Choosing the Right Wood Finish

Why Finish Wood?

While choosing which type of wood finish to apply to your wood furniture, floors or other woodwork projects might be a dilemma, we can all agree that applying a good finish to your wood is absolutely essential.

Without a good finish, wood is likely to deteriorate – it may dry, crack, or swell if exposed to moisture, or shrink due to other weather changes. A good wood finish not only seals the wood against the elements, but also protects against accidental damage such as stains or scratches. Wood finishes also enhance the appearance of the wood by adding color and contrast.

Types of Wood Finishes

Differences between penetrating oil and polyurathane wood finish.Types of wood finishes have evolved over time with various consumer demands. The two main players in the market are penetrating oils and polyurethane finishes.Penetrating oil finishes, typically derived from plants, do just want the name suggests – they penetrate and fortify the wood from the inside, at the same time allowing the wood to ‘breathe’. They have been around for several decades, and have a long tradition of use in Scandinavian countries.

Polyurethane finishes on the other hand, are a blend of synthetic resins that harden into a protective plastic-like coating on the surface of the wood. These were developed to meet the consumer demand for a type of wood finish that is very durable, and the mostly widely used are water-based and oil-based.

Wood Finishes are Trending to Penetrating Oils
Lately, a new trend has emerged with types of wood finishes. Over the last few years, there has been a shift away from polyurethane wood finishes towards traditional penetrating oil finishes. The key drivers of this shift in trend are two main differences in characteristics of penetrating oils and polyurethane wood finishes: 

1. Ease of Application

One of the first things to notice about penetrating oil finishes is their ease in application. Unlike the tricky application of polyurethane finishes where chances of overlap lines or streaking are high, a penetrating oil is far more forgiving in nature during application.

2. Durability and Repair-ability

The general perception is that polyurethane is more durable than penetrating oils. However, that is not the entire truth – while it is true that a polyurethane finish can provide good protection against scratches and scuffs, the problems that do appear (as they will, because such is life!), cannot be spot-repaired. Repairing problems on a polyurethane surface will require sanding and refinishing the entire surface area all over again.In contrast, a damaged area on a surface that is finished using penetrating oils, can be fixed locally by cleaning and re-oiling the area, and should blend with the rest of the surface. As long as the surface is maintained with the recommended cleaning products, like and re-oiled on average every four to six years, most signs of wear and tear will disappear and re-sanding will not be required.

Therefore, for high-traffic areas on hardwood floors like those in the foyer or entryway which will eventually need to be repaired, no matter what type of wood finish is in use, it would make sense to use a Penetrating Oil wood finish that is easier to apply and fix.

3. Appearance

Penetrating oils lend the most natural aesthetic to the wood among all types of wood finishes, and the architect and design community has wholeheartedly embraced this quality!

Traditional polyurethane finishes are available in all sheen levels. Penetrating oil finishes are low sheen, matte by nature. It is possible to raise the sheen to a satin with WOCA Maintenance Gel, if desired. As the penetrating oil seeps into the wood, the topmost layer scatters the light and enhances the natural appearance of the wood. Industry experts agree that this is as close as one can get to the feel of natural wood, while offering good wear and spill resistance.

See The Wood, Feel The Wood

WOCA believes in strengthening and enhancing the unique characteristics in every piece of wood, not hiding it. From start to finish to cleaning and care, WOCA makes a wood care product for both residential and commercial applications.

It is wise to keep in mind however, that no matter which type of wood finish is used, all wood will experience natural changes in color over time and age.

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