There are three sources that damage wood structures in homes extensively. First, is the moisture content in the air. Second is the direct rainwater on the window frames and doors exposed outside damages it. The problem compounds in the rainy months. Finally, water penetrating through the visible and invisible openings in the walls housing the wood frames wrecks it slowly.
The lifetime of wood structures is affected by various types of microorganisms such as fungi , bacteria or insects which feed on wood particles. This renders the wooden structure weak. Lumber and timber are treated with chemicals to provide long-term resistance to organisms that cause deterioration.
Proper choice of chemicals extends the life of timber. The preservatives used to pressure-treat timber are pesticides. Since these chemicals have the potential of affecting other lives, including humans, adversely, care needs to be taken in the choice of chemicals.
The manufacturers of wood frames typically provide a cover to the frames through chemical treatment. Vacuumimpregnation, and dip and spray of protective chemicals, provide the shielding cover. The protective cover has a limited life as it goes through wear and tear in every season. This results in the weakening of this protective cover, year after year.
You can limit damage to woodwork by adopting simple solutions. The damage to wood arising out of moisture in the air can be prevented with a fresh coat of protective chemicals. The impact of direct rainfall on exposed wood can be addressed with a suitable rain shade.
To limit damage to wood through water seepage in walls, cracks in the masonry around the wood frames need to be fixed. Walls could become weak or develop cracks due to poor workmanship or with time. These cracks need to be identified and filled with necessary waterproofing compound.
CHEMICALS TO PRESERVE WOOD
With copper as the main fungicide, arsenic is the secondary fungicide and also an insecticide in chromated copper arsenate. Other formulations with copper include copper chromate , copper citrate, acid copper chromate and ammonia cal copper zinc arsenate. Boric acid, oxides and salts (borates) are effective wood preservatives.
They do not contain copper or other heavy metals, and are characterised by low toxicity to humans. Sodium silicate is effective against insect attacks . However it has the disadvantage of being water soluble.
The chemical coat is easily washed away with water. Potassium silicate-based preservatives frequently include boron compounds, cellulose, lignin and certain plant extracts. Linseed oil serves as a solvent and has a water-resisting property. Ideally, work on preserving wood should start well before summer showers and monsoon.
Flooring today has become one of the most important aspects of any home. Choice of flooring has come a long way, from red oxide to tiles — mosaic, marble or granie. One element that has not gone out of fashion is wooden flooring.
It is becoming popular as wood lends warmth and elegance to a house and also enhances the décor.
Wooden floors are ecologically friendly. Being a natural resource, wood is both renewable and recyclable. In fact, wood cast away often finds a second life in wooden flooring. In addition, wood does not collect dust and other allergens, which means, such floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home.
In a national survey of real estate agents, 90 per cent said that houses with wood flooring sell faster and for higher prices than houses without wood floors.
Available in variety of hues and texture, laminated and engineered, wooden flooring is available in several options. Whether you are looking for traditional oak, rustic pine, exotic wenge or trendy bamboo, you are sure to find a color and style to fit your décor.
Three styles of wooden flooring that are easily available in the market today are strip, plank, and parquet. Each style is available in a variety of types, colours and width. So choosing the right style simply is a function of the look you prefer.
Strip flooring creates a linear effect in a room, often making the room appear larger. It is considered as “traditional” wood flooring. Plank flooring typically is linear, like strip flooring giving your room a more casual look, while parquet flooring generates a geometric, non-linear look giving your floor a simple design with complex look.
Experts suggest that one should go for darker shades for high footfall areas such as offices, gymnasiums and staircases to mask dust and other stains; while for the living room, lighter shades are preferred for amplifying the room’s space.
To increase the life of wood, cleaning should be done on regular basis. Use a cleaning product recommended by the flooring manufacturer, installer, or other wood flooring professional. This will ensure that you use the proper cleaner for your type of flooring and finish. You can refinish, or re-coat solid hardwood flooring several times, which adds to their appeal and to their long life. There are solid hardwood floors that are well over 100 years old and are still in good condition.
