Wood Finish is usually the last step of furniture making process, which includes penetrating and surface finish. Different finish could lead to a different effect on the wood. So, it is really important to you to pick the “right” finish for your furniture piece.

There is an excellent blogger called Ben L. who wrote a blog about wood finish. A Complete Guide to All Types of Wood Finishes. He summarized  all types of wood finish and gave a thorough introduction on each type. Honestly, I learned a lot from this article and I highly recommend you guys to check it out.

Penetrating Finishes

Tung Oil: A yellow-brown dry oil comes from tung oil seeds (containing oil 30% ~ 40%). It is easy to dry and form the film in the air and it is an excellent raw material for paints and other coatings; It can also be used for painting wooden boats, woodwork, tarpaulin, etc. However, the Tung oil will be gelatinized when it gets heated. 

Linseed Oil: It is a vegetable oil comes from flax seeds. The Linseed Oil is easy to oxidize and dry to form an elastic film. However, curing may take longer. It soaks into the pores, resulting in a shiny appearance.

Danish Oil: “It is a mixture of oil (usually boiled linseed oil or tung oil), varnish, and thinner. Danish oil offers better surface protection than plain oil wood finishes. It is easy to apply and moderately durable.”( Ben L.)

Cedar Oil: “Popularly known as cedar wood oil, this wood finish has a characteristic woody odor. It can increase the lifespan of the furniture as it has a natural resistance to insects, disease, and rot resulting from exposure to moisture or water.” (Ben L).

Surface Finishes

Shellac: Strong adhesion, good gloss, both thermoplastic and thermosetting, soluble in alcohol and alkali, oil and acid resistant, non-toxic to people

Lacquer: It has special qualities of moisture resistance, high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, and so on. It can also prepare different colors of paint. Usually, the drying process involves solvent evaporation, resulting in a hard and durable finish.

Varnish: It is a clear and transparent wood finish that usually comprises drying oil, resin, and thinner or solvent. Because of the transparency, it could form a smooth film after drying to show the original texture of the object surface.

Wax: “Usually, it is primarily carnauba. However, you can find wax finishes with almost any type of wax nowadays. Wax furniture finish is easy to apply and offers abrasion resistance. But it is not durable and requires frequent reapplication.”(Ben L)

Polyurethane: it is durable and water-resistant, thus offering excellent protection. It can offer a warm and amber tone to the wood. However, it can be difficult to repair damage to it.

Dye: The method or process of coloring the surface or interior of wood by means of pressure impregnation and high-pressure cooking (examined and published by the National Science and Technology Terminology Examination and Approval Committee)

Stain: Stains consist of a pigment, carrier, and binder. The carrier helps insert the pigment into the surface and binder makes it stick. which is used to present the decoration of wood grain and further beautify the required color while maintaining the original color of wood.

(WOOD STAIN first appears in FALL LEAF)

French Polish: It is a technology that applies many independent varnish layers to musical instruments or furniture. It uses a cloth to apply and polish the paint layer by layer until a dry and completely polished surface is formed. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a uniform coating. The commonly used paint material in French polishing is oil paint or spirit varnish.

Water-Based Finish: Emphasis on water-based. It is not a single product but a type of finish which is water-based. You can check out more water-based product on Water Based Finish. Usually, the water-based products dry quickly. This finish can provide adequate protection.

Paint: You can easily apply wood paint finishes. You can find furniture paint finishes in a wider range of colors and finishing combinations. Finishing quality ranges from glossy to high-glossy.

(MILK PAINT first appears in RED CHAIR)I want to introduce one specific wood paint material–Milk Paint.

Milk paint is a non-toxic water-based coating. It is usually colored with natural pigments. Milk paint is usually sold in powder, which needs to be mixed with warm water before use. The effect of milk paint is diverse. The color depth depends on how much water is added to the pigment and the number of layers of paint. Generally, it is recommended to apply two to three layers to achieve the best effect. Milk paint can be used on any porous surface without a primer, also on masonry materials, metal materials, glass materials, and wood materials. 


  • A Complete Guide to All Types of Wood Finishes By Ben L. June 30, 2020 https://octaneseating.com/blog/wood-finishes/?__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=pmd_2eda55514cd48f7688cc293a5e1dd4117c95a4fd-1628746146-0-gqNtZGzNArijcnBszQbi
  • Author: Xia Zhengnong, Chen Zhili. 《Da Ci Hai: chemical, light industry and textile volume》, published by Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House on August 1, 2009.
  • Author: Feng Fengzhi, Feng jienan, Liang Shou. 《Wood coatings and coating technology》. Chemical Industry Press. 2008.8
    National Science and Technology Terminology Examination and Approval Committee. http://www.cnterm.cn


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