Furniture Care

Living with real wood

Furniture produced from genuine solid hardwood is an organic entity and reacts to its environment. Changes in the environment may cause shrinking or swelling in the furniture. Drawers may become sticky during the humid summer months, and joints may loosen during the dry winter season. These are not defects, but personality traits and higher-quality goods generally incorporate joinery techniques that allow for this movement. Real wood furniture may appear less uniform because the boards each have individual grain patterns and colorations.

Furniture with veneer construction has greater dimensional stability, overcoming wood’s natural tendency to move. It also allows the furniture designer to create surface drama and interest. Veneers are not artificial – they are thin layers of real wood. The adhesives used today to apply veneers rarely fail, so peeling isn’t an issue. Some highly figured veneers may exhibit raised grain in an atmosphere with very low humidity. This is not considered to be a defect.

Extreme dryness is wood furniture’s worst enemy. Maintaining a minimum humidity level of 30 percent is desirable. To prevent fading of the furniture, avoid direct exposure to sunlight and regularly move the accessories placed on furniture surfaces to prevent “dark spots” from forming underneath.

Furniture finish types and related maintenance

The most common furniture finish coating is lacquer, or more specifically, nitrocellulose lacquer. This is an organic resin derived from plant fibers. It is dissolved in solvent, usually acetone, and sprayed as the top-coat on the furniture. This forms a durable and resilient “skin” on furniture that mellows with age.

For routine dusting, use a lightly dampened cloth, then wipe with a dry cloth. A silicone-free furniture polish may also be used.

Periodic paste waxing maintains wood furniture’s serviceability and visual appeal. Waxing is best done in the spring and in the fall, when the home atmosphere changes. A neutral-colored wax prevents risk of color transfer to clothing or table dressings. Apply wax to the furniture with a textured towel. Use the wax sparingly, let dry for 20-30 minutes, and then polish with the grain of the furniture, using an acid-free soft brush. Some owners do a light final buffing of the furniture with a soft cotton cloth.

Table leaves

Most leaves are frequently made independently of the table, so they may not match perfectly in grain or color. Make sure to have the leaves checked for fit before leaving Gabberts Design Studio & Fine Furniture. When not in use, keep the leaves flat, not on ends or sides, to prevent warping. Store them at normal room temperature and humidity. Also remember, when your leaves are in storage, they are not subjected to the same sunlight that can lighten the table finish over time.

Door warping

Door warping may occur in larger pieces of furniture like armoires and hutches. It happens when high humidity causes expansion and when low humidity causes contraction. So, maintaining relatively constant humidity relatively helps increase the life span of furniture. Leveling your furniture and keeping the doors closed also help to prevent warping.

Rosewood tables

Sheesham wood, also commonly known as Indian rosewood, is a hardwood from India’s Bombay region. This wood is heavy and dense, promising good durability for furniture or when used for tables. It has striking colorations ranging from golden brown to deep purple, along with irregular swirls and a moderately coarse grain. Because of the distinctive irregularities and grain, furniture with this wood may experience more movement with humidity and seasonal changes.

Scratches may be buffed out with fine steel wool, and followed up with a fresh coat of paste wax. Wax in the spring and fall, when the home atmosphere changes. Because of the distinctive finish on these tables, some homeowners choose to do additional waxing for extra protection with everyday hard use. Note that paste wax hardens with age and successive coats build up.

Glass blemishes & imperfections

By its nature, glass will typically have some kind of minor imperfection. The glass industry has a uniform set of quality standards that allow for the following:

• Small bubbles (smaller than 1/4″ in diameter)

• Minor waviness

• Tiny, hairline scratches, inherent in glass manufacturing.

Care must be exercised in cleaning and maintaining glass tops to ensure years of lasting beauty. Use a liquid glass cleaner and a soft cloth to remove fingerprints and dust.

Plastics and acrylic products

Dust gently with a damp cotton cloth or chamois to avoid scratches. Clean with mild detergent or a solution of ammonia and water. Blot and wipe with a clean, soft cloth or chamois. If fine scratches develop, a plastic polish may restore the desired appearance.

Metal finishes and their maintenance

Today, home furnishings showcase diversity in metal textures, colors and materials. The majority of these finishes are protected with a sealer that prevents tarnishing and rust. General maintenance involves dusting.

Fine brass finishes (on lamps, etc.) are often thinly coated with lacquer. Care should be taken not to handle these finishes excessively as the acid in human skin will react with the metal surface and cause blemishes. Glass cleaners containing ammonia should not be used on fine metal finishes. Spray the rag, not the glass.

