Hardwood Finishing Types

As a professional refinisher , I routinely ask my customers a series of questions to determine the best finish for their furniture. Most exterior polys can be used indoors, but interior polys should never be used outdoors; they lack the additives that protect exterior finishes from UV rays. However, wax finishes often need to be reapplied and only provide minimal protection. Natural wood finishes, especially those that soak into the grain, are often difficult to remove, so take time to think about your requirements and choose the right product. Treat floors with these finishes and floors with no finish as you would penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors. In addition a further advantage is the low maintenance cost associated with polyurethane type finishes.

This type of wood finish tends to be a combination of evaporative and Reactive finishes, and most often tend to be a water based finish such as water-based polyurethane. Finishes contain chemicals that can be dangerous if used without proper safety precautions. The Cadillac (or Volvo) of floor finishes, acid-cured Swedish finishes are for pro application only. An alcohol-based varnish used since the 1950s, Swedish finishes provide high durability and extremely easy maintenance. One of the main considerations when getting hardwood installed is the finish of the wood.

Find an inconspicuous place in the floor, and scratch the surface with a coin or other sharp object. For this reason, as pointed out by Flexner, many people prefer to omit the staining step when finishing wood. During application and drying, which can take up to eight hours per coat, varnish emits the highest level of VOCs of the clear finishes discussed here.

Wood flooring is more likely to fail (and thus, wood finishing with it) when installers or contractors fail to ensure that the wood flooring has reached its EMC before installation and finishing. Penetrating finishes soak into the wood and require a wax finish for a low gloss sheen. We recommend a hand planed tabletop for those who: 1) like clear evidence that someone built the table by hand, 2) like the resulting texture, or 3) want to obscure dings and scratches in the irregular surface.

Choosing a clear finish for wood involves trade-offs between appearance, protection, durability, safety, requirements for cleaning, and ease of application. Excess glue on the surface of the wood must either be flushed and washed away with clean water while it is still wet, or allowed to dry and cut away with a sharp chisel or knife – any remaining spots or smears must be completely sanded away.

Liquid wood finishes are applied via automated spray guns in an enclosed environment or spray cabin. They have application benefits that make them ideal for large surface application. The Lowdown: In certain circumstances, you may want/need to use a specialty wood finish that doesn’t quite fit the characteristics of any of the above categories. Acrylic and water-based waxes can turn floors white, furniture wax creates a slick surface and one-step waxes (despite the compelling pitches: They clean! Veneers: Veneers are created by bonding a thin layer of fine, decorative wood to the face of furniture made of less expensive materials.

This is the old standard, though it’s used less and less often these days, as advances lead to new, quicker, and easier-to-use finishes. All wood finishes can be classified as one of two distinctly different types, based on how they dry, or cure. Wood can be stained to change its colour or left unstained before application of lacquer, or other types of top-coats.

The Classic advantages to you, the Architect/Designer and professional contractor, is a sophisticated product that can be coated over all new timber floors in lieu of polyurethane, oil modified, Tung oil based finishes without the incidence of edge bonding or rejection commonly experienced with oily timbers. You can use a high-intensity light, or wet the wood with paint thinner to magnify any remaining blemishes. Oil and oil-based varnish, solvent-based lacquer and shellac all deepen the color of the wood and increase surface luster the most. Lightly scuff the surface of the cabinets with a 400 grit sandpaper for better adhesion.

Rug dyes have been known to stain floors, and plastic backings may affect the wood finish. Oil leaves a residue, furniture spray creates a slippery surface (think ice-skating rink!) and wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult. Use natural bristle for oil-based finishes and synthetic filament (polyester, nylon, or a blend of the two) for water-based and water-based oil-modified finishes. After the surface is dry, a light buff with a maroon pad or a 3M® white pad for larger jobs or 0000 steel wool or 320 grit sandpaper for smaller jobs is sufficient. It is only after the sealer has been applied and sanded that the true color of the wood can be seen.


Permatone is a leading US supplier of interior decorative finishes including, acrylic Venetian plasters, polished plasters, aggregated finishes and knockdown” textures available in a limitless array of textures and colors. This has the same characteristics as natural oil, but it doesn’t sink into the surface quite as much, staying more on the surface due to the greater viscosity of the wax. Extra-durable products give flooring more protection and are designed to extend the life of wood flooring.

