How to Seal Chalk Paint?

October 21st, 2014

We get a lot of calls about chalk paints, usually from people who want to know which products are best for finishing chalk paint or sealing it. Although we don’t sell the paints themselves, we do stock the products to finish them. So we thought it’d be a good idea write about chalk paints, how to use them and what’s the best way to make sure your project stays looking great.

Chalk Paint Project

Chalk Paint Project – from thechartreuselifeblog.com

About sealing chalk paint

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint gets its name from the lovely velvety matt finish it provides. It’s brilliant for decorating indoor and out, including furniture, walls, ceilings and even floors. It’s eco-friendly, containing extremely low volatile organic compounds called VOCs which have virtually no smell. There are several manufacturers to choose from, including Autentico. Here’s a link to the Autentico Vintage chalk paint website, so you can see what’s what, and another to the Ecos Organic Paints website.

Shabby Chic furniture piece using chalk paint and fiddes wax

Shabby Chic Finish using Chalk Paint and Fiddes Wax

How to use chalk paints

Chalk paint is remarkably versatile. It sticks to more or less any surface including wood, concrete, metal, matt plastic and even ceramic. It dries super-fast, making it very easy to use. And it’s perfect for achieving decorative finishes like lime washes, antiquing and shabby chic looks, all of which means it’s extremely fashionable right now in interior décor circles.

Chalk paint is easy to work with. You rarely need to do any preparation. There’s no sanding or priming required, which is good news for those of us who love instant results! The colours are stunning – Autentico, for example, manufactures 130 different colours inspired by vintage décor styling. And you can even mix the paints together, no problem at all, to create your own unique colours.

It’s water soluble which means you can add water for a smoother surface, thicken it by leaving the tin open and even add more water to transform it into the perfect product for creating beautiful lime wash effects, for example bringing out the grain in oak. You can use more or less any kind of brush too, creating everything from a dead flat to a heavily textured finish.

You’ll find a couple of handy videos about how to use chalk paint here, and some more excellent video guidance about chalk paint usage here.

Which chalk paint finishes do we recommend?

You can leave your finish as it is, of course. But how to seal chalk paint? If you’re into creative paint effects or want to give the surface a lovely sheen, here’s what we recommend.

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish is wonderful stuff. Its designed to nourish and protect wood, whether it’s raw wood or has an existing finish like water stain, solvent stain or French polish. It can also be used on top of a matt or satin varnish, lacquer and oil to increase the sheen level and provide a more traditional wax appearance. It’s ideal for any kind of interior wood and goes over chalk paint like a dream.

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When might you use it? Say you’ve painted a bedside table with chalk paint and you want a shabby chic finish. Because the product comes in a range of colours, you can use a dark colour like Jacobean over the chalk paint, bringing out the patina and texture of the surface and making a feature of scratches and dinks for that classic shabby chic look.

We’ve provided full instructions about how to use Fiddes Wax on the product page – just scroll down the page to find it.

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

Manns Liquid Beeswax Polish

Manns Beeswax Polish is such a treat to use, giving a beautiful sheen to chalk paints and acting as a protective layer. It’s a clear beeswax polish formulated to enhance surfaces by penetrating deep into them, helping to nourish and protect the finish. When you let it dry and buff it gently with a soft cloth, you get the most beautiful sheen.

There are full instructions on how to use it on the product page – follow this link and scroll down the page to find them.

Any questions?

We’re always pleased to help – just call our wood finishing experts if you can’t find the information you need or want to talk to someone who really knows their stuff.

About Osmo Wood Finishes

October 14th, 2014

We recently took a look at which wood finishing brands our customers search for most. Osmo is one of the most popular brands. In fact their products are so popular we thought it’d be useful to take a look at Osmo, who they are, what they do and how they do it.

Osmo Logo

Osmo

As it turns out, the company is much more than a producer of excellent products. They’re environmentally conscious, dedicated to corporate social responsibility and committed to working in the most ethical way possible, to everyone’s benefit. In short they meet all the requirements of a contemporary organisation that’s fully aware of its impact on people and the world we live in. Nice!

As you’d expect from such a wonderfully ‘right on’ company, their philosophy supports all this good stuff, namely: “Wood is a natural material, kept healthy and durable by nature; treat it correctly as furniture or flooring and it can be enjoyed for decades to come.”

Find out all about Osmo wood finishes

Osmo is one of the most popular manufacturers of contemporary wood products in the world. Their product range keeps wood of all types looking good in almost every circumstance, indoors and outdoors. And they do it in a remarkably natural and environmentally friendly way.

Renewable, natural, environmentally responsible

All Osmo wood finishing products are based on renewable, natural vegetable oils, renowned for their deep penetration and ability to keep wood healthy and flexible, preventing it becoming dry and brittle.  And they’re all safe for humans, animals and plants.

The natural colour pigments Osmo uses are all food-safe too, and if they need to use solvents they use the smallest possible amounts of clean, odour-free petroleum spirit, directly in line with EU recommendations. They’re constantly innovating too, on track to create a range of wood finish products which are completely solvent free. Watch this space…

Osmo Colours

Osmo Colours – from wallsoftimeashland.com

Better still, Osmo insists on natural oils including sunflower, soya, linseed and thistle oils and only uses natural hard waxes like carnauba and candelilla in its finishes. Any inorganic pigments, for example those used on Osmo Color, come from perfectly natural ores, which are carefully cleaned and purified until the only thing left is the pure mineral element itself.

Meeting strict wood finish safety and quality standards

Osmo products are all manufactured to VOC regulations DIN EN ISO 9001:2000, a respected quality management measurement system, and to 14001, a classification covering environmental management systems. As such they’re proven to be a responsible manufacturer of wood finishes, dedicated to meeting all the complex ecological and economical challenges the human race currently faces.

In fact the emissions at their production facility are so low they’ve been able to operate outside the emissions laws since 1998, an extraordinary achievement in a world where many manufacturers are still  nowhere near being as eco-friendly as they could be.

Effectiveness plus aesthetics

Because the ingredients they use let the wood breathe, Osmo products let moisture evaporate. At the same time the surface, after treatment, is impressively water resistant, so you get the best of both worlds. You can wipe water off the surface indoors and outdoors it simply evaporates away. As a result, wood treated with Osmo products needs very little maintenance, sometimes none at all.

Effectiveness is vital. But aesthetics are just as important. As well as protecting wood to a remarkable degree, Osmo’s natural wood finishes deliver a broad variety of attractive appearances. In fact the choice of colours and shades is more or less infinite, from subtle and natural right through to dramatic and vivid.

Whether you want to enhance the wood’s attractive grain, retain a natural look or just want your wood to last and last, there’s the perfect Osmo product. At the same time, because they don’t cater to the mass market they’re free to spend more time, effort and energy perfecting their products, aiming for the highest possible quality and best possible performance.

Doing things the German way

So where does all this dedication to quality, effectiveness and efficiency originate? In Germany, of course, the ‘greenest’ nation in Europe and renowned for being perfectionist. While we sometimes joke about German efficiency, in reality we envy it!

Their head office is in Warendorf and the manufacturing facility is in Münster. But there’s also a UK branch in Aylesbury as well as more than 3000 specialist dealers who distribute Osmo products internationally, including us, Wood Finishes Direct, the biggest distributor of Osmo products in the UK. You’ll also find Osmo products at Travis Perkins, Jewsons, Brewers, Crown Paints and Dulux Decorating Centres.

Osmo Head Office Germany

Osmo Head Office Germany

Thanks to its 250 dedicated staff Osmo’s products are indeed enviable, as close to perfect as it gets if not perfection itself. Even if you’re a rank DIY beginner, with their help you’ll achieve a really good wood finish.

Branching out – Much more than wood finishes

These days Osmo makes much more than top notch wood finishing products. They’ve branched out into related products like wood floors, wall and ceiling profiles, laminated wood, natural timber cladding, garden decking, summerhouses, screens and fences, all using wood carefully chosen to specific quality criteria.

