Knowing Your Wood

Common Wood Types :


When new and unfinished, oak furniture will naturally appear quite light with a slightly yellowed hue. All woods however can have significant colour variation from one piece to another, as with any natural product. Any sample products should be taken as indicative of the wood and finish, however it is not possible to guarantee an exact color match.

Over time, sunlight will cause the wood to darken and mellow throughout its life. Oils in the skin will accelerate this process with any areas that are regularly touched, such as handles, table edges or chair backs, gaining a noticeably darker tint to the rest of the furniture.

Solid oak furniture may also be subject to rough grain protruding from previously smooth surfaces. This is usually caused in humid conditions or areas where spillage has occurred, the water having been absorbed into the wood causing the grain to swell.


Compared to oak, walnut is quite dark when first cut, especially the American black walnut varieties. Sunlight will cause walnut to lighten overtime, often bleaching into a light brown, with perhaps a slightly red tint to it.In all other respects, walnut behaves much in the same way as oak (see above).


Ash behaves in all respects nearly identically to oak, the main difference is ash has a slightly narrower grain. Again, as with oak, ash will darken over time.


Cherry is a wood that starts very pale, and can look very similar to both ash and oak when young. Over time, sunlight will cause cherry to darken and redden.Avoid placing objects on cherry for a long period of time in a fixed position as this will mean the area which has been covered will remain lighter than the rest of the wood.


Sourced from North America, grey elm has a rich grain that makes it a fascinating and beautiful timber, especially when used to craft wide surfaces such as table tops and seats.Elm is hard wearing with lacquered finishes naturally darkening over time.


Maintenance of Wood

Regular care is the best policy for maintaining wood. Only use cleaning products recommended by the finish manufacturer.

Instructions for all wooden products:

Because wood is a component in many antiques, learning its basic cleaning is beneficial to any antique owner.

  • Moisture and heat can damage any wood finish. Protect your furniture by using coasters and trivets. Always wipe up moisture promptly and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Avoid dragging sharp or rough objects across the surface of your wood furniture. Use adhesive felt pads, trivets, coasters and place mats to help prevent scratches.
  • Avoid direct contact with rubber bumpers and candle wax as it may react with the wood’s finish and leave a stain.
  • Wood will expand and contract with seasonal humidity changes. Maintain consistent humidity levels to minimize movement in the wood and prevent warping.
  • Over time, air and sunlight will change the color of natural wood. Occasionally rotate the items placed on your wood furniture to allow a more uniform color to develop. Expose table leaves to the same amount of air and sunlight as your table.
  • Care for your wood furniture according to its finish.
  • Apply Room & Board Wood Cleaner for daily or deep cleaning on all of your interior or exterior wood surfaces. Simply spray and wipe clean with a cloth.



  • Lacquered, painted or stained wood is susceptible to scratches. Use adhesive felt pads, trivets, coasters and placemats to protect your furniture.
  • Use a slightly damp cloth to clean as needed. Wipe dry.
  • For persistent spots, gently clean with a soft cloth and a solution of water and mild detergent. Wipe dry.
  • Do not use cleaning products containing ammonia, alcohol or petroleum.
  • Avoid furniture polish as it can accumulate over time and leave a residue.



  • Use a slightly damp cloth to clean as needed. Wipe dry.
  • Treat your furniture with Room & Board Satin Wax annually, or more often, if the wood seems dry.
  • Apply Room & Board Satin Wax with a clean, white cloth following the direction of the grain pattern. Take care to treat the exposed end grain of panels. Using another cloth, buff to remove excess wax and achieve a smooth finish.
  • Room & Board Satin Wax can be purchased in our stores, online or by calling 800.301.9720.
  • Do not use Room & Board Satin Wax on reclaimed chestnut; see instructions below.



  • Use a slightly damp cloth to clean as needed. Wipe dry.
  • Treat reclaimed chestnut every six months, or more often if the wood seems dry, with an application of food-grade mineral oil. Do not use cooking oils or Room & Board Satin Wax.
  • Apply food-grade mineral oil to a clean, white cloth and then rub it into the wood. Do not apply mineral oil directly to the wood.
  • Scratches, burns, residue and other surface damage can be removed with fine-grit sandpaper. Reapply mineral oil after sanding.


General Maintenance

Dust your wood furniture regularly to avoid build-up of dirt and grime that can dull the finish. Dust with a clean damp cloth following the grain of the wood. Wipe clean with a soft, dry cloth. Do not use excess amounts of water and do not allow water to stand on the wood surface.

Follow these guidelines:


  1. Clean all surfaces frequently with a soft, water-dampened cloth, wiping with the grain.
  2. Use coasters under hot objects such as coffeepots and cups (avoid temperature extremes).
  3. Lift objects to move them.
  4. Immediately remove all liquids on wood surfaces by blotting them dry (moisture is not your furniture’s friend!).
  5. Use a protective desk pad under all writing areas and business machines.Level the product to prevent items from sliding across surface (and allow better movement of drawer slides).


  1. Use paper towels as this will scratch the surface.
  2. Clean or wipe against the grain.
  3. Expose the furniture to extreme heat, cold or humidity variations (keep away from radiators, air conditioning vents, humidifiers, fireplaces, etc.)
  4. Pull items across the wood as this will scratch the surface.
  5. Expose the furniture to strong sunlight (this will accelerate changes in the colour of the wood furniture).
  6. Use harsh solvents – they might cause the finish to deteriorate.
  7. Use glass cleaners or waxes.
  8. Use furniture polishes as they build up layers which trap dirt and particles which can scratch surfaces and leave a smeared appearance.
  9. Allow water to stand on the wood surface.