Category Archives: Furniture Care

Choosing the Best Wax, Polish & Oil for Oak Furniture

We all want to extend the life of our furniture, right?

Fortunately, quality oak furniture is an investment that can easily last a lifetime when you treat it right.

Even better, solid oak is easy to look after…just a little TLC ensures your furniture looks good as new for many years to come.

Oak furniture responds well to wax, polish, and oil. But how exactly do you pick the best waxing, polishing and oiling products for your prized pieces?

Read on to learn the tricks to keeping your oak looking its best.

All About Protecting Your Oak Furniture

Oak is one of the most attractive, durable and elegant woods you can find for furniture. As a hardwood tree, it’s strong, yet easy to work with. This is what makes it a highly popular choice for dining tables, cabinets, beds, wardrobes and more.

Protecting wood furniture typically refers to maintaining its finish. Oak furniture pieces are typically oiled, waxed or lacquered.

It’s important to find out how your furniture has been finished, so you can determine the best way to care for it.

But once you find out the finish, how do you know which product to use and when?

Wax for Solid Oak Furniture

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Waxing wood furniture takes a little elbow grease/ Image via The Family Handyman

Oak furniture that has been finished with oil or wax should be re-waxed every six months to a year, according to how much wear your furniture gets. Waxing oak wood helps to protect the grain and keep the wood from cracking.

But before you get busy with the beeswax…

Better Homes and Gardens cautions that learning how to properly wax a piece of oak furniture helps eliminate any streaks of product build-up that can result in a cloudy appearance.

To keep your oak wood looking shiny and fresh, apply wax in light layers, working with the grain and rubbing into the surface.

It’s not enough to make little movements; you need to put some effort into it, moving firmly with the grain. Leave the wax for five minutes and then wax it off again by buffing, again making firm movements with the grain of the wood.

Interiors site The Kitchn suggests you polish with a hard, carnauba wax to make it shine. Use “two of those soft, lint-free cloths: one to apply the wax and another to polish. It will take some real elbow grease, but thankfully this task only needs to be done about twice a year.”

In addition, you can use a finisher that adds an extra layer of beeswax and covers up any small scratches your furniture may have sustained.

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Buffing with wax for a lustrous finish/ Image via The Briwax Guy

Choosing Your Oak Wood Wax

Choose a hard wax product made with beeswax, carnauba wax, or a combination of the two. For example, Briwax is a multi-purpose furniture wax that is ideal for use on oak wood.

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Briwax, a popular Wood wax/ Image via Amazon

You need an oak wax that produces a lustrous finish, not simply a surface shine that dulls within a few hours, and Briwax fits the bill. You can use this and other good quality oak wax products on new oak furniture, or on old furniture you are reconditioning.

Polishing Your Oak Furniture

When your oak furniture has a glossy finish it is typically sealed with a lacquer that helps to protect the wood and maintain its shiny appeal. It is easy to care for with a little polish.

First, wiping down the surface with a damp cloth removes dirt and surface debris. You could simply stop at this point, as you will have removed the dirt that causes dullness and marks. But to really bring shine and life to your furniture, it helps to use a polish.

Choosing a Wood Polish

When choosing an oak wood polish, look for something without harsh chemicals and solvents that could damage the wood over time and affect people in the room who suffer from breathing difficulties. You should also look for a product that makes the wood smell attractive, and something that is easy to use whether you spray it or buff it on with a soft cloth.

Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner helps to preserve the finish of oak wood and contains natural oils to stop the wood from drying out.

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Polishing with an oil-based wood conditioner/ Image via ebay

Or you could go green, with a product that steers clear of toxins completely. Better Life Oak-y Dokey Wood Cleaner & Polish is naturally scented with cinnamon and lavender essential oils and is ideal for veneers, antique wood and regular oak wood furniture. The formula is hypoallergenic, making it great for allergy-sufferers, and it helps to remove dust, dirt and surface marks.

