How to care for antique wood furniture

With proper care and maintenance, preserve the beauty of your antique wooden furniture for years to come. In this guide, we'll share helpful advice for caring for antique wood furniture, addressing issues like woodworm, recommending top treatment products, and providing advice on waxing, removing scratches, and caring for both varnished and unvarnished raw wood furniture.

Addressing Woodworm

Woodworm is a common issue in antique furniture, caused by the larvae of various wood-boring beetles.

We treat all wooden furniture that has signs of woodworm prior to dispatch, and recommend ongoing treatment if required. 

Identifying and treating woodworm is crucial to prevent further damage.

Signs of Woodworm:

  • Small, round holes in the wood surface.
  • Fine, powdery dust (frass) near the holes.
  • Weak or damaged wood areas.

Top Products for Treating Woodworm:

  1. Permethrin Woodworm Killer: A highly effective treatment that penetrates deep into the wood to eliminate woodworm larvae and prevent future infestations.
  2. Timbor Professional Insecticide and Fungicide: A borate-based treatment that targets wood-boring insects and fungi, safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
  3. Jecta Gel Insecticide: An injectable treatment for deep infestations, ideal for treating hard-to-reach areas.

Application Tips:

  • Apply the treatment in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use protective gear, including gloves and a mask.
  • Follow the product instructions carefully for the best results.

Waxing Antique Wood Furniture

Waxing is a traditional method to protect and enhance the natural beauty of antique wood furniture. It provides a subtle sheen and helps shield the wood from moisture and minor scratches.

Steps for Waxing:

  1. Clean the Surface: Wipe the furniture with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals.
  2. Apply the Wax: Use a soft cloth or a wax brush to apply a thin layer of high-quality furniture wax, such as Briwax or Howard Feed-N-Wax.
  3. Buff the Surface: After the wax has dried (usually within 20-30 minutes), buff the surface with a clean, soft cloth to achieve a smooth, even finish.
  4. Repeat if Necessary: For added protection, apply a second coat of wax and buff again.

Removing Surface and Deep Scratches

Surface Scratches:

  1. Clean the Area: Wipe the scratched area with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  2. Use a Walnut: Rub a walnut (with the skin removed) along the scratch. The natural oils help blend the scratch with the surrounding wood.
  3. Apply a Wax Stick: Use a wax stick matching the wood color to fill in the scratch. Rub the wax into the scratch and buff with a soft cloth.

Deep Scratches:

  1. Clean the Area: Clean the scratched area with a damp cloth.
  2. Wood Filler: Apply a wood filler that matches the wood color. Use a putty knife to fill the scratch, then smooth it out.
  3. Sand and Stain: Once dry, lightly sand the filled area with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a matching stain, and let it dry.
  4. Finish: Apply a finish such as varnish or wax to blend the repair with the rest of the piece.

Top Products for Polishing and Varnishing


  1. Howard Feed-N-Wax: A blend of beeswax, carnauba wax, and orange oil that enhances the wood’s natural beauty and provides protection.
  2. Pledge Restoring Oil: Revives and conditions wood surfaces, leaving a glossy finish.
  3. Guardsman Clean & Polish: Cleans and polishes wood furniture, protecting it from UV damage and providing a rich luster.


  1. Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane: Provides a durable protective finish, available in various sheens.
  2. Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane: Offers excellent clarity and durability, suitable for high-traffic areas.
  3. General Finishes High-Performance Water-Based Topcoat: A water-based finish known for its ease of application and durability.

Top Cloth Products for Applying Treatments

  1. Microfiber Cloths: Soft and lint-free, ideal for applying wax and polish without scratching the surface.
  2. Terry Cloth Towels: Absorbent and durable, great for cleaning and buffing.
  3. Lint-Free Rags: Perfect for applying stains, waxes, and varnishes, ensuring a smooth finish.

Caring for Varnished Wood Furniture

Varnished wood furniture has a protective layer that enhances its durability and shine. Proper care ensures that this finish remains intact and continues to protect the wood underneath.

Care Instructions:

  • Dust Regularly: Use a soft, dry cloth to dust the surface. Avoid using feather dusters that can scratch the varnish.
  • Clean Spills Immediately: Wipe up any spills with a damp cloth to prevent watermarks or stains. Dry the area thoroughly afterward.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the varnish to fade or crack. Position the furniture away from direct sunlight or use curtains to block the UV rays.
  • Use Furniture Polish Sparingly: Occasionally, use a high-quality furniture polish to maintain the varnish. Avoid products with silicone, which can create a sticky residue.

Caring for Unvarnished Raw Wood Furniture

Unvarnished raw wood furniture requires a different approach to maintain its natural appearance and prevent damage.

Care Instructions:

  • Regular Dusting: Dust the furniture with a dry, soft cloth to prevent dirt buildup.
  • Gentle Cleaning: Use a slightly damp cloth to clean the surface, followed by a dry cloth. Avoid using excess water or harsh cleaners that can damage the wood.
  • Condition the Wood: Apply a natural oil, such as linseed oil or mineral oil, to nourish the wood and prevent it from drying out. Rub the oil into the wood with a soft cloth, let it absorb for a few hours, and then wipe off any excess.
  • Protect from Moisture: Keep the furniture in a stable environment, avoiding excessive humidity or dryness that can cause the wood to warp or crack.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I wax my antique wood furniture?

  • It is recommended to wax your antique wood furniture every 6 to 12 months to maintain its protective layer and enhance its appearance.

2. Can I use regular household cleaners on antique wood furniture?

  • No, avoid using regular household cleaners as they can damage the finish. Use a soft, damp cloth for cleaning and specialized wood furniture cleaners if necessary.

3. What should I do if I find woodworm in my antique furniture?

  • If you discover woodworm, treat the affected area promptly with a woodworm killer product, such as Permethrin Woodworm Killer or Timbor Professional Insecticide, and follow the instructions carefully.

4. How can I prevent my antique furniture from drying out?

  • To prevent drying out, keep the furniture away from direct heat sources, maintain a stable humidity level, and condition the wood with natural oils like linseed or mineral oil periodically.

5. What is the best way to remove water stains from antique wood furniture?

  • To remove water stains, apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the stain, gently rub it with a soft cloth, and wipe clean. For stubborn stains, you may need to use a commercial wood cleaner or seek professional restoration services.

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