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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.