Wood is a porous- it absorbs virtually all spills on its surface. These spills contribute to untimely degradation, making your wood undesirable over time.
Thanks to different wood finishing , you can now restore your wood to its former beauty. Let’s look at wood finishing.
Wood finishing is the process of coating wood with special formulas to protect it from damages and beautify it at the same time. These formula dry to a durable hard shell to keep your wood protected for years.
Among your choices in wood finishing products include paints, varnishes, rubbed oils, and stains.
What Are the Different Types Of Wood Finishing?
Wood is among the commonly used building material that has been woodworkers’ favorite for years.
However, wood needs to be protected from chemicals, moisture, weathering, and other environmental damaging elements, to keep it functioning at its best.
If not protected, wood will succumb to these elements, become dull, crack, and deteriorate.
It’s therefore important to apply wood finishing products to avoid sacrificing your wood’s natural beauty. But what are the different types of wood finishing?
First, there are two types of wood finish: penetrating and surface finish. Each type delivers a unique level of appearance and protection, meaning it’s necessary to settle for the right finish.
Penetrating wood finishes provide a more natural look as they soak into the wood’s surface.
You can achieve a better sheen by applying these finishes with a clean rag and later wiping off the excess.
Surface finishes sit on the wood’s surface to create a durable protective layer. They are primarily used on woods that endure a lot of wear and tear due to their exceptional performance.
Shellac, lacquer, varnish, polyurethane, and wax are among the wood finishing products in this category.
Let’s now discuss the different types of wood finishes.
Stains change your wood’s color or shade. They highlight the wood grain, darken, or lighten the natural tones.
Although stain is not considered a wood finish, some come premixed with sealers to protect the wood from environmental damage. Here are the different types of stains:
Linseed oil-based stains remain on the wood’s surface to add colour, depth, and protection.
They are wiped on in thick coats, become opaque when dry, and react well with pigments.
Turpentine-based, Alcohol-based, and Water-based Stains
This is another stain category. The water-based stains are powdered, so you must mix them before use.
Alcohol-based stains come in an aerosol can and are often sprayed on wood.
The turpentine-based stains penetrate the wood’s grain, meaning you must apply them quickly and evenly.
Exterior stains are recommended for woods exposed to excess moisture and daily wear. They are similar to oil-based paints except that they contain creosote.
Shellac is the old standard, but it’s used less often because technological advances result in new, quicker, and easier to use wood finishes.
The main disadvantage of shellac is that alcohol dissolves it, and water stains it. In either its orange or white form, shellac goes on quickly with a brush in multiple light coats.
Each coat should be thin to avoid runs or drips. Shellac must be sanded between coats for best results.
Penetrating oils come in clear and stain colors. They are easy to apply and dry very quickly compared to other products in this list.
Still, they are durable and can withstand scratching and water damage since they absorb into the surface to seal and protect your wood.
Penetrating oils are manufactured in different formulations. Some have an oil base, others a resin base.
You can apply penetrating oils with a brush or clean rag. Coat the wood surface thoroughly and wipe off any excess oils. Add a second coat and sand between coats for a better sheen.
Varnishes consist of oil, solvent and resin. They can be used on either exterior or interior wood and are colored or transparent.
Varnishes offer excellent UV protection and dry to a durable hard shell for long-lasting performance.
Check out the following types of varnishes.
Natural varnishes consist of resins suspended in either boiled linseed or tung oil.
They also contain turpentine or mineral spirits, making them suitable for heavy-duty projects like marine applications and gymnasium floors.
This varnish category has more oil in its formulation. The long oil version has the best oil mix, so it’s an excellent waterproofing option suitable for a boatyard.
The medium oil works well for floor finishes because it’s highly durable, while the short oil is ideal for furniture because it leaves a brittle finish.
Note: Varnishes can prove more challenging to apply than other wood finishing products. They also dry slowly, meaning dust and debris can build up on their sticky surfaces as they dry.
When using this finish, your room must be warm and dust-free. Stir the varnish thoroughly and avoid shaking the container as you might introduce air bubbles. The brushes must also be dirt-free.
