Wood fixtures and furnishings are full of character, and they can last for generations when properly cared for. However, it doesn’t take long for wood to start showing its wear—especially when its previous caretakers weren’t inclined to go to any great lengths to preserve it.
One of the great things about wooden décor is that it can be salvaged. In fact, there are entire movements among interior designers founded on the belief that nothing is too old or defunct to be repurposed and used to decorate a house. Specifically, the art of up-cycling is all about turning waste materials into products with high aesthetic value. The Upcyclist website is a good place to start to learn more about this design trend.
Up-cycling is only one of many approaches you can take to make the most of wooden décor in an old house. Whether your family has lived in your house for generations, or you’ve recently acquired a Victorian-era fixer-upper, take solace in the fact that old wooden fixtures can often be beautifully restored. And better still, you can typically get by on a very modest budget.
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Let’s get started by looking at some of the types of damage you can expect to see on antique wood furnishings:
- Water damage
- Worn finish
There are certainly other types of damage that could be addressed as well. To be fair, we’re going to look specifically at a few of the most easily remedied problems that you might encounter with wooden décor in an old house.
So with no further delay, here are a few tips and tricks for maximising the life and beauty of antique wooden furniture:
Removing Water Damage
When a wooden surface gets wet, it may become stained with white marks. White, ring-shaped stains are common signs that glasses have been set on a table without coasters or placemats. What has actually occurred here is that water vapour has penetrated the finish. You can usually remove these stains with a clean cloth dampened with de-natured alcohol. Just bear in mind that this could serve to further dull the finish.
Restoring Antique Furniture
You can spend time filling in dings and scratches, wiping away water damage and adding new finishes to old furniture. However, there are certain antique pieces that deserve better than that. Tables, chairs and even some wood panelling can be transformed through the work of a talented restorer.
If you really want to pull out all of the stops, call a professional out to your house to inspect the furniture sets and wood panelling that you are dealing with. This person will be able to tell you whether or not a French polisher is needed in your situation. This is labour-intensive work and isn’t the sort of task that an amateur would want to attempt. However, this process can work wonders on older pieces of wood, and in many cases the final product more than justifies calling out the professionals.
Repairing Scratches and Gouges
To repair scratches, dings and gouges, you’ll need a few basic tools. These include the following:
- Felt-tip touch-up marker
- Wax stick
- Wax paste
If the scratch or gouge took some of the finish off, then you may need to begin with a touch-up marker to restore the colour. However, before you complete that step, check to see if the gouge has a burr or raised area around its perimeter. If so, sand this down before touching up the colour.
After that, fill the gouge with wax from the wax stick. Bear in mind that you may need to mix different coloured sticks together to achieve the right blend. Finally, go over the top with wax paste to seal it back up. For a much more thorough explanation of how to make these repairs, check out this guide on restoring wooden antique furniture.
Painting Wooden Floors
This is understandably an area in which people have trouble being convinced. Even so, when the floors of your house are severely worn-down, stained and splintered, you might want to consider painting them rather than running the flooring through a lengthy and expensive restoration process. If you need more convincing, have a look at Bob Vila’s treatise on painted wood floors.
Madeline Varley is writing in behalf of Oakdene Finishes, a company in the UK that is dedicated to catering to the needs of those looking for quality though affordable decorating and floor sanding. They also handle cases where a French polisher is needed.