The wood they use to create their innovative product lines supports sustainable forestry and they always ensure the origin of the wood can be proven. They’ve even won FSC certification for some of their products, a real feat. And there’s more. The Ethical Company Organisation has also given Osmo UK  Ethical Accreditation for an impressively broad range of eco-friendly products.

Which are our best-selling Osmo products?

Osmo Polyx Oil is an obvious winner, snapped up by people all over Britain whether they’re professionals or DIYers. And Osmo Top Oil is another high scorer that simply flies off our shelves.

If you’d like to check out the full range, hop over to our Osmo brand page and check out what’s available for your next wood finishing project.  We’re proud to stock 37 Osmo products, many of which come in a wide choice of variants.

Watch Osmo in action on YouTube

It’s hard to beat seeing products actually in action. We like these three YouTube videos, all of which demonstrate beautifully who Osmo is so good for wood.

You’ll find Peter Parfitt’s Osmo Polyx Oil review on YouTube here:

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One of the best-loved products used by professional carpenters and shop fitters as well as DIYers on a huge variety of interior wood projects.

Peter Parfitt takes to the small screen again for this video:

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This one looks at Osmo’s Interior Door Oil and Top Oil as well as their hugely popular exterior Clear and Oak UV products.

And finally, this Peter Parfitt video about Osmo Water Based Wood Fillers:

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This one is very useful, revealing how their fabulous oil finishes perform on interior and exterior woodwork as well as showcasing their water-based interior wood filler, a remarkable product that takes stain and, unlike fillers from many manufacturers, can even be machined when dry.

Any questions about Osmo products?

Is there an Osmo product for your next exterior or interior wood project? You can search our site and see, or take the easy route and ask one of our experts over the phone.

Brilliant Wood Finishes for Kitchens

October 10th, 2014

Think wood finishing products and most people visualise projects like decking and flooring. But did you know you can also buy wood finishes specially designed for kitchenware and wooden tables? It means you can keep your wood bowls, chopping boards and kitchen table in top condition as well as having perfect wooden floors and beautiful decking.

Reclaimed Wood Dining Table

Reclaimed Wood Dining Table – from stepinit.com

How to maintain wooden kitchenware

Wooden kitchen bowls, chopping boards and most other kinds of wooden kitchenware are usually made from dense woods, which hold their shape and don’t bow or bend. When reasonably new, they tend to have a high oil content which can repel wood varnishes. And because the grain is usually very tight, wood stains and oils are often a better option.

If you’re looking for top performing, general use wood finishes for kitchens, try the amazing Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints range. It’s clear, incredibly hard wearing and doesn’t go yellow with time, making it ideal for kitchen surfaces like wooden work tops and cupboards.

If you have a kitchen work top, utensils, bowls or anything else that is made from a dense exotic hardwood, consider Osmo Extra Thin Wood Oil 1101. As the name suggests, this oil is very thin making is especially good at penetrating naturally oily, tight grained, hard woods. As with any wood oil, the secret is in the application. Wood oils should always be applied thinly and worked in to the surface of the grain with a lint free cloth or rag, wiping off any excess oil from the surface.

Antique Solid Wood Butchers Block

Antique Solid Wood Butchers Block

It dries relatively quickly, comes in clear matt, satin or semi gloss and you can choose from nine tints in the satin range, which you can mix together to get the right shade, as well as a natural finish that offers the same level of protection while keeping the wood looking natural, almost as if it hasn’t been treated with anything.

Hard wax oils repel water, don’t flake or peel and are remarkably durable. And the impressive coverage they deliver make them very good value for money. Fiddes is perfect for areas that get a lot of wear.  And it’s child-safe, made from top quality ingredients and even suitable for wooden toys. Here’s how to use it:

  • Do a sample test area first
  • Make sure the surface is clean, dust-free and dry, removing any areas of old finish by sanding the wood with 120 or 150 grade sandpaper
  • Stir the hard wax oil thoroughly then apply it at room temperature in a well-ventilated space. You don’t need to thin the product or prime the surface
  • Use a good quality paint brush, cloth or mohair roller
  • Apply two coats to hardwoods for the best effect, 3 coats on softwoods – test a small area to make sure the softwood needs another coat. If it doesn’t, you can easily tell because the product doesn’t sink in
  • Stir the product in between coats and during use. Apply it thinly and work it into the food, following the grain
  • Take off any extra straight away, with a cloth
  • Apply the second coat (and third if you need it) when the first is dry. A thin coat dries in roughly 3-4 hours and a medium coat takes 4-6 hours in a warm room. If it’s cold or damp, it takes longer
  • If you’re looking to improve the sheen level, buff the final finish with a cloth to increase the level of sheen.
  • Important tip – never use a steam cleaner on oiled or waxed surfaces

What about ongoing maintenance?

You can repair scuffed areas, stains and marks in no time. To remove small blemishes, buff them with a dry cloth. Light stains and other damage can be repaired with careful sanding then applying a fresh coat of oil. And heavy damage can be removed by sanding back to the original wood then applying more hardwax oil.

How to care for bamboo utensils

Bamboo is a remarkable material. It’s wholly sustainable, plentiful and durable, incredibly strong and lightweight. Which is why it’s such a popular material for contemporary kitchen utensils. You can even buy bamboo drinking straws as well as bowls and plates, cutlery, tongs and cutting boards, and it’s an ethical choice as you can see here on the Green Tulip ethical gifts website.

Bamboo Kitchen Utensils

Bamboo Kitchen Utensils

To keep your bamboo utensils in good nick, apply a food-safe mineral oil when the wood starts to look tired and dull, to help retain its natural character. Try Brandon Bespoke Pure Mineral Oil, available on Amazon. It’s food safe, tasteless, colourless and clear, brings back the bamboo’s lovely rich colour, is really easy to use and delivers great coverage.

Wood finishes for tables and kitchen work surfaces

Because a table sees such a lot of use, any wood finishes have to be easy to apply on the legs and top as well as being very long-lasting. We prefer products that are easily applicable with either a roller or brush, because it keeps things simple. But you can also buy spray finishes suitable for wooden tables… and they’re seriously rugged!

Our customers rate Osmo Top Oil highly, a very durable oil that dries clear and matt. Made with natural waxes and oils, it neither peels nor flakes, cracks nor blisters. It even performs beautifully when it’s humid and because it has excellent water resistance it repels water, fruit juice, alcohol and fizzy drinks.

The natural oils and waxes it contains penetrate deep into the surface of the wood, keeping it supple, preventing it from drying out and cutting the risk of swelling and shrinkage. Here’s how to use it:

  • Get rid of all the dirt and dust – white spirit works brilliantly
  • If your surface has been oiled before or is brand new, you can sand it lightly first with a 120 – 150 grit sandpaper. Or you can use a paint and varnish remover to get rid of old layers revealing the natural wood beneath
  • Stir the product really well
  • You don’t need a primer
  • Apply 2 coats of top oil thinly with a cloth, roller or paint brush
  • Let each coat dry for at least 8 hours, although the ambient temperature, humidity and wood type can all affect the drying time
  • Osmo Top Oil dries to a matt finish, buff it with a dry cloth to create a slight sheen if required
  • If you prefer a deeper satin finish, you can polish the oiled surface with Osmo Liquid Wax Cleaner, which we also stock, once everything is fully dry
  • If you’d like a natural look, you can use Osmo Top Oil Natural, in stock now

What about ongoing care?

You can clean the surface with Osmo Wash and Care, and stubborn stains come off with Osmo Liquid Wax Cleaner. We sell both of them.

It’s also easy to repair damage. Usually all you need to do is clean the surface and reapply the top oil, but stains that have penetrated deeper into the wood might need a light sand with a special finishing pad before adding a fresh coat of oil.

What about vintage wooden tables?

With shabby chic styling such a hot fashion statement, vintage furniture is back with a vengeance. French style and shabby chic go hand in hand, and there’s a lot of old French farmhouse furniture around. It usually comes with the most wonderful patina, created over the decades or even centuries, complete with stains, marks and scratches.

All this damage comes at a premium, with a good, solid 1800s French kitchen table commanding prices as high as £1000 and sometimes a lot more, depending on the age and provenance. Which is why most people want to retain that gorgeous vintage look.

