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Can I leave indoor wooden furniture unfinished or will it grow mold?

I purchased some furniture that has wooden elements to it that ended up being unfinished. Should I be concerned about this? During the more humid months, will these elements grow mold on them? For reference, I live in Massachusetts.

I would prefer to not have to finish these products, and am just trying to determine from individuals with more experience than myself if this is an issue.

Woodworking Asked by SeeDerekEngineer on July 20, 2021

2 Answers

2 Answers

I purchased some furniture that has wooden elements to it that ended up being unfinished. Should I be concerned about this?

No.

It's extremely common for certain parts of furniture, even fine furniture, to have no finish on them. Drawer boxes, the inside surfaces of cabinets and chests of drawers, the backs of pieces intended to go against a wall, seat supports in chairs and the undersides of tabletops have all been — and continue to be — left as bare wood. If you check the relevant parts of furniture that you already owned I'm sure you'll discover examples, in solid wood as well as in plywood.

Leaving wood unfinished can actually be a perfectly acceptable option even in high-humidity parts of the house like kitchens and bathrooms.

During the more humid months, will these elements grow mold on them?

While mould spores are omnipresent in most environments bare wood isn't a great food supply for many fungi, and indoors in a typical domestic interior* the conditions aren't favourable for the growth of moulds in general and certainly not those that can digest wood. One good way for the non-woodworker (and some woodworkers!) to look at this is that bare wood is no more prone to mould growth than the exposed edges of paper in books, and nobody gives them a second thought.


*Certain levels of cleaning/dusting, heating during the colder months and good airflow being presumed.

Correct answer by Graphus on July 20, 2021

You won't have mold, but you'll probably ruin any surface which is not finished and is used. A finish protects the surface. The first time someone puts ANY cup or glass on it, and you're going to have a ring that you won't be able to get out without sanding it out, because any moisture will wick into the wood fibers.

A finish prevents that from happening. At least hit the thing with 2 or 3 coats some tung oil finish. Easy to apply and hard to screw up.

Answered by LarryBud on July 20, 2021

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