Wood has been in use for hundreds of years and yet they remain the floor of choice for the very aspiring homeowners. Whether you have a 100-year old floor that you’ve just refinished or newly installed wooden flooring, either one will turn heads.
Wooden flooring brings a sense of nature indoors, and not in the raw sense of the word, but rather in natural beauty.
The recent technology of digital printing on tiles has helped to meet the requirements and demands of the customers. With the help of this innovative technology, the organic authenticity of various hardwood species can be imitated and hence, the replication of natural finishes is being preferred increasingly by customers.
Offering easy maintenance requirements, wood finish tiles is likewise a sustainable option. Additionally, endless application possibilities allow the beauty and grace of wood to be enjoyed in spaces such as the kitchen, entryway, bathroom, etc where traditional wood flooring would never otherwise be found.
The benefits of tiles over hardwood flooring are:
Ease of use: One of the biggest benefits of using tiles in the home is they are easier to clean as compared to hardwood flooring. All you have to do to clean your tiles is to wipe them over with a damp cloth, or use a simple cleaning solution. Tiles are also quite hygienic as they can be easily treated with disinfectants or bleach without affecting the surface.
Versatility: With digital printing, there are virtually limitless options when it comes to the colours, designs and patterns.
Cost Effectiveness: Tiles are cheaper than many other types of hardwood flooring surfaces.
Durability: Tiles can stand up to even the heaviest of foot traffic and they will not show signs of wear. If a tile does become chipped or damaged, all you have to do is to remove the damaged tile and lay another one in its place.
The look of wood combined with the lasting quality of tile can inspire all kinds of possibilities as we tackle our home improvement and remodelling projects. As a homeowner this decorative choice allows you to experiment with the colours and tones offered by the warm look of wood floors, while providing the benefits of a tile.
Wooden finish tile flooring adds a contemporary designer look to the interiors and exteriors of a house, and can be availed at most reasonable prices. They offer excellent surface quality in terms of grip and visual appearance.
Continuous innovation in the industry has helped to transform our home space from the old monotonous look to a new modern look meeting the latest trends and demands.
Fabrication of wooden door and window shutters is a highly skilled job. The doors may look similar from a distance but a closer examination tells you the degree of skill, the carpenter possessed. Equally skilful has to be the job of erecting them in position. Little carelessness shown in it could lead to ill-fitting, loose doors and windows that will become a source of permanent inconvenience for the user. Here are certain aspects to that you should be aware of in order o get the right fitting:
Care for the hinged side: The carpenter has to keep in mind the hinged side of each door and window shutter while fabricating them. Some shutters have different designs on the inside and outside faces. When one-side-teak plywood is used in the panels, design is added on the non-teak face of panels. In such cases, decide the hinged side of shutter at the fabrication stage itself.
Hang on correct side: When the house is in use, paneled doors remain open and the wire mesh doors are in closed position. Care should, therefore, be taken that all paneled doors open against the wall. Doors not opening against the wall hamper movement of the residents. In such cases where the door frame is not adjacent to wall, the hinged side of doors should be carefully decided.
Same side hanging: In double rebate frames housing paneled and wire mesh doors, unless otherwise required, both the paneled as well as wire mesh shutters should be hung on the same side of the frame. In exceptional cases, this condition can be altered to allow easy movement of residents. Kitchens having a door opening in the back verandah may sometimes require hanging of the two shutters on different sides. Also, when the doors to two different rooms are adjacent to each other but at right angles, opening of one door may block the entry to other room. In such cases, too, the hanging of doors has to be decided carefully at site.
Centrally placed doors: Preference should always be given to position a door frame next to the wall so that the doors could open against the wall. However, in certain cases, this arrangement may not be available. In such cases, the door should be made to open at 180 degree instead of the normal 90 degrees. By doing this, the door, after opening, can be rested against the wall in which it has been fixed and shall not stand protruding at 90 degrees.