Custom Made Kitchen Island from Vintage Reclaimed Wood

Custom Made Kitchen Island from Vintage Reclaimed Wood – from picclick.com

We highly recommend Briwax Clear, a fast-drying blend of natural waxes that’s ideal for most wood surfaces. If your wood furniture already has a finish, test a small area first just in case.

Just like any other wax polish you rub it on with a soft cloth, pushing it into the grain, then wait for it to dry – which only takes a few minutes – and buff it to a glassy sheen with a clean, dry cloth. The more coats you add, the more shiny it’ll be. If you seal the surface first with Briwax Sanding Sealer, you can achieve an even glossier sheen.

Underneath, the lovely patina will remain the same. The shine you get pulls the appearance of the surface together so it looks intentionally shabby and chic instead of a tatty old table nobody has cared for.

Any questions about maintaining wooden kitchen furniture and utensils?

No problem at all. Just give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to help you achieve the perfect wood finish.

Why Paint Strippers Often Fail

September 26th, 2014

Have you had problems with paint stripper? If so you’re not alone. People are having all sorts of issues with paint removing products, through no fault of their own. So we thought it’d be useful to look at why they don’t always work, and why household name paint stripping brands like Nitro-Mors once had such a good reputation for varnish and paint removal… but now don’t.

Nitro Mors All Purpose Paint and Varnish Remover

Nitro Mors All Purpose Paint and Varnish Remover

Paint stripping woes – What’s going on and how to get it right

Mix a fast-changing technological and product development landscape with restrictions on the use of some of the most effective paint stripping chemicals and there’s trouble. What’s been going on?

Changes in EU regulations for paint removal products

First and foremost, changing EU regulations now mean several specific chemicals have been banned in paint strippers, making them less effective.

Both the marketing and use of products based on dichloromethane (DCM) have been restricted under REACH regulations, a restriction that mainly affects DCM-based paint strippers. The restrictions apply to the public as well as professionals, and the two year plan was completed in late 2012. If you’d like to explore the technical details, you’ll find them here: About REACH.

Advanced paint technologies

Not so long ago, you just bought bog standard paint or varnish. There wasn’t a huge choice. Now there’s a bewildering array of paints and varnishes, some designed to tackle very demanding environments, for example spectacularly rugged outdoor paints, cement-based products and two-pack epoxy coatings.

Because every manufacturer also formulates their products slightly differently, it’s a real challenge to create an effective generic paint stripper that removes every type of paint.

  • Some cement based paints used outdoors, hard enamels and 2 pack epoxy coatings are often difficult to remove.
  • Some paints containing special plasticises can also be difficult to remove, but it depends on the type of paint and the manufacturer.

As you can imagine, things can get pretty confusing. So how do you make the most of the product you’ve bought?

Paint Stripping

Paint Stripping

Best paint stripping advice – 5 tips direct from the experts

Unless you’re 100% certain the paint stripper you’ve bought will remove a particular paint properly, it’s a good idea to carry out a careful test first. Here’s how to make the best possible job of it and give the product the best chance of doing its stuff.

  1. Always follow the instructions on the tin. Wear protective gloves, goggles and clothing whenever you use paint and varnish removers.
  2. Don’t skimp on the amount of paint remover. Apply a generous amount. If it doesn’t do the job in one hit, you can always give it a second go.
  3. Apply the stripping product with a brush then, after the recommended waiting time, remove it with coarse steel wool. This will help you cut into and remove the paint from the surface of the wood.
  4. Scrapers are also popular tools for removing  the product from the wood’s surface. While they don’t scarify the surface in the same way as steel wool, they’re an excellent way to remove the product cleanly and efficiently. Try using a scraper to get the remainder of the product off the surface after using the steel wool.
  5. If the paint stripper removes several coats of paint but not all of them, you might need a product to tackle the deeper layers, especially if they’re a different type of paint, for example lead-based.

Recommended products for stripping paint from wood

We’re in an excellent position to provide sensible advice, since we get a lot of real-life feedback from our customers. So which paint stripping products work best under what circumstances?

About Barrettine Paint Panther

We’ve had plenty of positive customer feedback about Barrettine Paint Panther, a remarkably hard-working traditional paint removal system.

Barretine Paint Panther

Barretine Paint Panther

Paint Panther is a very effective paint and varnish stripper that removes as many as six  paint layers in just five minutes, remarkably fast. You can use it on a wide variety of wood finishing products including water, oil and solvent based paints, varnishes and lacquers .

Because it’s a gel, nice and thick, it’s the perfect consistency for vertical surfaces and awkward areas. In our opinion, and our customers’, it’s probably one of the best wood strippers and paint removers on the market.

We’ve provided comprehensive instructions about how to use the product on the product page itself. Just click the link above and scroll down to the ‘overview’ section.

About Peelaway Paint Removal systems

The PeelAway Paint Removal System also comes highly recommended. There are two versions, one designed to remove older paints and other for newer types of paint. PeelAway paint removers are poultice based. This means you apply a layer of paste about a centimetre thick to the entire surface, cover it with the special blanket and leave it for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours before removing it.

How to use PeelAway products correctly? Here’s how to avoid problems with PeelAway.

First, buy the right product…

The PeelAway 1 Paint Removal System is perfect for older oil and lead based coatings dating back to before 1972. You should never use Peelaway 1 to strip paint from aluminium, veneer or plywood, and it can even discolour some hardwoods, for example mahogany and oak. Use the PeelAway 7 Paint Removal System instead.

If you’re really not sure what kind of paint you’re dealing with, you can buy a handy sample test pack containing PeelAway 1 and 7.

Second, use it exactly as instructed

There’s no way around it. You can only expect the best paint removal results when you do a proper job. We’ve written detailed instructions about how to use each PeelAway system on the product page. Again, follow the links above and scroll down to the ‘overview’ section.

There’s also an excellent video showing you how to use PeelAway 1:

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And another video about how to use PeelAway 7:

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Still need help with a paint stripping product or project?

Our expert staff are perfectly qualified to talk through your problems and answer questions. Feel free to get in touch on FREEPHONE 0800 7818 123 or on 01303 487978.

Wood Flooring Varnish Repair

September 18th, 2014

Quality floor varnishes for wooden floors provide great all-round protection in terms or wear and durability. When looked after properly by cleaning and maintaining with dedicated products designed specifically for varnished floors, a wood varnish finish can last for many years.

On the other hand while extremely tough, wooden floor varnishes aren’t indestructible. Luckily there’s plenty you can do to maintain that beautiful finish, whether it’s a clear matt, satin, gloss or perhaps even a tinted or coloured floor varnish.

Does your real wooden floor have patches of damaged varnish that are making it look tatty, rough and worn in places, or all over? Here’s some advice on how to improve the appearance of these troublesome areas.

Common problems with a varnished floor

We see it all, but the commonest real wood finish varnish-related problems we hear about are localised patches of wear, where chairs with wheels, castors and hard legs have worn the varnish thin. Sometimes the wear is so heavy it takes off the varnish altogether, right down to the bare wood, particularly around desks and tables. Excessive wear near exterior doors – your front door, back door, kitchen door and patio doors – is also common.

How does it happen? Small particles of grit, dirt and other abrasive materials brought in from the outdoors by the wind, pets and people’s feet slowly wear away the varnish in these high traffic areas, not unlike sandpaper. You might also find damage to wood floor varnish happens when something heavy or sharp is dropped, which chips or splits the floor finish.

Varnished Wood Floot

Varnished Wood Floor – from beautysalon2you.nl

Can Wood Flooring Varnish Be Repaired?

There isn’t a straightforward yes or no answer. It depends on the extent of the damage, the type of wood varnish being repaired and what you expect from the result. We thought it’d be useful to look at the issues and answer the most frequent questions our customers ask about repairing wooden floors with a varnish finish.

Real wood floor restoration Q&A

Q. What is the difference between floor varnish and floor lacquer?

A. There’s no difference. They’re one and the same thing. In the trade we usually call them lacquers, while the general public tend to call them varnishes.

