Remodeling and Home Design
Know Your Wood–Rosewood

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Know Your Wood–Rosewood

What type of wood is named for its scent? Rosewood, of course!

Rosewood, which belongs to the genus Dalbergia, is a highly desirable wood type. Its beauty, durability, and strength make it ideal for use in crafting instruments, furniture, veneer, small turned objects, and flooring. Its dark ribbon figure runs through rose and brown to dark purple-brown coloration. As was mentioned above, when cut and sanded, the wood emits a smell reminiscent of roses (hence the name rosewood).

There are many types of rosewoods such as Brazilian, East Indian, Madagascar, and Honduran, to name a few. The highly sought after Brazilian rosewood is now endangered and is restricted. The rare Madagascar rosewood, or Bois de Rose, is restricted as well. The controversy surrounding the Bois de Rose swelled in 2009 and continues on today. The red-pink wood from the trees is illegally harvested and smuggled out of Madagascar’s national parks by the so-called “rosewood mafia”. This illegal harvesting is threatening Madagascar's forests. You can read more on the topic here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26037626

Photo Credit: Olive Green Window

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What is Bonded Leather?

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What is Bonded Leather?

Bonded leather surfaced in the furniture industry just eight or so years ago, often masquerading as genuine top grain leather. Since then, this less-than-stellar material has been commonplace in furniture stores and showrooms. Though types of bonded leather have been around since the mid-20th century, it recently gained popularity in the furniture industry due to its reasonable price tag, supposed environmental friendliness, and appeal to consumers who wanted the look of leather furniture without having to break the bank. The material, while perfectly suitable for book covers, belts, watch straps, and the like, was not originally intended for use on overstuffed furniture as an upholstery fabric. When used as an upholstery product, in just a few years or less of usage, the top layers of the material often begin to flake off and reveal its fabric backing along with its true identity.   

So, what exactly is this man-made material in question? It is essentially a mixture of leather scraps and fibers left over from the production of real leather goods, and a bonding agent (polyurethane), which has been poured onto a fabric or fiber backing, embossed to mimic leather, and produced in sheets or rolls. The process used to create the material is not unlike the process used by paper manufacturing companies. There is a spectrum of quality levels, depending on the ratio of shredded leather and bonding agent. The quality level will of course determine its durability level.

The most pertinent question, however, is how does this impact the moving industry? During a move, much of this type of material is easily damaged. Once it is, it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to repair. Furthermore, uneducated consumers are under the impression that their bonded leather sofa or chair is in fact genuine leather and can be repaired as such. The actual leather content of the material could possibly be low–it varies depending on its manufacturer’s internal quality standards. Those that work in the furniture industry often do not disclose this information. There is rampant deception regarding this matter in the industry. For this reason, The US Federal Trade Commission has published Guides for Select Leather and Imitation Leather Products. Within the body of the guide, deception is addressed: “It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, the composition of any industry product or part thereof. It is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified term "leather" or other unqualified terms suggestive of leather to describe industry products unless the industry product so described is composed in all substantial parts of leather”.  Additionally, The US Federal Trade Commission has been quoted as saying, "The guidelines caution against misrepresentations about the leather content in products containing ground, reconstituted, or bonded leather, and state that such products, when they appear to be made of leather, should be accompanied by a disclosure as to the percentage of leather or other fiber content. The guidelines also state that these disclosures should be included in any product advertising that might otherwise mislead consumers as to the composition of the product."

As adjusters and repair firms, we obviously need to be cognizant of this lack of disclosure in the furniture industry, and the implications that it may have on our own industry. We should support and advocate the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for Select Leather and Imitation Leather Products whenever possible. Furthermore, we might want to begin treating bonded leather furniture in the same way we treat particle board furniture. Its inherent qualities make it likely to become damaged during handling. Extra care and caution during the moving and storage process may help prevent some damages, but it will never be a complete cure. Perhaps it is time for our industry to take a hard look at this risk and take the necessary actions to minimize your claims exposure.   

This article by Shannon Kuhns was written for an audience of claims adjusters and was originally published in a moving claims trade journal. Shannon is a personal property Claims Inspector at West Interior Services. She has a background in appraisal studies and has worked in the antiques auction industry. 

