There are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes on furniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients in commercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, these ingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification. These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) and you have no way of knowing in advance.
Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; and semisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks:
AEROSOLS (Spray Polishes): Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders in introducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, they may contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the "dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the piece of furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust cloth.
LIQUIDS: Like aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms of commercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and "oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organic solvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. These products can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on the surface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries. Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto the furniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprays on the furniture surface.
Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oil polishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes, colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasing surfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oils used as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.
- Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil with colorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but even so some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airborne contaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oils don't undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.
- Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a different matter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reaction with the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasingly difficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish, but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that is difficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem. Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acids they are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaque black.
- Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil, turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in the museum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thick incrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durable nor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coating that is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.
SEMISOLIDS: By virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to wooden objects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a very concentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not include undesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of damaging organic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are an excellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes are exceedingly stable and don't cause many of the problems inherent in the previously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furniture conservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But paste waxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contact with the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for proper application. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, the better quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the results and benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort. Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needs to be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishing should be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavy wear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table and chair legs, cabinets, and similar areas. If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxed surface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coat of wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax that is applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightly surface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the new wax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simply integrate the old into the new.
Helpful Tips for Selecting Essential Library Furnishings
The libraries of today are no longer simply familiar repositories for books. Libraries now provide an increasing range of different services, using a multitude of media, and reach a more diverse audience than ever before. The library is a place for studying, work, research, and often times leisure and relaxation. Looking beyond the bookshelves, there are a wide variety of essential furnishings that libraries require to provide the amenities that patrons count on. From study carrels to lounge seating, tables to coat racks, and even appropriate lighting, all of these things are considerations to remember when furnishing an new library, or refurnishing an existing library. At CSN Library Furniture, we have picked out vital furnishings from a range of quality manufacturers and brought them to you at quality prices.
We understand that focusing on work can be a challenge for students of all ages. A study carrel can be a great solution to this problem, both in the library and the classroom. With our large selection styles and finishes, you are sure to find a study carrel which perfectly fits your needs.
Free Standing study carrels offer the function of desks with added privacy. Perfect for creating study spaces and research areas in a library setting, free standing study carrels are a popular choice for libraries.
Table Top study carrels are a great way to transform existing desk spaces into a private study area. Because of their moveable features, they are a versatile solution for many libraries.
Foldable study carrels are also a great way to transform existing table top spaces into private study areas. The foldable nature of these study carrels is a great solution for libraries with limited space. Easy to move and store, these study carrels are also a popular choice.
Tack board study carrels come in both free standing and table top styles, but offer the additional function of a cork board or bulletin board surface. A great study tool, or research planning tool, tack boards can help organize ideas and thoughts of all types of students and library-users.
Multi-Sectional study carrels also come in free standing and table top styles. Another great space saver, these carrels offer multiple sections in one unit for individual study areas.
The library is more than just a place for reference. An ideal place for study hours, leisure reading and some peace and quiet, the library requires amenities such as lounge seating, reception tables and comfortable reading areas. You can find all of these library lounge furnishings and more on CSN Library Furniture!
Seating is an integral component of a functioning library, and for this we offer a wide variety of reception chairs for lounge areas to meet your library's needs. In a variety of styles, from professional to functional, and an array of finishes and fabric combinations there are reception area chairs or benches that will fit your space, needs and budget.
Tables are another important library furnishing to consider. Side tables in lounge areas, activity tables, and general table space will make your library a more functional and comfortable place for patrons to relax, study, or work.
Coat Racks: Creating a comfortable environment for patrons to participate in leisure reading, study hours, or research, there are some amenities that can often be overlooked. Coat racks are a great addition to your library, evoking an organized atmosphere and making the library a deinstitutionalized, comfortable, familiar place. CSN Library Furniture offers a variety of coat stands, coat racks, and coat hooks that will match your library style and budget! Lighting: Lighting is an extremely important factor in creating an ideal library environment. Patrons of your library come to read, study, use computers or media systems. All of these activities can cause eye strain if the library is not properly lit. Consider over head or recessed lighting for general lighting. Also remember that task lighting is an essential component of your library lighting scheme. Place banker lamps and desk lamps on tables and desks for added light, and keep accent lighting available in reception and lounge areas. Children's Furniture: Don't forget some of the library's biggest (or smallest!) fans. Many libraries have special sections, rooms, or even whole floors devoted to children's literature, so make sure that ample attention is also devoted to children friendly furnishings. Consider kid-sized seating and tables, activity furniture, play furniture, easels and bookstands for your children's library. The appropriate scale, durability and accessibility of children's furniture will make kids feel welcome and help foster their interest in learning and reading.
Waste Receptacles: Keep your library a clean, well function environment. Appropriate waste receptacles for trash and recycling are an essential but often over looked component of any efficient public space, libraries including. Also consider appropriate outdoor waste receptacles and urns or ashtrays for smokers to keep things looking orderly on the exterior of the library as well. Taking the time to consider all of the amenities that patrons require, from trash cans to couches, lighting to coat racks, children's furniture and more, will make your library a more functional and comfortable environment for all to enjoy.
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