Caring for french polished furniture

French polishing is a type of wood finishing that’s often used on antique furniture to achieve a very glossy finish. This method involves applying multiple layers of a resin, called shellac, to wood in order to produce a hard surface that has a mirror-like shine. This method was first used in the Victorian era to finish mahogany and other expensive types of wood.


This finish adds a deep colour and chatoyancy, a reflective finish that’s often seen in Tiger’s Eye Quartz. This finish enhances the woods natural grain, leaving it with a shiny, iridescent surface. Although this finish is popular, it is also rather fragile and should be well looked after as it is softer than most modern lacquers and varnishes.

If you’ve recently had your furniture re-polished, it’s essential that you don’t place it in direct sunlight. As shellac is a thermoplastic material, it will soften in excessive heat, so anything left on the surface will leave an imprint and the surface will lose its shine.

  • Avoid placing items that are backed in polyurethane or plastic on the surface as these could leave imprints.
  • Remember to use coasters or placemats to avoid any mishaps.
  • To keep the surface shiny, polish regularly with a dry microfibre cloth.
  • If you spill anything, make sure that you mop it up quickly to as water can leave cloudy white marks, ruining the finish. Make sure that you thoroughly dry the surface to avoid this.
  • If you need to remove a stubborn mark, we recommend mixing 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar with one litre of cold water. Dip a chamois leather in the solution, wring out until slightly damp and gently buff the mark away. To dry, buff the surface with a dry microfibre cloth.
  • Don’t wax your French polished furniture as it will leave a streaky finish.

Did you know…? It’s myth that using wax puts the nourishment back into wood. This is only true when the product has an oiled or waxed finish as the wax will revive it.