Oiling Natural Oak Furniture

Oak and wood furniture may be finished with oil, providing a glossy finish and a shiny tone. The finish of oiled oak wood lasts a long time but if the furniture begins to look a little dried-out, you should consider re-oiling it.

Re-oiling a piece of oak furniture involves taking away the existing wax layer, reapplying oil, and re-waxing the surface.

Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it really does prolong the life of the furniture and makes it gleam.

To re-oil furniture, remove the existing wax with turpentine or naphtha. Then use steel wool or sand paper to prepare the surface for the new coating of oil, working with light pressure and with the grain of the wood.

Wood Finishes Direct says that:

“If oak is being oiled it is a good idea to sand it with a sandpaper that is no finer than 150 grit. The reason for this is that the pores of the wood are more open thus allowing the oil to sink into the wood better. Better absorption equals greater protection.”

Next, apply the oil to your wood. Allow it to soak into the oak for around 15 minutes. Using a soft cotton cloth, wipe off any excess. Let the furniture set for around 24 hours and then apply wax to the surface, re-waxing as described above.

Choosing an Oil for Your Oak

The best oil for oak wood is a boiled linseed oil, a Tung oil, or a combination of both.

Boiled Linseed Oil by Furniture Clinic is one high quality product on the market, containing boiled linseed oil to form a tough and hard-wearing finish on the wood. The finish is glossy and durable, and it is safe to use on all types of oak wood apart from exterior items.

The Hope Company 100% Tung Oil is another good option. Tung oil is imported from South America and penetrates deep into the oak wood, curing the wood and providing a durable and slightly glossy finish.

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Oil your wood with a product like Tung Oil/ Image via Wal-Mart

A Word About Dusting

Once you have finished and protected your wood with oil, polish or wax, Better Homes and Gardens reminds you to not forget about dusting – “Frequent dusting removes airborne deposits that build up in a filmy layer and can scratch the surface.” Use clean, dry, soft cloths or a feather duster to remove dust but if you don’t want it to immediately resettle, slightly dampen the surface of the cloth.

Taking care of your oak furniture with a few simple steps like this ensures your beautiful tables, chairs, and cabinets give you joy for years to come.

wood stain tips

How to Treat Stains in Oak Furniture

One of the joys of oak furniture is that it is long lasting, durable, and timeless. These are investment pieces that will be part of your home for many years. One of the challenges with that though is that the day-to-day wear of using your oak furniture can start to take it’s toll – stains, marks, scratches can all make your furniture look a little less than loved. Of course oak furniture is designed to age, so some discolouration or small distressed patches are perfectly natural and can add some real character to your furniture, but in this article we take a look at some of the steps you can take to remove any unsightly marks or stains.

Act fast

If you see a water spill or notice that a mark or stain has developed on your oak furniture, it is best to act straight away. The longer you leave a stain the hard it becomes to remove. If you’ve tried wiping the furniture with a soft cloth and the mark is still there, mix up a small amount of baking soda with water and gently apply this to the stained area, buffing it carefully. This should be sufficient for addressing most small or fresh stains.

Toothpaste or Baking Soda?

baking sodaIf you don’t have any baking soda handy, another very effective way of rescuing your oak furniture from marks or stains is a humble tube of toothpaste. You need a basic white toothpaste, no fancy gels or whitening agents. Gently rub the toothpaste onto the affected area and gently buff away. Be careful not to rub too hard or apply the toothpaste too vigorously, you run the risk of damaging the wood beyond repair. There is a bit of debate as to whether toothpaste or baking soda is a better stain remover on oak furniture – you will get slightly results depending on the finish used on the wood. Perhaps use a diluted baking soda mix as your starting option and then step it up to the toothpaste treatment if you need something a bit more serious.

