Preserving History: What NOT to Do to Antique Furniture

by | May 6, 2024

Antique furniture holds a unique charm and historical significance that can’t be replicated by modern pieces. Each scratch, dent, and imperfection tells a story, offering a glimpse into the past. However, maintaining antique furniture requires care and attention to ensure its longevity. While there are many things you should do to preserve these treasures, there are also several things you should avoid at all costs. In this blog, we’ll explore some common mistakes people make when caring for antique furniture and why they should be avoided.

Neglecting Regular Cleaning

One of the biggest mistakes people make is neglecting regular antique furniture cleaning. Dust, dirt, and grime can accumulate over time, leading to the wood and finish deterioration. However, harsh cleaning products and abrasive materials should be avoided as they can strip away the patina and damage the surface. Instead, use a soft, dry cloth or a gentle cleaner designed for antique furniture.

Exposing Furniture to Direct Sunlight

Sunlight can incredibly damage antique furniture, causing fading and discoloration of the wood and finish. Avoid placing antique pieces in direct sunlight or near windows exposed to UV rays for prolonged periods. If you must display furniture near windows, consider using curtains or blinds to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays.

Ignoring Environmental Factors

Temperature and humidity fluctuations can wreak havoc on antique furniture, causing the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracks and warping. Avoiding extremes in temperature and humidity is essential to maintaining a stable environment for your antique pieces. Consider investing in a dehumidifier or humidifier to regulate the moisture levels in your home, especially in areas prone to high humidity.


While polishing can enhance the beauty of antique furniture, overpolishing can have the opposite effect, causing a buildup of wax and polish that can dull the finish and attract dust and dirt. Instead of polishing too frequently, opt for occasional waxing using a high-quality paste wax and a soft cloth. Avoid silicone-based polishes, as they can create a cloudy residue that is difficult to remove.

Restoring Without Professional Help

 Attempting to restore antique furniture without the necessary skills and expertise can result in irreversible damage. DIY repairs and refinishing projects can diminish the value of antique pieces and detract from their authenticity. Instead of taking matters into your own hands, consult with a professional antique restorer who can assess the condition of the furniture and recommend appropriate restoration techniques.

Using Improper Storage Techniques

 Storing antique furniture in damp basements or hot attics can spell disaster for its condition. Moisture, pests, and fluctuations in temperature can cause irreparable damage to wood and upholstery. When storing antique pieces, choose a dry, climate-controlled environment away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Use padded covers or blankets to protect furniture from scratches and dust, and avoid stacking pieces on each other to prevent damage.

Neglecting Structural Repairs

 Ignoring structural issues such as loose joints, broken hardware, or missing pieces can lead to further damage over time. It’s essential to address these issues promptly to prevent them from worsening. Consult a professional furniture repair expert who can assess the damage and recommend appropriate repairs to restore the piece’s structural integrity.

Wild Woodworking is Here To Help

Antique furniture requires a delicate balance of preservation and maintenance. At Wild Woodworking, our skilled craftsmen are passionate about preserving the beauty and integrity of antique pieces. Contact us to restore your cherished heirloom or flea market find.