SHOWROOM: Calle Modena, 33, Las Rozas, Madrid - Av. Diagonal, 352, Barcelona

Types of wood finishes

Natalia Kolomiets

Published on March 09 2021

solid wood furniture with natural finish

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

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

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

Generally, there are 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 right 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 gloss and surface penetration. You can apply them easily.

Tung oil

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

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

Linseed oil, which comes from the seeds of flax plants, is an easy wood finish to apply with a brush or cloth. However, it can take longer to cure. It soaks into the pores resulting in a glossy appearance.

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

Ideal for: firearms butts, cue shafts, surfboards and cricket bats, furniture, etc.

Color: matte.

 flaxseed 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 simple oil-based wood finishes. It is easy to apply and moderately durable.It providesprotection both indoors and outdoors.

Appearance: enhances 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 characteristic woody odor. It can increase the life span of furniture, as it has a natural resistance to insects, disease and rot resulting from exposure to moisture or water.

Appearance: warm, hand-rubbed and natural.

Ideal for: floor and furniture polishing.

Color: light silver-gray when fully weathered

 cedar oil


Surface finishes

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


Shellac wood finish looks very attractive on wooden objects made of walnut, thin 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 fixtures

Color: Super blond 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 the evaporation of the solvent, resulting in a hard and durable finish.

Appearance: matte, medium and high gloss.

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

Color: Transparent and satin gloss.

Application tools: spray and natural bristle brush.

 lacquer finish



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

Appearance: bright and very bright.

Ideal for: floors, cabinets and furniture.

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

 varnish finish



As a rule, it is mainly carnauba. However, today you can find wax finishes with almost any type of wax. Furniture wax finish is easy to apply and offers abrasion resistance. 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



Polyurethane wood finish is durable and water resistant, so it offers excellent protection. It can provide a warm, amber tone to the wood. However, it can be difficult to repair damage.

Appearance: enhances natural appearance.

Ideal for: cabinets, doors, furniture and floors.

Color: satin and moderate to high gloss.

 Polyurethane finish



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. The small particles of stain penetrate deep into the wood surface, so there is no need to use a binder.

Appearance: enhanced natural appearance.

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

Color: deep and vibrant colors.

 dyeing finish


French polishing

French polishing is a wood finishing process that usually involves the application of shellac. You can use it to create an extraordinarily glossy finish with a 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

 French polishing


Waterborne 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 carpentry and wood flooring.

Color: milky.

 Waterborne 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 high gloss.

Appearance: bright and shiny

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

Color: a wide range of colors.


More publications