Q. How can I tell which type of  existing floor varnish I have?

A. It’s difficult to tell the difference between a water based varnish for wood floors, solvent based varnishes or oil based floor varnish, especially by appearance alone. When they’re dry they look much the same, even to an expert. Most modern varnishes from the last 15 to 20 years are likely to be water based, if the floor was varnished more than 20 years ago you can probably assume it’s an oil based varnish. Water based varnishes tend to give a clearer finish while some of the older oil based varnishes had more of a warm colour to them. Solvent based varnishes are usually used on furniture, applied with a spray gun because they dry so fast, usually within 10 – 15 minutes, and have a very strong smell. This makes them difficult to use on large, confined areas like floors.

Q. If I do have a damaged area that I want to repair, will it blend in seamlessly with the surrounding varnish?

A. Wood floor restoration rarely delivers a completely invisible repair when you’re working with varnish. The new varnish will probably have a different formula and things like age and natural colouration over time changes the appearance of the original varnish coating.

Wooden floor repairs – When the varnish is partially worn

If the varnish is only partially worn, you’re in luck. It should be fairly straightforward to tackle and the repair will be less obvious than varnish that’s worn right down to the bare wood.

  • Stage 1 – Lightly sand the partially worn area with a 150 Grit sandpaper, vacuum the sanded area to remove all traces of sanding dust and debris
  • Stage 2 – Apply a thin coat of Manns Extra Tough Floor Varnish over the worn area. Then let it dry.

You can take this approach for the entire floor, but always do a test patch first in a corner to make sure the new floor varnish is compatible with the old finish. Leave it for 24 hours then scrape the surface with a thumbnail to test it has stuck fast to the original finish.

Wood Floor - Repaired

Wood Floor – Repaired

Wood floor repairs – When the varnish is worn away to the bare wood

When you need to tackle areas that have worn right through to the bare wood, the process is a little more complex. It’s also worth bearing in mind the final wooden floor restoration finish probably won’t blend in as well as repairing a partially worn surface.

It helps to think about the damaged area as a very shallow bowl, where the bare wooden floor is the base of the bowl and the undamaged floor surface surrounding the damaged area is the rim. The inside of the bowl is rough and ridged and the uneven raised rim makes it look like the crater of a volcano in miniature.

You need to sand the damaged area smooth so you get a gradual transition between the bare wood and the undamaged surface. As you apply each coat of varnish during the repair process, you’re filling about a third of the bowl. By the third coat, the freshly applied varnish has filled the damaged area to the same level as the existing varnish finish.

  • Stage 1 - The first stage is to gently sand the edge of the varnish from the bare wood area of the ‘bowl’ you’ve visualised to around 150mm beyond the edge of the bare patch. Use a fine 150 Grit sandpaper to get a nice smooth transition from the bare wood to the edge of the repair area. There shouldn’t be any trace of a lip or edge between the damaged and undamaged areas, and you’ll be able to feel when you’ve got it right. Run your hand over the sanded area to check you’ve sanded the edge completely smooth.
  • Stage 2 – Hoover or wipe the area carefully to remove all traces of sanding dust and debris.
  • Stage 3 – Apply a thin coat of varnish, ideally with a small brush, to just the bare wood area for starters, overlapping the thinnest, sanded area of original varnish by 10mm or so.
  • Stage 4 – Allow the varnish to dry thoroughly.
  • Stage 5 – Gently rub the dry finish with a fine 320 Grit sandpaper to get rid of rough bits and particles, a process called de-nibbing, then vacuum or wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth to remove all traces of sanding dust.
  • Stage 6 – Apply a second thin coat of varnish from the center of the repair but this time go as far as 100mm from the bare wood area, about 50mm in from the undamaged floor surface area.
  • Stage 7 – Let the finish dry thoroughly then gently de-nib the freshly coated area with a fine 320 Grit sandpaper. Then hoover or wipe the area to remove stray sanding dust.
  • Stage 8 – Apply a final coat thinly over the whole repair area up to the point where the good varnish starts and overlapping the good floor surface by around 10mm.
Varnished Hardwood Floor

Varnished Hardwood Floor – from intersomma.com

What about aiming for total wood floor repairs perfection?

Varnish repair and maintenance is part and parcel of most real wooden floor restoration projects. While you are unlikely to achieve perfection, the current trend for preserving a beautiful, interesting patina means flawlessness isn’t as desirable as it was not so long ago, when we were all decorating in immaculate minimalist boutique hotel style.

Wood is natural and flawed, every piece is unique and the wear and tear you and your family create contributes to the floor’s beauty and personality. Taking care to maintain a varnished floor and dealing with areas of wear and damage quickly means you’ll prevent damaged areas from getting worse, extending the usability and enjoyment of wooden floors for longer, if not a lifetime.

If you’d like to discus your next wooden floor restoration project with one of our experts, we’re always pleased to help. They’ll give you the low down on the finishing side of how to repair wooden floors, whether it’s adding a stunning wax finish, oil or varnish.

Interior Wooden Doors – Top Tips on Care and Maintenance

September 15th, 2014

Interior wooden doors have a hard time of things. They have to put up with everyday knocks, bumps, shoe scuffs, greasy hand prints, dirt from passing pets and more, every day of the year, and they’re still expected to look good. If you’ve bought a set of lovely new interior wood doors, or are thinking about renovating your existing doors, our top tips will help you bring out the best in them so they look wonderful as well as protecting and preserving them for longer.

Antique Walnut Interior Doors

Antique Walnut Internal Doors – from simonemarro.it

Choosing the Right Interior Wooden Doors and Interior Wood Treatment

If you haven’t looked already, you’ll be amazed at the number of door sizes, styles and construction types. There are two, four, six and eight panel doors made of oak, pine, walnut and cherry, to name just a few, plus solid wood or hollow construction doors, and they all come either finished or unfinished, ie. pre-oiled, waxed or varnished… or left natural. As you can imagine making the right choice can be a challenge, and most people tend to base their final decision on the appearance and cost.

About Pre-finished Interior Doors

If you’ve chosen pre-finished doors, you can usually find out which stain, if any, and oil, wax or varnish finish the doors have been treated with by checking the manufacturer’s paperwork. If not, it’s a good idea to ask the seller or even the manufacturer themselves. It’s also worth asking if they can either supply the wood stain and finishing products used on the doors, or know someone who can. It comes in handy to have some handy, just in case the door ever gets damaged.

About Unfinished Interior Doors

Unfinished doors come with a world of possibilities aside from the door style itself. There are countless final finish choices, everything from a traditional natural oak look with a matt or soft satin sheen to something unusual, even unique. And there’s a huge variety of wood finishing products to use on interior doors, both clear and coloured, including varnishes, wood oils, waxes and stains.

Varnished interior wooden doors

Varnished Interior Wooden Doors – from TompkinsConstruction.com

Things To Be Aware Of When Finishing Internal Doors

A common issue we encounter at Wood Finishes Direct are calls from people who’ve bought veneered wooden interior doors, only to discover the door label advises against some types of wood finish. Sometimes they warn against specific products, for example Danish Oil, Teak Oil and other types of wood oil. Other times the manufacturer’s warnings cover a range of products including oils, varnishes and waxes. But does it really mean you can’t use the products and if so, do you risk damaging the wood?  It’s an interesting point, and one worth covering.

What is a veneer?

Veneered wooden doors are usually made from a hollow or solid wooden core. The core is usually particle board or medium density fibreboard, AKA MDF. A layer of high quality wood veneer is attached to the core of the door using powerful glues and bonding agents. The quality of modern veneered doors is usually down to the type of core, the type of wood and the thickness of the veneer.

About 20th century mass production

Wood veneers have been used for centuries to produce high quality finishes. But mass production in the mid to late 20th century saw quality take a tumble as the drive for cheaper, thinner veneers and glues took hold. This sometimes led to the veneers de-laminating, in other words peeling off the doors in extreme heat or when certain products were used. This is why so many manufacturers today include disclaimers on their products to discourage the use of products they believe might have an effect on the veneer. It’s an historical thing.

