Antiques instill warmth and beauty that modern furniture and fittings can’t quite replicate. They evoke great nostalgia and deep-seated memories and the true meaning that defines them. Keeping your gorgeous antiques in mint condition is important. At Milele Antiques we can help you source, maintain, restore and repair them to ensure they continue to withstand time and wear.
Over the years, a thin layer forms on the surface of antique items through age, exposure and oxidation, it is called Patina. The patina on the surface of antique furniture builds up over many years in some cases hundreds of years and even with old marks and damage; it is still a part of the character and charm that adds value to the antique item and so it should be preserved at all costs. If the surface is badly damaged and needs restoration, consult us at Milele antiques our antique specialists will advise and offer possible solutions for restoration.
CARING FOR YOUR ANTIQUE
The number one cause of antique damage, in general, is ignorance of the caretaker. Where you keep your furniture, how you handle it, how you clean it, and how you pack it in case you are moving can all contribute to issues and damages to your precious antiques
Here are some tips to help you keep your antique items in the best possible condition:
As a collector or owner, you need to know how to clean your antiques in a way that prevents costly mistakes. This will help you avoid irreparable damage and a decrease in their value.
Waxing the wood after you’ve cleaned it is a key part of the maintenance process. It helps your furniture to remain clean and gives it a layer of protection. You can apply furniture wax over the wood and then buff it up using a soft dry rag across the wood grain, this should be done in small circular motions. The wax provides protection from moisture and dust.
When buffing, ensure the cloth is soft and smooth to avoid scratches. Wax may not be appropriate for surfaces with a deteriorating finish; if in doubt, consult us at Milele Antique our restoration specialist will advise you on how to best handle antiques in delicate conditions.
Brass and copper and other valuable metal antiques should not be polished to remove the tarnished patina appearance. These include handles, knobs, hinges, pulls, and locks. To clean them, gently buff them with a duster. Do not use metal-polishing cream; they can stain the wood around fittings and leave white deposits that will prove very difficult or impossible to remove. Metal-polishing cloths also should not be used, as they can over-clean. If you wish to protect brass fittings, you can use the same wax used for your wood finish.
Regular housekeeping and monitoring will reduce the amount of dust and debris in the air and reduce damage caused by pests. Dust furniture as needed, but only when you can visually see the dust, too much dusting can lead to wearing the surface. Always use a clean, soft, dry cloth. Remember that the action of dusting can also loosen pieces. When necessary, use a bristle brush made from natural hair and a vacuum to remove dust. Do not “wet clean” without consulting an expert!
In some cases, your antiques might be having mildew problems. Mildew is a form of fungus that develops on wooden furniture stored in moist or humid rooms. The fungus can infect the wood further and eventually leave it unusable. It often begins as a small white or grey colony of spores that if left untreated, can develop into permanent brown and black spots all over the surface. It is also important to monitor your antique furniture for signs of infestations, especially on the back of furniture and in drawers. Wooden antique furniture can be very appealing to some pests and insects. Beetles and termites are attracted to the soft grain of older wood, and the tell-tale signs of an invasion include tiny holes and small mounds of very fine sawdust. Rodents are a danger to antique upholstery and often attack this to find nesting material. If you notice an infestation, isolate the object immediately by sealing it in plastic wrapping and contact Milele Antiques our in-house conservator will recommend how to deal with the infestation and restore your item.
You should never leave wooden antique furniture in direct sunlight for long, as this can fade the surface, damage wax finishes and shellac. Avoid placing antique furniture near any heat source, or next to an Air Conditioner as the extreme temperature could affect the glue on the joints and the delicate finish. Fluctuating temperatures can cause wood to swell, shrink, or absorb moisture. Regularly, open sections of furniture that are closed off with doors and panels, and allow them to air naturally. In addition, remove and air drawers occasionally to prevent mold and fungi from forming especially in areas with poor ventilation.
Stored furniture should be covered with dust covers or clean bedding to reduce the amount of dust that collects on the surface and protect upholstery from damage. If at all possible, do not stack, stacking can lead to undue pressure on joints and limbs, causing breakage and failure of joins.
How to transport Antique pieces
Improper handling of furniture is one of the main causes of damage and deterioration. Lifting or moving a piece improperly can cause joints to weaken and thin legs, rails, or arms to break under pressure.
In addition, natural skin oils, perfume residues, lotions, and dirt on your hands can transfer onto surfaces and then chemically alter the material—this is especially true with unfinished wood. Jewellery, loose clothing, and ID badges can scratch and abrade a surface too when moving them around.
Here are some handling guidelines to minimize damage to your valuable antiques:
- Visually inspect your antique item before handling it to ensure that the piece is stable enough to move.
- Remove drawers and loose shelves before moving the piece.
- Remove jewellery you are wearing or lose clothing before moving the object.
- Wear cotton or nitrile gloves to prevent slippage and to keep from damaging the surface with the oils on your hands. Be careful not to catch your gloves on splinters or loose veneer.
- Always lift a piece of furniture, never drag it. Legs can be fragile. If a piece is too large, use straps and dollies to assist in the moving.
- Use both hands and, for larger objects, employ two or more people.
- Never lift a piece of furniture by its top or built-in handles, by any decorative appendages, or by its legs and never move it using original castors—doing so can cause stress and damage to those areas.
- Lift chairs using the bottom of the seat and rails, not by the legs or crest rail on the back of the chair.
- Carry glass and marble tabletops and shelves vertically whenever possible lying flat can crack easily.
- Protect glass doors with moving blankets or adequate padding.
- Mirrors and glass should also be transported and stored vertically.
The beauty of antique furniture that has been cleaned and waxed reflects the loving care of its owners over the years. If you need restoration and repair services contact us at Milele Antiques, our in-house reputable and professional restorers will gladly give your antique items a new lease of life!