Tips to maintain antique furniture
Caring for your heirlooms It's not easy staying beautiful when you're more than 100 years old. We discussed antique furniture maintenance with a professional restorer, Alan Grahn, who owns Grahn's Inc. in Minneapolis with his wife, Nancy. His advice:
Protect your heirlooms from excessive heat, moisture and direct sunlight. "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."
Apply Murphy's Oil Soap, mixed as directed on the bottle, to clean dirty wood surfaces.
Resist the urge to use linseed and lemon oils, which 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.
Use a paste wax about once a year to add sheen and protect against pollutants and moisture. "Be sure to remove the excess wax [to avoid buildup]," Grahn says.
Don't hesitate to entrust your damaged antiques to a pro, as 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."