Duct doors: The toilets in a house should essentially have the external wall as one of their four walls so that proper light and ventilation could be provided in them. Sometimes, the toilet has to be positioned inside the house where no external wall is available. In such cases, a duct is planned adjacent to the toilet to provide light and ventilation to the toilet. Such ducts often have a door opening to the living room. The door shutters of this duct opening should be carefully hung. Preferred position will be to keep the paneled door on the outer side and wire mesh door on the inside. Otherwise, the frame should be kept as single rebated and a glass door should be provided in it.
WIC doors: The present trend is to provide a walk-in cupboard attached to each bedroom. The doors to these walk-in-cupboards should preferably be kept as sliding to make best use of the space inside the WIC. The position of sliding doors should be carefully marked to allow wall space for the slider. Providing an open-able door to WIC will eat up space equivalent to a quarter of a circle of door width radius and WIC will barely serve its purpose.
Select the hinges carefully: The hinges used for hanging door and window shutters should be of right material, size, thickness and brand. Stainless steel hinges should be preferred over mild steel hinges. Size of hinges should be 4 inch or 5 inch for doors and 3 inch for windows. Thickness wise, hinges should be of heavy quality and of not less than 12 gauge. Many reputed brands of stainless steel hinges are now available and one should be finalised after making enquiries about their reputation and cost.
Placement of hinges: The doors should be hung on 3 hinges of 5 inch size or 4 hinges of 4 inch size. Window shutters can be hung on 2 or 3 hinges of 3 inch size, depending upon the depth of window shutter. In case a door shutter is heavy in weight due to use of high quality teak wood, an additional hinge may be provided in the top portion. While providing 3 hinges, one should be kept at the centre while the other two may be fixed at 8 to 9 inch distance from top and bottom.
Make recess: Take care that door and window hinges fixed on the frames are sunk into the frames and not fixed on the surface of the frames. If the hinges are fixed without making recesses, shutters will not open fully. Ask the carpenters to make recesses in frames of depth equal to thickness of hinge plate so that hinge surface is flush with the frame surface. Similarly the second plate of a hinge should be sunk into the shutter to make it flush with shutter edge.
Choose screws carefully: The screws used to hang door and window shutters also need attention. Poor quality screws don’t have good threading and lose grip very soon. Screws used should be of stainless steel and of a reputed brand. The size of screws shall be given by the carpenter and he should even define their exact numbers as each screw costs Rs 1.25 to 2. Extra screws purchased are mostly accepted back by the hardware shops without fuss. Slotted counter sunk head screws should be preferred as these will not protrude beyond the hinge surface. Screw sizes are defined as 30 x 8 or so. A 30 x 8 screw means a screw of 30 mm length drawn out of 8 gauge wire. For door shutters, 1.5 inch length screws are preferred while for window shutters, 1.25 inch screws can be used. Choose right length of screws as too long screws may tear apart lesser thick wooden members.
Make first trial: After first two grindings of marble flooring or fixing of tile flooring, the door shutters should be given a trial by hanging them in position in all door frames. Ask the carpenter to devise a marking code so that he knows which shutter is to be hung in which opening. After the trial hanging of shutters, the carpenter will come to know if the shutters fully sit in the rebate or bulge out somewhere. The gap between the frame and shutter on all three sides should also be checked. A 3 mm gap between the shutter and floor should be sufficient unless carpets are to be fixed on the floors. The shutters should rest flush with the frames. A bulging shutter may be due to non-fixing of frame in plumb or its warping or a defect in the shutter. Ask the carpenter to set them right.
Use few screws for trial: Ask the carpenter not to drive in all the screws in hinges during trial hanging. Just two screws per hinge should be sufficient. Driving the screws in, their removal and re-fixing at a later stage may widen the screw holes, thus making the shutters hang loose.
