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Don’t Ruin That Antique Furniture by Trying to Repair it!

Buying and selling antique furniture is a fun and interesting adventure, whether it’s just a part-time hobby or a full-time pursuit. Learning about the different periods of time and the styles that were popular then, the different cultures and what they appreciated by way of furniture, and how to spot a true piece of antique furniture versus a reproduction or fake can be a very absorbing adventure. However there is one mistake that many newcomers to the world of antique furniture seem to make again and again and it’s something that not only devalues their pieces, it can actually make it worthless. What is that? It’s trying to fix imperfections and damage on their own. Why does it affect the value of the furniture this way?
One thing to remember about antique furniture is that the material from which it’s made is not the only thing that makes it special and unique. The nails, glues, and other adhesive and materials were also very unique for whatever time period the furniture is from. For instance, many decades ago nails were handmade of iron; today they are mass produced in a factory and made of usually a mixture of alloys. The iron from these old nails would often discolor the wood around it; while some may see this as a defect it’s actually part of what gives antique furniture its charm. However, to try to refasten any loose boards or parts using nails of today will just ruin that part of the furniture. Those who want to purchase antique furniture want all the parts of it to be original and unique; using today’s nails or other materials will ruin it in their eyes. The same can be said of glues and adhesives – the materials they used years ago to create wood glue is far different from the ingredients in glue today.
Attempting to fill in any cracks on wood furniture or sew up any seams on cloth furniture can be disastrous if done by someone not familiar with how to do this properly. Just taking a needle and thread to the coverings of your antique furniture may very well close up a rip or tear but it will probably also be noticeable and considered a defect by buyers.
So how do you actually repair antique furniture? Definitely take it to someone that is an expert in making these types of repairs, whether it’s wood or cloth or porcelain or any other material. Never try to do it yourself. And, ask yourself if it’s something that really needs repairing in the first place. While rips in fabric may be unsightly, most little dents and dings in wooden furniture and smudges on porcelain are part of what gives antique furniture its charm. Some buyers truly appreciate those small so-called defects. So rather than actually try to repair every little thing you see as being wrong with your pieces, remember that antiques aren’t supposed to “look like new!”