Before you make the decision to furnish your home with quality hardwood furniture, it is essential to be mindful of the various characteristics of solid hardwood products.
As hardwoods are a natural material, many small defects may be noticeable in your furniture. This only adds to the charm and individuality of the piece, ensuring that no two items are ever identical. Every single piece of solid wood furniture is a unique piece and this is the main reason why many people choose to buy solid wood over veneered man-made boards.
In its natural environment, hardwood trees expand and contract due to changes in moisture levels. This is an inherent characteristic of the living tree as they absorb the water used in photosynthesis to allow the growth of the plant. It may be surprising to discover that even once the tree has been felled, sawn and crafted into a stylish piece of furniture, the process of expansion and contraction continues as the cell structure of the wood adjusts to the variations in moisture.
Before being crafted into the items you will use to furnish your home, the hardwood is usually kiln-dried to a moisture level of around 16%. This level is a good average moisture level to dissuade the wood from further expansion in most homes, however, the moisture level in all but the most climatically-controlled homes can be susceptible to change and therefore the furniture in the home will continue to expand and contract. This is the same process that causes floorboards to creak at night for no apparent reason.
There are many ways furniture manufacturers choose to relieve or fight against this expansion: Regular protection from the elements with a natural product such as Beeswax or Danish Oil helps to prevent the drying and splitting of hardwoods in varying humidity. Solidly constructed joints such as dovetail or mortice and tenon joints not only hold the wood together firmly but also allow for the natural movement of the wood.
No other furniture compares to solid hardwood furniture for its charm, beauty or solidity. Provided your furniture is well looked after, it will in most cases last a lifetime and will even provide joy to future generations as a much loved heirloom.