All You Need to Know About Finishing Interior Wood


Before you start your next home renovation project, consider the finished appearance you wish to achieve. Wood finishes differ from method of application to its durability. Finding the correct wood finish for your project can be a headache, even to professional woodworkers, but knowing the basics between oils and waxes will put your mind at ease. Different finishes offer varying degrees of protection, durability, ease of application and its finished look. A finish that excels in one of these categories may fail in another - which is why choosing a finish can cause so much headache.



Waxes can be used in stick, paste or liquid form and come in a numerous amount of colors. Clear, amber, natural wood tones and white are the most common. Waxes can be soft or hard but are never as hard as lacquers and varnishes. The fact that wax is a "soft" finish means that it offers little protection against scratches and daily wear-and-tear. Wax finishes sit on top of the wood and doesn't penetrate into the pores. Waxes prevent wood from oxidizing although they do no enhance the color of the wood. Once a coat of clear wax dries on the wood, it will look like freshly cut, but unfinished, wood.

Nearly all waxes dissolve in mineral spirits, which can be handy to know if you ever need to remove a wax finish. Liquid and paste wax contain a solvent and the wax cures as the solvent evaporates. Waxes don't offer a lot of heat protection, they slowly melt at low temperatures. However, they do shed water, making them great for areas that will see lots of food and drink spills. You can also apply these over any surface. The end result will be a soft and smooth feel. You can not put any other finish over wax, it will not soak in and you'll be stuck with a mess. 

To apply a liquid or paste wax rub it on the wood you wish to finish. A pad or fine steel wood make for a good applicator, then wipe off with paper towels. For a shinier finish let the wax sit for awhile before wiping off. When you wipe off the wax immediately it will leave a dull sheen as it dries. When finishes buff with a towel and enjoy the results!



The obvious difference between an oil and wax finish is that oil finishes are absorbed into the wood. Oil can make wood look richer or more translucent without adding a film on the surface. There are two types of oils that woodworkers use: drying and non-drying oils.  

Dring oils change from a cliquish to a solid form when exposed to oxygen. Nut oils, like linseed, are drying oils while vegetable and mineral oils are non-drying. Non-drying oils stay indefinitely wet, which makes them irrational to use on things that will be getting scrubbed or frequently in contact with water. Because they do not dry, non-drying oils are considered to be a wood treatment rather than a finish. The most common and least expensive drying oil is the boiled linseed oil. 

To apply an oil finish you will want to rub or paint it onto the wood. Flood the wood and add a little extra to spots where it is being quickly absorbed by the wood. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes then wipe off the excess oil that wasn't absorbed by the wood. To create a sleeker and richer finish you can repeat the process but this time sanding the oily wood with fine wet-and-dry sandpaper. This will fill tiny pores and leaving the surface even smoother.


To achieve the look of the natural wood, choose a varnish or oil finish. This protects the wood and can add a more vibrant color but does not cover up the woods natural markings. Always keep safety and the environment in mind when picking and applying finishes.

If you want to leave your home looking stunning, we can help! Contact us today to learn more!

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