Oak Furniture Care
Modern vintage style is a great lover of using the outdoors inside, drawing upon lighter coloured hardwoods in oak and pine to bring nature into the home. This style has been pioneered by Scandinavian interiors, where natural light is a luxury in the cold, dark winter months and bright woods like light oak are used to amplify natural light by creating an airy, lighter aesthetic.
Hardwoods are renowned for their longevity, so investing in solid oak furniture is a fantastic way to create an interior with trendy modern vintage style as well as ensuring that you have a quality furniture piece that will last a lifetime and beyond if cared for properly. Oak is surprisingly easy to look after and with a little maintenance and care, its life as magnificent furniture can be extended considerably.
Check out the information below for our best advice on how to keep your oak looking its splendid best for a timeless modern vintage interior.
Oak furniture can be finished in three different ways; waxed, lacquered or oiled. Each finish will require a different method of care so we have explained below how to best treat each type.
Waxed oak is not totally sealed from the elements and will be affected by spillages and stains. If there is a spill, make sure to clean it up fast with a damp soft cloth or it could be absorbed into the wood, which may leave marks. Coasters and place mats should be used to avoid staining and dark heat rings that can be left by hot items.
A damp cloth is also best used for dusting waxed oak furniture as it will stop the dust billowing and re settling in the grains. Strong spray polishes should be avoided as they may seep underneath the wax and cause cracking. After using a damp cloth make sure to wipe away any excess water till dry, following the grain of the wood.
Applying wax to your oak furniture every three to six months will maintain the magnificent grain and ensure the durability of the timber. Waxing protects the grain and helps the wood resist cracking as well as keeping the finish of the wood in the best possible condition. Any specially designed oak furniture waxes can be used for this but using broad strokes or little circles will not work effectively. Instead, apply the wax with a clean cloth, moving in the direction of the grain until a full coat has been achieved. Leave for five minutes and then remove the wax by buffing, again following the direction of the grain. This method creates optimum protection while minimizing air pockets and streaking of the wax.
Lacquered wood has a glossy appeal to it, generally though the shine will depend on the colour of the wood grain. The top coat protects and seals the timber, meaning this finish of oak tends to be more durable than others as it is sealed against liquid and heat stains. We do still recommend that spills be cleaned as quickly as possible and coasters and place mats also be used.
It is safe to use spray polish on lacquered wood as it protects the grain, so polish can be used weekly if needed. Just make sure to check for content of harsh chemicals as these could deteriorate the finish of the wood. Warm, soapy water can also be used to keep the timber clean but cloths treated with oil could remove the top layer of lacquer, leaving it open to damage. Make sure to keep the wood in a dry part of the house as constant exposure to water will degrade the lacquer and give the wood a mottled effect.
Oiled finished oak displays a handsome finish that brings through the grain colour of the timber to create a warm and rich sheen. Usually several coats of linseed or tung oil are applied to give the wood resistance and protection. The oils penetrate the wood, protecting the timber from the inside rather than just on top. Rather than forming a layer over the wood, oil preserves the natural rough texture and maintains the natural qualities of the grains, adding resistance to the elements with minimal change to the appearance.
Oiled oak is protected from sunlight and liquids but is not impervious to them. As with all oak furniture, these pieces should not be kept in places that receive direct sunlight or anywhere where there is risk of it getting wet constantly. Place mats and coasters should be used to prevent stains or heat marks. Strong cleaning detergents may react with the finish and leave a mottled or cracked effect so more mild cleaners should be used or simply a damp cloth for dusting and spills.
Applying oil once or twice a year is fine for most oak furniture but if it is exposed to cold or hot temperatures on a regular basis you may want to apply some more. Begin by sanding the surface lightly with fine grain 400 grit sandpaper, remembering to go along the wood fibres. Afterwards apply the oil with a dry cloth evenly over the surface and wait till it dries before repeating. Once two or three coats have been applied leave to dry for twenty minutes and wipe away excess oil before buffing the furniture. Leave to dry for at least a day and you will have some perfectly conditioned and oiled oak.
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