Solid European and English oak is one of the most beautiful materials to use in a home. Although naturally extremely durable, with proper care its beauty can be enhanced and preserved and so passed on to future generations – a long lasting investment for years to come.
The oak used in your house may be in a variety of grades and finishes. Oak used in the structure of the house, for example in beams, roof trusses and posts, will usually have been supplied “in the green”, ie fresh and untreated and will have been assembled to accommodate subsequent drying. This timber will weather, season and darken with time and needs no further treatment. Varnish type treatments, if applied, will break down rapidly and greatly spoil the appearance of the oak. If desired, the surface can be wiped down with a cloth moistened in teak oil.
Oak in joinery and finishings such as doors, panelling, skirtings, staircases and in furniture will have a planed finish and will have been seasoned, usually by kiln drying. Venables recommend waxing of the finish every few months, especially in the first few years. Furniture wax helps bring out the grain of the oak and helps avoid any cracking and crazing.
Wax should be applied with a clean cloth in the same direction as the grain and the surplus removed by buffing, again, along the grain. A small spill wiped up immediately is not likely to cause significant damage but liquid left longer might leave a mark. If a more hardwearing surface is required, a lacquer finish could be considered, but this would have a shinier and less natural appearance.
One of the most difficult problems in caring for oak – or any wood – is a scratch or dent. There is a possible remedy for this but it’s not for the faint hearted! Proceed with caution – or contact an expert – or lasting damage could result.
Start by allowing a few droplets of water to soak completely into the dent or scratch. When the wood is damp, cover the area with a clean cloth and gently iron the area with a warm – not hot – iron. The combination of heat and moisture can help to lift the grain and repair the dent.
Venables supplies OSMO floor wax and other finishing products to care for your woods and will help and advise you about their selection and usage.
For information on staining and opaque coating systems, visit www.sikkens.co.uk.
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