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Preserving Your Furniture: The 3 Most Important Things You Can Do To Protect Your Furniture

Below are the three most important "Principles of Preservation" that will prolong the life of your furniture. It is interesting to note that by far, the most predominant damage to furniture is caused by poor choices of its caretakers. Once a piece of furniture comes off the cabinetmaker's bench and is handed over to its owner, we are the stewards of that furniture for the rest of its life.

Here are the three "Principles of Preservation."

1. Protect it from direct sunlight - Light can cause dyes to fade; this is true for wood stains and colored textiles. Light also causes degradation of finishes and fabrics: this includes light coming through windows; so close your shades during the sunny part of the day or move the object to a less sunny location.

2. Protect it from moisture and extreme dryness - Water can destroy furniture finishes. Wide swings of relative humidity cause wood to swell and shrink, which in turn can damage veneers. If you are able to, maintain a range of relative humidity of 40% to 60% throughout the year. High humidity levels (above 70%) encourage mold and insect infestations.

3. Use your furniture thoughtfully -- Severe use or misuse brings about extraordinarily rapid damage. Minimization of damage can be accomplished by understanding the limitations and weaknesses of each piece of furniture and using it well within these limitations.

If you follow these basic principles you can avoid having to resort to costly restoration or repair.

Jon Brandon
Furniture Conservator
East Point Conservation Studio

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    Brunswick, Maine 04011

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