14 Apr 2021
August 23, 2013 - Filed under: Antiques Advice — Harriet

Antique cabinets can be extremely valuable and to retain that value, they should be cared for correctly. Incorrect storage or use of the wrong type of cleaning product can damage antique furniture and reduce the value. There are a few rules to follow when caring for antique cabinets, to enhance their beauty and also retain the value.

Storing an antique cabinet

Fluctuations in humidity and room temperature can cause damage to antique cabinets and other furniture. Storage next to central heating radiators or in a room which is damp or too dry can cause excessive damage to a valuable piece of furniture. Antique cabinets that have survived centuries in unheated conditions can be severely damaged by being stored in a centrally heated room, even over a period of a couple of years. The veneer from wood may lift and become detached from the furniture if stored in an area with low humidity levels, like a centrally heated room. A dry atmosphere can cause joints to become loose, wood to crack, doors and drawers to warp and fail to close correctly, among other problems.

Sunlight can also cause problems, so antique cabinets should not be stored in a room where they will be in direct sunlight. The prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the wood to dry out, destroy the surface polish and cause colours to fade, possibly unevenly.

How to prevent problems when storing antique cabinets

Rather than repair problems when they have already occurred, prevention is advised. Create humidity in the room where the antique cabinet is stored by hanging a humidifier on a radiator, or placing a bowl of water close to the cabinet. A good humidifier will prevent damage to antique furniture by maintaining the humidity levels at the correct percentage, which is around 50 to 55 per cent. Avoid placing an antique cabinet close to a radiator to avoid excessive heat exposure. If the room where you are storing the cabinet is particularly bright and sunny, consider installing window blinds or closing curtains at the sunniest times of the day. Turn antique cabinets periodically to avoid excessive fading of colours in just one area of an item. Any kind of excessive heat may cause damage to an antique cabinet, including from air vents, fireplaces, stoves and radiators.

Cleaning your antique cabinet

On a regular basis, clean the antique cabinet with a soft lint free cloth, dampening it a little so that it doesn’t scratch the wood surface. Avoid silicone-based polish and furniture oils, as both may leave a residue that is hard to remove. Furniture paste wax may be used sparingly to avoid a build-up. Apply a thin layer of wax and polish the cabinet. The wax will help to protect the antique furniture from dust and moisture, although it needs to be reapplied and polished a couple of times a year.

General care of antique cabinets

Don’t store antique furniture of any kind close to a heat source, damp conditions or direct sunlight. Any spills on the antique cabinet should be wiped immediately, while an annual application of wax will keep the item in good condition.

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