Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture Care and Preservation

Antique and heirloom furniture pieces call for special care

Antique and heirloom furniture pieces call for special care

Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture Care and Preservation
Hints for the care and preservation of Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture pieces

Although old furniture pieces may originally have been simply regarded as functional items for daily use their age and value whether monetary or sentimental mean that they warrant special treatment when being maintained or repaired.

This is especially true of valuable antique items.  To maintain their value it is important to use the correct materials and techniques in their care, maintenance and , especially , repair. The use of the correct polishes, adhesives, fasteners and finishes can dramatically affect the value of antique pieces.
Environment considerations for Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture
Warming sunlight streaming through a window can give a room a welcome lift in mood especially in the colder months,. however the effect of sunlight on our furniture, especially on older, antique or fragile items , should be considered.
Sunshine is partly composed of UV or ultraviolet light. UV light can damage antique furniture. The UV rays in sunlight can degrade wood finishes, wood surfaces and fabrics.
The finishes used on Antique furniture are made using natural materials which are less resistant to the effects of UV light than modern synthetic materials.
Old clear finishes can yellow, turn opaque, or crack from exposure to sunlight.
For this reason you should avoid placing antique furniture where it is exposed to strong , direct sunlight.
Curtains or shades can be used to diffuse or block sunlight.
Heating and Cooling Devices The action of the various devices we use to keep our homes comfortable throughout the year can have unexpected effects on Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture
Temperature, airflow and moisture content of the air have effects on your furniture. For this reason it is important to consider the placement of fragile pieces in relation to heating and air conditioning vents, radiators, fireplaces or stoves. Heated airflow can cause shrinking that can loosen joints and cause veneers, inlays and marquetry to buckle and lift..

Air conditioning units change the moisture in the air.
Because changes in the moisture in the air can cause wood to expand and contract we need to be aware of the need for fragile furniture pieces to be kept out of strong air currents from vents or ducts.
Wood expands and contracts as the moisture content, or relative humidity, of the air changes.
This expansion and contraction can cause glue joints to loosen, drawers and doors to jam or become stuck in their apertures
Too much moisture over a long period can result in conditions which favor mold  growth, rot and even insect infestation.

Where a lot of antique furniture pieces are kept in a room it may be considered worthwhile to control the temperature and humidity  in the space in order to minimize the adverse effects that moisture can have on your valuable antique furniture.

Insects and Pests affecting Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture

In addition to wood, Antique furniture may be made from leather, fabrics and upholstery materials such as horsehair. All of these materials can act as a source of food and shelter for various insects and other pests.

Insects such as powderpost beetles eat their way along the grain inside wood until they mature. Mature insects bore their way out of the wood leaving exit holes.
Active infestations can be identified by exit holes and a fine sawdust called frass appearing under the piece of furniture.
Termites stay hidden while they eat wood. Even though they work out of sight, termites leave signs to show that they have been active because the surface of the wood may start to have a “blistered”

appearance. By tapping on the wood and listening for a hollow sound, it is possible to tell by the sound which part of the wood that termites have eaten away the inside of .

As the termites continue to eat, the surface of the wood may start to have a “blistered” appearance. This happens when the termites eat too near the surface of the wood and leave only the paint on the surface.
Active infestations should be isolated as soon as possible and an exterminator and/or conservator should be consulted.

Mice and rats can be attracted to the upholstery materials found in antiques for use when nesting. Rodent activity should be addressed as irreparable damage could result if left unattended.

To take the best care possible of your Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture simply follow these easy steps-
Avoid placing antique furniture in front of a window or direct sunlight.
Avoid placing antiques near air conditioning and heating vents.
Don’t place your antique furniture near fireplaces and stoves.
Blot up spills immediately.
Dust regularly using a lint free cloth.

These simple measures will help to ensure many years of enjoyment of your Antique, Heritage and Heirloom Furniture

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