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General Care Tips   [ Back ] [ Caring for Antiques ] [ Caring for wood exterior door ] [ Kitchen Cabinets ]

  • Dust frequently. The Guardsman® Fine Furniture Dusting Cloth is treated to attract and hold dust and leave furniture spotless.
  • Use a quality furniture polish such as Guardsman's® Furniture Polish. It will lessen your chance of expensive refinishing jobs. Polish approximately once a month.
  • Clean up spills immediately. Use a blotting action rather than wiping.
  • Use a soft, lint-free, absorbent cloth for cleaning and polishing. The Guardsman® Polishing Cloth is ideal for this purpose.
  • Avoid placing furniture in direct sunlight, as sunlight causes fading.
  • Avoid extremes in room humidity. Too high or too low humidity can cause wood to warp or the glue lines to fail.
  • Avoid extreme changes in temperature. Arrange furniture away from radiators, registers and air-conditioning units.
  • Rotate accessories on furniture so they do not sit in the same spot all of the time.
  • Avoid placing plastic or rubber objects on a wood finish, as their ingredients react with those of the finish.
  • Use pads, cloth or felt to protect the furniture surface from plastic, rubber, hot dishes, beverages, bookends, flower pots and vases
  • Use a protective pad when writing with a ballpoint pen.
  • Lift and place objects; do not drag them across the furniture surface.
  • Make minor repairs while they are still small.
  • Use the proper materials or professional help to repair badly damaged surfaces.
  • Avoid wax polishes. Regular use of wax polishes may result in the build-up of wax film on the surface of the furniture. This build-up may pick up dirt, smoke and other pollutants in the air, which may result in smudges and streaks. Used long enough, this may cause the finish to soften, requiring expensive refinishing work. Wax build-up over time hardens, making it difficult to remove from the furniture's finish.
  • Avoid silicone polishes. Silicone oil is an ingredient used by many furniture polish makers to create a high degree of shine. Silicone seeps into even the most lacquered finishes, making it difficult to remove. Should it become necessary to refinish a piece of furniture, silicone makes it a very difficult process—even for a professional refinisher. Most furniture manufacturers recommend using polishes that do not contain silicone

[ Back ] [ Caring for Antiques ] [ Caring for wood exterior door ] [ Kitchen Cabinets ]

What’s The Best Way To Care For Your Antiques?

Every piece of antique furniture requires special treatment to maximize its value, appearance and usability.  Here are some basic guidelines to antique care.

Whether it’s been in your family for generations, or it’s a discovery you just found at an estate sale, an antique has special appeal and charm.  However, antiques also have special care requirements.  Depending on the antique – and its intended use – those requirements will be very different.  In some cases, the wrong treatment can damage an heirloom, or harm the resale value of an investment-quality piece. So before you do anything to your antiques (beyond giving them a good dusting with a dry cloth), consult a trained furniture care professional.  He or she will make an expert evaluation of the piece to inform you of all the options available, and help you choose which alternative is best suited to your antique.

Rule #1: If it’s an investment, be very careful!

If you have an antique that is in original condition, and are thinking of selling it or keeping it as an investment, the rule of thumb is simple: Don’t do anything to it.  No matter how rough the condition may be, investment-grade antiques are prized more for their originality than for their appearance.  Cleaning, waxing, coating, or even oiling an antique (especially if done with modern materials), will seriously reduce an antique’s market value.  In fact, a completely original antique that is severely damaged, or even in pieces, can be worth far more than a similar piece that has been expertly refinished.  That’s why most furniture care professionals will choose not to refinish or refurbish original condition antiques – or they will refer the owner to a professional who specializes exclusively in antique furniture restoration.

Keeping antiques alive, vitalized and beautiful.

Most people who own antiques, however, plan on keeping – and living with – their furniture.  In these cases, doing nothing is the worst course of action to take. Left untreated, an antique’s wood will split and swell, its finish will stain and dull, coatings will crack and peel, joints will loosen, and the piece will continue to deteriorate, until it becomes unusable and literally falls apart.

