Maintenance of Wood Finishes

Oiled finishes

These are usually found on modern teak and afrormosia furniture. There are two types: the true oiled finish, which is generally dark in colour, and one in which the timber has been given a sealing coat of lacquer before the application of oil. The second method generally produces a lighter finish than the first.

Maintenance: wipe with a soft, dry, non-fluffy cloth daily. Do not use furniture sprays or polishes.

Remove any slight rings or marks by rubbing lightly with a very fine garnet-paper or flour-paper. Take care, as much furniture is only thinly veneered, however solid it may appear.

Rub a little teak oil into the affected area and allow it to dry for five minutes before rubbing briskly with a dry cloth.

Do not give a general oil application more than twice a year.

Oiled furniture sometimes acquires a dirty, sticky appearance due to frequent and excessive applications of oil. Remove excess oil by rubbing down with pure turpentine, using plenty of cloth to wipe off the dissolved oil. Finally, treat with pure linseed oil or teak oil.

An oiled finish over a thin, lacquer-base coat is best treated with Alna Teak Polish, a Norwegian product readily available in this country, in preference to teak oil. Take care when removing stains and marks not to penetrate to the lacquer. If the film is broken, and the affected area is back to the bare wood, treat it with a thin coat of polyurethane.

Do not use oil, as this would only darken the area.

Allow the polyurethane to dry, rub down with fine steel wool, then treat with Alna Teak Polish.

French polish

Furniture finished by French polishing or with similar shellac-based finishes includes most antique and reproduction furniture, particularly pieces made of mahogany or walnut.

Maintenance: French polish is not heat-proof, so it is essential to protect it from hot plates and dishes with mats. Dust with a dry, soft cloth only. Remove any marks with a slightly damp cloth and polish with a dry one.

After removing any surface marks with a slightly damp cloth, treat the whole piece with a good-quality wax polish. Avoid sprays and creams; some are no doubt excellent, but many are positively harmful to much furniture.

There is no need to apply polish more frequently than about once a month ; more furniture suffers from too much polishing than from too little.

Cellulose and lacquer

Most mass-produced furniture made between 1930 and 1955, with the exception of reproduction pieces, is finished with a cellulose-based lacquer. This can usually be recognised by the heavy build-up of finish and the glossy appearance. Some furniture is still finished in cellulose, but the better-quality modern furniture is either oiled, as teak and some afrormosia, or has a matt, synthetic lacquer finish.

Maintenance: a slightly damp cloth will remove food from dining and coffee tables. Do not allow moisture to remain on the surface but wipe it off immediately with a dry cloth.

Apart from this, only dusting is needed, but cellulose finishes are not heat-resistant and must be treated with care.

Both cellulose and lacquer finishes can, if desired, be treated periodically with a good-quality wax polish, but this will give a shine to matt surfaces. Do not use sprays or creams, and avoid over-polishing.

These surfaces can often be improved by applying a very light coat of thin oil, such as olive oil, or linseed oil thinned with pure turpentine. This enhances the richness of the colour without giving a high polish as wax would do. Polish it afterwards with a dry cloth.

Plastic laminates

Plastic laminates (Formica, Arborite, etc.) are made from layers of resin-impregnated paper, bonded under high temperature and pressure into a rigid sheet.

Decorative laminates for use in the home are sold in standard-sized sheets, 1.5 mm. (1/16 in.) thick and usually 2440 x 1220 mm. (8 x 4 ft). Pieces of laminate can also be cut to order, although the comparative price may be up to 50 per cent greater than that of standard sheets.

The range of decorative effects includes plain colours, patterns, wood grains and abstract designs, with either matt or gloss finishes.

Laminates can be used on any flat and dry surfaces that will provide an adequate key for the adhesive: chipboard, block-board and plywood are ideal. Rub painted and varnished surfaces down to the bare wood before sticking laminates in position.

Boards covered with laminate should be backed with a cheap backing veneer to counter the pull of the laminate, which might warp the board. It is best to back all laminate-covered surfaces, but it is not so necessary when the board is to be firmly attached to a frame.

A number of adhesives are suitable for fixing laminates, the best for normal household use being rubber-based contact adhesives. Moisture and heat-resistant adhesives are also available: you should consult your retailer on the most suitable for your purpose.

Although laminates are resistant to normal household wear, they can be damaged by extremes of heat, certain household chemicals and abrasives and by heavy knocks. Do not put dishes and pans straight from the oven on to a laminate as they will scorch or blister it.

Cigarettes and electric irons may also cause damage. Some chemicals, such as caustic soda, hydrogen peroxide, and certain cleaners and bleaches containing chlorine, may stain the surface: the best policy is to wipe up any spillage as it occurs. Also avoid using harsh abrasives, knives, sharp implements and polishes on laminate.

Some manufacturers make a special flexible edging strip, in a limited range of colours, for finishing the edges of table tops etc. If you intend using edging strip, make sure before buying your main sheet of laminate that the strip is available in the colour and width that you want.

Alternatives to plastic laminate edging are plastic or aluminium decorative edging, such as Claylastic and Herzim. These are made in a variety of patterns and are glued on, fitted into grooves or screwed on, the screw holes being covered by inserted plastic strips.

29. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Treatments and Finishes, Woodworking | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Maintenance of Wood Finishes

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