Wooden Shelf Life: Wood Shelf Benefits and Upkeep

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2017

Wood shelves around fireplace

Wood can look good in any setting, and a wood shelf can compliment any decorating scheme from classic to contemporary, depending on how you use it. Wood is a time tested and approved building material; it is aesthetically flexible, very durable, and brings a sense of authenticity to any room it is placed in.

Wooden Shelf Benefits

Since people have such a long-standing relationship with wood as a building material, a wood shelf is much more versatile and easy to alter than a shelf made of something else. If you grow tired of how it looks, wood is easy to paint, stain, drill, and cut. The possibilities are nearly limitless, which goes very well with wood’s timeless appeal.

It is also cost effective to choose wood, as no other material will look as good for the price. Amidst a sea of products of unknown reliability, it is easy to find a quality wood shelf that will go the distance, and look good doing it. Even salvaged wood can be reworked and refinished to give it a rejuvenated shelf life.

For the DIY, a wood shelf makes even more sense, since most people don’t have metal or glass shops in their garages. First timers will find that a very basic wood shelf is one of the easiest projects to start with, while DIYers with a lot of experience will enjoy experimenting with design and detail.

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Wood Care

Though wood is durable and can be around for many years, it is not impervious to wear. After you have purchased or constructed your wooden shelf, you’ll need to pay some attention to it to keep it looking and functioning its best.

Though moisture is good for trees, it is the biggest cause of problems for wood in the home; wood shelves are especially susceptible because they are often thin. Installing wood shelves near radiators or in very wet places like a bathroom is a mistake. Too much moisture can cause wood to crack, bow, or, in the most extreme cases, to rot. Once these problems occur, they are difficult to impossible to fix. During the summer, an air conditioner will keep humidity down and feel good for people, too.

Too much heat can also be a problem for wood. Avoid keeping your shelf or any other wood furniture in direct sunlight for lengthy periods of time.

Wood should be cleaned and polished periodically to keep the finish pristine. There are many products on the market designed specifically for this purpose, so use only wood specific cleaners. Older wood that already has thin spots in the finish can be sanded and refinished; this will improve its look and protect it at the same time.

Items that carry a lot of weight should be put on the sides of the shelf, or placed above the points where the shelf is supported. A wooden shelf will be less likely to sag if heavier objects are kept away from its center!

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