Updated: Jan 14
Humidity and antique furniture do not go well together and can cause a whole host of problems for antique dealers and owners.
One of the main issues for collectors is that they want their antique furniture to be seen by friends, family and potential customers, but they want it to be safe and away from potential risks. Antique furniture needs to be kept in its optimum conditions.
It’s often said that due to the high level of craftsmanship antique furniture can withstand greater wear and tear. Whilst the craftsmanship may be of a higher standard compared to today’s flat-pack style of furniture, the age of antique furniture outweighs the standard of the build, meaning you have to take greater care of it.
One of the biggest enemies to your antique furniture is humidity. This occurs as a result of moisture and it has a detrimental effect on your antiques. There are varying degrees of humidity and they all have different effects on your prized possessions.
Low levels of humidity will cause the wood and the glues in your antique furniture to dry out, causing it to warp as the materials begin to shrink. This means the joins and seams of your furniture will loosen or split, rendering your piece of furniture useless. Even if you see no warping effects the glues and lubricant may have become brittle and thus susceptible to damage if someone sits on it.
High humidity sees the same problems arise with those seen with excess moisture in general, an atmosphere with humidity at 100% sees rainfall, but anything below can see no precipitation but an atmosphere full of water vapour, which spells disaster for your antique furniture. Any humidity levels between 70% and 99% will see mould start to grow on your pieces and cause irreparable damage.
Ideal Humidity For Your Antique Furniture
The ideal settings for your selection of antique furniture is a humidity level between 35 - 65%, and kept at a temperature between 68 - 75 °F. Like humidity, any extreme fluctuations of temperature will open your antique furniture to a greater risk of damage.
How To Deal With Humidity
If you are a serious collector of antique furniture or simply want to keep an eye on an heirloom piece that was handed down to you then a humidity meter will be worth every penny and allow you to methodically check humidity levels in every room.
It’s always advisable to keep your antiques away from any heat output such as radiators, log fires, electric heaters and A/C units as well as air flow vents and cold drafts.
Use a humidifier in the room with antique furniture if you are worried about excess moisture and regulate it with your humidity meter.
It is also worth noting that sunlight can cause irreparable damage to your furniture. Whilst it may be tempting to place your antique chair in the window so you can soak up the rays whilst reading your favourite book, ultimately this will damage the materials, and extreme sunlight can even cause problems to the wood.
If you have any reservations about collecting antique furniture they can be quashed easily by purchasing from a reputable company such as us, Patrick Sandberg Antiques. With over 25 years’ experience within the antique industry we are highly knowledgeable on how to care for specific pieces and can offer you expert advice on how to get the most out of your new item.