There were times when wooden drawers were fabricated by the carpenter and slid into the slots made for these in the tables or cupboards. Often, such drawers posed problems in their smooth pulling out or pushing in. Some margin had to be kept for their movement and a little skewed nudge made these get stuck. The advent of telescopic channels has made this job much easier. However, certain aspects need to be kept in view while selecting telescopic channels. Here, have a look:
Material: Also called ball-bearing slides, the telescopic channels are available in mild steel and stainless steel. Stainless steel channels are very costly. Prefer to choose zinc-coated mild steel channels as these pose no problem at all, allow smooth running and are much cheaper. Moreover, there is no chance moisture interfering with their smooth operation. MS channels are either painted or zinc coated to look like stainless steel channels. However, for kitchen trolleys, it is better to go in for stainless steel channels.
Sizes: Telescopic channels are supplied in various sizes. Here, size means the depth of the channel along the depth of the drawers. Available sizes are 10", 12", 14", 16", 18", 20", 22", 24", 30" and 36" inches. The sizes should be chosen carefully to suit the depth of drawers. Normally cupboard drawers need 20" size channels. The under counter drawers in kitchen also need 20" size channels. Drawers provided in the dressing table require channels of lesser depth. Ask the carpenter to give sizes carefully as channel depth has to be less than the depth of slots for the drawers.
Ratings: Telescopic channels are rated according to their load bearing capacity. The ones able to carry up to 30 kg load are called light-duty channels. Those carrying 40 to 45 kg are called medium-duty channels and the channels that can bear more than 45 kg are called heavy-duty channels. The load carrying capacity can be as high as 400 kg. Always remember that wider drawers should have higher rating channels.
Mechanism: Each telescopic channel further has a pair of channels, the smaller channel running inside the bigger channel. The smaller size channel is fixed on the drawer and the bigger size channel is fixed on the wall of the slot. All telescopic channels have a locking system at the inner end. The smaller size channel gets locked when the drawers are fully pressed in. When the channel gets locked, a bit of extra pull is required to release the lock and thereafter, the run is smooth.
Travel length: Telescopic channels can have different travel lengths. Those channels that allow a drawer to open partially, say up to 75 per cent of the total slide length, are called partial-extension channels. Those allowing 100 per cent opening of the drawer are called full-extension slides. There are channels available that allow a drawer to extend beyond the length of the slide. Such telescopic channels or slides are called over extension channels. One may, therefore, choose the channels of travel length of his choice.
Cost: Telescopic channels are sold either on per inch cost basis or on size basis. On inquiring, normally, cost of 20 inch standard size channel is quoted. One should keep in mind that the quoted rate is for a pair of channels and not for a single piece. The reason for this is that channels are always used in pairs only. There is a large variation in the rates. Heavy discounts are provided on the MRP. A 20" size, non-hydraulic channel pair normally costs Rs 290 to Rs 300.
Performance: Each channel in the pair has a number of ball bearings provided in it. These ball bearings play a major role in the smooth operation of the channel. The performance of channel is directly proportional to the number of balls. The number of balls can be easily counted by the buyer. Look for channels having ball bearings with more than 30 balls in each channel of the pair.
Screws for channels: The normal tendency of the buyer is to choose star headed screws for all the fittings to be provided in the house. However, for fixing telescopic channels, don’t choose star head screws. Their manufacturing is such that these don’t sit fully and often interfere with the movement of the inner sliding channel. Choose normal head screws. These sit in properly. Let the maximum size of screws be ¾ inch only as longer screws will cover the full thickness of 19 mm board ply and protrude on the other end.
Feather touch: The only purpose of spending money on purchasing telescopic channels is to make the trolleys and drawers travel ‘smooth like water’ and without any holds or interruptions. A small pull should make the drawer come out running and a small push should seat it in position. Carpenter’s skill in fixing the channels in perfectly horizontal position plays a significant role in the smooth running of drawers. Therefore, don't get satisfied by sweet talk and check each drawer and trolley yourself for smooth running. Once done perfectly, the provision shall delight you every time you open a drawer or pull out a trolley in the kitchen.
Hydraulic vs mechanical: Telescopic channels may be hydraulic or mechanical type. Hydraulic channels have a hydraulic piston provided at the inner end of the telescopic channel. When the drawer is given a gentle push, the hydraulic system gets activated and the drawer moves itself, slowly and completely in position, till it gets locked at the inner end. Watching drawers move inside on their own, and gently, is quite fanciful. However, hydraulic telescopic channels are much costlier than the mechanical channels.