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Water Damaged Wooden Furniture–Mitigation & Restoration

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Water Damaged Wooden Furniture–Mitigation & Restoration

There are many causes of water damaged wood furniture and wood finishes.  After almost forty years of working in the moving claims industry, I think I have seen them all.  Leaky roofs on vans and trailers.  Flood damaged storage warehouses.  Bent doors and punctured holes in overseas containers.  Items that were loaded during a heavy rain storm.  A metal roof on a self-load container that was peeled back when the driver took the shipment under a low bridge.  These are all just a few of the water damage claims circumstances that I have personally been involved in over the years.

Invariably the common element that I see the most that increases the claims settlement costs is the lack of any mitigation services or services that were performed poorly.  Mitigation services, simply stated, means providing services to stop the damages where they are and to prevent any further damages from occurring.  

Mitigation services can take on many forms.  Wipe down all surfaces if you have visible moisture. Provide dehumidification services coupled with air movement to try and remove moisture that may have penetrated the surfaces.  Dehumidification services should be provided in a controlled manner by a professional service who is trained, qualified and experienced with this service. Drying wood goods too rapidly can cause cracks, shrinkage of the wood or other structural problems that could increase your claims exposure.  Applying a broad spectrum anti-microbial is also a recommended procedure to prevent or minimize the potential for mold growth. Preventing or controlling mold growth and odor can substantially reduce your potential claims costs in a water damage situation.  

The worst thing a mover can do is deliver a water damaged shipment into the home.  It is difficult to provide restoration or mitigation services while the items are still in the home.  The potential also exists for health issue related claims from placing these damages goods in the home.  

As stated previously, restoration and mitigation services should only be provided by skilled professionals.  The CPPC (Claims Prevention and Procedure Council) has a roster of hundreds of skilled repair services, many of whom provide these types of emergency services and have the experience to back it up.  Determining the scope of work is essential after wooden furniture has suffered water damages.  The scope of work simply means determining the level of damages and what services will be necessary to correct the loss related problems.  A skilled professional can determine the restoration costs and whether or not each item has the value to justify restoration within your liability.  Some wood items night need light restoration or spot finish repairs while others might need complete refinishing.  A skilled restoration professional can assist you in all of these areas and make the claims process run smoothly.    

This article by Tom Kuhns, Jr. was originally written for an audience of claims adjusters and appeared in a moving claims trade journal. Tom is the president of West Interior Services.  He has been working in the furniture restoration industry for over 40 years.       

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Know Your Wood

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Know Your Wood

Can the result of a fungal invasion be attractive? It sure can. Case in point: Spalted wood. 

Spalt is the result of a white rot decay fungi that grows throughout a wood. Artists, furniture makers, and craftspeople seek out spalted wood due to its unique and beautiful dark line patterns and variations in color. The thin dark lines seen above, "zone lines", are actually barriers put up by different fungi colonies to keep each other out!  Blue stain is another type of spalting. This occurs when darkly-pigmented fungal hyphae grow in the sapwood parenchyma of a tree, which causes color variation. Spalting can occur in many types of wood. Hardwoods such as maple, birch and beech are sought after because the wood remains relatively structurally sound and usable well into the spalting process. 

Photo Credit © Epantha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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What Is the Flow-over Method of Wood Stripping?

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What Is the Flow-over Method of Wood Stripping?

Years ago, furniture and wood stripping was done using caustic soda (lye) in a method called dip-stripping. A piece would be completely submerged in a tank full of lye, which adversely affected a piece. This process dissolved glue, loosened joints, and delaminated wood veneer. While solvent-based strippers are used in the process today, completely submerging a piece may still expose it to possible damages. 

Here at West Interior Services, we prefer to use the flow-over method of wood stripping in lieu of dip-stripping. In our preferred method, a piece of furniture is placed in our custom-made 24 foot long stainless steel stripping tray. Then, a solvent stripper is delivered through a tube to a hollow brush and applied to the surface of the piece of furniture. The stripper is pumped through the tube using a low-pressure, air driven pump. This method allows the operator to apply the stripper in a controlled manner, gently sloughing off layers of wood finish. It is efficient and prevents exposing the piece of furniture to possible joint and veneer damage. 

Additionally, we use a closed-loop system for the solvent stripper used in the flow-over method. This recycling process allows us to clean and reuse the stripper. The used stripper goes through an internal filtration process. It filters out impurities, leaving clean stripper to be used again. Less waste is generated with this process. Any left over waste is disposed of using a PA Department of Environmental Protection approved commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility.

At times, we do employ a hand stripping method. We elect to use hand stripping from time to time when working on an extremely fragile or delicate piece. This method requires solvent stripper in paste form. It is applied with a brush, left to sit for a short time, and removed with a gentle scraping motion.

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