Maintaining Oak Furniture

Oak is a natural, sturdy wood that is often used in furniture pieces. The durability and attractiveness of wood from an oak tree has made it popular among furniture manufacturers and consumers. If you have oak furniture, you can increase its lifespan and maintain its natural beauty by taking some simple measures and precautions.

Cleaning
Natural furniture oil, such as teak, is the most effective cleaner for your oak pieces. Many different oils are available, but your best bet is an oil that cleans and replenishes the wood at the same time. Check the product label to confirm the liquid is meant for oak before use.

You may use inexpensive furniture polishes to clean your wood, but check the polish label to make sure it`s suitable for oak. Furniture polishes may dry your wood out, so look for polishes that both clean and protect.

Don`t use harsh cleaners, such as bleach or ammonia on oak, as the chemicals will damage the wood. Abrasive cleaners can eat at the wood`s surface, causing cracks, streaks and unsightly spots. If you have weak spots or cracks in the oak`s surface, spills and dirt will be very difficult to clean.

Attack any watermarks on the oak as soon as possible. If you absorb moisture as soon as you have a spill, you probably won`t have any noticeable marks left behind. Use a soft, absorbent cloth to soak up moisture. Don`t rub, as you might drive the liquid deeper into the wood.

For spills on your oak furniture you don`t notice until later, you can try using natural removal methods. For instance, rub a small amount of butter into the watermarks and leave overnight. Wipe the butter off the next morning with a soft cloth. The butter should diminish or eliminate watermarks.

Maintenance
Oak usually requires periodic waxing. Waxing helps strengthen the wood`s surface, protecting against cracks, peeling and discoloration. Apply wax following the same direction as the wood`s natural grain and with a soft cloth. Remove the wax by using buffing motions that follow the grain. You can reduce air pockets or streaks by removing the wax using this method.

You may have to wax every three months or each month, depending on the climate. Central heating, for example, will cause the oak to dry out, leaving your furniture more prone to cracks. If you notice wax build-up on your oak furniture, wipe the wood down with mineral spirits. Once it dries, use a wood soap to remove the remaining traces.

You can get a furniture touch-up kit to cover wear and tear or damage from minor accidents. Kits come in different finishes, so make sure you buy a kit that is close to the color of your wood. If you use a touch-up kit but the results are too light, try a second application after the first one dries.

Untreated Wood
If you have untreated oak furniture, you`ll need to wipe the furniture down periodically with furniture oil. You may notice staining over time, caused by the tannin in the wood. Using furniture oil regularly can help reduce staining, especially on outdoor furniture.

Dent Repair
If you have a dent in your oak furniture, you can remove it using water and heat. You must be extremely careful using the water and heat method to avoid causing more damage.

Place a few water drops in the dent. Let the water soak into the dent completely. With the wood still moist, lay a cloth over the dent. Iron the cloth over the dent area with the iron warm but not completely heated. The expansion of the wood, because of the heat, should repair your dent permanently.

If you burn the wood using heat to remove the dent, try rubbing a small bit of toothpaste into the burn. Leave overnight and wipe off the next day. Do not use toothpaste with whitening additives.

Not all wood is created equal. Before you try any maintenance, cleaning or repair methods on your oak furniture, make sure the method or products are suitable for oak wood. While some products and methods will work on different types of pieces, such as pine furniture and oak furniture, others are only for a specific wood type.