Termites can ruin the peace of mind of any house owner as they can severely damage furniture and woodwork. These are highly adaptable and are tough to control and can cause serious structural damages.
These insects are also very fast in their destructive powers as they are not easily noticed and never stop working and eating their way through a home’s wooden structure. One should take all precautions to prevent the termites from taking over one’s home:
As these insects feed off the cellulose in wood, they turn furniture into powder. It is for this reason that only treated wood is advised to be used in homes. As untreated wood becomes an entry point for termites, any kind of untreated wood should not come in contact with the soil surrounding a home.
Termite identification is definitely the most important step in preventing infestation. Recognising and knowing the physical attributes of termites help in stopping further damage.
Termites have a more distinct appearance compared to ants. They are generally dark red in colour. These insects are found in colonies like ants and their number in these colonies can be enormous. Termites are generally between 1/8 of an inch to an inch long. As most of the people have not seen termites, recognising them from termite tubes can be easy and less time consuming.
Controlling the spread of termites involves identifying and locating the nest and choosing the finest and most long-lasting eradication methods. One has to be always cautious with building inspections in termite-prone areas, for example, in independent homes. One should use naturally resistant or treated wood in homes, and in case of independent homes, chemical and physical soil barriers should be placed around the building. The treatment should be repeated after every 18 to 22 months to prevent any damage. The person who comes in for pest control treatment should thoroughly inspect the entire area for the insects.
A termite inspection is very helpful as the professional generally detects the old and damaged part of home and furniture, gives tips on future prevention and carries out the treatment to minimise termite infestation.
The first signs of termites typically show up on the exterior of the home; therefore, the perimeter of the home should be inspected thoroughly.
All the dead bushes should be removed from the perimeter of the home as these can be a perfect place for termites to build their colonies. Within the interiors, search for termites in every room in the house, under the beds, behind the curtains and inside the cabinets. Termite tubes can be present on floor boards and thus are easily visible.
While finalising the finish of the wooden items in the house, a house owner is often caught between two choices — laminates and decorative plywood. Many factors favouring each material arise and making the right choice becomes difficult. Let us analyse various aspects related to the use of laminates and decorative plywood to arrive at a correct decision:
The use: The laminates and decorative plywood with teak finish are used as decorative finishing materials for the wooden items fabricated out of wood and ply boards. The ply boards and block boards carry a rough surface which needs to be provided with a decorative finish of suitable colour, gloss and design to convert it into a highly attractive provision or piece of art.
Choice of finish: There is ample choice of finish in laminates. Laminates are produced in plain, wooden and metallic shades. Wooden shades are made to look like the grains of most woods. Laminates have all the popular wood shades of walnut, oak, pine, ash wood and others. Mostly, plain and wooden finishes are liked by the people except for kids’ room where bright and metallic colours often are the choice.
Decorative plywood: In plywood, though there is limited choice of finish available, yet most people choose teak finish plywood for the door panels and wood-framed glass partitions because of the elegance it lends to the wooden items. In this plywood, ornamental decorative veneer slices are used as the face, to make it look like teakwood. This plywood is also subjected to all type of tests for moisture content, water resistance, water absorption etc before releasing it in the market.
Cost factor: The laminates available in the market are quite cheap in comparison to decorative plywood. 0.7 mm thick laminates used inside the cabinets are very cheap and cost about Rs 15 per sq ft only. The 1.0 mm thick laminates used on the outer surfaces of boards cost about Rs 30 to Rs 40 per sq. ft. Textured and metallic finish laminates cost a little extra. On the other hand, decorative plywood of good make and with one side finish costs about Rs 70 per sq ft.
