How to Care for Rustic and Reclaimed Furniture

It’s a joy to own a piece of rustic, reclaimed furniture. Whether reclaimed from an old barn or other structure, or gathered from forest deadfall, the wood already has a story to tell. It then sees new life as a desk, bed or table, where it will be used and appreciated for generations. Handcrafted by an artisan, with solid wood construction and an intriguing back story, these are heirloom-quality furnishings. It is important to provide regular maintenance and to keep a few pointers in mind in order to retain the structural integrity and quality of the piece.

Any wood has to be dried before being turned into a piece of furniture. Some of the wood will have been air-dried, others kiln- or pressure-dried; forest floor wood, for instance, has had a chance to “dry on the hoof,” and is generally stable. The drying process allows the wood to naturally release moisture, relax and stabilize, prior to being used. The general rule is one year per inch of thickness, depending on the wood species. For instance, a three-inch wood slab needs a minimum of three years to air dry. The important thing to look for in a piece of reclaimed furniture is stable, dry wood.


Try to keep the humidity in the home between 35 percent and 45 percent

If the moisture is too high or too low, these environments can cause wood to crack. Installing a home humidifier or dehumidifier can benefit people as well as the furnishings.

Limit UV or sunlight exposure

Bright, direct sun is hostile to humans, as well as furnishings. Finishes will fade and warp in direct sunlight. If you have large windows, look into installing UV protection.

Use a good quality citrus-based furniture polish

Clean and polish furnishings with a liquid or semi-solid polish; aerosols are convenient but can introduce silicone oils and other contaminants into the furniture. A quality liquid or semi-solid polish is more work to apply, but worth the effort.


Kelly Maxwell owns LittleBranch Farms in Nashville, Tennessee. He builds furniture pieces from reclaimed and salvaged wood. Visit the LittleBranch Farms profile or contact Kelly at 615-878-6216.

Content for this article provided by LittleBranch Farms.

Categories: Furnishings & Accessories