Monday, June 18, 2007

The truth about solid wood furniture

There seems to be a complete misunderstanding of what real wood is capable of and what it tends to do.
People seem to think that because something is made out of solid wood, especially hardwoods that it will always and forever remain perfect no matter how you treat it or neglect it. Let me state right now solid wood furniture is not for everyone. If you dont have the time or desire to take care of it, please save yourself and the store you may by it from alot of headache and stick to particle board & formica.
The biggest problem I see with people is that they dont understand that you MUST take care of the furniture. Solid wood is not particle board & formica. It reacts to the enviroment it's in... like a plant! Water, Water, Water!!!
One of the best things you can do is to keep the humidity in the room at 45% or HIGHER. I see tables and other pieces of furniture all the time that split because there is no humidifier around. I cant stress this enough, humidity is one of the, if not the key to keeping wood furniture in good condition.
Last winter my big humidifier in the store, which is 2800 sq ft, broke. I tried to make due with 4 small ones but they just couldnt keep up. I had to get 1 desk (sides split where the base molding is pocket screwed to it) , 2 chairs (joints loosened on one and the seat split on another), & 2 tables (gap opened up between the 2 halves of the table and never closed and the edge of another table split), repaired. Not to mention all the door panels that I had to touch up with stain because they shrunk in thier frames. I knew this was going to happen and I knew what the repair bill was going to be too! Yes, I admit it, I was being cheap betting on the predictions of a mild winter (which results in more humidity by the way). OOPPSS, lesson we should have all learned by now- Never trust the weatherman!!!! Anyway.
Education is key when it comes to solid wood furniture lasting generations like it can and should. That's why I am eager to answer any and all questions that my customer have. The more informed they are the better decisions they can make when it come to choosing what type of furniture is right for them.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you have solid wood furniture:
Treat the furniture with something like lemon oil. Especially if it's directly exposed to sunlight. Direct sunlight heats up the wood and causes the water within it to evaporate. Very dry wood doesn't take movements very well. Not only that but, as we were taught in science class as a kid when something heats up it expands. If something expands on one side but doesn't expand on the other what happens? Yup, it warps. Whether this warping is temporary or permanent will only be known after it has had a chance to cool down. Direct sunlight gives you the double whammy in this department so be mindful of how much direct sunlight your furniture gets. The lemon oil will actually soak into the wood allowing it to handle movements better. Lemon oil is NOT nor can it ever be a substitute for proper humidity.
In the winter increase the humidity of your home. Cold air doesn't hold moisture like warm air. An added benefit of increased humidity during the winter is that heating your home will take less energy too!
Do not place solid wood furniture where it will have hot air from the furnace blowing directly on it. I have seen a 1 1/2 inch thick oak headboard with 1 inch stringers screwed into the back for added support warp(cup) about an inch because it was placed directly over a heat vent. The customer actually had the audacity to say it was the Amish craftsmanship that was at fault not thier decision to place it over the heat vent. Like I said education & knowledge is key when it comes to solid wood furniture.

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