Overlap the brushstrokes and apply the finish in multiple thin layers for better outcomes.
However, don’t over-brush. After the first varnish coat dries, smooth the surface with fine-grit sandpaper, then add another coat to smooth out the surface imperfections.
Rub the second coat with steel wool once dry, then apply paste wax and buff the surface thoroughly.
Woodworkers do not commonly use wax because it only provides short-term benefits.
Applying it is relatively easy, but you need multiple coats to achieve your desired effect. After applying wood wax, buff the surface for demanding results.
Lacquer is a quick-drying wood finish that penetrates the wood to protect it and improve its color.
It goes on well with a paintbrush or using a sprayer. However, the lacquer finish has some disadvantages: it scratches easily and is difficult to retouch.
How Do You Prepare Wood For Finishing?
Finishing wood involves applying different liquid coatings to wood. These formulas enhance the wood’s appearance and also protect it from damage.
So whether you are building new furniture or restoring an old one, you must coat it with a wood finish to enhance durability and longevity.
The following procedure shows how to prepare your wood for finishing.
Step 1: Sanding
Wood will have imperfections like dents and scratches. Before applying your desired wood finish, you should sand down the wood with 120 grit sandpaper to hide these imperfections.
The surface imperfections won’t be highlighted after finishing the wood.
Step 2: Repeat Sanding
Repeat sanding your wood to remove the scratches left in the previous passes. After that, pull back to inspect the wood for any blemishes.
If you notice any imperfections, sand the wood again and be careful not to over-sand one spot as you might make it worse.
Step 3: Remove the Sanding Dust
Go over the sanded surface with a damp rag to remove the sanding dust. Though you can perform this with any cloth, a tack cloth collects the most dirt, and it doesn’t have loose fibers that can transfer to your wood.
Step 4: Apply Your Desired Wood Finish
Stir the wood finish thoroughly before applying to remove any air bubbles that might transfer to the wood surface. However, don’t shake the container.
Use a foam or bristle brush to spread the finish on your wood and allow the first coat to air dry.
Next, sand the first coat with fine-grit sandpaper and vacuum up the sanding dust before proceeding.
Step 5: Apply Another Coat
Apply the second coat in the wood grain direction and line the strokes up in rows to attain full coverage.
If you notice air bubbles, brush back over them to smooth them down. Repeat sanding and continue applying multiple coats until you are pleased with the effect.
Tip: Don’t sand the final coat because you will spoil the nice shine.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Finishing
Wood finishes come with several advantages, including long-term protection against degrading elements.
However, they also have some disadvantages, which you should be well-versed with before shopping for your desired finish. Learn more below:
Here are some of the pros of different wood finishes:
Wood finishes seal the wood to protect it from moisture, scratches, and any other impact. The oil-based varieties offer the most durable coating and are ideal for surfaces enduring too much water.
The other versions provide better impact resistance and are suitable for high traffic areas.
- Decoration of the Surface
Besides protecting wood from environmental damage, wood finishes also add visual appeal by highlighting the grain and changing the wood’s texture.
These products come in different versions allowing you to choose how deep the natural wood shows through.
You can select the penetrating finishes or those that remain on the surface, forming a durable layer.
Wood finishes are easy to apply, meaning you can correct the surface imperfections during application.
This is particularly important to avoid affecting the whole appearance of your finished wood.
Some shortcomings of these formulas are:
Although wood finishes are easy to apply, some are hard to remove when you want to change to a different finish.
However, there are certified ways to enhance quick removal when you want to refinish your wood.
Most wood finishes are made from quality ingredients which translates to higher cost.
If you’re on a budget, opt for the affordable options but with a good blend of versatility and performance.
Applying wood finishes seals your wood to protect it from heat, scratches, moisture, or even insects.
Another objective is to enhance the woods natural beauty over an extended duration. Varnishes, rub-on oils, and stains are commonly used wood finishing products.
Whichever product you choose, ensure you adhere to the user’s instructions to achieve your desired effect. If not, the finishes can peel off the surface, meaning you will want to start fresh.