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Protecting Your Antique Chairs from Scuffs

Protecting Your Antique Chairs from Scuffs

One of the many reasons why antique furniture is such a beloved décor choice for many homes is the absolute ageless quality these pieces hold. No matter what theme, what era, style, modern or retro, or minimalist—an antique can fit in any interior concept of the home.

A Victorian parlor chair in the den, a Louis XV Fauteuil armchair in the living room, or a treasured set of Regency dining chairs will never fade from style as these antiques have shown that they transcend style. They are comfortable, elegant, and luxurious pieces of art.

However, chairs are often one of the pieces of furniture that are used the most. When you are entertaining guests for dinner, the family meal, they gather around the dining room table and need a place to sit. At the end of the day, perhaps you or the kids curl up in the expansive Victorian chair to read a book or watch a movie before going to bed. Whichever way you enjoy your antique chairs, everyday use can cause wear and tear.

You should be able to use and preserve your gorgeous antique chairs while using them as the functional and exquisite furniture they are.

We would like to share with you how to protect your antique chairs from scuffs on the bottom to keep them looking as glorious as the first day you brought them home.

When to Protect the Bottom of an Antique Chair

  • One of the most common reasons to consider protecting the bottom of an antique is if it already shows signs of being worn. Either a newly purchased antique or something that has been in the family for generations, if it is already scuffed you will no doubt wish to prevent any further damages.
  • As soon as you notice anything that seems new: a small scratch, a marring of the finish, or scuffs from contact with shoes or contact with a foot, human or pet.

How to Protect Against Scuffs

The first step in the preventative safekeeping of your antique chairs is to dust, clean, and polish. A patina on the surface of your antique chair that has been built up over the years and decades of use with old marks or old damage is simply part of the character as well as the value to an antique chair. And, this character should be preserved. Should it become badly damaged, it would no doubt need the hand of a professional restoration expert and specialist, which can become costly and potentially lower the value of your chair.

Scuff Protection and Prevention Steps:

Tip: Before cleaning, dusting, or polishing always test a small area to ensure your antique chair’s finish will react well with these steps.

  1. If needed, clean the bottom of your antique chair. Use a soft, dye-free damp cloth or a clean chamois leather that is rung out extremely well. It is important that you do not soak the wood of your chair and that you do not leave watermarks. As you clean, keep another clean dry cloth or paper towel on hand to immediately dry after cleaning.
  2. If you do not need to clean but do notice dust, dust with a clean cloth. The feathers on a feather duster are surprisingly harsh and sharp. After prolonged use, the feathers may leave scratches.
  3. After cleaning, or if you did not need to clean but dusted, you may protect the surface of the bottom of your antique chair with beeswax. You should never use commercial dusting chemicals on your antiques, and especially avoid anything with lemon as an ingredient, as that eats away at the patina and can stain the wood itself. Using a good paste wax not only looks fantastic on antique wooden chairs, but it also protects against moisture, alcohol, and can build a surface to protect against dings, light scratches, and scuffs.

By these methods, protection against further damages or scuffing can be broken down simply into two parts: General Maintenance

  • Dust weekly with a very soft cloth or leather chamois.
  • Never use oils, silicones, synthetics, canned, or aerosol dusting chemicals and always avoid anything with lemon or lemon oil.
  • Wax only when dusting fails to restore the shine. Natural beeswax on maintained antique furniture can keep its luster.

Wax Polishing

  • Use a soft, lint-free cotton pad to apply a thin coat of wax - just enough to smear the surface. Apply the wax to all or any wood along the bottom of your antique chair. Professional restoration techniques also involve using 0000 wire wool to apply the wax. However, if you are not comfortable doing so, a cloth will do. When applying the wax, go in the direction of the grain.
  • Leave it on for 60 minutes.
  • With a clean, dye-free, soft cloth, buff the wax into the wood following the grain.

Polishing Tip:

To make the process easier and more manageable, especially if you have several antique chairs, apply, wait, and buff in small increments at a time. Almost all professionals can also agree that there is no better wax for the preservation of shine and finish for your antiques than 100% pure beeswax.

Other Products You Should Never Use to Polish Your Antiques:

  • Olive oil. Any oils, be it nut or vegetable in origin can creep under the finish making a visual oil-slick under the surface.
  • Methylated Spirits – Meths is the solvent of French polish and, if left on a surface, it will dissolve most of an antique finish. It is not too inaccurate to say it is not very different than pouring a paint stripper on your furniture.
  • Hard Oil Wax. These should only be applied to completely raw, unfinished woods. Never an antique with a finish.

With the right preventative care and cleaning after waxing, your antique chair bottoms should be able to be moderately scuff-free. Though it seems like a bit of effort, it truly pays off in the end as you will extend the beauty and life of your precious antiques for generations to come.

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