How to Remove Water Stains

Dukes_MayoOne of the most common stains that is suffered by oak furniture are water stains. Overflow from plant pots, water rings from vases, or just a spill that has seeped through your table cloth – all of these can leave a mark on your sideboard or oak coffee table. The remedy for this will depend a bit on the wood and the finish of your furniture. Some of the best methods we’ve seen recently include using a hair dryer (hold a several centimeters away for about 20 minutes while buffing with a cloth); mayonnaise (smear it on for at least four hours, wipe off); or a mixture of lemon oil and alcohol (wipe it on and then immediately buff it off).

Make sure you test!

Before embarking on any cleaning or repair work, ensure that you do a little test patch on a hidden part of your furniture just to be sure that what you are planning won’t damage the furniture in any way.

Don’t let small stains diminish the beauty and impact of your oak furniture. With a few simple hints and tips you can ensure that your pieces are always looking at their best.

Furniture Polish

How to Care for Oak Furniture

Furniture CareMarch 26, 2014

If you’re the fortunate owner of some prestigious oak furniture, it’s important to learn how to care for your pieces so that they age like a fine wine. It’s not difficult; just some simple maintenance and smart choices will keep your pieces looking fantastic. Your oak furniture will get more gorgeous with each passing year, gaining character. Let’s start with the basics.

Step 1: Assess Your Style Goals & Placement

If your oak furniture is located indoors, you should stick with specialized oils and waxes (beeswax is a popular choice) to protect the surface from things like cracking and stains. It should also be kept away from heaters or anything else that puts out high temperature/humidity/bright light.

Outdoor oak pieces should be a) maintained with ideally all-natural lemon oil, b) kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible and c) waterproofed and stained with an oil-based stain.

Is your oak furniture treated or untreated? Are you trying to maintain a sleeker refined look, or are you going for something a bit on the rustic side? Obviously one requires more maintenance than the other. Some people don’t mind all the dings, nicks, scratches and fading because later on they’ll have it professionally restored and cleaned, or they like the more distressed style.

Once you assess your goals with the piece and where you keep it and then move on to step 2.

Step 2: Create a Cleaning Schedule

Try to maintain a dusting/cleaning schedule of once a week. Oiling or waxing treatments can be bi-monthly at first and then become less frequent in time as the furniture gains an identity. A few tips:

  • Always clean with the grain, not against it so that you avoid scratching the finish. (Unless that’s the look you’re going for.) Some owners don’t mind a more worn look around the edges.

  • Don’t use water if it’s a treated piece or you could end up with unsightly water marks in the finish. Try to keep it as dry as possible. A lightly dampened soft towel or sponge for the grimy parts is fine, but they shouldn’t be soaked/dripping.

Treating water stains, other types of stains and nasty spills can get complicated depending on your particular furniture. Depending on the nature of the stain, there are many different home remedies to consider. You can do a little research and find out which one is right for you depending on the look you want and the type of wood/finish you’ve got.

Step 3: Pick Your Products Wisely

There are basically only three types of finishes to consider. You should always look for natural and non-toxic ingredients that are good for oak: oil, lacquer and wax. Generally, oil/lacquer are going to be the easiest to care for (just a clean cloth/dusting once a week and bi-monthly treatments for the first couple years). The big difference is that while an oil finish is water resistant, lacquer is not.

A wax finish needs to be touched up periodically, and this all depends on the piece itself and it’s own individual nuances. No matter which one you go with you need to pick products that aren’t going to actually damage your wood.

Stay away from cheaper products that are stuffed with harmful chemicals. Instead choose the older and reliable oils, waxes and cleaning products with a proven track record of not only cleaning oak, but enhancing its look.. Even for those that are after a rustic aged look, you should still give your oak furniture regular TLC. Your pieces are true assets that require proper care so they last for generations to come!

Note – Oak Furniture Company applies a special protective veneer coating to all pieces to drastically reduce the need for frequent cleaning/maintenance. You can read more in our Oak Furniture Care Guide.

Image Credit:

“Dusty” by Andy Melton

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