Throughout history, when people have been looking for furniture for the home one of the most popular and most timeless choices has been oak. For a range of practical and aesthetic reasons, it is highly suitable for use in furniture items of all sizes, large and small, adding its natural beauty to the home. Oak may be a little more expensive than its synthetic counterparts and furniture built in fibreboard but in terms of quality and durability it is hard to beat: an oak table and chairs will last for many years, and can be seen as an investment. It is testament to the longevity of this wood that there is a vast range of antique oak furniture available today, which in many cases is hundreds of years old. Clever shopping and making comparisons between items to find the most appropriate for your home can bring its own savings in the future, when it does not need replacing for many decades.
Oak is a hardwood, available in two colour types – red and white. Both are very similar, but it is more often white oak which is used in domestic furniture. White oak has long rays down the grain giving an attractive appearance and is also slightly lighter in colour than red oak. Also, white oak is water-resistant and more durable than red oak, giving it the structural strength ideal for use in the home.
It is the natural beauty of the wood grain which makes it so popular. It is easy to co-ordinate in almost any type of interior, whether traditional or modern in decoration, as it can be built into practically any style. Oak furniture pieces are available with the historic black hinge and handles imitating wrought iron, or in smooth and seamless contemporary units and every style in between. Secondly, it is incredibly durable. Families who are looking for furniture that is able to stand the test of time and heavy use would be pleased with the performance of their oak – being water resistant, it can stand spills and accidents and will resist stains from tea cups or other liquids, and the structure of the wood seems to almost strengthen over time. A monthly polish and a little consideration to where the furniture is placed is all that is required to keep oak furniture at its absolute best.
Oak items come in two options: finished and unfinished wood. Most people find it much easier to buy furniture which is already finished, rather than to complete this themselves, but for those looking to be able to colour the wood then solid unfinished oak can be ideal. Finishes for oak are numerous. These range from varnish, oil and wax to shellac and resins. Most people’s needs are met by a varnish finish which gives a satin or gloss look to the wood and adds durability, or a penetrating resin which similarly protects the wood but with a natural look. Wax finishes require a little more maintenance, with the owner needing to re-apply the wax coat every 6 months or so, but this is small price to pay for a stunning piece of solid wood furniture that will bring joy for many years to come.