from experts such as the team at A. E. Booth & Son are widely available, it’s by far preferable to do your best to look after your precious pieces! Antique restoration and furniture repairs may not cost as much as you think, when it comes to it, but we’re all on a budget and if you can avoid having to pay out for professional expertise, so much the better.
Our Best Tips
With that in mind, here are a few of our best tips for looking after antique furniture.
- Any build-up of dirt and grime can damage delicate old surfaces, so dust your furniture regularly. You can use a vacuum cleaner unless you are cleaning a particularly delicate piece, but always use the least possible suction to avoid damage and never touch the surface with the nozzle. Alternatively, use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. If the furniture is ornate and you’re having trouble getting into the nooks and crannies, a soft bristled toothbrush will often do the trick.
- Avoid placing the furniture in rooms that suffer from extremes of temperature, like a conservatory. If the piece is not in use, don’t store it in a room that’s little used, like a basement, attic or garage. Wood in particular is hygroscopic, in other words it attracts or loses moisture from the air around it. So if your room suffers from frequent changes in humidity, your furniture can shrink or crack. Consider using a humidifier if necessary.
- Exposure to direct sunlight can also be very damaging. UV rays from the sun can fade and weaken fabrics as well as wood, and while reupholstery is possible and new finishes can be applied, like French polishing for instance, it’s best to avoid the damage in the first place. Draw the curtains or use blinds to block out sunlight if it’s unavoidable.
- Keep all liquids away from especially precious antiques. Wooden furniture in particular can be damaged even by water, which can seep through any finish, if left long enough, to be absorbed in the wood beneath. If spillages do occur, mop them up as quickly as possible with kitchen roll or a soft, dry cloth. If the spill is of a substance that will stain, do not try to rub at it to remove it. Dab at it to dry it out as much as possible, then seek advice from a professional furniture restorer.
- Move furniture sensibly and carefully. Don’t ever drag it along the floor – this can cause damage to the piece’s joints and stability. Hold furniture at the points where the structure is strongest when lifting it. Don’t, for instance, lift a chair by its arms – instead, carry it from the seat base. Unless you want to spend money on cabinet repairs, lift these from the bottom, never the top surface or any other part.
Take Expert Advice
If the worst comes to the worst and your furniture does suffer damage, look for an expert in antique or reproduction repairs. In East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey, this means the team at A. E. Booth & Son. As well as sensitive and skilled restoration and repairs of antique, reproduction and modern furniture, we also carry out reupholstery, French polishing and clock repairs.