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Oak Furniture Buying Guide 

Our oak furniture guide is designed to provide you with everything you need to know about buying oak furniture; from oak furniture qualities to cleaning and caring for oak furniture to how to distinguish high quality oak furniture.

Use the tabs on the left hand side to navigate around the buying guide. 

We're sure the guide will give you all the information you need about oak furniture, but if you still have questions please feel free to call our friendly team of experts on 0845 3636 135.

The Oak Furniture Story

Long before oak was used for furniture, it was commonly used on Viking long ships in the 9th and 10th centuries. Skip forward several centuries and oak was being used to make furniture for homes across the UK in the medieval times. Oak was widely available in forests across the country, meaning oak furniture was affordable for rich and poor homes alike. As demand for oak furniture increased in the 16th & 17th centuries, oak become more of a luxury and wealthy families furnished their homes with oak chairs, beds, wardrobes and tables. The Debating Chamber in the House of Commons was (and still is) furnished with elaborate oak panels. 

As well as furnishing homes, oak was also the prime building material used in the construction of ships by the British Royal Navy until the 19th Century. Oak is so sturdy and durable that at that time it was the best material to endure choppy waters as well as canon fire!

Today oak is not only extremely sought-after for furniture, it is also used for flooring, wine and spirits barrels, tool handles, carpentry, medical preparations and more. Japanese oak is even used in the manufacture of Yamaha Drums and cork oak is used to produce wine stoppers

Qualities of Oak Furniture

Oak is an extremely dense open-grain hardwood, which makes it very sturdy and durable. 

Visually, oak wood has a long, prominent grain as well as prominent rings. The grain of oak depends on the way in which the boards are sawed. Some pieces of oak furniture are made from quarter-sawn panels, which show not only the grain but also the oak’s medullary waves – a subtle wavy ribbon-like pattern across the wood making the furniture even more unique. 

Oak furniture comes in a huge range of styles, colours and finishes including light oak, dark oak and reclaimed oak.  At Oak Furniture Solutions, different styles of oak are split into ranges. Choose a darker, rustic looking oak from Westbury Reclaimed Oak or if you’re after lighter oak with more subtle grains take a look at Hereford Oak.

Cleaning and Caring for Oak Furniture

Oak furniture can last a lifetime if you look after it. Our suggestions below will help keep your furniture looking like new for years to come:

  • Avoid placing your furniture too close to radiators or other sources of heat, as extreme temperatures can trigger slight movement in the timber and dry it out.

  • Lamps and other decorative items kept on the surface of the piece should be moved periodically to ensure that the entire surface remains in its optimum condition and to ensure that the colouration of the furniture matures evenly and uniformly.

  • Any spillages should be cleared up as quickly as possible, ensuring that the affected area is completely dry afterwards.

  • Do not drag the furniture as this can cause damage to the timber

  • For oak furniture items with a lacquer finish:

    • Any spillages on lacquered oak furniture can easily be wiped clean with a damp, lint-free cloth. Always wipe in the direction of the grain

  • For oak furniture items with an oil finish:

    • Any spillages on oiled oak furniture can easily be wiped clean with a damp, lint-free cloth. Always wipe in the direction of the grain

    • Oil-finished oak furniture should be re-oiled every 3-6 months. This will prevent the colour looking dull and the surface becoming dry.

    • If the surface of your oil-finished oak furniture becomes scratched or marked, it can be restored by gently removing the scratches using a piece of wire wool or very fine sandpaper before re-coating in oil. 

  • For oak furniture items with a wax finish:

    • Pieces of wax-finished oak furniture should be re-waxed periodically

* Oak Furniture Solutions do not accept any responsibility for any damage caused to furniture by the following of these guidelines. These guidelines are provided as informed suggestions only and are written as general notes for customers. Customers seeking professional, specific after-care advice should either contact us directly or a professional polisher or furniture restorer. 

How to Spot High Quality Oak Furniture

Have a look at the end grain. This is where it is easiest to distinguish between real oak and manufactured wood such as MDF. The easiest way to tell is if the end grain has growth rings.

Look for a repeating pattern. It is unlikely that you will see a repeating grain pattern on a single panel of wood. If you do then it is more likely to be veneer. Veneered wood is created by a machine and therefore more likely to have a repeating grain.  

Look at the grain colour. Is it the natural colour of the wood or is it stained? If it is stained then it becomes much more difficult to gauge the quality of the wood. 

Look at the pattern of the grain. Hard woods have an open pore structure with grain indentations. Also look for unusual characteristics such as knots or curly grains; this adds to the uniqueness of the wood and is also a good indication of authentic oak. 

Feel the weight of the wood. Solid oak wood is much heavier than oak veneer. Oak furniture should feel heavy, solid and sturdy.

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