By Nancy Mattia | CTW Features
Your lips aren’t the only things that can crack and dry out if you don’t keep them lubricated—your wood furniture will too. Often the culprit behind wood losing its lovely finish is excess heat (being too close to radiators, fireplaces, sunlight) or excess humidity. But even if you move wood furniture away from hot, drying sources or run a dehumidifier when the house is damp, you may still see splits and cracks. That’s why applying oil to wood furniture, such as a coffee table or bookshelves, is so important if you want them looking good well into the future. Here’s what you need to know about using oil to preserve your wood furniture:
Check the furniture’s surface first
While most wood furniture will benefit from getting oiled, others will not. Furniture with a painted or lacquered- gloss top should not be treated with oil because the oil won’t be able to penetrate the finish and get deep into the wood.
Clean before oiling
Keeping wood furniture clean just requires that you regularly dust it. Use a damp (not soaking wet) cotton cloth once a week to keep grime from accumulating on your furnishings. Use another clean cotton cloth to wipe away any residual moisture. What not to use: aerosol furniture sprays and polish containing wax or silicone, which may leave a filmy buildup that will detract from your furniture’s beauty. Also don’t use harsh ammonia-based cleaners because they can damage the finish. A longtime favorite for gently cleansing: Murphy’s Oil Soap, which you mix with water.
What kind of oil to use
Linseed oil is one of the most popular natural wood oils to use on furniture because it goes deep penetrating the grain of the wood thoroughly and protecting it against moisture. Lemon oil also works well, helping to protect wood against insects and mold.
How to apply oil on furniture
Saturate a soft cotton cloth and with the oil. Working in the direction of the wood’s grain, wipe the cloth all over the wood’s surface, especially the dry areas. Let the oil sink in then wipe off excess grain after about 20 minutes. Buff with another soft cotton cloth.
Plan on oiling infrequently
Fortunately using oil on your furniture doesn’t take much time—in fact, a twice-yearly oil cleansing would be enough to maintain the wood’s beauty.
How oiling furniture may affect its color
While applying oil to unfinished or oil-and-wax-finished wood could change the color, it’s only temporary. If the wood appears glossier or darker than before, don’t worry—it will shortly settle into the original look. Light woods may look more golden but that color will neutralize as the wood dries out again.