Care and Maintenance

Seating Care

Whenever possible, we purchase seating tapes manufactured in the United States. U.S. tape is 100% cotton canvas, and is colored with fade-resistant dyes. 

As an essentially upholstered product, our seats will require the same caution around food and liquids as would any other fabric. We do not treat the fabric for stain resistance, and leave that to the purchaser. There are a number of common products on the market for this.

Should seating tape become damaged or stained, all is not lost! Small sections can often be spliced in. In a worst case scenario where a chair must be fully reseated, it is not uncommon to find local seat weavers who will perform this for between $100 and $200 including materials. The same can be said for reseating a chair, which after years of use (we have heard that our original seats last 20 years or more when well cared for) you may choose to "freshen up". From this perspective, it becomes possible to create a "new" set of chairs--even in different colors--years down the road at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new set.

All of our seat tapes are wrapped around a foam padding, which serves to both make the seat more comfortable and also helps distribute weight across the layers of seating material. The foam which we purchase for use in our chairs is fire retardant, however it is important to note that it can still burn, and can produce rapid flame spread, intense heat, dense smoke, and potentially deadly toxic gases. As such, care must be taken not to expose our seats to any flame source or high temperature ignition source, such as cigarettes, space heaters, or naked light bulbs. This is the case with any foam-padded furniture.

Wood and Finish Care

The "most traditional" Tappan Chairs were made with white ash and hard maple; both woods are among the strongest and toughest of our Northeastern hardwoods. Our modern wood offerings include these, as well as more refined and textured fine furniture woods like cherry and walnut, and also offerings in red maple, birch, and red oak. Each has their own rich range of colors and depths.
Our woods will perform for you according to their natural strengths. Being about a 2/3 as strong as hard maple and white ash, the other woods we use will show a corresponding increase in give or flex, and a moderately higher propensity to be "dinged" when knocked against a door jamb, table edge, etc. From a consumer standpoint, the selection of a given wood is a trade-off between desired appearance and other characteristics.

Touch-ups are easily addressed. For minor dings and scrapes, a light sanding and reapplication of a dab of Odie's Oil ( natural finish of choice--is all it takes for unpainted chairs. It reactivates old layers so it blends seamlessly. For painted chairs, any sanding will necessitate repainting. Our paint of choice, Old Fashioned Milk Paint (, comes as a powder which is water-soluble. While we in general use pure colors as offered, some specific chair models, such as the Alfred Shaker Chairs, use a blend of colors. Please contact us with questions.

If a chair finish becomes slightly scuffed, but the underlying wood or finish is intact, often all that is needed is a light buffing. For general cleaning, water and soap is recommended.

Finally, purchasers of our chairs will sometimes note that over time the wooden pins securing the arms, back slats, and rockers come to protrude slightly. This is not uncommon, as it is the manifestation of the air-dried post wood gradually shrinking in small measure as it dries further in the lower humidity environments of modern homes. It is also representative of the shrinking of the posts around the rungs (which are kiln-dried), increasing the strength of our joinery with time! Most customers grow accustomed to this--it is a feature often found in historic chairs built in this manner (the only metal fasteners we use are the brads which secure our seating tape). However, some do prefer to keep the wooden pins flush--which can be accomplished by filing them lightly, and then reapplying a dab of Odie's Oil to the areas exposed.  As paint often seals more completely, painted chairs commonly demonstrate less protrusion, and their pins are often left undressed. They can, of course, also be filed and touched up.

Other than recommending that you take the same care in handling our chairs as you would with any other piece of furniture, we encourage you to enjoy Tappan Chairs and the marks of use that come with time. We love to give the reminder that it is the use of a chair in your home that creates its story...and the chapters in its life are told by the signs of use that it experiences. We hope that the generations of history that our chairs bring to your home are only the first small piece of a much greater story for you. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us!