Dispelling Furniture Myths

I’ve been married for more than 20 years so I’m accustomed to being wrong. I used to think that maybe I was occasionally right, but now I know even that was a mistake. Like most folks, I’ve even been wrong about furniture. Here are some myths about home furnishings.

Antiques are always better made. Yes, there was more hardwood and first growth forests were plentiful with tighter grains and there were some woods (like quarter sawn oak or Cuban mahogany) that are rarely available but the tools of today’s trade allow for accuracy in cutting and joinery that were impossible a hundred years ago. The polymer glues of today are much better than the old hide glues. Finishes of today are also much more resistant to wear and tear than was the shellac of yesteryear. Spend as much as your grandparents did (as a percentage of your income) and you can still get great furniture.

Wood finish needs to be fed. There’s nothing you can add to a finish (unless it is more finish) that it can absorb or bond to. The only thing a finish needs is a good waxing with a paste wax once a year and that’s just to put a protective layer between you and the finish.

Wood is alive and needs to breathe. Sorry, once the tree was cut down, the wood died. In fact, there’s reasons not to expose wood to the air since that makes it more likely it will absorb (and give off) moisture, making the wood move and causing cracks and loosening joints.

Wood veneer is bad. Plywood, with its grain running in alternating direction with each leaf is actually more stable and harder to break than straight lumber. What we’ve sadly become accustomed to is cheap pressboard furniture where the veneer is just painted paper that can peel off. Real wood veneer is an opportunity to have visible wood grains that would be impossible to purchase if the entire piece were made of them.

All the wood in a set will exactly match. Even if all the wood came from the same tree, there will significant differences in the grain between areas of the tree. As the saying goes, wood is a natural product…some variation is to be expected.

The most expensive fabric is the most durable. Silks and damasks can be gorgeous looking fabrics (and quite expensive) but they won’t hold up like some of the new nylon and olefin materials. If you really like the look of silk, consider a blend.

Box springs don’t need to be replaced as often as mattresses. Sometimes the sag can be the box springs and not the mattress. Most manufactures design box springs and mattresses to work together, when it’s time for one to go, they both should.

That said, I still prefer real wood to veneer, older furniture to newer and organic fabrics to synthetic. What the heck, I may be wrong but at least I’ve got my opinions.