Cabinetry Care


An ounce of prevention will save you a big headache later. Whenever you try a new product on your cabinetry, be sure to find a test area first! To test the durability of your wood’s finish, first wash a small, inconspicuous area with plain water. Test the new product in this area and watch for any changes in the appearance of the finish. Stay away from drying oils such as linseed, tung, and any other plant oil. These types of oils will oxidize and eventually become dark, soft, gummy, and very hard to remove without damaging the original finish. Most spray polishes contain drying oils. Mineral oils can cause dark streaks or worse, remove the wood’s natural color. Some oil soaps contain detergents that are too harsh for finishes.


Pollution, which includes dust, cigarette smoke, and other airborne particles, can damage your wood finish over a period of time. Your cabinetry should be kept as clean as possible, air conditioner and furnace filters should be changed regularly. Windows should be kept closed. Dust particles, though fine, can scratch the wood finish. Dust with a cloth that actually attracts and holds the dust particles and a wood polish that will not darken, leave a waxy build up, and cleans up easily. We recommend dusting regularly with End Dust. Spray End Dust directly onto a soft, cotton cloth for even application. Be careful! Using paper towels can be just as damaging to your wood. Many paper towel products have an abrasive surface that will wear the finish. Cotton or cotton blends are best.

Grease and smoke can form a hard abrasive film over time, which will obscure the beautiful grain of the wood and may be hard to remove with a simple dusting. A finish with a dull and lifeless appearance can usually be revived with a good cleaning to remove accumulated dirt and grime. We recommend Murphy’s Oil Soap according to directions for periodic cleaning. Always rub with the grain of the wood. Always wipe dry with another clean cloth and re-apply Johnson’s Paste Wax. We, also recommend applying Guardsman Cream Polish once a year, or as needed, to restore luster and maintain the sheen in your wood finish.


Direct sunlight can actually break down the structures of cellulose, the primary content of wood. Natural woods become faded. It may also result in bleaching any stains already existing in the finish. Whenever possible keep cabinetry out of direct sunlight or draw curtains and shades during the sunniest times of the day.

Extreme Temperature

Extreme temperature changes can accelerate degrading reactions within wood leading to the finish becoming cracked or brittle. Wood will naturally expand and contract in varying temperature conditions. To preserve your wood cabinetry control the humidity level in your home, keeping it within the accepted RH range of 35% to 65%. If necessary, supplement standard air conditioning with a humidifier or dehumidifier. Over-exposure to heat like hot coffee makers can result in burn marks. ALWAYS use pads or coasters under hot dishes, pots, and bowls.

Excess Water and Humidity

Excessive moisture levels can result in mold growth, softening of glues, and warping. Paste wax will afford some protection against liquid spills and simplify removal of food spills. Apply paste wax (Johnson’s paste wax is recommended) to all your cabinetry, especially the sink base cabinet and all your countertop seams. When you are at the beach, would you apply sunscreen to only part of your body? The same idea applies here. Along with the front of your cabinetry, be sure to protect the sides, bottoms, and corners too. Water and wood does not mix. Keep water and other liquids away from the cabinetry. Wipe up spills immediately!

Common Damages

Whenever you try a new product on your cabinetry, be sure to find a test area first! To test the durability of your wood’s finish, first wash a small, inconspicuous area with plain water. Test the new product in this area and watch for any changes in the appearance of the finish. Below are some professional tips to remedy some of the most common afflictions to fine wood cabinetry.

Water marks and rings

If a finish is exposed to dampness, or if water is allowed to sit on a surface, the moisture can cause a smoky white haze or ring. Rings are often in the wax and not the finish. Cover the stain with a clean, thick blotter. Press down with a warm iron. Repeat as necessary. Or try buffing the finish lightly with one of the following mild abrasives until the mark is removed: pumice or rottenstone mixed with mineral oil, whitening toothpaste, auto polishing compound, tobacco ash and mineral oil, or salt and mineral oil.

Paint marks

If fresh, remove latex paint with water. Oil-based paints remove with mineral spirits. If paint is dry, soak spot in boiled linseed oil, wait until paint softens, then carefully lift with a putty knife. Residue can be removed by rubbing along the grain with a paste of boiled linseed oil and rottenstone. Wipe dry. Apply paste wax.


Scratches can be camouflaged with a variety of coloring agents including: colored furniture polish, marking pen, dye-impregnated wood markers, wax crayon, wood fill sticks, or shoe polish. If you can find the right color, you can mix shavings from color fill crayons until you get the right color for your cabinetry.

Heat marks

Rub gently along the grain using a dry, extra fine, 0000 steel wool dampened with mineral spirits. Wipe clean.

Nail polishes

Blot the spill immediately. Then, rub with a fine, 0 steel wool dipped in paste wax. Wipe dry.

Sticking paper

Dampen paper thoroughly with salad oil, wait five minutes, and rub along the grain with extra fine, 0000 steel wool. Wipe dry.

Milk or alcohol stains

Use your finger to rub paste wax into the stain. Wipe dry.

Cigarette burns

Minor burns can be remedied with scratch concealing polish or with a paste of linseed oil and rottenstone, working into the grain until burn mark disappears.

Wax or gum

Harden the surface by holding an ice cube wrapped in cloth against it. Pry off with fingernail or plastic putty knife. Rub area with extra fine, 0000 steel wool dipped in mineral spirits. Wipe dry.

Products to Use or Not to Use

Sometimes even the most cautious person cannot avoid everyday incidents that cause damage to their fine wood cabinetry. Some basic stains and marks can be treated with do-it-yourself first aid for fine wood cabinetry.

Please review the recommended products and, if you have any concerns, feel free to ask our friendly staff of professional designers.

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