Should you use placemats on wood table?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

As an expert in furniture care and preservation, I am often asked about the use of placemats on wood tables. In my experience, I would advise against using placemats as a permanent fixture on a wood table. While they may offer some protection against water damage and scratches, there are a few reasons why they may not be the best choice for long-term use.

Firstly, plastic place mats can trap moisture underneath them, especially if condensation occurs from hot dishes or drinks. This trapped moisture can lead to the formation of mold or mildew, which can be damaging to the wood finish. Additionally, if the placemats are not regularly removed and cleaned, any spills or food particles that accumulate underneath them can also contribute to the growth of bacteria or pests.

Furthermore, some plastic place mats may contain off-gassing chemicals that could potentially react with the finish on a new wood table. This chemical reaction can cause discoloration or damage to the table’s surface, which may be difficult or costly to repair.

Instead of using placemats as a permanent fixture, I would encourage you to enjoy the natural beauty of your wood table when it is not in use. Regularly clean and protect the table’s surface with appropriate wood cleaners and polishes to maintain its appearance and durability.

If you are concerned about water damage or scratches, there are alternative options to consider. For example, using fabric or linen tablecloths or runners can provide both protection and an elegant touch to your dining area. These can be easily removed and washed as needed, ensuring that your wood table remains in optimal condition.

While placemats may offer some short-term protection for your wood table, their long-term use can potentially cause more harm than good. It is important to consider the potential for moisture buildup, chemical reactions, and the overall aesthetic appeal of your table. By taking proper care of your wood table and using alternative protective measures when necessary, you can ensure its longevity and enjoy its natural beauty for years to come.