Tips, Techniques, and FAQs


5  Easy Steps to a Beautiful Watco Oiled Finish
(note: please read thoroughly read prodcut label for specific nstructions on application, dry times and proper clean up method) 

1. Prepare the Surface
Ensure the surface is completely dry and that all previous finishes such as paint, varnish, urethane or wax have been removed. Sand the clean, dry wood with medium grit sandpaper and then with fine grit sandpaper. Wipe surface clean with a tack cloth.

2. Apply the Finish
Flood the surface using a brush or lint-free, clean cloth, applying additional finish to areas that absorb all the liquid.

3. Wait
Allow Watco to penetrate the wood surface for 30 minutes, then apply additional Watco to areas that have absorbed all the finish. Allow to penetrate for an additional 15 minutes.

4. Wipe
Wipe the entire surface completely dry using a lint-free, clean cloth, removing all excess Watco finish.

5. Dispose of Rags
Rags that have been used in the application of Watco Finishes may spontaneously combust if not disposed of properly. To eliminate this risk, place all soiled rags in a sealed metal container filled with water, such as an empty paint can, and dispose of in accordance with your local fire regulations. Use mineral spirits to clean application tools and brushes.



Some open grained woods, such as oak, can “bleed” excess oil finish from its pores until the oil has cured. Should this occur, rewipe the surface occasionally until the bleeding stops. If the spots of oil are left to dry on the surface, burnish off with synthetic steel wool.

Uneven Color
Certain woods such as pine, fir, birch, maple or spruce may have a tendency to take color unevenly. To help solve this problem, use a wood conditioner or place a small amount of Danish Oil Finish in Natural on a cloth and wipe lightly on wood. Wipe dry before applying desired color.

How To Finish
A surface coat is not necessary over Watco wood finishes. Do not apply a surface finish such as polyurethane over Watco Satin Wax. If a clear wood finish such as polyurethane is desired, completely remove wax with a wax stripper following product directions. Allow wood surface to dry 72 hours before applying Watco Wipe-On Poly or Varathane Interior Polyurethane.



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:

Penetrating Oils
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. 

Film Forming 
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

note: It’s important to remember that for wood floors or exterior wood projects, choose products especially formulated for those jobs to ensure durability and protection.