Types of wood finishes - Roble.Store

Types of wood finishes

Natalia Kolomiets

Posted on March 09 2021

muebles de madera maciza acabado natural

Wood furniture finishing, or simply wood finishing, is a process developed to protect wooden furniture from environmental damage. Without the proper finish, wood can crack, dry out, swell (exposure to moisture) and deteriorate. However, while the primary goal of each type of wood finish is to add a protective layer, it can also help enhance the aesthetic appeal of the wood.

Whether it's a new or old piece of wood, the finish is always required or recommended by the experts. That is why adding a wood finish is one of the most critical processes. However, it generally adds to a large part of the cost of wooden furniture.

In this guide, we'll walk you through different types of wood finishes, the factors involved in choosing a finish, the different finishing processes, and all other relevant facts.

There are generally two main types of wood finish: penetrating and surface finish. Each type results in a unique appearance and protection, so it is necessary to choose the correct type of finish.


Penetrating finishes

Penetrating wood finishes offer a more natural look as they penetrate deep into the surface of the wood. You may need to use a rag to add a protective coating of wood oils to ensure better shine and penetration into the surface. You can easily apply them.

Tung oil

Obtained from the nut or seed of the tung tree, the tung oil it is one of the most common penetrating finishes. It is an environmentally friendly wood finish and relatively safe when fully cured. In Oak.Store We work with this type of finish and we offer you natural furniture and 100% ecological. 

Appearance: Accentuates the natural look and adds a warm glow.

Ideal for: boat decks and floors, furniture.

Color: Matte or light satin appearance with a slight golden tint.

 natural tung oil finish


Linseed oil

Flaxseed oil, which comes from the seeds of flax plants, is an easy-to-apply wood finish with a brush or cloth. However, curing may take longer. It soaks into the pores resulting in a shiny appearance.

Appearance: Enhances natural appearance, creates a warm yellow glow, and darkens with age.

Ideal for: firearm butts, cleat shafts, surfboards and cricket bats, furniture

Matte color.

 linseed oil


Danish oil

It is a mixture or 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. TOIt carries protection both indoors and outdoors.

Appearance: improves natural appearance.

Ideal for: wooden utensils and handles, indoor and outdoor furniture.

Color: polished to a matte or glossy finish.


Cedar oil

Popularly known as cedarwood oil, this wood finish has a distinctive woody smell. It can increase the life of furniture as it has a natural resistance to insects, diseases and rot that result from exposure to moisture or water.

Appearance: warm, hand rubbed and natural.

Ideal for: polishing floors and furniture.

Color: light silver gray when fully worn

 cedar oil


Surface finishes

As the name suggests, surface finishes are applied on top of the wood to create a protective layer. This type of wood finish is an excellent choice for furniture and materials that are exposed to a lot of wear and tear.


The shellac wood finish looks very attractive on wooden objects made from walnut, veneer, and mahogany. However, it is not durable and dissolves in water and solvents such as alcohol.

Appearance: A fine, smooth finish that accentuates the natural grain of the wood.

Ideal for: outdoor furniture and appliances

Color: Super blonde to deep orange




Lacquer is a combination of different glossy wood finishes. For example, you can find lacquered wood finishes based on shellac, nitrocellulose and urushiol, among others. Typically the drying process involves evaporation of the solvent, resulting in a hard, long-lasting finish.

Appearance: matte, medium and high gloss.

Ideal for: wooden furniture such as cabinets, doors and shelves.

Color: Transparent and satin gloss.

Application tools: natural bristle brush and spray.

 lacquer finish



It is a clear, transparent wood finish that generally comprises drying oil, resin, and thinner or solvent. You can find a variety of lacquer, alkyd, polyurethane, acrylic, shellac, and resin-based wood varnish finishes, among others.

Appearance: bright and very bright.

Ideal for: floors, cabinets and furniture.

Color: little or no color or pigments. However, some of them can produce a yellowish or orange tint.

 varnish finish



Usually it is mainly carnauba. However, today you can find wax finishes with almost any type of wax. The furniture wax finish is easy to apply and offers resistance to abrasion. But it is not durable and requires frequent reapplication.

Appearance: opaque. It is necessary to polish to give shine.

Ideal for: floors and furniture

Color: matte to satin.

 wax finish



The polyurethane wood finish is durable and waterproof, offering excellent protection. It can offer a warm, amber tone to the wood. However, it can be difficult to repair the damage.

Appearance: improves natural appearance.

Ideal for: cabinets, doors, furniture and floors.

Color: satin and moderate to high gloss.

 Polyurethane finish


To dye

If you know how to stain wood, you probably also know that wood stains are usually powders that can be mixed with water or alcohol. Small stain particles penetrate deep into the wood surface, so there is no need to use a binder.

Appearance: improved natural appearance.

Ideal for: Suitable for furniture made of dense and carved woods.

Color: deep and vibrant colors.

 finished Dyeing


Polished french

French polishing is a wood finishing process that generally involves the application of shellac. You can use it to create an extraordinarily glossy finish with rich depth that enhances the grain pattern. It is durable. However, it is also a labor-intensive process.

Appearance: very bright

Ideal for: furniture, musical instruments and decorative woodwork.

Color: deep and vibrant

 Polished french


Water based finish

Water-based wood finishes dry quickly. However, water-based wood finishes cannot be cleaned with water. Water plays a supporting role in the finishing process. This finish can provide adequate protection.

Appearance: natural shine.

Ideal for: decorative furniture and woodwork and wood floors.

Color: milky.

 Water based finish



You can easily apply wood paint finishes. You can find furniture paint finishes in a wider range of colors and finish combinations. The quality of the finish varies from glossy to very glossy.

Appearance: bright and shiny

Ideal for: wood panels, walls, doors and furniture.

Color: a wide range of colors.


More posts