Labor cost: As per prevailing practice, a carpenter charges more amount for using decorative plywood on the wooden surfaces than using the laminates. The rates quoted by a carpenter gang are on per sq ft basis irrespective of the depth of cupboards or the paneling work. For the wood work finished with decorative plywood, a carpenter may quote a rate of Rs 180 per sq ft while his rate for finishing the same wood work with laminates shall be Rs 150 per sq ft or so. Thus, on account of labour too, decorative plywood finish costs more to the house owner. In addition to the carpenter’s labour cost, decorative plywood requires labour cost for polishing work also.
Overall cost comparison: Let us now have a look at the various cost components for each type of finish. Laminate finish cost comprises the cost of laminates, cost of adhesives and labour cost of carpenter.
Decorative plywood finish cost consists of cost of plywood, cost of adhesives, labor cost of carpenter, cost of wood polish and labour cost of polishing work. If we work it out on per sq ft basis without considering the common item of plyboards, the laminate finish work shall cost about Rs 200 per sq ft while the decorative plywood finish work shall cost about Rs 330 per sq ft.
Advantages of laminates: Laminate finish for wooden items has many advantages. There is ample, rather mind boggling, choice available in case of laminates. One may choose high gloss, matt finish, texture finish, metallic finish, suede finish or many other finishes of laminates. If you have got the door and window frames and shutters polished, laminates matching the exact shade of polish on doors and windows will be available, making the visitors believe that even other wooden accessories have been got polished by you.
Laminates are quite durable and any marks or stains on them can be easily wiped off. Besides this, laminate work is quite cheap in comparison to the decorative plywood finish, as proved above. Thirdly, the laminate work can be completed in a fast manner. Once the laminates are pasted, the work is finished.
Disadvantages of laminate finish: Though the wooden items finished with laminates look highly attractive and decorative yet the general liking of people is for polished work despite its high cost. Somehow, the woodwork finished with decorative plywood and then polished is assigned more regard, esteem and ‘class’ than the one finished with laminates. This mindset is so prevalent that some house builders are sharp enough to choose such laminates that resemble the polish work and make it difficult to judge whether the woodwork is laminated or polished. Otherwise, laminated wood work has the only disadvantage of creating very sharp edges and corners in woodwork. One should be alert enough to get these edges and corners rounded or blunted from the carpenter.
Crack development in laminates has been noted sometimes after these are pasted on the wooden surfaces. Companies don’t take responsibility for these cracks, find excuses and attribute it to poor quality of wood and glue. Therefore, while buying laminates, one should make it clear to the supplier that in case such an instance happens then he shall have to replace the lot without additional cost. Such instances don’t occur when decorative plywood is used.
Fleecing by companies: Certain laminate producing companies producing textured laminates fleece the customers under the garb of providing imported laminates by charging very high rates.
Purchase of laminates from such companies should be avoided. One should note that 1.0 mm thick laminate sheets of 8 feet X 4 feet size are available in the market for Rs 1000 to Rs 1400 per sheet. There are hundreds of laminate-manufacturing companies and there is tough competition. Under these circumstances, customer is the king and he must browse enough number of laminate catalogues before selecting the final shades and colours for his wooden items.
Edge beading: The edges of wooden items are finished with half- round or triangular edge beading when decorative plywood is used. This beading lends an elegant look to the wooden items. When laminates are used, normally, the edges are also finished with the same laminate.
Laminates have the final finish and don’t require any polishing. Decorative plywood, however, requires polishing. Polishing of woodwork is a costly affair as the melamine and PU polish are very costly. PU polish comprises three components — the polish, the hardener and the PU thinner. Its application is to be preceded with a three-component sealer, comprising sealer, hardener and thinner. Thus the cost of polish itself is very high apart from the cost of its application. In case of use of laminates, all this cost gets avoided.
Items to be finished
There are a number of wooden items on which these finishing materials are provided. These include panels of door shutters, cupboards, kitchen cabinets, vanity boxes in the toilets, wall panels for LCDs, crockery cabinets, pooja cabinet, study tables, book racks and partitions provided in the house. Sheets of laminates and plywood of choice, therefore, continue to arrive during the construction of house and ultimately, their number runs into hundreds.
