Wood care products buying guide
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester27 guides
- Wood type
- Indoor or outdoor
- Varnish, paint and stains
- Oils and penetrating oils
- Brighteners and primers
- Colours and finishes
What different types of wood are there?
More than 70 different species of wood are used, each of which falls broadly into three categories: softwoods, hardwoods and exotic woods.
And watch out: species like black ebony or iroko can be toxic so be sure you have the right wood for the job before you buy!
Caring for your interior woodwork
Varnishes for hardwood floors
- Aqueous phase varnish: odourless, applied in three coats;
- Mono- or bi-component polyurethane varnish: more durable, recommended for areas with lots of footfall.
If you've completely stripped your flooring for optimal varnish application, you might want to start by applying a sealer or base coat. This will saturate the pores of the wood and allow optimal application of varnish, guaranteeing the best finish.
Quick tip: varnishes often require multiple coats. It is best to sand down the surface between applications to get rid of any wood fibres that may have risen to the surface.
Wax offers a special patina, shine and smell. However, it offers less protection compared to varnishes. Furthermore, waxed floors can be slippery and application requires care and patience. Wax, whether solid or liquid, fills the pores of the wood when applied. Wax can be:
- Colourless, to preserve the natural colour and grain of the wood and provide a basic protective surface layer;
- Tinted, to darken and opacify the surface of the wood;
- Beeswax (the real deal, produced by worker bees) is liquid and performs poorly in the heat; should be mixed to improve hardness, e.g. with carnauba wax;
- In the form of a filler stick, for occasional use to hide cracks in furniture and floorboards;
- Antique, for furniture, often composed of beeswax with carnauba to increase resistance.
Oil, dewaxer and wood clarifier
Wood oilLike varnish, wood oil is a finishing product used to protect flooring. Oil embellishes, restores shine, protects against moisture, nourishes the wood and gives it a more natural finish. In liquid form, the oil is applied with a brush and is absorbed by the pores of the wood. This product penetrates deep into the wood making it water-repellent. There are several different types of oils:
- Linseed oil, to restore shine and protect all types of wood against weathering;
- Exotic wood / teak oil, for the protection and maintenance of exotic woods;
- Wood floor oil, contains natural oils, regenerates oiled flooring.
Varnish for door frames
- Cellulosic varnish, best for frames that aren't cleaned frequently. A mono-component varnish, fast-drying but vulnerable to scratches and harsh cleaning products;
- Precatalysed varnish, essentially an improved cellulosic varnish, giving better chemical and physical resistance;
- Polyurethane varnish, a more resistant, bi-component variety with an added hardening component.
Furniture varnish creates a protective layer and improved finish. The same types as above (cellulosic, precatalysed and polyurethane) and the same formats (liquid or gel) are available.
Some environmentally friendly soaps are perfumed with essential oils, leaving a pleasant smell in the room.
- Acrylic, water-based, microporous;
- Glycerophthalic, solvent-based, forming a protective film;
- Alkyd, combining the properties of the previous two.
Bare wood will absorb a lot of paint in the first two coats. To make your life easier and to save money, apply a primer or even a coat of diluted paint first (diluted with water or white spirit, depending on the type of paint).
Steel wool and other wood-working products
Tougher wire wool is used for more thorough stripping; however, it can damage your wood if you're not careful! Always wear thick gloves when handling this type of wool.
Natural plant materials – which are often more efficient and gentler than synthetic materials – are recommended wherever possible.
How to maintain your exterior woodwork
Exterior wood varnish
Exterior wood paint
Painted wood can be cleaned with water and rubbed down hassle-free. If necessary, a new coat can be applied after a light sanding. Whether you've gone for varnish or paint, don't forget to apply your product thoroughly in the gaps (between planks etc.) because that's where water infiltrates the quickest.
Exterior wood oil
Penetrating oils, stabilisers, brighteners and strippers: choosing a wood prepping product
Wood primer and stabiliser
Degreasers and wood strippers
Wood putty, bonding agents, mastic and filling wax
Caring for specific types of wood
How to maintain your wooden decking
Natural wood soap is also a very effective and environmentally friendly option.
How to maintain your wood floor
Caring for autoclave-treated wood
How to maintain exotic wood
How to maintain a timber frame house
UV rays will inevitably cause your cladding to grey: this can't easily be prevented, although it can be remedied via the application of a brightener. However, this sun-based reaction is generally hard to avoid. You can clean the exterior with a pressure washer kept at a safe distance. Nonetheless, you're better off sticking to a brush.
Varnishes or stains must be applied upon installation and repeatedly thereafter to protect the wood from the elements, insects and moulds.
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester 27 guides écrits
After a few years plying my trade in the construction industry, I decided it was time to get my national vocational qualification (NVQ) in carpentry. Although I enjoyed doing everything from renovations and painting to flooring and tiles, I found my true passion lay in working on a timber frame or designing a wooden house.
Everything about woodworking fascinates me. In fact, my dream is to one day build my own house in wood!
I’m also really into learning about new building techniques and tools: I stay up on all the latest innovations and tips and tricks, and spend a lot of my free time researching the performance of each new tool on the market, whether it’s for woodworking or some other building material. I'd be happy to put my knowledge to use by advising you and helping you with your choices.
Happy DIYing, everyone!
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