How to Care for Solid Wood Furniture

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Most furniture is built to look a certain way, and mass production guarantees no unit looks different from the rest. On the other hand, one piece of wooden furniture can look different every time it’s stripped and refinished. Furthermore, many wood pieces are handmade, and since no two trees come with the same tones and markings, no two pieces of furniture will look exactly the same.

Control the Environment

Your furniture responds to changes in temperature and humidity by expanding and contracting slightly. You must keep the indoor humidity in the 30 to 45 percent range and the temperature in the 60 to 80 degree range 365 days a year. Ultraviolet light from the sun and florescent fixtures can cause chemical changes in the wood and/or finish. Avoid placing furniture in an area where the sun will shine directly on it. Keep furniture away from direct sources of heating and cooling. Avoid storing furniture in an attic or cellar-type environment. Inexpensive humidity gauges can be purchased at your local hardware store.


Many building materials contain formaldehyde, which has been deemed a carcinogen by numerous health organizations. Wood does not pose this risk, and because it can last a long time there’s less need to throw out old or damaged pieces, which end up in crowded landfills. Even if a piece stops working as furniture, the wood can be recycled into something else.

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