Wooden furniture is especially vulnerable to water damage to the finish and to the wood itself. Most wood in the home, whether in furniture or on the home such as trims or cabinets, has a finish whose primary protective function is to prevent water from getting to the wood. |
Wood furniture may fare better, especially if it hasn't been sitting in water for too long. It is possible to restore solid wood furniture unless it has suffered severe damage.
Heavily damaged wood furniture that was exposed to water for a longer time, expedite drying by removing all parts that are easy to take apart including back panels, drawers, and doors. Do not try to force them if they are sticking. You can take them apart later when the furniture has dried somewhat and the wood has begun shrinking back.
Milky white water rings are a fairly common problem in finishes, especially after the finishes have aged and started to break down from wear and sun. The better the quality of finish, the longer it might take to start to break down. As long as the finish maintains its integrity, water can't get through it to damage the finish or the wood underneath. As an absolute, no finish is waterproof.
Milky white water marks are caused by water penetrating the finish changing its transparency. They are always in the finish itself. The water causes minuscule fractures that prevent you from seeing through. It is much like solid ice that is transparent in relation to cracked ice that has voids and is opaque.
Success in performing repairs is unpredictable because of the various types of finishes, the age and condition of the finish, the age of the water damage itself, and how deep the water has reached. Any repairs should be attempted realizing the risks involved. One problem may lead to another problem.
Ways to remove milky white water marks are:
* Apply a thick application of an oily substance, such as some furniture polishes that contain lemon oil, or even petroleum jelly to the damaged area and allow it to remain for 12 to 24 hours. The oil has a greater affinity to the finish than water and will sometimes replace the water if the damage is superficial and recent. The result is temporary until the oil dries. The result reduces the hazy appearance of the tiny cracks, but does not cause the finish to reconstitute itself to eliminate them. It is a relatively safe procedure.
* Warm the finish slowly with a blow dryer or lamp bulb to dry the moisture. Depending on the kind of finish the heat might help fuse the finish back together, at least to some degree. A goose neck lamp is perfect. Be very careful to apply the heat slowly and not overheat the finish. The finish should not ever become so hot you can't place your hand on it. Remember that slow warmth is better than a blast of too much heat. Apply this technique with care.
* Dampen a lint free clean cloth with denatured alcohol and gently wipe over the damaged area. Dampen the cloth and the finish just barely enough so that it leaves the appearance of a comet's tail as you gently wipe the finish. You can practice the correct quantity of alcohol by wiping across your plastic laminate kitchen counter top. Too much alcohol, too much wiping or too much pressure may damage the finish. Since alcohol absorbs moisture, this procedure will pull out most fresh water marks. We do not recommend this procedure for high gloss finishes. Use this procedure with care.
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