With just a little TLC, solid wood furniture can last a lifetime. Taking good care of your new furniture ensures its longevity. It’s easy and largely a matter of common sense.
Heat, Humidity & Solid Wood
Did you know that up to half of the weight of freshly sawn wood is water? Furniture is crafted from wood that is carefully dried, retaining just enough moisture for the furniture to properly acclimate to the relative humidity in your home. The wood in furniture continues to exchange moisture with the air, shrinking and expanding in response to changes in relative humidity.
Like your own skin, solid wood furniture’s natural repsonse to dry air is to lose moisture and shrink a bit. For example, the halves of an extension table may separate slightly. This will correct itself as the relative humidity rises, and the wood absorbs enough ambient moisture to expand slightly. However, if the air is extremely dry, solid wood may lose too much moisture and warp. This can be prevented by controlling the amount of ambient moisture in your home.
On the other hand, if you don’t have an air conditioner or dehumidifier, your home’s relative moisture humidity may get too high. Parts of your wood furniture may absorb excess moisture from the air and expand, causing drawers to stick. Once again, this will correct itself as your home’s relative humidity decreases. The furniture’s quality and durability are not affected by these natural changes.
Here are some ways to ensure that your solid wood furniture is treasured for years to come:
- For your comfort as well as to protect your furniture, use a humidifier in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer to keep the relative humidity in your home at 25 – 30 percent.
- Avoid placing solid wood furniture directly in front of radiators, fireplaces, or any other heat source.
- Don’t expose the furniture to continuous direct sunlight. Draw the curtains occasionally.
- Store table leaves as close to the table as possible. Keep them in an upstairs or main floor closet rather than in a damp basement, so that the leaves are adjusting to the same relative humidity as the table.