5 Tips to Best Maintain Your Antique Furniture

Written by Jackie Norris
Updated June 15, 2021
wood chairs
Older wood furniture needs proper care to maintain its natural beauty. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Learn how to care for the antiques in your home so these older furniture pieces will look their best for years to come. It's simpler than you may think.

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It's not easy staying beautiful when you're more than 100 years old, especially if you've been sitting in a basement or attic for the last few decades.

That's where antique expert and restorer Alan Grahn, who owns Grahn's Inc. in Minneapolis with his wife, Nancy, can help. He offers some professional advice to keep your antique furniture in great shape.

1. Protect from harmful elements. Excessive heat, moisture and direct sunlight can do a lot of damage to furniture.

"Try to maintain a constant humidity [of no more than 40 to 60 percent]," Alan recommends. "Wide swings in humidity cause joints to loosen and sunlight causes colors to fade and finishes to crack."

2. Apply Murphy's Oil Soap.  Following the instructions on the bottle and you'll have a great mixture to clean dirty wood surfaces.

3. Avoid linseed and lemon oils. It may be tempting to use these products but they coat the wood and attract more dirt. Also steer clear of Pledge, which contains silicone and leaves a hard-to-remove film.

"Pledge causes problems for the refinisher," Grahn says.

4. Use a paste wax. About once a year apply paste wax to add sheen and protect against pollutants and moisture.

"Be sure to remove the excess wax [to avoid buildup]," Grahn says.

5. Entrust your damaged antiques to a pro. Skimping on repairs can negatively impact your piece's value.

"Untrained amateurs seem to think all they need to do is squirt glue on the joints," says Grahn, who charges $60 per hour for restoration. "A crude and ineffectual repair is almost always worse than no repair at all."

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