Several metal finishes involve layering of paint-like material, a technique intended to simulate years of aging and use. If these become scratched or chipped, they may be professionally repaired in much the same manner as wood finishes. The majority of these finishes are intended for indoor use only.

Stone and marble products

Authentic stone and marble contains vein lines, fissures, pores, and color variations that are natural characteristics, not defects. Because these surfaces are more porous than most people realize, these materials require care to protect them against staining and marring. Travertine, in particular, is a very porous stone. Many vendors fill some of the largest pores with resin for a smoother, more useable surface.

To maintain these surfaces, keep them clean, use coasters, placemats and immediately rinse off any spills. A mild detergent and warm water on a soft cloth is adequate. Several brands of marble silicone base polish or light paste wax are available to help protect the surface. Buff with lamb’s wool and never use abrasive cleaners.

Upholstery General Care

Frequent vacuuming or light brushing removes dust and grime. Pay special attention to cushions, crevices, and other “soil traps.” Fluff and turn cushions regularly to promote even exposure to sunlight and household wear. This also helps control seam rotation. Do not remove covers for cleaning – zippers on cushions are for manufacturing convenience only.

Comfort folds and wrinkles

On rounded backs and arms, comfort folds are tailored in to provide give or play as springs and cushions flex. This lengthens the life of the fabric. Slight indentations or comfort wrinkles are expected when soft-fill materials are used to provide plush seating. They may appear on seat or back cushions and at button stress points.


Many cushion constructions today produce plush seating characteristics, incorporating “high loft” polyester fiber wrapped around a foam core material. Textured, casual fabrics are often combined with these cushions to produce a loosely tailored “unstructured” look with uneven seams, wrinkles, and a “lived in” appearance. There may be options, depending on vendor, of more cushion choices based on personal preference.


Upholstered furniture tailored with skirts is normally shipped from the manufacturer with those skirts folded up, to prevent damage and soiling. It takes a short while for the skirts to “fall” properly following delivery. If necessary, they may be steamed to promote proper drape.

Velvets and napped pile fabrics

Upholstery fabrics featuring cut pile construction, like velvet, are among the most luxurious available. Their “nap” or surface textures routinely develop shading characteristics after use, which create unique visual interest and rich appearance.

Fabric grade

Every upholstery fabric is assigned a specific “grade,” which reflects its inherent cost. This fabric grade has nothing to do with durability and serviceability. In fact, some of the most expensive fabrics are also the most fragile and challenging to maintain-such as silk-and some inexpensive fabrics perform quite well. In general, the construction of a fabric is most telling of its performance: the tighter the weave, the longer the wear.

Leather Natural markings

Each hide is unique, reflecting the life history of the animal. Distinctive markings, like barbed wire nicks, scars, insect bites, brands, wrinkles and nature’s weathering effects contribute to the hide’s individuality. These unmistakable traits of genuine top-grain leather are natural characteristics, not defects. Keep in mind that leather samples will not be an exact match to the hide used on your particular piece of furniture, but a close representation to show color and texture.

Care and maintenance

Leather can fade so avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Dust frequently with a damp cloth. Blot with a clean, white, dry towel to remove excess moisture. Do not use saddle soap, polish, wax, or any other type of cleaning agent.

Fabric and leather upholstery protection

Gabberts provides the opportunity to invest in fabric and leather protection, offering a warranty against stains caused by food or beverages, human or pet fluids, and mold or mildew stains. Please consult your Gabberts Sales Associate or Designer for more details about this added measure of assurance.

Leveling your furniture

Gabberts’ delivery team will level each piece upon delivery. Over time, a piece of case furniture, particularly if filled with heavy items, may settle and the doors may become uneven. This doesn’t signify a defect-part of the beauty of wood is that it is organic. It may be appropriate to make some adjustments to make sure that the furniture doesn’t wobble and that the doors and drawers work properly.

Some pieces of furniture have adjustable levelers built into the base. Some have adjustable hinges and drawer slides. Check the literature that came with your furniture for instructions on how to make these adjustments.

Furniture with Mechanisms Sleeper sofas

Sleeper mechanisms on furniture are spring-loaded and powerful. Pull the mattress out with a firm grip on the handle, and push it all the way back in when closing. A short break-in period may be needed before the sleeper operates effortlessly. Do not store heavy bed dressings on the closed sleeper sofa.

When opening or closing the sleeper, keep hands away from the sides where the bracing has sharp edges. There’s no need to lubricate the mechanism.


Never sit on an extended footrest, as this may break the mechanism and void the warranty. To prolong the life of your recliner and its mechanism, always ease into it. Do not allow children or pets under an opened recliner where sharp metal parts could cause injury. Lubrication of the mechanism is not required.