Looking after oak furniture the correct way

Oak is a beautiful wood that takes years to mature to the size used for furniture making. It is one of the strongest and most respected woods in the furniture making process. Looking after oak items in your home is essential not only from a value point of view, but from an aesthetic one.

Bearing in mind that many owners will have oak furniture that has never been finished in any way, the guidelines given below are split into different sections, taking into account the different aspects considered as important to the maintenance of the wood.

  • Planed Wood Furniture
  • Factory finished wood
  • Oak Furniture Stains
  • Upkeep of Oak Furniture
  • Annual clean up of build up of cleaning products


Oak is a beautiful wood with a splendid grain, and finishing a wooden furniture product matters since the finish chosen will determine the lasting ability of the piece, and take into account its usage. For example, a table that is used on a regular basis will have different needs to an occasional table, since a hardened finish will need to be achieved that with withstand daily abuse.

To finish an oak table, some form of sealer is required

To finish an oak table, some form of sealer is required, because oak without a finishing product will stain with age and penetration to the surface will darken the wood. In many instances, it is fashionable for kitchen tables to be sold with no finish and the idea is that the darkening of the wood will enhance the look, though it is questionable whether this practice is wise.

finishing oil is advisable since this will nourish the wood as well as protecting it, and stop the wood from drying out and twisting. This will need to be done many times before the piece of furniture is fully protected, each time buffing up with a cloth to a nice finish.


Factory finished oak wood furniture will usually come with its own instructions for upkeep, though it is important to remember with a dark wood such as oak that many of the wax polishes that have a white appearance get caught in the grain and under different light will show up. Here, using a clear beeswax polish is a much better bet, since you will retain the quality of the wood, and enhance the grain. Other than that, on a factory finished item in general day to day cleaning, use a damp cloth to simply wipe the furniture.


Oak is susceptible to staining, and the only ways to deal with this depend upon the depth of the stain or mark. Marks that are just on the surface can be touched up with a special pencil made for the purpose which fills small cracks and makes them less visible.

Oak is susceptible to staining

Those cup marks and bigger stains call for more drastic treatment and should be rubbed down to clean grain and re-finished with a polyurethane sealer, and then buffed up over the course of several days with a good quality polish, allowing sufficient time for the polish to penetrate, and then buff up with a cloth that is soft and lint free.


Wooden furniture suffers from dryness of atmosphere provided by central heating systems, and does need cleaning with a wax that will nurture the wood and keep it supple enough not to split. In many home environments, people forget that oak will move and twist with age unless preventative treatment is in place and with furniture items, this means wax polishing.


Over time, the color of the oak changes, though much of this is by a build up of cleaning products that have perhaps not been buffed enough to leave the surface clear. This can be cleaned on an annual basis using a damp cloth with a little vinegar and water, though care should be taken not to gouge the surface and damage the wood. Here, a sponge or soft buffing cloth are sufficient and a little elbow grease rather than harsh cleaning with abrasive materials.