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Finding hidden treasures: Uncover the beauty of wood

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Finding hidden treasures: Uncover the beauty of wood

In epic novels, great treasures are often hidden in the unlikeliest of places. The same can be said of some of the home's great treasures.

Beautiful wood is often hidden underneath built-up grime, nicks and scratches, old finishes or paint, carpeting or tile. As homeowners are looking for ways to make the most of their home's comfort and value, many are discovering the hidden treasures they have in reclaimed furniture and older hardwood floors.

Reclaiming Furniture

There are so many pieces of beautiful furniture waiting to be rescued from garages, attics, yard sales and thrift stores. With some vision and a little elbow grease, vintage furnishings can become real treasures in the home. Small wooden tables, chairs, benches and stools also make great candidates for reviving or refinishing.

What to Look For

Before committing to a vintage piece, take a few minutes to carefully examine your treasure-in-waiting:

Look for details that prove it really is a vintage piece. Authentic hardware, the shape of a leg, hand-carved elements and a rich patina say a lot about a piece and give it value and beauty.

-Check for cracks in the wood, loose joints, warped surfaces or lifted veneer. These call for repairs before any refinishing is started.

-Examine previous repairs, especially at joints and hinge attachments, to assure they were done properly.

The Big Finish

Sometimes a piece just needs to be cleaned, and there are products that will remove years of dirt and grime without disturbing the original finish. But other times, the condition of the piece calls for complete refinishing. You can remove the finish yourself, or as many folks prefer, you can have the piece professionally stripped.

Once you are down to bare wood, it's time to select a stain color. This is the fun part of the project. Wood-tone colors enhance the natural beauty of the wood. For a nontraditional look, however, consider going beyond wood-tones to brighter colored stains. These are available as either oil-based, in both traditional and gel-based formulations, and water-based.

The advantage of water-based stains is that they are extremely fast-drying, low odor, and require just soap and water cleanup. Depending on the size, you can complete a project from start to finish in one day.
It is recommended that you always test your chosen stain on a hidden area of wood or a scrap piece of wood that is the same kind that you'll be staining.

Staining Tips

- Apply wood conditioner to reduce blotchiness and ensure even stain penetration.

- Oil-based stains require an oil-based conditioner and water-based stains need water-based conditioner.

- Follow the directions on the can and apply stain with a brush or rag, wiping in the direction of the wood grain. Leave stain on for the recommended period of time, then wipe the stain with a rag in the direction of the grain, and let dry.

Applying a clear topcoat is the final step to beautiful furniture. Topcoats give a durable, protective clear finish. Use either an oil-based, fast-drying polyurethane or a water-based protective finish.

Beauty Under Foot

Hardwood flooring is durable, comfortable and brings warmth and character to any room. The rich grain and warm wood-tones bring out the best in any décor style. To keep your floors looking their best, there are some things you need to do.

First, give your flooring a good once-over to determine exactly what is needed to make it look its best. If there are no gouges, cracking or peeling, and if the floor is not worn down to bare wood, you can simply revive the floor and your job is easy. Therefore, for a dull, lightly scratched floor, a reviver product can renew its old beauty without sanding or special preparation. Applying the product every three to six months keeps the wood looking its best.

Wood Floor Maintenance

Once you have the floors in shape, it's easy to keep them that way. Good maintenance can bring out the natural beauty of wood and extend the life of a floor finish for many years. To take care of a sealed hardwood floor, you should:

- Vacuum or sweep at least once a week.

- Dust mop in between weekly cleanings to help eliminate fine particles.

- Clean up spills and tracked-on dirt immediately. For best results, use a specially formulated wood cleaner for everyday cleaning and common spills.

- Use doormats or area rugs by door entries to keep the dirt out.

- Install felt furniture glides to minimize scrapes and gouges.

- Keep the relative humidity in your home between 45 and 55 percent. Excessive humidity can cause wood fibers to swell and crack the finish.

Giving new life to old wood is a labor of love that provides years of beauty and elegance. What treasures are waiting to be discovered in your home?

 

Photo: spiecuch
Who needs carpeting? An old wood floor can be refinished and stained to highlight the natural diversity of its grain.

Photo: spiecuch
You can find treasures such as this armoire by scouring garage and estate sales.

Photo: spiecuch
Apply wood conditioner before staining to reduce blotchiness and ensure even stain penetration.