Weekend Projects

Make Your Favorite Furniture Last Forever With One Easy Weekend Project

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Federico Paul)

Dusting is probably a regular task in your cleaning routine, covering all sorts of hard working surfaces like doorjambs, lampshades, furniture ledges, and side tables, among many others. But there’s one cleaning task — pertaining to our wooden furniture in particular — that’s too-often neglected.

Polishing wood furniture not only makes it look amazing, but it also helps maintain your wood pieces for years to come, protecting them from dings and scratches and making sure your finest furniture lasts forever.

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

(Image credit: Katy Cartland)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This Weekend’s Assignment:

Polish your wood furniture.

The tricky thing when it comes to polishing wood furniture (and possibly what makes us balk at the task and therefore put it off) is knowing which kind of polish for which type of wood. We’ll break down our weekend project along these lines.

Painted wood furniture

This is easy to spot, but not always easy to know how to clean, besides regular dusting. Most painted wood furniture doesn’t require cleaning or polishing beyond wipe-downs with a damp rag. However, pieces painted with milk paint or chalk paint can benefit from a treatment with finishing wax.

First, make sure that no paint is chipping off; you don’t want to wax any bare wood. Use a lint-free rag folded into a small square and apply the wax to the rag. Not too much, and no clumps; too much wax will actually dull the surface of your piece. Then, gently rub the wax into the surface of your painted wood furniture, allow it to dry, and then buff with a soft cloth or buffing cloth.

Varnished wood furniture

Varnished furniture is among the most common types of wooden furniture and is also easy to maintain. Be careful of excess moisture on your varnished wood pieces because moisture can damage the finish. An occasional (no more than once per year) wax can help protect varnished wood furniture from moisture and dust. Use paste wax.

For more general polishing, Old English Lemon Oil is a great all-purpose polish for varnished wood. Opt for the lightor dark wood Scratch Cover varieties if you need to camouflage scratches.

Waxed or oiled wood furniture

Only a neutral or clear wax should be used to polish waxed or oiled wood furniture, and it may be necessary to remove old layers of wax before beginning. Check out this tutorial for detailed instructions.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.

(Image credit: Katy Cartland)