Pieces made of old, good wood need practically no maintenance at all. Some species of wood are even naturally resilient to termites. Photo: Shaju John
A teak or rosewood heirloom is often the pride of our homes. Suvasini Sridharan tells you how to care for these treasures
There is something so luxurious about wooden furniture, whether rich mahogany, solid teak or timeless rosewood. Even one piece can lift up a room's décor several notches. Furniture made of these woods is said to last a lifetime and more. “Pieces made of old, good wood need practically no maintenance at all,” says Suresh Narayan of Indika Creations, which specialises in antique wooden furniture. “Some species of wood are even naturally resilient to termites.”
Interior designers often advise clients to buy just one solid piece of wooden furniture, even if expensive, rather than three or four inferior pieces. If you are lucky enough to have inherited an antique piece or have invested in a dresser or bed of top quality timber, then it will just get better with age. But maintenance is the key.
All that your wooden pieces need is regular dusting with a soft cloth. Don't expose them to extreme temperatures. Says Narayan, “Rosewood, especially, is very sensitive to the sun, so don't keep it in direct sunlight.” Or make sure the curtains are drawn when needed. Also, don't keep that teak armchair next to a fireplace or heater.
Keep all wooden furniture in a well-ventilated spot to avoid fungus attacks. Says Viji Saravanan of Timber, known for its high-end wooden furniture: “Use a paint brush or soft, clean cloth to remove dust and moisture regularly. Don't use water on wooden furniture, as it removes the polish.”
The way to clean wooden furniture also depends on its finish. Rosewood and teakwood pieces are usually not finished with lacquer or polish and possess a natural glow, so along with dusting you could apply a touch of furniture oil once a year to give it that sheen. With painted wood, dusting is more than enough. For polished furniture, where lacquer or varnish has been applied, a polish bought at any hardware store can clean the surface. Freshly brewed tea or old, flat beer are both great ideas. Dip a soft cloth in the tea or beer, wring out the excess, and wipe over to remove dirt and grime. You can finish by buffing with a soft cloth.
Don't varnish your nails on your teak dining table! And always, always use coasters, dish pads and place mats on wooden surfaces. This prevents your accidentally putting down a hot, cold or sharp object on the wood.
Despite your best intentions, chances are you will end up with stains, scratches or scorches. A water ring on a walnut peg-table or a cigar burn on a teak counter can bring tears to your eyes. Take heart. We have just the easy solutions you are looking for.
Water rings Apply mayonnaise on the spots and let sit for an hour. Wipe off with a soft cloth. White toothpaste or salad oil also works. Or cover the spot with a thick blotter, press down with a warm iron, and lift off. Repeat. Try rubbing a walnut (without its shell!) or walnut oil on the ring.
White spots Rub the spot with a mix of cigarette ashes and lemon juice or salad oil using a soft cloth. Or sprinkle baking soda or salt and rub off with a soft oil-dipped rag. Or moisten a rag with turpentine and rub off the spot.
Burn marks Rub with polish or use soft sandpaper dipped in linseed oil. Always rub along the grain until the mark disappears. You could also use extra-fine steel wool dipped in lemon oil, again buffing along the direction of the grain. Rubbing with a pumice stone dipped in water or rubbing oil also works.
Scratches If it's dark wood fill the scratch mark with shoe polish in a shade that matches the lightest hues of the wood. Or rub with a walnut in the direction of the scratch. At worst, use a crayon or felt pen to cover the mark. For scratches on light wood, fill with tan or natural shoe polish or paint over with a darkened iodine solution that's diluted 50 per cent with denatured alcohol.
Candle wax Melt with a blow-dryer kept at the hottest setting, then remove the softened wax with a paper towel. Finish by wiping down with a soft cloth dipped in a 50:50 vinegar and water solution.
Termites Sometimes, a cheaper, readymade piece could end up with termites. “To get rid of termites, move the piece to a garage or open space,” says Saravanan. “Clean it and inject the holes with cell oil or termite insecticide, available at hardware stores.” Leave the piece in the sun for a couple of days to kill all termites.