A dining room table is an interesting piece of furniture, isn’t it? In some homes, it’s rarely used...
How to Extend the Life of Your Wood Table
You’ve been enjoying your wood table for some time now. Perhaps it’s a dining table that brings your family together for meals, or maybe it’s a coffee table that allows you to put your feet up, set down your wine and relax at the end of a long day.
Your table looks great in your home, the finish is amazing, and you use it every day. It’s exactly what you were looking for and perfect for your space! You definitely don’t want a new one, but how can you make sure your table stays as good as new for years to come?
There isn’t a ton of maintenance required with a high-quality wooden table. It was built to last - and last for generations! But whether it’s a dining table, occasional table, cocktail, or coffee table, there are a few things you can do so you’ll have that perfectly built piece for as long as possible.
At McElheran’s Furniture + Design, we’ve been furnishing rooms for life since 1994. And yes, we do have plenty of tables in our showroom for you to choose from, but you already have what you need, don’t you? We’ll definitely be here when you want to make your next furniture purchase, but for right now, we just want to make sure that you get the most out of the table you currently have!
In this article, our in-house designers, known as Design Guides, will take you through the regular maintenance of your wood table to keep it good as new. We’ll also touch on tips for extending the life of your table, and any external elements you should be aware of that could affect its life span.
Before we get into it, we should note that caring for your wood table is not meant to be a painstaking endeavour. These are just little things you can do here and there, but they make a huge difference ensuring you will enjoy your table for many years (maybe even generations) to come.
What regular maintenance should I be doing with my wooden table?
Dust is made up of thousands of little particles and dirt. It may seem like an annoyance more than an actual threat to your table, but one of the biggest culprits of tiny scratches on your wood furniture is from dust build-up!
You may have a dusting routine that works for you but be mindful of certain factors that increase dust. Perhaps your house is a new build, and there’s a lot of construction in your neighbourhood - that will certainly kick up more dust and dirt!
When it's cold and dry in the winter, carpets and linens in your home can shed and add to the debris floating around and collecting on your wood furniture.
And speaking of shedding, yes, your pets and their dander may require you to dust a bit more regularly to keep your wooden furniture clean and damage-free.
Wipe with a damp cloth
To keep up with fingerprints and smudges (and the natural oils that come with it), crumbs, or any other little spills, it’s never a bad thing to wipe your wood table down regularly!
All you really need is a dampened, soft, microfibre cloth or a cotton cloth (even an old t-shirt would work), followed by a wipe with a dry cloth. And try not to use too much water! Using too much water can get under the finish, leaving smears or streaks over time. And if the finish is wearing off, the table may start to absorb the overabundance of water and swell.
You can use wood cleaners, too, but read the directions carefully! Understanding the type of wood you have, the finish, and the effect those cleaners can have on your wooden surfaces will help you determine if you should use them.
At McElheran's, we recommend Guardsman Clean & Polish for Wood Furniture. It cleans and polishes your wood while protecting it from discolouration.
Monitor the humidity in your home
Knowing how humid your home is and adjusting the humidity accordingly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your wooden furniture from warping, swelling, or cracking. Now, all solid wood furniture will shift a little as seasons and climate change, but monitoring humidity will keep those shifts to a minimum.
Humidity in the 35% to 55% range would be best for your wooden table, and you can keep that in check with a humidifier.
What else can I do so my wood furniture lasts a long time?
Use coasters, placemats, and protective surfaces
PHOTO CREDIT: JomYudh/Adobe Stock
Using things like coasters, hot pads, and placemats will protect your wood table from rings and heat damage.
The look is certainly not for everyone, but a tablecloth would protect the surface of your table, too. However, if you bought your table to show off the craftsmanship and artistry, a tablecloth may not be the best option for you.
If you do any sort of cutting or meal prep on your table, it’s good to lay down a cutting board so you don’t cut into the wood.
And if you do any work at the table, like writing, homework, or drawing, be sure to add an extra layer of protection. Even just a place mat should be fine! This will reduce the impact and impressions from whatever you’re doing.
Clean up messes as soon as possible
Not trying to sound like your mother here, but the truth is, some messes and spills could damage your wood. The moisture, oil, and acidity with certain food matter and other liquids could react poorly with the finish of your table if not taken care of in a timely manner.
Read up on the warranty on your table
There may be some care and maintenance recommendations under your table’s warranty or helpful cleaning tips. It’s also good to know the guidelines of your warranty before you take any sort of major action into your own hands.
Be careful of what you’re putting on your table
A table’s main function is for you to put stuff on it, so we’d never tell you to stop doing that. Just be mindful of jagged and sharp edges, like keys or pens, that could nick or scratch a table.
Don’t forget about your leaf
If your table (specifically a dining table) has a leaf or two, put them in once in a while. Even when there’s no need for extra seating. This will ensure that your leaf will have even wear since it will be used and cleaned with the rest of the table.
And, again, wooden furniture is susceptible to shifting, so throwing your leaves in occasionally will ensure that they still fit!
When your leaves are removed, they should be stored close to your table, so you know the humidity is relatively the same.
What are the external factors that can increase the wear of your table?
If your wood table is in direct sunlight on a regular basis, the UV rays can warp the wood, bubble the surface, and affect the wood’s moisture, leading to cracks. If possible, put your table away from a window or close your blinds during the hot and sunny hours of the day.
Strong sources of heat
Portable heaters and fireplaces that give off intense, concentrated heat can wreak havoc on your wooden table if they’re too close to one another. Similar to the effects of sunlight, too much heat could cause your table to warp and over-dry, which could lead to cracking.
Wood is a living, breathing material, and because of that, it expands and shrinks depending on its environment. Humidity changes with the season or if you move somewhere with a different climate.
This is just something to be aware of more than anything. Your wooden table - especially if it’s solid wood - will shift from time to time, but will usually expand or contract back to its original structure.
It’s hard to stay mad at them for long, but pets can affect the life span of your furniture. With wooden tables, they might gnaw on parts of it or hop up on the surface, leaving dirt or scratches. And no matter how diligent you are about training your pets to stay off the table, they may be harder to control when you’re not home! (Sneaky little things, aren’t they?)
How long should my wood table last?
Your high-quality wood table should last you, well, a really long time – upwards of a lifetime! You’re in it for the long haul, especially if you’re taking the steps to care for the wood and maintain it through the years.
Particularly if your table is solid wood, that’s a piece that you should be able to pass down from generation to generation. Read more about the durability of solid wood with 5 Reasons to Buy Canadian-made Solid Wood Furniture.
And if you’re perfectly happy with your current wood table, maybe it’s time to update some of the furniture around it! Browse our products to find inspiration and schedule a visit to McElheran’s. Our Design Guides look forward to guiding you through your next furniture purchase when the time is right for you.