Solid wood furniture, no matter the type of wood, can be beautiful and long lasting even in dry climates. If you get a scratch on solid wood it can be repaired much easier than a laminate that gets damaged. A dry climate and indoor heating can wreak havoc on any wood causing it to split and crack if you don’t take precautions to help your wood stay conditioned throughout the long winter months. When you are buying your furniture try to ensure that the wood has been dried properly. Some of the cheaper wood products can be dried out too quickly and will invariably crack or split in the first year of their life. Trees start out being 80% water before they are cut down and once they have been cut they need time to cure and dry out to about 10% humidity. Wood absorbs moisture and dries out depending on the environment, not necessarily the temperature, so furniture should be kept in an environment of 25% -35% humidity in order to keep the wood at the right humidity. A good humidifier in your home will help immensely as will a good dehumidifier to keep the moisture from getting too high. Wood expands and contracts between the grain and not in the length so that is also where you will see the cracks if they occur.
When you are placing your furniture in your home avoid having it in the direct sunlight or sitting right by a heat vent. Both can dry out the wood and cause damage to the finish.
Waxing your furniture with a soft wax will give it a protective barrier and help keep it conditioned and slow the drying process. If you push the wax into the cracks once the humidity rises the wood will expand and push the wax out of the cracks without hurting the piece. Regular waxing every 6-12 months will help the wood not absorb water too quickly and also not dry out too fast.
Wiping off excess water immediately will also help keep your furniture nice and stop it from getting white rings and water damage. If your furniture has no finish on top of the stain it will react more to the dryness and excess water so having a finish on top of your stain definitely gives the furniture more protection. In dry climates don’t use a lot of water or harsh cleaners on your wood as it will be hard on the wood and cause it to dry out even more. Using a clean damp cloth with a mild soap will be easier on the wood and also easier on the environment.
A little humidity and furniture polish should help your furniture fair better through dry winters and dry summers!