Stained and varnished wood interior

Stained and Varnished wood interior – from sevenspaint.com

Why do manufacturers still warn against using wood finishes on veneered doors?

More than 90% of veneered doors these days come from the Far East. We think it’s highly likely that all the manufacturers in the Far East have taken the lead from one large original producer, giving warnings about wood finishing products without checking whether the risk is genuine. Unlike the manufacturers, we’re well placed to talk about wood finishes – it’s our area of expertise. We supply a vast range of different products from different manufacturers, all of whom agree that stains, waxes, varnishes, oils, paints and so on DO NOT penetrate deeper than 1mm into a veneer.

Why does the thickness of the veneer matter? In reality, modern veneers are rarely less than a millimetre thick and because modern wood finishes never penetrate more than a millimetre into the surface of the wood, there’s very little chance of them interacting with the glue that bonds the veneer to the core of the door. In short, unless the veneer is very badly worn indeed, modern wood finish products simply can’t penetrate deeply enough to cause the veneer to peel off.

Modern wood finishing products designed for veneers

In our experience we’ve never come across anyone using a wood oil, wax or varnish that has caused the veneer to peel off a door. It just doesn’t happen. In fact companies like Osmo and our own Manns brand produce door oils and other wood finishes specifically designed for solid and veneered interior doors.

There’s just one common sense thing to bear in mind: while we can say with confidence that the products we sell are perfectly fine to use on interior doors, using them against the manufacturers advice will invalidate the warranty that comes with the door.

Reclaimed 1930s interior wood doors

Reclaimed 1930s Interior Wood Doors – from chesterpaintstripping.com

Always do a test patch first

Our advice if you want to stain, oil, wax or varnish any sort of door? Always do a test area first, ideally on an edge or on the door bottom where the wood can be cleaned or sanded if the product doesn’t deliver the finish you were expecting.

Follow the manufacturers instructions on the packaging, take the time needed to do a really good job and you can’t go far wrong. After all, because you use your doors dozens of times a day, it’s important to be happy with the end result.

Need expert advice?

We don’t just sell all the stuff you need to make a fantastic job of maintaining and renovating wooden interior doors. We provide expert advice, too. And when you use our Freephone number, asking the experts costs nothing.

Which Applicator Do I Use For My Wood Finish Project?

September 9th, 2014

All you have to do is check out our wood finishing tools and accessories department to see just how many different types of applicator there are to choose from. And we sell a vast array of wood finishing products. So how do you know which applicators to use for which wood finishes? We thought it’d be useful to take a look at what’s available, when to use it and why.

Beautiful Decking Stain

Beautifully applied decking stain – from deckingstaintoday.blogspot.com

Why Buy the Best Quality Wood Finishing Supplies?

Of course you could grab the nearest grotty rag or brush and make do. But it’ll make your life a whole lot easier if you buy good quality applicators, all of which are designed for different types of wood finishes. They’re specifically made for the job, created with your health, safety and comfort in mind. They make the right appearance easier to achieve. And you’ll end up with a much better wood finish altogether. You wouldn’t use a wire brush instead of a toothbrush. The same applies to wood finishing accessories. Your project is worth it, and so are you!

Our extensive product range includes specialist brushes, applicators, tools and rollers, to make your wood finishing project easier and more satisfying.

How we help you make the right choice of applicator for the job

We’ve included basic usage information on the product page for every wood finishes product we sell. This means:

  • If you already have a reasonably good idea of what you’re doing, you get the picture straight away
  • If you’re a novice, you get enough information to either search Google for the fine detail, visit our blog to see if there’s a guide there, check out the manufacturer’s guide or call our experts and ask them for help via our freephone number.

The applicators you need for different kinds of wood finishes

Abrasive products

Including sandpapers, steel wool rolls, denibbing and finishing pads, abrasives vary widely depending on the manufacturer. The best-in-breed abrasives ensure you make light work of sanding, whether it’s floor sanding, adding personality and patina to shabby chic furniture or tackling a wooden door in need of restoration. You can use abrasives on bare wood or between coats of varnish, lacquer, oil or wax.

Brushes

It’s always wise to buy brushes designed specifically for wood finishing. Depending on the project, you can choose from hand buffing brushes, foam brushes, floor brushes and the particularly high quality Mako brush, which comes with special hollow bristles to make application easier.

Brush application of varnish

Brush Application – from summitpaints.ca

Hand buffing and drill buffing brushes let you create a stunning deep shine and lustre with ease. Our low cost yet highly effective disposable foam brushes let you make a lovely, clean straight edge without leaving bristles behind. And floor brushes are perfect for applying any kind of oil, stain or varnish to large areas.

Floor applicators

Osmo Floor Brush Applicator

Osmo Floor Brush Applicator

Floor applicators are brilliant when you have a big area to cover. There’s no need to get down on your hands and knees when you use a clever gadget like the Bona Mop, which makes applying their wood finish products a dream, or our floor mop with its amazing ability to get right into the corners. Then there’s the Osmo brush, perfect for wood oils and useable time and time again. There’s a brush for every project, and using the right tool for the job will make the whole process easier and more enjoyable.

Rollers

Mako Microfibre Roller Sleeve

Mako Microfibre Roller Sleeve

A good roller helps you deliver a fast, professional finish, perfect for wood oils, stains and varnishes. We recommend our good quality microfibre and velour roller sleeves. They’re particularly sturdy, last for multiple applications when you look after them properly and unlike some, the ergonomic handle comes with a convenient, quick and simple fit system.

Cloths

An old rag just won’t cut the mustard. You need a high quality stockinette cloth, microfibre cloth, foam sponge or cotton sheets for easy finishing, and picking the right one is very important.

Cotton cloths are absorbent, perfect for applying oils and stains. Microfibre cloths have thousands of tiny fibres per square centimetre, so they work really well with wood cleaning products. There’s a specialist cloth for the job whether you’re applying, buffing or cleaning a wooden surface, and there’s a product designed for every finish whether it’s oil, a wax wood finish, lacquer, varnish or stain.

How to decide which wood finishing supplies you need

Our first piece of advice is this: always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Other than that, here are a few basic guidelines to help you make the right decision.

Solvent-based varnishes and lacquers

You want to get as much product into the wood as you can and spread it quickly and smoothly without making puddles. Traditionally, a China bristle brush, made from hollow hog hairs, was the way to go, or a lambswool or synthetic wool applicator on a block of wood. On the downside, new natural lambswool applicators can shed fibres and need a good comb or wash before use.

The latest applicator technology makes life much easier. A T-bar applicator, for example, is great for applying any finish, even fiddly bits like door frames, and tends to be faster than a lambswool applicator.

You can also apply the product with a roller. It’s fast and means you don’t have to mess with the finish too much, which can spoil the final effect. Different manufacturers recommend application with a natural bristle brush, nylon pad or even a spray gun. Always check the instructions.

Water based varnishes and lacquers

A special floor finish applicator is ideal for floors, and microfibre rollers come in two sizes. The 25cm version is ideal for large flat areas like the tops of furniture. The 10cm size is ideal for the areas surrounding a door, skirting etcetera. Fixtures like picture rails and stair spindles tend to be easier to finish with the Mako brush.

To apply soft liquid wax or thicker paste waxes like Supreme Wax, simply rub it on and wipe it off with a cloth. Some waxes respond better to being brushed on. If it’s a wipe-on wax, a stockinette cloth makes a good applicator. Slightly rough wood or wood with a slightly rough finish can be waxed and smoothed by applying the wax with a chunk of fine steel wool. Wipe the excess wax off with a clean piece of stockinette and, for extra shine, buff it with stockinette too. There isn’t a limit to how long a wax polish can be left before buffing, but generally speaking if you leave it for more than a day it’ll take more elbow grease. 

Wax finishes

To apply liquid or paste wax, all you do is rub it on and wipe it off (having said that, check the packaging because some products are designed to be brushed on). If it’s a wipe-on wax, a pad or a chunk of fine steel wool makes a good applicator. Wipe the wax off with paper towels and, for extra shine, buff it with a soft cloth. The longer you leave wax to dry, the more shiny the finished result will be.

