Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Choosing Wood Finishes for Your Home

The finish that is given to wood is as important as the wood itself in terms of how it looks and how durable it is.  Painting does the same thing viz., covering the wood, while finishing brings out its innate beauty. The type of wood you use in your home is a matter of personal taste. That being said, the type of finish that is applied can add to its luster and appeal.

There are two basic types of wood finishes – those that penetrate the wood and those that form a film over the surface. Here is a brief outline of the 
types of finishes you can consider.


Varnish is a protective coating given to wood. It is tough and long lasting and can be either transparent or colored. Both high gloss and matte finishes are available. There are different types of varnishes for interior and exterior use. Depending on where it is used, multiple coats may be required.


Stain soaks into wood and bonds with it. It is generally used to give a decorative finish. Some stains, in addition, can preserve wood.  Stains are of two types – oil- or water- The choice depends on whether the finish is for an interior or exterior surface. It provides a true color only if it is applied to clean bare wood, with no other finish or paint. Stains can be used both indoors and outdoors. Several coats may be required to get the desired effect.


Dye is used to even out shade variations and give a more uniform look. Dyes can be mixed to match the existing wood color and to highlight shades. Dyes give a matte finish and, with some exceptions, are generally used only for interior woodwork. However, a coat of varnish can be applied to dyed wood to provide for extra protection if required. Here too, multiple coats may be required to get the right look.


Wax is a decorative finish which nourishes and protects wood. It cannot be applied to a sealed surface or where another finish has been used; the exception is a dye, where the wax will act to protect the colors. Because it is delicate, it can be used for interior surfaces only, and it needs regular maintenance. It can be polished to a high gloss. Multiple coats are required to get a smooth shiny surface.


Oil is a finish that nourishes and protects the wood it is applied to. It can not penetrate unsealed surfaces. However, the protection it can give lasts even after the surface sheen has worn away. A low to mid-level sheen can be achieved, depending on the amount of buffing done. Depending on where it is used, a yearly recoating may be required. Oil finishes are not recommended for places where there is any fire risk because they are highly inflammable.

Talk to a wood finishing professional about the wooden surfaces in your home that need to be coated wih wood finish and the type of look you love to achieve. You will be able to consider the best options available.

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