March 26, 2023

Wooden furniture and wooden finishes give a different aesthetic, and every home will have a few of them. The only problem with wood is that it gets prone to damage from moisture, UV radiation, weather elements, and insects over time. It needs maintenance which we are often not sure how to go about it. If you have new wooden furniture at home, or maybe an outdoor wooden fence, you’d be looking for options to protect it from damage. So here we give you a simple guide to protect your wooden surfaces.

What to consider before buying a wood protective coating/finish?

Wood care products come in a variety. Some are more suitable for interior wood, while others are specially made for outside wood to protect against UV radiation. So it’s important to know what kind of wood you will be treating and also how easy it is for you to use. 

  • Make sure how effective the wood finish would be. If it’s an exterior wooden structure, check that the wooden finish also provides enhanced durability. Varnishes and oil-based polyurethane finishes are best for providing long-term durability to exterior woods.
  • Finishes can be applied with a brush, spray, or cloth. If you’re a first-timer, then you should test a sprayer or a cloth on a testing piece before treating the final wood. For beginners, it’s best to avoid sprays for fine furniture or high-quality woodwork as it requires skill. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for application before buying. 
  • The final appearance is also important when selecting a wood finish. Some wood finishes like linseed oil or tung oil are purposely applied for a change in appearance in the finished wood. These give a yellowish appearance to the finished wood. They can be used on dark-grained woods like mahogany or walnut. The wiping method using oil rags can give a yellowish tinge. So for light-grained woods like ash or pine, using oil varnishes will not be a good option unless you prefer a yellow tinge. You can go for polyurethane or lacquer for a glossy finish or a fine, clear sealant cover. 

The kinds of wood finish to choose from:

There are categories of wood finishes based on how they interact with the wood. The type of wood protection paint you choose will again depend on what you’re looking for:

Penetrating wood protections

These are primarily oil finishes and give a natural appearance to the wooden surface. They work by seeping into the wooden surface and protecting against the wood’s drying, cracking, rotting, or swelling. These are applied using the hand-rubbed or oil-wiping technique or brush.  

  • Linseed oil: This is extracted from flax seeds. It has a longer curing time compared to other finishes. It gives a warm, matte yellow tone that darkens with time. 
  • Tung oil: This is extracted from the Chinese Tung tree. It gives an enhanced natural finish to the wood with a warm golden semblance. It gives high durability to the wooden surface and is used for finishing wooden floors and boat decks. It can be applied both by brush or oil rag. 
  • Danish oil: This is made from a mix of linseed oil, tung oil, varnish, and paint thinner. It is a highly durable oil used widely for wooden utensils to give a matte or glossy finish. 
  • Cedar oil: It has a woody fragrance and is used in furniture and wooden floors. It protects against moisture and insects. It gives a silvery appearance to the finished surface.

Surface wood protections

Surface wood protections work on the wooden surface and do not penetrate. However, these wood care products offer more protection in terms of surface protection and durability against wear and tear. They’re best for furniture and wooden surfaces that are prone to physical wear and tear. They are applied using a sprayer or a paintbrush.

  • Shellac: This is a natural varnish extracted from the resin produced by the female lac insect found in South Asian forests. It has a beautiful mellow finish and highlights a natural wooden surface. It is used on dark-grained woods like mahogany and walnut. It can give different tones of color, from light yellow to gold to orange. 
  • Lacquer: It is made by combining several other finishes like shellac and nitrocellulose. It is more durable than shellac. It is used for furniture items like cabinets, doors, shelves, etc. It can give a yellow tinge on lighter woods, while it gives a warm accent on darker woods. It is available in multiple sheens and can be thinned down using a lacquer thinner. Lacquer gives off strong fumes, so use a protective kit of gloves and goggles and maintain proper ventilation while applying it.   
  • Varnish: It is best for outdoor applications as it protects against UV radiation. It is made from resin, solvent, and drying oil. It forms a hard shell on the wooden surface without any yellowish tinge. It is transparent, but some varnishes can come in yellow or orange tones. For outdoors, the marine varnish is a common choice. For indoors, spar varnish is used. 
  • Polyurethane: They give a transparent coating without any yellowish tinge, from a high-gloss finish to a soft satin shine. It’s best for light-colored woods. Oil-based polyurethane provides the highest durability apart from varnishes. 
  • Paint and stains: Both are available in a wide range of colors. The difference between the two is that while the paint will cover the wooden surface, stains will allow the wooden surface to be seen through. They can be used for indoor and outdoor woodwork to protect against moisture and UV radiation. 

As stated earlier, always consider what surface you use the wood care products for. Is it an indoor or an outdoor wood? Do you have prior experience with wood finishes and with how they should be applied? Do you need a transparent coat, one with some tinge, or maybe a wood paint? Are you aware of the safety measures? Lacquer gives off toxic fumes, while polyurethane is highly inflammable. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and the safety measures you need to take while using the products. With some basic know-how, you’re all set to explore and research wood finishes and protect your wooden surfaces. 

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