Synteko water base with its low VOC content and NMP free product results in timber floor finishes that not only bring out the natural beauty of your timber floor projects but will maintain the natural colour for many years to come. Hardwearing, transparent or colored, decorative and preservative finish that highlights and protects the wood surface below.

There have been until now no such studies in the country and it had to be seen as the first attempt to research the surface roughness parameters of the most used timber species in Albania. Plywood: Made of multiple, thin layers of wood that are glued and pressed together, plywood is strong, flexible, and resistant to cracking, warping, shrinking, and swelling.

The Lowdown: The two primary types of evaporative finishes seen today are shellac and lacquer; they’re a bit different than varnishes or oils as they are composed of a solvent and a resin, and simply rely on the solvent to evaporate, leaving the resin behind. This look is achieved by applying a lime mixture, bleach, or white stain/paint to the wood.

As a finish, waxes don’t penetrate wood, but rather sit atop it. They will prevent it from oxidizing (turning gray) but don’t particularly enhance the wood. The key distinction of a reactive wood finish is that it changes its chemical composition as it cures the wood, even if they have solvents or distillates as part of their base. Appropriate finishes are varnishes and lacquers, penetrating wood sealers and drying oils, and non-drying vegetable oils. Danish oil is used as finish or base coat for all types of wood whether; it is used as interior or exterior door, outdoor or indoor furniture, windows, etc. They penetrate into the pores of the wood to achieve a durable, long-lasting finish.

Enthusiasts of innovative solutions might want to direct their attention to the wooden floors whose surfaces have been subjected to the brushing process, whereby the top layer of the wood is brushed and the softest parts of the annual growth rings are removed. Unmodified oils such as tung, linseed, and walnut can also be used as sealers if they are thinned to penetrate the wood. Shellac can also be made with methanol, a powerful toxin also known as wood alcohol.

If surface scratches are made in the topcoat they are less visible than other finishes and less likely to chip or peel away. Table 3. Average values of the surface roughness parameters after processing in the sanding machine. In the hangline approach, wood items being finished are hung by carriers or hangers that are attached to a conveyor system that moves the items overhead or above the floor space. In some extreme cases, the wax may not be completely removable and the surface may therefore not be re-coatable.

Applying an initial protection and a regular maintenance will make the surface hydrated, easier to clean, while allowing the wood to retain its natural color. Oiled finishes, while looking completely natural to the wood material, provide a deep, wear-resistant and easily maintainable protection. Surface finishes include water-based, moisture-cured, oil-cured, and acid-cured. Wax over a penetrating stain, and the system is in the wood so you wear the wood, not the finish. Even with considerable wiping the finish seemed to just bead up on the surface.

These include, but are not limited to, knots, knot holes, minor splitting along the direction of the wood grain which does not impact the structural integrity of the wood, slight checking at board ends, twisting, cupping, small dents (less than 1/16in deep, less than 1/4in wide) and color variations. Simply put, a penetrating finish does exactly that, it penetrates” the wood and dries inside the wood, while a surface finish stays on the surface” and dries on the top layer of the wood.

Pre-finished flooring offers a wide variety of wood species and saves hours of labor and cleanup, while unfinished wood floors allow you to have a customized finish. Interesting alternatives, such as Les Anciens Ébénistes’s Worktop Oil or Salad Bowl finishes are diluted varnishes mixed with oils and resins, which are very easy to apply and will provide very satisfying results as well. These finishes are available in a wide variety of colours, many of which are not part of the natural colour palette of wood, for example, blues and greens. The process is similar to how MDF is made, but it is made with actual wood chips.

The most common of the traditional finishes in the West was linseed oil, but tung oil (once called ‘china wood’ oil) was also used, although more so in the Orient. Wood finishing starts with sanding either by hand, typically using a sanding block or power sander , scraping , or planing Imperfections or nail holes on the surface may be filled using wood putty or pores may be filled using wood filler Often, the wood’s color is changed by staining , bleaching , or any of a number of other techniques.