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Caring For Your Furniture

Now you've purchased a beautiful piece of furniture you have been searching for high and low, it is time to make sure proper care is taken in maintaining its beauty. The last thing you want is to shorten the life span of your furniture. Careful attention to use, care, and handling can preserve valued home furnishings for future generations.

Some events that lead to damage of valued home furnishings are beyond the control of the owner, but there are several preventable forms of damage. Three causes of preventable damage are environmental conditions, poor handling, and improper use and care.

Environmental Conditions

Exposure to poor environmental conditions is the first major cause of preventable damage. The environment under which a piece of furniture is placed has a direct effect on its life. No matter the age of the furniture, it will always react to its surroundings. It is important to recognize there is not a perfect environment for anything, only conditions that contribute to preservation or destruction. Such conditions are light and humidity.

Energy from light is directly responsible for damage to furniture surfaces in the form of discoloration. Light damage occurs over a period of time and is irreversible. The extent of damage is proportionate to the intensity and the time of exposure. It is important to note all furniture will experience some level of light damage during its lifetime, but it can be minimized with a few simple actions.

Although the optimal place for furniture is a dark, oxygen-free, and people-free environment, this is not realistic situation for furniture that is designed to use. Furniture that is not in use it is best kept in dark or low light areas. Damage to surfaces can be minimized utilizing window coverings in bright areas while furniture is in use. Fluorescent bulbs and ultraviolet rays are among the most damaging light frequencies, and exposure to direct sunlight fades wood finishes and yellows painted finishes.

The number one enemy of furniture is great changes in relative humidity. Long after the tree is cut, wood continues to absorb and exude moisture as humidity rises and falls. Moisture causes the wood to expand and contract unequally along grain directions.

Long-term exposure to humidity above 60% will cause wood to swell resulting in furniture components distorting from internal stresses. Likewise, long-term exposure to humidity below 20% will cause wood components to warp and split. Pressure from the wood constantly changing may cause furniture parts to no longer fit closely together.

Humidity that rises above 70% facilitates the growth of mold and mildew. Molds and mildews living on the surface of wood may cause stains to appear. Avoidance of furniture placement in damp areas or high humidity will eliminate mold and mildew growth.

Because the wood is changing constantly, damages may occur to the finishes. Some finishes are not as flexible over time and may become brittle with the occurrence of many humidity changes.

Humidity can be controlled in the living environment. Keeping a normal steady temperature in your house will decrease the chances of damage from humidity. In areas where there are large swings in humidity, balance can be achieved by humidifying the house in the winter and de-humidifying in the summer.

Use and Care

Special care should always be taken when cleaning furniture or moving it from one area to another. Mistreatment is the second major cause of preventable damage. A basic understanding of your furniture will help you care for it for a lifetime.

Finish damage is a very common problem that we hear about. Placing hot items, such as coffee mugs or dinner plates on a piece of furniture can soften the finish. Condensation from cold objects or liquid spills will cause the finish to "bubble" and leave a milky-white discoloration. Never use fingernail polish remover over a wood finish because if it makes contact with the finish it will eat through it much like a paint or varnish remover exposing the wood underneath and demanding that the surface be refinished to repair the damage.

The damage described above can be eliminated by the use of coasters, trivets, and common sense.

It is recommended that Riverside furniture be cleaned with a damp, clean dust cloth. Any kind of wood surface or finish may be cleaned using this method. A mild detergent may be applied, if necessary, for areas that will not clean with just a cloth. Avoid the use of oil-based polishes and direct-spray polishes (cause a waxy build-up). For all upholstered products, refer to our web site catalog for fabric cleaning codes.

Always use a protective pad beneath lamps or accessories, and on writing surfaces. Do not place rubber or vinyl products on the surface as discoloration and/or staining may occur as a result.

Select furniture pieces are equipped with casters for convenient mobility. Never roll furniture with casters on unprotected hardwood or vinyl flooring.


Moving furniture can be harmful to its construction if not done properly with careful planning. The following is a list of guidelines to follow when rearranging or moving your Riverside furniture in your home.
  • Remove all contents stored in the piece of furniture such as TVs, dishes, audio equipment, etc. Contents increase the weight of the furniture and may cause scratches and dents on the surface as they shift during the relocation.
  • Inspect the piece of furniture to assess where the strongest points exist and support it in these areas when moving the furniture. Avoid lifting tables by the tops or legs, as this may cause the components to separate. Tables can be lifted at the apron, as this is generally a strong point.
  • Make sure the destination path is cleared to avoid gouges, scratches and dents.
  • It is best to wrap the piece of furniture in a soft blanket to avoid possible damage. If you are storing the furniture, wrap it in soft padding and make sure environmental conditions are optimum.
  • Never slide your furniture along the floor. Use a dolly if you are unable to lift the piece to avoid breaking joints, chipping molding, chipping feet, and breaking legs. Exercising a little extra care will help you avoid damage to your furniture and your floors.
  • Proceed slowly and with care.


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