How to Care for Acacia Wood

Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have a dispute to settle. My husband and I recently bought the most beautiful, rustic acacia wood dining table. However, a couple of days ago we noticed that it is starting to crack here and there. Yes, we are young and with a house full of Ikea furniture it did not even dawn on us that we would have to take special care with our new lovely table in this dry, desert climate (we live in Las Vegas.) We did some googling and found that it is recommended to use a wax on acacia wood. However, my husband’s parents said NOT to use a wax but an oil instead. Help!
Confused in Las Vegas

how to care for acacia wood

Heather says:

Photo Credit: Justin

Do you know what I love about Home-Ec 101? I’ve been running this site for just about 4.5 years and I learn things almost every week, researching answers to reader questions.

I had heard of acacia trees, but I only pictured them as the scrubby trees seen in movies like The Gods Must Be Crazy. I was trying to picture how these trees would be useful for furniture, so I began to research. It turns out there is an Australian species of acacia that is quite large and useful for timber and furniture. Neat.

The important thing to remember about all wood is that it was a living organism. Just like you, plants are made of cells that contain a lot of water and just like you would dry out in Las Vegas, so will your table. We coat wood with different protective coatings* to try to keep the moisture at the proper level. Too much moisture and the cells will swell, too little and they will shrink to the point cracks, that can lead to splitting occur.

The interesting thing about your argument is that you are both right, just not at the same time. It doesn’t really matter whether you choose an oil or a wax, just that you don’t switch between the two.

Furniture oils and waxes both create a protective barrier between the wood and the air and as with any debate on the Interwebz, people tend to defend their choice with vehemence.

So, how do you choose?

Furniture oils must be applied often, but the application is quite painless.

Furniture wax or paste wax creates a harder finish that can last up to a year on high use furniture (like tables) and much longer on items that serve a more decorative function. However paste wax is a pain in the rear to apply and you’ll probably spend a good morning or afternoon on the application, but a quick buffing will keep the piece looking good between applications.

furniture care guide

Click the picture for more tips!

Finally keep in mind we are discussing furniture polish, not finish. The finish of a piece of wood is the stain or varnish and that also acts as a protective barrier for your table. The furniture wax or polish also helps preserve the finish.

Whatever you do, stay far, far away from any product with silicone. You’ll thank me later when it comes time to strip and refinish your table.

Good luck!

*It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

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  1. Judy on March 16, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    My acacia wood console table is pale so I waxed it with the darkest Minwas available — it dried and on the second or third day had faded back to its pale color. Any ideas for that? Do you know if I stained the table, would I have to do something special to clean off the wax?

  2. Aleta Wolfe on April 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the info on acacia wood…No thanks for the quote that will now give me nightmares.

  3. RosieW on August 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    The lotion!!!!

  4. KeterMagick on August 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I used Howard’s beeswax and orange oil on all of my wood as it appears to moisturize as well as coat. It applies like an oil, requires little rubbing, and leaves a fairly durable finish behind. I typically wax quarterly, but right now am waxing monthly to keep the delicate veneers on my Danish modern and Ikea pieces protected against this year’s 100+ temps and severe drought. (I have no AC in most of my house right now due to remodeling, so most of my best pieces are getting some rough treatment this year.)

  5. HeatherSolos on August 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

    @JanKennedyHouston I couldn’t help myself.

    I need to do a little more research. Typically paste waxes with some carnuba are preferred because they give a harder, more durable finish than just beeswax. Most of the time plain beeswax isn’t recommended due to cost and the fact that a blend is usually better. (Obviously what you are using is a blend)

    It’ll take me a couple of days to get this up (the queue is backed up at the moment) and I want to be sure I answer it fully for you. 🙂

  6. JanKennedyHouston on August 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Silence of the Lambs quote…loved that movie!

    Is a beeswax with orange oil the same as regular wax or does it need to be reapplied often? I have one really nice end table that is as old as I am. I would like to keep it from drying out. How often should I apply the beeswax?

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