So in order to preserve the furniture and the history it represents, it's critical that antiques be carefully and regularly maintained.  As furniture care professionals, we have a range of specialized treatments that we can apply to the furniture to revitalize the wood and enhance the finish.  But before we go to work, we first ask an important question: is the antique a rarely used showpiece, or will it be used on an everyday basis? In either case, great care must be taken to choose materials and methods that are totally compatible with the antique, to ensure no damage is done to a delicate (and often irreplaceable) piece.

For those with showpieces, we can use the same old-fashioned oils, waxes, and other materials that were applied when the antique was brand-new – to keep the furniture as authentic as possible.  Others, who use their antiques on a daily basis, may prefer the latest treatment technologies.  These newer waxes, oils and coatings provide far greater resistance against wear and tear, to provide the antique with maximum long-term protection.  As one furniture care professional points out, when antiques were made, their builders used the most durable finishes available to them. If they’d had access to modern coatings and finishes, they almost certainly would have used these materials to protect the beauty and craftsmanship of their work.

Refurbishing: Eliminating neglect while preserving the finish.

Sometimes, preserving an antique requires more than careful maintenance. The best way to minimize damage caused by years of use, misuse, or even neglect is by refurbishing an antique.  Unlike refinishing, refurbishing leaves the original finish intact, thus maintaining an antique’s patina and value.  And the cost of a thorough refurbishment can be as little as one-tenth the cost of a specialized antique restoration.

The first stage in a professional refurbishment is to clean away decades of built-up waxes and grime.  Then, any serious damage to the structure or finish is carefully repaired.  Many furniture care professionals are experts at touching up and repairing these flaws so that they are virtually indistinguishable from the existing finish. In many cases, replace missing pieces and hardware with quality reproductions.

An antique refurbishment isn’t intended to totally erase every trace of age or wear.  After all, it’s these characteristics that give antiques their personality and appeal.  Therefore, a skillful refurbishment will preserve the character that comes with years of use – while eliminating the signs of neglect.

It’s a task that requires a great deal of specialized knowledge, materials and experience.  But the result is well worth it.  A skillful and sensitive refurbishment results in an antique that is both beautiful and functional – one that retains its sentimental value and market value.  Best of all, proper antique care means that future generations will be able to get the same use and enjoyment that you’ve gotten out of your antique.

[ Back ] [ Caring for wood exterior door ] [ General care tips ] [ Kitchen Cabinets ]

How To Make Your Front Door More Inviting

A finished wood door gets a lot of use – and constant abuse from the weather.  So the best way to maintain its appearance, appeal and value is with regular refurbishing from a trained professional.

One of the first things people notice about your home is your front door. Not only is it one of the most prominent features of your house – it can also be one of the more expensive ones.  Together with its hardware, a finished wood entry door can easily represent an investment of several thousand dollars.

Unfortunately, it’s an investment that is constantly and directly exposed to damaging elements.  Virtually every weather condition, whether rain or shine, heat or cold, will attack the door’s finish, causing it to fade, peel, crack and crumble. And after a few years of daily wear and tear (along with the occasional scratch or scuff), even the most expensive entry door will start looking shabby.

This is more than simply a matter of appearances.  As the door’s finish deteriorates, it exposes the wood underneath directly to the elements, which can result in split seams, cracked wood, mold, mildew, or dry rot.  Once a door reaches this condition, there are only two alternatives, and both of them are expensive. You can either replace the door, or strip it down to bare wood, repair and refinish it.

However, there’s a fast and affordable way to keep your front door in beautiful shape – and protect its value: with periodic professional refurbishment.

Depending on the door’s condition, the refurbishment process can be as basic as a good cleaning, followed by the application of a new protective coating. Other times, minor damages – like scratches, chips, wear areas and dents – must be repaired, and a faded finish rejuvenated, before a final coat can be applied.

In either case, the results will be very impressive.  Most of the signs of weathering and use will almost vanish, leaving an entry door that looks years younger.  As important, those good looks (and the door’s value) will be well protected for years against the elements and accidents.  Complete refurbishing is far less expensive than refinishing, and a tiny fraction of the cost of purchasing, finishing, and hanging a new door.

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