Choosing the right finish for your wood project is key to getting the results you want, but knowing where to start can be confusing—until you understand a few basics.
There are two common types of finish: penetrating oils and film forming finishes.
Let’s start with what they have in common: All of these finishes enhance and protect wood through color and/or a protective coat.
They, however, aren’t interchangeable! Here’s a basic overview:
They have been a trusted go to for expert wood workers for decades because they protect and harden from within. These thin, wipe on finishes penetrate the wood to nourish and protect. Extremely easy to apply, typically a low natural sheen and durable properties.
Why use them?
• One step finishes that penetrate, seal and protect.
• Oils add a depth and richness to highlight the beauty of the wood while providing a classic hand rubbed appearance
• Protection comes from hardening in, not on the wood which means it will not flake, chip or peel.
• Can be applied at anytime to refresh color or protection—no need to strip or sand.
This durable product comes in a range of finishes, from matte to gloss. Oil-based has a slight amber hue, while water-based has less odor and a crystal clear finish. Lacquer creates a crystal-clear, high-gloss finish and can be applied by sprayer for an ultra-smooth surface.
Why use them?
• Provides a smooth protective top in a variety of sheens
• Protection comes from curing on the wood for maximum durability, especially for high use surfaces
• Fastest dry times to quickly complete projects
Which is best for you?
Choosing the right one depends on which features matter most for your project—durability, dry times, ease of application, final desired look and maintenance. Use the chart to find the best product for your project and always test in an inconspicuous area on your project to ensure