Oil finishes

Apply your oil thinly using a soft brush or cloth, following the grain. Let it soak in as directed on the packaging, then even out any excess with a dry cotton cloth. Leave it for as long as the manufacturer recommends before carrying out a light ‘denib’, which simply means removing any trapped dirt or dust from the surface before adding the next coat.  You can either leave the final coat as it is or buff it to a sheen.

Stains and dyes

You apply water based stains and dyes with a natural or synthetic bristle brush, foam applicator or cotton cloth. Again, it’s vital to check the manufacturer’s instructions. Because solvent based stains and dyes can dissolve foam you’ll need a Mako brush or microfibre roller.

Ask the team

If the packaging and instructions don’t tell you which applicators you can and can’t use, and there’s nothing on Google, you can always call our crack team of wood finishing experts and they’ll be pleased to put you straight.

Oak Floor Maintenance – Top Tips for a Stunning Finish

September 2nd, 2014

Oak floors are hugely popular, no surprise when the wood is so beautiful, durable and easy to work with. This week we thought it’d be useful to take a look at oak floor maintenance, exploring how to tackle warped boards, fill gaps, finish and re-finish your oak wood floor to gleaming perfection.

Vintage Oak Floorboards

Vintage Oak Floorboards from earlyoakspecialists.co.uk

How to maintain an oak floor

Before we look at the real thing, here’s some information about oak laminate flooring, a product with an 8mm or so ‘skin’ of oak glued to a core of HDF, AKA High Density Fibreboard. It’s oak… but at the same time it isn’t.

About oak laminate flooring

Oak laminate is made using advance DPL (Direct Pressure method) technology, where the various layers are assembled first then squashed together into the right position. The best quality laminate flooring looks so good it’s hard to tell the difference between it and 100% oak boards.

Laminates are scratch and mark-resistant, warm, durable and very easy to maintain. There’s an excellent guide on the UK Flooring Direct website. Some oak laminates are guaranteed for as long as 25 years, and occasionally there’s a lifetime guarantee. But like all wood products, it’s all down to good ongoing maintenance.

One very important thing to remember: before you do anything at all to your oak flooring, is find out whether it’s laminate or solid wood. Over sanding can potentially ruin laminate finishes. Solid wood floors, on the other hand, respond beautifully to sanding.

Plastic Laminate Flooring v Engineered Oak Laminate Flooring

Which type of laminate flooring do you have, real wood or plastic? Plastic or photographic laminate floors are also popular. Their quality varies greatly with the cheapest versions being nothing more than a photographic image of wood  glued and then sealed onto a core or base, usually made of compressed paper or wood fibreboard.

At the other end of the spectrum you have high quality synthetic wood, made from very hard and durable plastic coatings. These are quality graded and tend to be anything from 0.5mm to 2mm thick. The advantage of plastic laminate flooring is they’re completely waterproof, making them perfect in bathrooms and other high moisture areas. The disadvantage of plastic laminates is that although minor scratches, dents and gouges can be repaired with a wax filler stick, much the same as a wood repair, they can’t be sanded and refinished like a solid oak or an engineered oak floor can.

About re-finishing a solid oak floor

Oak flooring maintenance and refinishing can be hard work. But if you’re fortunate enough to have a smart, real oak floor, it’s the only real way to return it to its original glory. So gird your loins and prepare for the long haul! Here’s how.

Getting rid of curling and warping

If your floor has been wet and dried several times, or is very old, it might have warped or curled. No problem – solid oak planks are almost always thick enough to take a really good, thorough, aggressive sanding to mitigate the effects of warping and curling. Be confident, have courage and sand ’til it’s suitably flat.

If it’s severely wonky, you can make diagonal passes with the drum sander, using a very coarse paper, until the levels look right. Just bear in mind that one of the charms of real wood is its natural finish. If you want smooth 100% perfection, you might be better off choosing a laminate in the first place.

Old Oak Wood Flooring

Ancient Oak Wood Flooring

Filling gaps in a wooden floor

You can use oak dust collected from sanding to fill the gaps in your floor. You mix the fine dust generated during the floor sanding process with a wood filler gel to create a paste, which you work into the gaps a bit like grouting tiles. Here’s a video showing you how.

YouTube Preview Image

They’re using pine dust to fill gaps in a pine floor, but it works exactly the same way with oak.

You can also buy special filling products, for example a colour matched filler which you simply squeeze into the gaps before cleaning off any excess.  Bona Gap Master, for example, comes in 14 colours and is specially designed for the purpose.

Sanding to perfection

  • If the floor is waxed or polished, use a wax and polish remover first to remove them otherwise it will very quickly clog up any sanding belts or disks.
  • Fill any gaps and cracks before you start sanding, simply because it’s easier to fill the old finish than it is to fill the wood after it has been sanded and keeps the sanding required to a minimum.
  • You usually need a couple of machines: a drum sander for the main floor area and an edger for the edges.
  • Unless the floor is very uneven, has many many layers of varnish or has the thick black, tar like substance around the edges of the room, try to avoid sandpaper coarser of 60 grit or less, which can cause deep scratches. The more coarse the first sand, the more passes you will need to do with progressively finer sanding grits
  • If your floor is level and the finish comes off with ease, you might only need to do two passes: one with 80 grit and one with 100.
  • Because small scratches in oak blend in with the grain and are usually taken care of by your final finish, there’s often no need to finish off with a 120 grit paper. The floor might be smooth enough with an 80 grit finish. Applying Meths to a test areas is a good way to highlight any sanding imperfections and indicate if further sanding is required. The purple colour of the meths will show up any pig tails (sanding swirls) in the wood before it evaporates, returning the wood to its bare sanded state. If a non solvent approach is preferred, water can be used but this will swell the grain which will then require a further light sanding.
  • The amount of wood that a drum sander will remove from the surface of the wood depends on a number of factors including the type of machine being used, the grit and type of sanding belt, the type of wood being sanding i.e. Pine, oak or other and the number of passes being made with the sander.
  • The edger will take care of hard-to-reach areas around the edge, although you will probably need to get down and dirty with a floor scraper and mini-hand sander for the really fiddly bits.

How to re-stain your oak floor

Now for the fun bit. This is where your floor suddenly starts to look really beautiful.

Oak accepts stains really well because it’s naturally pale. You can apply most good quality oak stains with a rag. Oil and water based finishes are both great to use on oak – it’s entirely up to you. The best way to avoid making nasty streaks, bubbles and brush marks is to use a floor finish applicator, which makes it easy to follow the grain.

You usually need just 1 or 2 coats of floor stain, with a light sand or denib in between coats, ideally using a floor buffer and sanding screen. Remember to let each coat dry fully before applying the next, and remove any dust using a vacuum cleaner so it doesn’t mess up the next coat.

What about varnishing a solid oak floor?

Polyurethane varnish is a popular finishing touch because it’s available in a range of sheens from matt through to super gloss and delivers a lovely deep finish and a fine lustre. Most modern water based varnishes give a clear finish unlike the super-shiny ‘toffee apple’ look of past decades. Depending on the on-pack instructions, you can either use a sheep wool or microfibre application tool. Most varnish products recommend a minimum of two coats, others may recommend more than two. Whatever you do, follow the instructions to the letter – the last thing you need is to have to sand it all off and start again.

Canadian Red Oak Flooring

Canadian Red Oak Flooring from sandandseal.co.uk

What if your floor has water damage?

Dark, unsightly stains are a sign of water damage, often just a matter of long-term seepage and involving moisture rather than actual flooding. When the finish is old and damaged, the moisture penetrates the wood. The only sensible way to get rid of the stains is to sand the old finish off then bleach the wood back to its original shade. The most popular wood bleaching agents are hydrogen peroxide and oxalic acid, both of which are easy to find. It’s worth noting that wood dust containing bleach is toxic, so it’s important to wear a dust musk or other breathing apparatus.

What about a wax finish?

Many modern hardwood floors come with a polyurethane or urethane/acrylic topcoat which protects the wood, in which case it shouldn’t need to be waxed.

