You should always apply a finish to your wooden furniture and floors to protect them from the elements. If left unfinished, wood can crack, dry, deteriorate and swell if exposed to moisture. A good finish will not only guard your floors and furniture against harsh environmental elements, it will also enhance the appearance of the wood.
What is a Finish?
There are a number of natural and chemical products that can be used to finish wood. Usually, wax, shellac, drying oil, lacquer, varnish or paint are applied to wood using either a cloth or a brush. Using the proper finish on a low-value wood can give it the appearance of ones that are more expensive and harder to attain.
Different Types of Wood Finishes
There are a number of different varieties of wood finishes with an equal number of brands to choose from. To make things easier you can place finishes in one of two categories – penetrating finishes and surface finishes. Both are self-explanatory, with surface finishes drying on the wood surface and penetrating finishes drying inside the wood.
Penetrating finishes are easy to apply and give a more natural look to your wooden floor or furniture. Oils are generally the best penetrating finish, with Linseed Oil being one of the oldest used. It’s best to apply penetrating finishes with a cloth rather than a brush to avoid scratching or damaging the wood.
Surface finishes are recommended for everyday furniture that will receive a lot of traffic as they provide a very durable layer. Although not as natural looking as penetrative finishes, surface finishes will ensure your wood stays intact longer. Shellac and varnish are the two most common types of surface finish that dry on top of wood creating a protective coating. It’s best to use a brush rather than use a cloth for these types of finishes, and aim to use to a medium priced brush with a tapered edge to ensure you spread the finish to all areas of the wood.
Osmo Polyx Oil is great for hardwood floors, as just two coats will provide a hard layer of protection for your floor.
As you’ve seen already, finishes contain chemicals that can be harmful. You could be putting yourself in danger if you don’t use the right safety precautions. Whenever you place a finish on a wood surface you should always use surgical gloves and guard your eyes. Some finishes also emit hazardous fumes, so open a window or ensure you apply a finish in a well-ventilated room. If you have respiratory problems then it is best to use a face mask or ask someone else to apply the finish for you.
Applying a finish to your wooden furniture and floor will ensure it stands the test of time. A few minutes’ work could mean the difference between great looking wood and furniture or flooring that needs replacing.