Antique wood furniture is beautiful, but it is also quite vulnerable to the conditions it’s being kept in. The wood can easily dry out, thus affecting the appeal as well as the value of the furniture. Additionally, it could cause the furniture to become fragile to the point of being unable to be used. Wood is vulnerable to its surroundings because it is porous. However, there are some things you can do to help protect your furniture. Here are some ways to help keep your antique furniture from drying out and protect it.
Control the Temperature and Humidity
It’s best to keep the temperature and humidity in the room your antique furniture is in as stable as possible. If you store your antique furniture in an uncontrolled environment, it could cause significant damage. It is best to keep the humidity level of the room at around 50 to 55%. The ideal temperature is approximately 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also good to frequently air out the room.
Carefully Place the Furniture
In addition to controlling temperature and humidity, care placement of antique furniture is necessary to protect it. The furniture should not be placed near heat sources, such as a radiator, a fireplace, or any other heat source. Even a sunny window could cause damage.
It’s best to keep the furniture at least two feet from any heat source. If the furniture is placed too near a heat source, the drawers could become warped, the veneer could break away from the base, and the finish could crack.
Antique furniture should also not be placed in a part of a room where the temperature could vary significantly, such as near an exterior door or air vent. Placing the furniture carefully can go a long way toward keeping it from drying out.
Although you certainly don’t want your antique furniture to dry out, too much humidity is bad as well. When the humidity in the room rises, the water in the air will increase and soak into the wood and cause it to expand and possibly damage the glue holding it together. Then, when the wood dries, it can crack, and the glue can become dislodged. Additionally, the veneer may loosen, and the joints could break apart.
Some furniture can be more vulnerable to the effects of changes in humidity than others. This is something you can sometimes check for before purchasing antique furniture.
Check the Joints
Sometimes checking the joinery of antique wooden furniture can give a strong indication of the level of vulnerability it may have to changes in temperature and humidity. Dovetail joints are a common type of joint that uses a protruding piece of wood to slot into a cutout like a puzzle piece. This gives joints room to swell and shrink as moisture changes. Tenon joints, on the other hand, use pegs of wood tightly driven through two pieces of wood to affix them together. If these dry out, they can easily crack or work loose, leading to a wobble or even a damaged piece.
Antique wooden furniture is beautiful, and this is why it is important to work to preserve it from damage by its environment. Wood can easily suffer damage from drying out or overly humid conditions, and by regulating the conditions it is exposed to, you can protect the value and appearance of your antique wooden furniture for years to come.
For cleaning and appraisal of furnishings, art, and decorative objects, contact Manzi Appraisers & Restorers. Our team has over 20 years of experience providing individuals and businesses with accurate valuations of their art, furnishings, and decorative objects. Call us at 617-948-2577 and connect with us on Facebook.