The Care and Refinishing of Antique Furniture

The Care and Refinishing of Antique Furniture

If you love antique furniture, and even if you don’t but you have a piece that is too good to overlook, there are a few ways you can give your antiques an updated look.  The Appraisal Group offers these tips on:


You know from looking at  furniture if it has been well-regarded enough for the previous owners (and you) to assure it good temperature and humidity by keeping it away from sun glare through windows, away from heating units and fireplaces. If it hasn’t, it’s quite likely you will need to bring it up to snuff. Here are few things you can do.

  1. Control the environment. The optimum temperatures for wood is 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should be about 45-55 percent. You can use a humidifier or dehumidifier. This is important as moderate humidity causes wood to expand and contract and too-high humidity can lead to mold, rot and insects.
  2. Put UV filters on your windows to control sunlight. Heat from baseboard heating,  steam radiators and fireplaces can cause damage to inlays over time. It can encourage joints to loosen and marquetry to crack.
  3. The best policy for cleaning is to toss the Pledge and Lemon oil. Use

    oft, just-moistened cloth to dust. For details on professional cleaning  of oiled finishes, French polishing, Oriental lacquering, Japanning, and polychroming, visit the site of Period Furniture Conservation.

  4. Finally, be careful how you move your furniture. Do not not drag it, even if you plan to place pads under the legs, we repeat, do not drag furniture. Lift it. Use at least two people to carefully lift and position your furniture.

French chairs


  1. Know the quality of the antique or antiques you want to update. An appraisal from The Appraisal Group will indicate whether you simply to refinish and re-upholster or if your collectible is historically important or museum quality. If it is the latter, you will want to take special care to conserve it.
  2. Find a furniture restorer with a good reputation. Like buying a new car or TV, you’ll want to put in the time to do due diligence. You can look for a restorer with a guild affiliation or who has a good reputation on Yelp or Angie’s List and Professional Restorers International.
  3. If you are lucky enough to live in an “antiques town” like New Orleans, you will find a number of independent restorers who work restoration miracles and are great colorists for matching patina.
  4. Double check qualifications, experience and insurance before hiring anyone. Grill him/her on work with valuable antiques and patina matching. Ask to see before and after pictures.
  5. Find out how long you will be without your prized furniture.
  6. If you don’t feel confident with anyone, call David Goldberg at the Appraisal Group. He will speak to the tradesman on your behalf.

Editor’s Note: Today’s featured image is a lovingly preserved Chippendale drop leaf table. It is handled by M.S. Rau Antiques of New Orleans. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *