Protect your wood finishes with these tips, tricks, and trouble-shooting methods.
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To keep your wood floors and furniture in fine form, pay attention to their finishes, not just the tree they came from. Read on to learn how to get all your goods gleaming.
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This durable varnish, the most common finish on post-1970s wood floors and staircases, forms a thick coating that fends off stains and scratches. Learn how to care for your polyurethane wood floors and furniture.
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Bare wood develops a lovely patina as it oxidizes, but it can also quickly pick up marks and stains. Learn how to care for unfinished wood floors and furniture.
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Oil and wax create a warm natural luster, but these finishes are susceptible to other oils and grease. Learn how to care for oil/wax wood floors and furniture.
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This common coating on antique furniture may show white rings when moisture or heat upset the wax atop the finish. Learn how to care for shellac wood floors and furniture.
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Paint can give inexpensive, but useful pieces of furniture new life, but need to be cared for like bare wood.
To prep the floor for painting, you must first give the entire surface a light sanding with 100-to-120-grit abrasive paper (always wear a mask), both to remove any old finish and to rough up the surface so the primer will adhere. Sand off stubborn stains or raised areas with 180-to-320-grit paper. Vacuum the floor when you’re done, then go over it with a tack cloth -- available at paint and hardware stores -- to remove any remaining dust. (Or use a damp cloth, but let the whole floor dry thoroughly before priming.) Last, add a coat of primer to seal the area; once it’s dry, you’re ready to paint.
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Lacquer is what you'll find on most commercially produced pieces, however overexposure to heat or sun can cause this finish to dent or chip. Learn how to care for lacquer wood floors and furniture.
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Reclaimed wood could be anything but, so be sure to ask about the piece's true origins. Learn more about selecting reclaimed wood.
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Wax On, Wax Off
It may seem like an old-fashioned chore, and it’s true that modern wood floors and furniture finished with lacquer or polyurethane don’t require it. But waxing provides a vital protective barrier for delicate oiled, waxed, or shellacked surfaces. Once or twice a year, apply wax (use a microcrystalline one, such as Regency, for shellacked antiques; blended paste waxes, such as Butcher’s, are for floors) with a clean cotton cloth folded into a square pad; a toothbrush can help work it into curves and moldings. Let it dry 10 to 20 minutes, then buff it out with another cloth, taking care to remove all the wax. You’ll know you need to wax again when buffing no longer restores the sheen.