If you love a wax finish, your floor will look great. But regular maintenance is important, since waxes don’t offer the same durability as varnish or hard wax oil. They tend to be a better choice on older woods or floor boards, where fine scratches and so on are less noticeable. On a new floor, a scratch in wax can stand out like a sore thumb.

Hardwood floor wax is free from silicone, lemon oil, ammonia, bleach, vinegar and tung oil, all of which can stain the wood or discolour it. Make sure you get proper hardwood floor wax. There’s a choice of wax types. Paste wax tends to require more hard work, while liquid wax needs a bit less elbow grease. And there are some very important caveats:

  • It’s not ideal to use wax on raw, natural planks if you plan to varnish at a later date. Waxes can be removed at a later date but it requires a ‘Wax and Polish Remover’ and lots of elbow grease – Waxes are commonly used to stain floors different colours and to maintain the colour and appearance of very old waxed floors.
  • Make sure distressed or reclaimed wood floors have been properly prepared before applying floor wax

Your first stop is to remove the existing wax finish, which you can do using wax and polish remover. Just grab a mop, some rags and prepare for some hard yet satisfying work. Again, it’s really important to follow the instructions to the letter. A sander can be used but the wax will melt with the friction and will quickly clog the paper meaning more sandpaper will be required.

You don’t have to stain the stripped surface before you wax, but you can if you like. It’s an aesthetic decision rather than a practical one. The floor can first be stained with a water based wood stain then waxed with a clear wax or alternatively, can be waxed with a coloured wax to both colour and protect the timber in one process.

Waxing usually involves several layers. It depends on the manufacturer’s instructions, but you almost always have to apply the wax in thin layers, with regular back and forwards strokes at an angle to the joints. When you do it this way you fill the gaps between the planks with wax, which can help prevent noisy creaking.

If you like a deep shine, fit a buffing pad to your sander… or just apply more elbow grease. The more you polish, the more it’ll shine.

Stunning Oak Flooring from peakoak.co.uk

Beautiful Oak Flooring

Need help? We’re always pleased to provide expert advice

Like all wood projects, maintaining oak flooring comes with risks. If you’re a beginner or first timer and could do with some solid, sensible, expert advice, feel free to call us. We’ll be delighted to help you pick exactly the right products for the job in hand and provide insights into exactly how to use them to their best effect. We’re on call 8am to half five, Monday to Saturday.

Is Your Wood Ready for the Ravages of Winter?

August 29th, 2014

Autumn seems to have come early this year in Britain, with much of August windy, wet and gloomy. Is your wood ready for winter? We thought now was a good time to look at why you should protect and preserve your wood from the coming season’s ravages… including cracks, blistering, peeling, rotting, flaking and warping.

UK Autumn Weather

UK Autumn Weather

Exterior Wood Preservative – Why bother?

You might think summer is a good time for exterior wood. But after a long, hot season of bright sunshine and powerful UV rays, occasional high humidity, heavy showers and summer thunder storms, wood left in the outdoors has already taken a hammering. Which means it really needs some TLC before winter sets in and makes things even worse.

What is wood’s worst enemy? It’s water. Water causes wood to swell, damages buildings and furniture and even shortens their useful lives. Which means letting it all go to hell in a handbasket can be an expensive business.

Water damage to exterior wood door

Water Damaged Wooden Exterior Door – from grayslakehomeinspector.com

Mould is another big nasty, and it can take hold of wood remarkably fast. All it takes is a light frost and any areas exposed by mould will soon be in big trouble.

How can you mitigate the effects of all this potentially disastrous British weather? Waterproofing is the bunny. As you’d expect we stock all manner of proven products to protect exterior wood throughout the dark winter months, including clever waterproof coatings that inhibit fungus and mould while letting the wood breathe.

What’s the weather forecast for winter 2014/15?

Last winter the UK didn’t get much snow. In some places in the south east the temperatures stayed above freezing for the entire season, although it was the stormiest winter for a couple of decades. The year before, 2012/13, was one of the coldest winters for decades. So there’s no place for wood treatment complacency.

While it’s still impossible to predict what the winter will be like with any real accuracy, or to any level of detail, the weather boffins can make educated guesses. So what’s it going to be like this winter?

According to the UK weather forecast website, which is sensibly vague:

“We have a devolving El Nino, which won’t guarantee a cold winter, but our winters during an El Niño tend to be drier than average. The last El Nino winter we experienced was 2009/10, which turned out to be a very cold winter, so the chances are that a repeat of 2013/14 will be very unlikely. There are some signals that this winter will possibly have some colder periods, however this is not a given with this time frame.”

In other words, nobody really knows! Which means there’s no getting away from it… ideally, you need to get busy with the preparation in readiness for wood preservatives before the clocks go back. How come? The later you leave it, the colder and wetter it’ll be and the longer it’ll take for the wood to dry so you can add a good wood preserving product.

What’s the best way to prepare exterior wood for wood preserver?

There’s no getting away from it. Preparation is everything. Wood treatment and wood preservative products will only penetrate into the surface of the wood if the wood is both clean and dry.

Almost all exterior wood will respond beautifully to a simple, thorough clean with warm, soapy water and a soft brush or cloth, and you can’t go far wrong with a little squirt of washing up liquid. Just make sure you thoroughly rinse the surface and let it dry completely before applying your chosen wood treatment.

What does mildew look like?

Mildew often looks like little black specks on the surface of the wood. But then again, so does dirt and soot. How can you tell if it’s mildew? Apply a tiny amount of household bleach with a cloth. If the spots lighten quickly, it’s mildew. If they stay dark, it’s something else.

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What about dry rot?

If, like last winter, it pees down for what feels like months on end, you might find you’re the unhappy owner of a home riddled with dry rot, which is actually far from dry. It loves moisture and totally destroys wood.

The experts recommend you do an annual inspection, checking for leaks, cracks, gaps and unpainted areas on the outside of your home. Find the places where water gets in, caulk or seal them, paint them with preserver or wood paint and you could save yourself an absolute fortune in the long run.

Black Mould on Exterior Wood

Black Mould on Exterior Wood – from city-data.com

How can you tell your exterior wood is wet?

Easy: it will look and feel wet.

What about vertical wood surfaces?

Horizontal and vertical wood surfaces both suffer in winter. But as a rule, horizontal surfaces need more maintenance than vertical, especially high traffic areas like garden decks.

What about old wood stain?

When an old layer of wood stain starts to break down, the fibres of the wood surface can become loose. You can take the fibres off the surface by lightly sanding, leaving it all fresh and lovely, ready for a new coat of stain or whatever.

Which wood preserving product to choose?

There’s such a wide choice, everything from tough exterior wood paint in a huge variety of colours to specialist wood stain, decking paint, shed and fence paint. It depends on the type of wood, its purpose and your taste. You might pick an outdoor wood paint in a jewel-like colour to give your outdoor space a beautiful boost when it’s all dim and dark outside. Or go natural and use a product designed to enhance the material’s considerable natural beauty.

If you want expert advice from someone who knows our products inside out we’re always happy to help, and because you can reach us on a Freephone number it’ll cost nothing except your time.

7 more handy wood-related tips to make your home ready for winter

  1. Check wood window frames for rot or decay, and repair it to maintain the windows’ structural integrity
  2. Check for draughts around exterior doors – and caulk it inside and out if you find a gap
  3. If your home is under trees, can you get them trimmed to ensure water drips off them onto the ground instead of deluging your house?
  4. Clean and dry wooden patio furniture and either store and cover it or use a wood preserver so it’s in good nick for next summer. As a rule it’s best not to leave garden furniture outdoors over the winter unless you absolutely have to
  5. Inspect your decking. Check for splinters, decay, warping, insect damage and dirt that collects between the planks. The more dirty your deck, the worse it’ll suffer in the winter and the higher the risk of funguses and moulds
  6. If you have exterior stairs or steps, check any wooden handrails to make sure they’re secure and in good shape. If your steps are wooden, check them carefully too
  7. A sensible guide: if it’s made of wood and it’s outdoors, it will need looking after
Broken down wooden shed

Shed of the Year? – from pelhamplastics.com

Specific guidance about decking, sheds and other exterior wood preservation projects

We’ve already written in detail about how to tackle a whole suite of wood-related projects. If you need specific guidance for decking maintenance, sanding wood or wooden floor maintenance, for example, there’s a specialist post waiting for you in our blog. Why not explore it?

