Wood Furniture Cracking in Winter

Wood Furniture Cracking in Winter: Care and Maintenance Tips

Wood furniture adds warmth, elegance, and natural beauty to any space. However, during the winter months, wood is prone to cracking, which can compromise both its aesthetics and durability.

Understanding the reasons behind wood furniture cracking in winter and implementing the right care and maintenance tips can help preserve the integrity of your wooden furniture. In this blog, we will explore the causes of furniture cracking in winter, provide preventive tips, guide you on repairing winter cracks, and offer long-term care strategies to keep your furniture looking its best.

No matter the season, there are a few things you can do to support your furniture’s longevity and sustain this living material with some design self-care. So we’ve compiled a list of tips on maintenance and care with guidance from the wood experts at Ethnicraft for you to use now or to bookmark for later!

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Understanding Why Wood Furniture Cracks in Winter

As the winter sets in, the dry air and low humidity levels can have a significant impact on furniture, leading to cracking. Dry air tends to deplete the moisture content of wood, causing it to contract, while low humidity levels can further exacerbate the problem of cracking. Direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators and fireplaces, can also dry out the wood, making it more susceptible to cracking. Understanding the changes wood undergoes during the cold months is crucial in preventing cracking.

The Impact of Dry Air and Low Humidity

During winter months, the dry air can quickly deplete the moisture content of wood furniture, making it more prone to cracking and dryness. Low humidity levels, often caused by heating sources, can cause the wood to contract, leading to cracks. Additionally, direct sunlight exposure in dry conditions can further exacerbate the cracking and dryness of wooden furniture. To prevent wood furniture cracking and dryness, it’s essential to ensure the humidity level of the indoor environment is maintained and fluctuations caused by heating sources are minimized.

Changes in Wood Structure During Cold Months

Wood naturally contracts in winter due to the decrease in moisture content caused by dry air. The cold weather can also cause the wood fibers to tighten, making them more vulnerable to cracking. Lower humidity levels during winter months affect the dimensional stability of wood, making it more susceptible to cracking. Understanding the wood’s response to cold weather is essential in preventing cracks and preserving the integrity of solid wood furniture.

Tips to Prevent Wood Furniture Cracking in Winter

To prevent cracking in winter, for simple or solid wood furniture regular maintenance is vital. Here are some essential tips to help you protect your furniture during the winter months:

Regular Dusting and Cleaning

how to help keep your wood furniture from cracking

Dusting wood furniture regularly helps prevent the accumulation of unwanted moisture, which can lead to cracking. Use a dry cloth or soft brush to remove dust, and clean the furniture with a soft cloth and lukewarm water to maintain its integrity. Avoid excess water, as it can seep into the wood, causing damage. Regular dusting and cleaning of wood furniture are crucial for maintenance and long-term durability. When cleaning, always use cotton cloths to prevent the risk of scratches. Additionally, you can use wood cleaners, like the ones mentioned in the usage example, to further protect and maintain the quality of your wooden surfaces. Understanding the type of wood you have, the finish, and the effect those cleaners can have on your wooden surfaces will help you determine if you should use them.

Use of Humidifiers to Control Indoor Humidity

Using humidifiers in winter helps maintain the ideal humidity level for wood furniture, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Proper humidity control counters the drying effects of indoor heating during the winter months. By maintaining the right humidity level through the use of humidifiers, you can ensure the long-term durability of your wood furniture. Consistent humidity control is vital in preventing wood furniture from cracking.

Avoiding Direct Exposure to Heat Sources

Direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators and fireplaces, can dry out the wood, making it more prone to cracking. Positioning wood furniture away from direct sunlight and UV rays also helps prevent cracking. Shielding wood furniture from heat sources during winter months is essential for maintaining its integrity. By protecting wood furniture from direct heat sources and UV rays, you can safeguard it from cracking and preserve its natural beauty.

Application of Wood Conditioners and Sealants

Applying wood conditioners helps replenish the natural oils lost during winter, keeping the wood furniture moisturized and resistant to cracking. Protective sealants, such as wax, varnish, or lacquer, act as a barrier, preventing excessive moisture loss from the wood. Regular application of wood conditioners, sealants, and linseed oil helps maintain the moisture content of the wood, enhancing its durability during winter months. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of wood sealant to use, based on the type of wood furniture you have.

Wood and Fabric

Obviously with the movement of the wood you need to pay attention to the fabric as well. If your furniture has both wood and fabric, where the two are attached can become a weak point as the wood moves. We have our fabric durability ratings post that you can check to see how your fabric may respond to different temperature and humidity environments. This can really help you if you decide to replace or change the fabric on your piece.

How to Repair Winter Cracks in Wood Furniture

If your wood furniture develops winter cracks, it’s important to address them promptly to prevent further damage. Here is a step-by-step guide to repairing winter cracks in wood furniture:

Identifying the Type and Extent of Cracks

Before repairing winter cracks, it’s crucial to identify the type and extent of the damage. Different types of cracks, such as hairline, surface, or deep cracks, require different repair approaches. Assessing the extent of cracking in wood furniture will guide the repair strategies, helping you choose the appropriate repair methods for the best results. Identifying the type and extent of winter cracks ensures targeted and effective repairs.

