Because of their age and rarity, monetary or sentimental value, antique furnishings require different care to preserve their beauty and integrity. Inadequate storage spaces, improper handling, cleaning products, which are not designed for antiques, and also poor placement are just a few of the reasons that will surely cause damages to your precious furniture. Sadly, unlike other pieces around your home most of antique pieces simply cannot be replaced.
If you have sofa, carpets, chairs, tables, or even accessories with antique value read carefully through these 7 maintenance tips that will make them last longer.
Protect Antiques from Direct Sunlight
Direct light is extremely damaging to antique furniture and paintings of any kind. The sunlight causes wood parts, finish, and upholstery fabric to fade or turn yellow, so the best you can do is to avoid placing such items in the sunny spots of your house. If you have antiques pieces located near your windows, put thick blinds or drapes and keep them closed or use coverings on the furnishings to block out sunlight. Re-arrange and rotate antiques which may already have been exposed to the direct sunlight to prevent further fading of the colours and deterioration. The same applies to natural fibred and dyed Oriental rugs – don’t place them near windows, unless there’s a thick curtain to protect them.
Re-arrange and Move with Care
Antique furniture and accessories should be handled really carefully when you move or re-arrange them. Better lift the pieces instead of dragging them to avoid weakening of legs, joints, or feet. Lift chairs by their seat, not the by the armrests and move old tables by holding the aprons instead of their legs or tabletops. When opening antique desk’s drawers, gently pull it using both knobs or pulls instead of just one. If the drawers are stuck, or don’t roll smoothly take care of this by using proper lubricant. Always use old blanket or sheet as padding when you have to move antique, especially when placing another piece of furniture right next to it or on top of it when the furnishings are being transported into a moving vehicle.
Prevent Water and Other Surface Damage
The best you can do is to avoid placing food or drinks on your old furniture. If you still want to use your antique table, use placemats, coasters and pot-holders to prevent moisture or heat from spoiling the surface. When moving or placing decorative items or accessories on antique tabletops and shelves, lift them instead of dragging or sliding them when putting them on the new locations. If you have valuable antique carpet don’t place any potted plants on it, because there’s a risk of dye bleeding and even professional carpet cleaners can’t help you with such problem.
Clean Antiques Properly
Old furniture should be cleaned very carefully only with designed specially for antiques. Pay attention particularly to the finish on your furnishings in order to select the most appropriate products for cleaning and maintaining antiques. If you’re not sure about what cleaner to buy, turn to professional for advice. Both restoration experts and antique dealers will know which products are most suitable and will be able to recommend the best for your furniture.
As a general rule, most oils for furniture and polishes based on silicone should be avoided. Along with the fact that they leave residue behind, they often damage the furniture finish when used over for a long period of time, leaving the wooden surfaces more prone to marks and scratches. Most experts recommend using a soft, slightly damp towel or cloth to wipe off surface dust. This should be followed by a light coating of furniture wax to restore your furnishings’ luster. After applying a thin coat of the polishing wax, gently buff the surfaces with another, dry soft cloth by light circular motions. When you need to clean a valuable carpet, rug, or antique upholstered furniture better turn to experts, because all of the antiques carpets are made from natural materials and dyes and require special care.
Keep Antique Furniture Away from Heat
Heat dries out antique furniture, causing irreparable damages. Put or store your furniture far away from fireplaces, stoves, vents, or heat sources of any sort to prevent your timeless furnishings from loosening up or shrinking from the heat.
Store Antiques in Dry Conditions
Like heat, humidity is factor that compromises the condition of your antiques. Never store your antique furniture in humid storage facilities or rooms. Excessive moisture causes wood to mould or rot – so keep your antiques furniture and accessories out of humid areas or use dehumidifiers when it’s necessary. This applies also to valuable Persian or Tabriz rugs, because their natural fibres easily rot and deteriorate when left in humid rooms.
Restoration Is Also an Option
Since antique furnishings are not immune to damage and deterioration, there will come the time when one of your treasured pieces will require attention or repair. If this happens to you, you might want to think of proper restoration. Before fixing your furniture or doing any type of restoration yourself, do some thorough research and find out if the task is within your capabilities. Restoration is irreversible process, so if you don’t feel secure enough tackling such an important project by yourself, seek the help of a professional antique restoration atelier. Consult a trustable restoration experts, because they can at least give you an advice and go over all the possible restoration options. Although restoration sometimes is the best decision, speaking in terms of condition of your antiques, you should think carefully before taking that step because it will forever alter the history of the item.
When stored, handled and cleaned properly, antique pieces can survive many decades and even centuries, each of them carrying unique history that will be appreciated and valued by heirs and collectors alike.