Easy Fixes for Furniture

June 30, 2015

Interior furnishing big-ticket items are subject to heavy everyday wear, occasional spills, and tears. Most can be restored or maintained in good condition at minimal cost. Here are some common problems and their solutions.

Easy Fixes for Furniture

My wicker seat is saggy

Give it a lift with a vinegar bath

Over time, a woven wicker or rattan seat will begin to sag, but it's easy to get it as tight as a drum again.

  1. Mix hot water with an equal amount of distilled (not malt) vinegar: you'll need about one litre (one quart) per chair.
  2. Take the chair outdoors, soak an old towel in the liquid and swab it generously onto the top of the wicker seat. Then turn the chair upside down and drape the wet towel over the bottom of the wicker seat.
  3. Allow to soak for two to three hours, then let the chair dry fully; the seat should now be taut.

My favourite chair is falling apart

Belt it up and get it back into shape

Loose or wobbly legs are a common problem in older chairs. Take action by re-gluing the horizontal bars, or stretchers, that hold the legs together.

  1. Pull out each stretcher where it meets the leg and use a little sandpaper to remove the old glue.
  2. Apply some new wood glue and refix the joint. Work your way around the chair until you have re-glued all the joints.
  3. Now you need to hold the joints firm while the glue dries. The easiest way to do this is to take a couple of belts (or an old suitcase strap) and buckle them together. Wrap the belts round the legs, tighten them as much as you can, fasten them together and leave to set for 24 hours.

A drink has left a white ring on my table

Rub it out with a homemade paste

Moisture on the outside of a glass or bottle can penetrate beneath some wood finishes to leave an ugly white ring.

  1. The first try drying the table. Blast the ring with a stream of cool (not hot) air from a hair dryer. If the ring persists, you'll need some very light abrasive to remove the stain.
  2. Mix a dryish paste from 15 grams (one tablespoon) of salt or baking soda and a little water. Apply to a cloth and rub the white ring gently in a circular motion. You can also use white (not gel) toothpaste.

If your table is valuable or antique, don't try to fix it yourself — leave it to a professional.

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