Filling and Sealing Cracks

To repair winter cracks, start by using wood filler to fill the cracks, then sand the surface to create a smooth finish. Apply a wood sealant to the cracks to prevent further damage and protect the wood furniture from moisture and humidity. Regularly inspect the furniture for cracks, addressing them promptly to maintain its integrity. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of wood sealant to use, ensuring long-lasting protection for your furniture.

Sanding and Refinishing Techniques

Sanding the furniture surface before refinishing is essential to create a smooth and even finish. Choose the right type of sandpaper based on the furniture’s finish, ensuring the wood grains are not damaged. After sanding, apply wood stain or varnish to protect the wood furniture and enhance its natural beauty. Regular sanding and refinishing can extend the lifespan of wood furniture, keeping it looking vibrant and new. For complex sanding and refinishing tasks, it may be best to seek professional help.

Long-term care strategies for wood furniture

In addition to preventive measures and winter crack repairs, long-term care strategies are essential for the maintenance of wood furniture. Here are some long-term care tips to keep your wood furniture in great condition:

Seasonal Furniture Treatment For Solid Furniture

During winter months, use a humidifier to maintain moisture in the air, preventing the solid wood furniture from drying out and cracking. In the summer, protect solid wood furniture from excess humidity and heat sources, which can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracking. Additionally, regular polishing of solid wood furniture keeps it looking vibrant and new. Consider using placemats and coasters to protect solid wood furniture from moisture, stains, and heat damage. Use lint-free cloths when cleaning solid wood furniture, preventing scratches and imperfections.

This will also work for any kind of furniture that has wood in it, especially wood that is exposed.

The Role of Furniture Covers in Protection

Investing in weather-resistant furniture covers, especially for outdoor wood patio furniture, provides an extra layer of protection during winter months. Use covers to shield wood patio furniture from the harsh winter elements, preventing cracking and other weather-related damage. Ensure the furniture cover allows for proper airflow to prevent moisture buildup, and regularly remove the cover to inspect the furniture for any potential issues. Clean the furniture cover on a regular basis to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Professional Maintenance and Repair Services

For intricate wood furniture or solid wood furniture cleaning, maintenance, or repair, seeking professional services is highly recommended. Professional maintenance services can address deep cracks, discoloration, and other wood or solid wood furniture issues effectively. Additionally, warranty-covered services may be available, ensuring long-term maintenance of your furniture.

Professionals can provide expert advice on the best cleaning and maintenance practices, helping you preserve the natural luster of your solid wood furniture. It is important to note that when it comes to cleaning your furniture, it is best to avoid using chemicals such as bleach.

Instead, opt for natural cleaning products and simply wipe away spillages with a damp cloth as soon as possible. This will help prevent any damage to the wood and maintain its beauty.


Why is My Wood Furniture Cracking?

Wood furniture can crack for several reasons, often related to environmental conditions and the natural properties of wood. Here are some common causes:

  1. Changes in Humidity and Temperature: Wood is a hygroscopic material, meaning it absorbs and releases moisture from the air. In environments where humidity and temperature fluctuate significantly, wood can expand and contract, leading to cracks.
  2. Dry Air: Particularly in winter or in arid climates, the air can become very dry. This lack of moisture can cause wood to dry out and shrink, leading to cracking.
  3. Sunlight Exposure: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can dry out wood and cause it to weaken and crack. UV rays can break down the wood fibers over time.
  4. Aging: Over time, wood can naturally develop cracks as part of the aging process. This is often seen in antique furniture.
  5. Improper Care or Maintenance: Not maintaining furniture properly, such as not oiling or polishing it, can lead to dryness and cracking. Using harsh chemicals for cleaning can also damage the wood.
  6. Poor Quality or Construction: Sometimes, the quality of the wood or the construction of the furniture can be a factor. Wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned or treated, or furniture that hasn’t been well constructed, may be more prone to cracking.
  7. Stress and Weight: Excessive weight or stress on certain parts of the furniture can cause cracking, especially if the design of the piece doesn’t adequately support the load.

To prevent cracking, it’s important to maintain a stable environment with controlled humidity and temperature, avoid direct sunlight, and properly care for the wood using suitable products. If you’re experiencing significant issues with cracking, it might be worth consulting a furniture restoration specialist for advice specific to your piece.

Does Cold Weather Affect Wood Furniture?

As we all know colder weather does affect wood, and therefore furniture made with wood. The issue is two fold, one is the temperature but the other is the humidity or lack thereof. Wood furniture often develops cracks over time due to changes in humidity and temperature, which cause the wood to expand and contract.

Can You Fix Cracked Furniture?

To repair these cracks and restore the appearance of the furniture, wood putty or wood filler can be effectively used to fill in the gaps and create a smooth, finished surface. This will work for solid wood furniture and other types of furniture that contains wood, like a wood panel. Wood cracking can be repaired a number of ways. Wood cracking shouldn’t be seen as a ruining of the furniture and can often create a uniqueness to the piece.

Calgary Interiors also provides a restoration service for wood furniture if the cracks are more than you can deal with. We would love to help you out. Head over to our contact page and fill in the form and send us some pictures.