How to Care For Your Table

Ok… so you’ve just spent good money on a high quality table, or perhaps you want to have a beautiful table custom made for you.  You’re worried you’ll ruin it right away or that your grandkids will beat it up or that you’ll get all kinds of stains on it during the holidays when you have guests.

These are real fears that families consider every day. Here’s what you need to know and consider when it comes to caring for your table. Some things will be universal across finish types, and some will be specific to the type of finish that is on your table. In this post we’ll talk about ways to care for tables regardless of the finish you’ve chosen.

  1. Tablecloths, place mats, coasters and trivets are your best friends.

Obviously you didn’t buy a beautiful table to cover it up when you have guests, but maybe you should. There is no better way to protect your table than to put a cloth over it at mealtime. Not for you, that’s ok. But it’s going to guarantee that your table stays pristine for decades. The next best thing is place mats, coasters and trivets. They are your friends. There is a major difference between a “stain” and a water or heat mark. A stain is from typically acidic food being left on your table. A ring can be caused by ice cold and wet glasses or by scalding hot cups. These are best avoided by using coasters and trivets vigilantly.

reclaimed table
  1. Teach your kids how to serve themselves and others

Any parent knows this is easier said than done. And maybe you don’t have kids. Bring serving dishes close to your plate (or vice-versa) when you serve yourself is the best way to avoid spilling. Actually tucking your chair in and leaning over your plate when you eat is another option for keeping spills away from your table.

If this is a major issue, maybe much of the serving can be done at the kitchen island.

  1. Be vigilant with wiping stains, and use natural cleaners.

We’ve done extensive testing with our finish products and on all of them we can say that if you get a spill right away, you’re good. After about an hour you may find a slight residue. After four hours, it’s going to be a stain, and after 12 hours forget about it. This applies to colorful and highly acidic foods like yellow mustard and curry sauce. If your stain is permanent, don’t try to wipe it off with a highly abrasive scouring pad- it will sand and scratch away the finish of your table and leave you with a dull spot. At this point, you need to accept that the stain is there to stay.

When you are tackling a spill on your table whether it be reclaimed oak or walnut, use all natural cleaners. Chemical free cleaning products are everywhere now. They’ll be easier on the finish of your table than a chemical or bleach cleaner.

table in alcove with bench and chairs

 

  1. Protect your table from prolonged sunlight

This is another reason to use a tablecloth, but in this case, while your table is not in use. If only part of your table is in direct sunlight, and the rest is not, you will see your table lighter unevenly over decades of the wood, or in the case of cherry, it will darken unevenly. Perhaps you can draw the shades during the day while you’re away from the home. This will prevent any discoloring over time and allow your table to stay one even color.

With a little extra care, a custom made table can last your family a lifetime.