If you have any questions you can always call our experts on Freephone 0800 7818 123.

What are Wood Oils and Where are They Best Used?

August 28th, 2014

There’s a lot of confusion about how, when and where to use wood oils. It’s no surprise really, when there are so many to choose from: teak oil, tung oil finish, Danish oil, oak furniture oil and many more, some of which are specifically designed for certain types of wood. Oil for oak furniture, for example.

We thought it’d be helpful to take a look at wood oils and how to use them, and answer some of the most common questions on the subject.

First, what is wood oil?

Oil is one of the most popular ways to finish wood. The protection delivered by oils isn’t quite as robust and effective as contemporary wood finishing products like varnishes. But on the plus side, oils tend to bring out the character of the wood better, they’re made of natural products, plus they’re very easy to apply and maintain.

Osmo Polyx Oil

Osmo Polyx Oil

Types of wood oil – And how to use them

Danish oil and teak oil dry faster than linseed oil, which is traditionally used on willow cricket bats. The finish they provide is also much more resilient.

If your wood already has linseed oil on it, it’s best to carry on using it. But if it’s a new project, something that hasn’t been oiled before, steer clear of linseed oil. While teak oil delivers a slight sheen, Danish oil leaves a more lustrous finish. As you can imagine, Ronseal teak oil is a firm favourite with our customers.

  • Apply Danish and teak oil with a soft brush or cloth, being careful not to use too much at a time or it won’t sink in. Sand the wood in between coats with a fine sandpaper. You will probably find 3 or 4 coats of oil is your optimum, delivering the best results

Standard linseed oil takes ages to dry, at two or least three days per coat, and you need multiple coats when applying it to new wood, normally three to five coats but in some cases, as many as fifteen to twenty coats can be applied. Boiled linseed oil, on the other hand, ‘only’ takes a day to dry.  But neither are suitable for outdoor wood.

Rustins Danish Oil

Rustins Danish Oil

  • Apply the oil with a cloth and rub it in well. Leave a day between coats and once you’re happy with the finish, buff it to a lovely sheen with a soft cloth

Mineral oil is actually a very effective laxative, which you should be able to buy at your local chemist. While it doesn’t give you the same sheen as the other oils we’ve talked about, it’s perfect for things like kitchen chopping boards where you  need a non-toxic finish.

Tung oil is thought by many to be the finest natural finish for wood, with its legendary performance and stunning end results. As the Tung Oil website says:

“In over 100 years of development of synthetic resins and varnishes no one has developed a coating that surpasses the overall performance of natural tung oil.

Tung Oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii). As a drying oil, tung oil dries upon exposure to air. The resulting coating is transparent, waterproof, and flexible, a property exploited in most of its applications, which include wood finishing and the composition of traditional oil paints caulks, mortar and india ink. Tung oil is used on wooden toys as it is naturally non-toxic when dry and is not affected by mould like linseed oil. Tung oil is able to move and flex as wooden surfaces expand and contract with age and changing temperature.

The Chinese have utilised the properties of tung oil for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, for caulking and painting of their boats, treating leather, and waterproofing paper and cloth.”

The tung tree originated in central and southern China, concentrated around the Yangtse River. and appear in the writings of Confucius from about 400 B.C.

You need to apply tung oil using a special method called wet-on-wet burnishing, more complex and involved than many other oil application methods. Most amateurs find this process difficult. While you apply tung oil just like linseed oil, you need to sand the surface after each application of oil and it usually takes at least 3-5 coats plus 2-3 days drying time in between each coat. If you’d like to attempt it, here’s an excellent video.

YouTube Preview Image

What is the difference between a wood oil and a varnish?

Oil is a natural product. Oils cure slowly and penetrate into the surface of the wood. Multiple coatings can be applied until the wood is unable to absorb any more. Additional coats can be applied if desired to create a surface build or coating of oil. Varnish is a synthetic product made by cooking a natural oil like linseed oil, tung oil or even soya oil with a resin like polyurethane. It’s used to build up layers on the surface of the wood to create a plastic like coating that gives a hard wearing, protective finish or seal to floors and other wooden surfaces.

Can I varnish over wood oil?

In short, the answer is ‘No’. Because most modern varnishes are water based, they are generally not compatible with oiled surfaces. The easy way to think of this is having water and oil in a frying pan, try to mix them and they separate. If a water based varnish is applied on top of an oiled surface, it’s highly likely that it will not bond with the wood and will therefore peel off very quickly. Some types of varnish can be applied over an oiled surface but the process is difficult and needs specific primers and varnishes to achieve this.

The easiest approach to varnishing a previously oiled floor is to use a floor sander to remove the surface of the wood including the wood oil. Wood oils never penetrate more than a couple of microns into the surface of the timber so it won’t require too much sanding to get back to clean, bare wood.

What is the best oil for oak furniture?

  • Oiling oak worktops provides the best finish. It adds more depth and character than varnishes and lacquers, is easy to work with, and provides a water resistant finish.
  • For other interior oak, an oak furniture oil like Danish oil is a popular choice for preventing stains and cracking and providing a beautiful, lustrous finish.
  • Danish oil makes an excellent wood floor oil, but modern proprietary products are sometimes easier to work with. If you’d like advice from the experts, feel free to call us.
  • A common question is ‘What is the best outdoor furniture oil?’ Use a high quality teak oil or other specialist garden furniture oil to protect wooden garden furniture.

Can I use olive oil on wood furniture?

Yes, you can. Use a cloth to work the oil into the wood grain, rubbing back and forth. When the wood has absorbed the oil, leave it for ten minutes then wipe the excess off with a clean cloth. Untreated wood tends to take 2-3 coats, but if you’re unsure just stop when the wood stops absorbing the oil.

What is the difference between decking oil, decking preservative, decking paint and decking stain?

  • Decking oil penetrates into the surface of the wood, protecting it from cracking splitting and warping, it also helps to repel rain and moisture – Available in clear and coloured.
  • Decking stains are usually a coloured varnish like coating that sit on top of the wood to provide colour and protection.
  • Decking preservative is usually a spirit based preserver that penetrates into the wood to protect against mould, algae, dry rot and insect attack, depending on the product you’re using. Many spirit based wood preservatives are available in a range of colours that can be overcoated with a clear decking oil.
  • Decking paint sits on the surface of the wood and helps keep moisture out. Decking paints are very similar to decking stains in that the paint produces a surface coating that sits on top of the decking timber.

Is there a substitute for linseed oil on a cricket bat?

Yes, but most cricket experts believe you can’t beat raw linseed oil. For a new bat with no finish, apply at least two coats of raw linseed oil to the front, back, edges and toe, using a soft rag. The face and edges of the bat should be rubbed down with fine sandpaper every 3-4 weeks during the cricket season and a light coat of linseed oil re-applied. When it has sunk in, wipe off the excess then buff your bat to a sheen using a clean cloth.

How do I refinish olive wood bowls?

If you’re using the bowls to store or present food, never use a vegetable oil. All you’ll get is a horrible smelly, sticky finish. Use a colourless, odour-free, light mineral oil instead, a safe and popular by-product of petroleum.

Olive Wood Fruit Bowl

Olive Wood Fruit Bowl

Tips for using wood oils safely and effectively

  1. If you want to stain the wood before you oil it, use a water based stain. If you use an oil based stain it’ll block the pores in the wood and prevent the oil from doing its job properly.
  2. Never, ever leave an oily cloth rolled up. It can easily generate heat and catch fire. Dry it flat outdoors before storing it or chucking it in the bin.

Any questions about wood oils?

We’ll be more than happy to answer them. Just get in touch. There’s a Freephone number available as well as a regular number and a call-back form.