Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

Wood Furniture Care: Tips on Climate Control

September 21st, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Solid Wood Furniture:  Tips on Climate Control and Humidity

We received this beautiful picture of our Cherry Blossom Single Pedestal Table from Mary M in Palm Desert, CA.  I love how she blended a relatively modern cherry dining set with what looks like a 16th century Baroque painting, a Colonial American corner cabinet and a collection of vibrant patchwork quilts.  But it was her combination of different woods that reminded me to talk about wood movement today.

Mary’s M’s cherry dining furniture (shown above) was made in Vermont (a relatively humid place, especially in the summer) and shipped to the desert of Arizona. Since we ship a lot of Vermont made wood furniture to desert locales in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and elsewhere, I thought I’d post a few tips on humidity and climate control.

Wood Furniture Moves in Response to Changes in Humidity

When wood is part of a living tree, water moves up the trunk, from the ground and through the pores and fibers of the wood, as it travels out to the leaves.  After a tree is cut and sawn into lumber, water continues to move back and forth through the wood fibers until the wood’s moisture level reaches equilibrium with its environment.

The job of woodworkers is to design and build furniture with a thorough understanding of the characteristics of wood movement.  But in spite of their advanced knowledge and skills, no woodworker is able to create wood furniture that is completely unresponsive to temperature and humidity in your home.  So here are a few climate control tips from our Furniture Care section to ensure that your wood furniture will remain beautiful and structurally sound for generations of enjoyment.

Climate Control Tips

  • Keep your home around 70°F-72°F with a relative humidity of about 50-55%
  • This often requires a humidifier in winter and an air conditioner in summer
  • Place your furniture away from heat sources such as radiators, heat runs or fireplaces
  • Store table leaves as close as possible to the table so they adjust to the same humidity conditions
  • Use a dehumidifier during wet, rainy times and in damp rooms to remove excess moisture from the air
  • For wood furniture with an oil finish, re-oil it frequently to create and maintain a patina.  A rule of thumb is to oil your furniture:
    • Immediately upon receipt
    • Once/week during the first month
    • Once/month during the first year
    • Once or twice/year after that

Normally if you’re comfortable with the temperature and humidity in your home, your wood furniture will be comfortable as well.  It’s designed to be durable and to accommodate normal changes in climate so most homeowners need not worry.   Relax and enjoy it.  Given reasonably good care your wood furniture will last for generations.


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