Buying a new piece of furniture is a big investment. You’re spending your hard-earned money on this furniture, so of course you want to be sure that it is something that will last for years to come. With Amish hardwood furniture, there is no doubt about durability. Handcrafted with precision and time-honed expertise, a piece of Amish-built furniture can be passed down from generation to generation, but there are some essential bits of care on your part that will keep your hardwood furniture looking beautiful well into the future.
Before we get to talking about caring for your furniture, it’s important to first take a moment to discuss what exactly hardwood furniture is. The basic hardwoods utilized in our furniture are Oak (both Regular-sawn Oak and Quarter-sawn Oak), Cherry, Walnut, Maple (both Hard Maple and Brown/Soft Maple), and Hickory, but some of our vendors also work with Pine, Elm, and Figured Maples such as Curly or Tiger. Each of these woods is then available in a variety of stains, which can be viewed here.
All of the hardwood lumber used in the furniture we offer is air-dried and kiln-dried to control the moisture content. You will find very few places in Amish furniture where anything other than solid hardwood is used. The exceptions are usually the backs of the case goods and the bottoms of drawers, where plywood is often used. The sides of drawers are frequently made from poplar, which is still a quality hardwood, and shelving or decking that is hidden behind doors or face-framing may sometimes be made from poplar or plywood as well.
In addition to a stain or paint which provides the color, our pieces are finished with a catalyzed conversion varnish that sets up hard and is water-, alcohol-, and heat-resistant. This finish is applied using a spraying technique to ensure a smooth, even finish that is free of brush marks.
Everyday Care and Cleaning
The aforementioned finishing makes our furniture resistant to spills and minor mishaps, so there’s no need to sweat the small stuff. You can set a glass of water on a table top without having to worry that the condensation will leave an unsightly white ring on the table; though, of course, we don’t recommend leaving water or any liquid to sit on your wood furniture for an extended period of time.
For everyday cleaning and dusting, a simple damp cloth works well. Regular polishing with a polish that does not contain wax, silicone, solvents, or abrasives is recommended. Our polishing product of choice is Guardsman®.
For small nicks and scratches, there are a number of home remedies that can be used for touch-ups, such as a child's crayon of the appropriate shade or even coffee grounds. There are also many "scratch covering" polishes and touch-up markers available at better hardware stores. Just be sure to apply whatever solution you choose in the same direction as the scratch.
However, we feel it’s also important to mention that solid hardwood furniture is furniture that you can live with. It should be incorporated into your household and used just as vigorously as a favorite sofa. Any incidental scratches or nicks should not be cause for alarm but should serve as a reminder that we buy furniture to be used and with regular use comes a little wear and tear that gives a piece character and endears it to us. Just practicing a few basic care techniques can ensure your furniture wears beautifully for years to come.
The Dos and Don'ts
To make caring for your hardwood furniture as simple possible, there are a few dos and don’ts that you’ll want to keep in mind. Firstly, place your furniture on a flat, even surface. If furniture is left to sit on a surface that is not level, it will wrack permanently out of shape over time, causing drawers or doors to stick or hang unevenly. When moving your furniture, pick it up rather than dragging it across the floor. Dragging furniture stresses joints unnecessarily and can cause them to loosen.
When it comes to cleaning your furniture, always apply your polish to the rag and not directly to the furniture and take care to wipe in the same direction as the grain. Avoid any spray polishes or polishes that contain wax, silicone, or ammonia. As mentioned, we recommend using the Guardsman® range of products for polishing.
Additionally, try to keep any corrosive substances, such as nail polish remover, away from your hardwood furniture as any spills or contact with the wood could ruin the finish. If you do ever spill anything on your furniture, clean it as quickly as possible, using a blotting motion, not a wiping motion.
Be aware: all woods and stains will naturally change color with age and light exposure; in particular, cherry wood and lighter stains will darken noticeably over time. To avoid any undesirable patches or silhouettes on your furniture, be sure to periodically adjust any décor that sits atop the hardwood surface, and in the case of dining tables, rotate any table leaves to ensure even aging.
In terms of the environment, there are a few variables you’ll want to be mindful of. Because wood is a natural material, it swells and shrinks with changes in humidity, and an unstable humidity will cause your furniture to warp, dry out, or crack over time. Ideally, the humidity in your home should be kept between 40% to 45%.
Placing your furniture in direct sunlight will cause the color to fade and may harm the finish. Likewise, don’t place your furniture near a direct source of heat, such as a register; exposure to this kind of heat can cause the furniture to dry out and crack.
Speaking of heat, avoid placing any hot items, such as dishes or even pizza boxes, directly on the surface of your furniture. You should always, when possible, place something over the wood surface to protect it. That means coasters on your coffee table, placemats and tablecloths on your dining table, and felt pads on any piece you might set on your end table or nightstand. But try to avoid using plastic or rubber placemats or tablecloths as these materials could potentially react with and discolor the finish.
Also be mindful that many ceramic items (plates, mugs, etc.) may have an abrasive ring on the bottom where they are unable to be glazed when going into the kiln. These unglazed areas act like a fine sandpaper and can scratch your finish when slid around on a hardwood surface. Using placemats or coasters can help to prevent this type of damage.
Amish hardwood furniture is built to last, but some work on your part is necessary to keep it at its best. We hope this guide can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to best care for your hardwood furniture and ensure that it looks beautiful and functions for your family for years to come. If you have any further questions or would like to learn more about the hardwood furniture available at Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings, feel free to call, email, or visit. Our knowledgeable sales team would be happy to assist you in any way possible.
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