For your selection of which wood finish product to apply on cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, fascia
boards, and wood siding the options are many. Would you like an oil finish, paint, or a wood stain?
Theres no doubt about it; there are many more wood finish products to select from than there ever
has been. So how do you select the correct wood finish for each DIY project? The first thing you should
consider is this: How is the wood going be used? Will it be subjected to the elements? Whats the
When to Paint Wood Surfaces
In the course of a home remodel or during new construction, there are many wood objects associated with
the house that are right for a painted finish. But its important to select the correct paint for the
object in question.
As an example, when youre remodeling your kitchen cabinets, a water-based latex with
a semi-gloss or gloss sheen is ideal.
A slick surface on your kitchen woodwork reflects ambient light. This opens up the space visually and
makes possibly dangerous work, such as cutting with sharp knives, safer. Additionally, either gloss or
semi-gloss paint lend itself to easy cleaning.
When you paint exterior wood objects like siding and fascia boards, be sure you use a paint thats
labeled for exterior use. Look for one that incorporates a fungicide ingredient.
If it involves wood, Rockler has the tool!
Painting wood paneling has its own considerations.
Any open-grain (unfinished) wood surface needs to be primed using the correct primer (oil-based primer
or water-based latex primer) prior to being painted.
When to Use a Wood Stain
Using a wood stain product is the correct way to alter the color or shade of unfinished wood. Kitchen
cabinets may benefit by being stained, as well as door casing and window trim, crown molding, stair
banisters, and more. Putting a urethane coat onto this rounds out the finish.
Why would you use a wood stain anyway? One reason is when you use a less expensive wood species like
pine, and dress it up to resemble a more costly species like cherry, oak, or mahogany.
Some wood stain formulations are already infused with sealers right from the factory. Applications
for a product of this type include refinishing and weatherproofing decks and porches. Additionally,
think about using a wood stain sealer with a wood siding like
western red cedar.
When to Use an Oil Finish
Using oil finishes brings out the natural beauty in the the grain of the wood. This is especially true
of high-quality domestic hardwoods like cherry, maple, red oak, and walnut. Think about using an oil
finish on imported exotic woods as too.
Some woods that fall in this class are purpleheart, ebony, zebrawood, and cocobolo.
All oil-based finishes are not created equal. For example:
Linseed Oil: Both the regular linseed oil as well as boiled linseed oil
can be used, however the boiled oil is usually chosen because it boasts a shorter drying time.
Linseed oil should only be applied on interior projects. A good example is when restoring
antique furniture that already has a linseed finish.
Danish and Teak Oil: Both Danish and teak oils are superior for brand new
woodwork without a previous finish. How does Danish differ from teak? Danish is a low luster finish
and teak oil is brighter. Your personal preference is the deciding factor.
Mineral Oil: Mineral oil is ideal on surfaces that need to be non-toxic,
such as butcher block countertops.
A regular application of mineral oil will keep a pizza peel in good shape. (The large paddle for sliding
it onto and off a pizza stone in the oven.)
Tung Oil: Tung oil is perfect for any woodwork thats around a lot of
moisture. This makes it ideal for marine applications. Applying three coats (buffing with
#000 steel or bronze wool between each coat) results in a beautiful sheen.
Wood Finish Wrap-Up
These are only the primary categories listing the most popular wood finishes commonly available.
Each category has an abundance of derivatives in it. Producers like Behr, Minwax, Tried & True, and
Glidden are just a few who have busy R & D departments, striving to bring new and environmentally-friendly
wood finishes to market.