How to Use Interior and Exterior Wood Filler

July 22nd, 2014

You could throw away your old wooden furniture and fixings. Or you could mend it. These days, as the reclaiming, recycling and repurposing revolution rumbles on and our throw-away culture dies a long-deserved death, more and more people are prepared to make do and mend than throw something perfectly good away just because it’s damaged, old or less than perfect. As a result we’re seeing a significant increase in wood filler sales. But why, when and how do you use them? Here’s our dummies guide.

Applying Wood Filler


Using Wood Fillers – What You Should Know

First, what exactly is wood filler, AKA ‘wood putty’, ‘grain filler’ or ‘plastic wood’? According to Wikipedia, it’s:

“a substance used to fill imperfections, such as nail holes, in wood prior to finishing. It is often composed of wood dust combined with a binder that dries and a diluent (thinner), and, sometimes, pigment.”

fillers can also be made of synthetic materials that will often accept wood finishing products. Sometimes, these are available in pre-tinted colours which cannot be coloured further, other than by painting over them.

You can completely hide holes and other damage using filling products, which is great news if a beloved piece of furniture, expensive wooden floor or exterior wood needs some TLC to bring it back to vibrant life.

About special oak wood filler, pine wood filler and more

You can buy pre-coloured products especially for certain woods. Take Osmo Wood Filler, which comes in a wide variety of attractive colours designed to match woods like antique oak, beech, cherry, ebony, pine, spruce and even exotica like jatoba wood.

Osmo Wood Filler

Four key ways to use wood filling products

The best quality products are incredibly versatile. You can use them in four key ways.

  1. To fill holes and cracks - You need a thick filler to fill cracks and holes in wood. But you have to prepare the inside of the hole or crack first so the filler sticks properly. Sand the inside of the hole of gap if you can and remove every speck of dust – vacuuming is ideal. Then use a putty knife to force the product into the hole. Smooth the top surface and once it’s dry sand it until you get an even finish, flush with the surface of the wood. You can use this method for wood flooring, furniture or anything else prone to cracking. Remember you can paint or stain the finished surface afterwards to make your repair invisible – just wait until it’s 100% dry first.
  2. To fix damaged furniture - Furniture demands some careful thought before you start. First are you mending the surface – a cosmetic repair – or a load-bearing part? The best product for surface repairs is a combination of thick and thin filler, with larger spots of damage needing thicker filler and smaller areas a thinner product. To mend essential load bearing elements a special wood hardener rather than an ordinary filler is probably your best option.
  3. Morrells-two-part-filler-black

  4. To fill gaps between boards - You can even fill large gaps between your floorboards and skirting boards. There’s a specialist product for it called Bona Gap Master, available in a choice of popular colours including white and black as well as a load of natural-looking wood tones.
  5. bona_gap_master_chart

  6. Fillers that look like wood – When filling wood you need to ensure that the filler is 100% dry before staining or varnishing it. Filler gels are popular as they tend to keep repairs looking more like wood rather than a piece of white or coloured plastic. Filler gels work by mixing sanding dust, preferably from the wood being sanded and repaired, with a clear gel that binds the dust together. This forms a wood filler, that is partially made from real wood that can be stained, varnished or oiled. The thickness and consistency of the gel can be altered by adding more or less sanding dust but the normal mixture is usually 50% gel to 50% sanding dust. Two popular filler gels that receive good customer feedback are Bona Mix and Fill and Fiddes Wood Filler Gel.
  7. bona-mix-and-fill-5ltr


About Ronseal High Performance Wood Filler

Ronseal High Performance Wood Filler is a unique two part product that delivers incredibly tough, strong and durable repairs to more or less any kind of interior or exterior wood.

Unlike some it can fill holes to any depth as long as you take it easy, filling half a centimetre at a time and waiting for each layer to dry before adding the next one.

It dries rock hard in just half an hour. You can screw screws into it, sand it, plane it, file it, bang nails into it and drill holes in it. You can paint, stain or varnish it. It kills wet rot and prevents it coming back. And when you use it with Ronseal’s special Wet Rot Wood Hardener, you can even mend rotten wood with it. Awesome! As you can imagine it’s an enormously popular choice with builders, carpenters, DIY-ers and craftspeople.

Practice makes perfect

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do a few test runs on old bits of wood before tackling the real thing. The human brain is an amazing machine and it’ll soon build new neural pathways that make you more confident and competent. That way you stand the best chance of doing a great job.

Can I remove the filler once it’s dry?

Fillers are often harder than the wood itself. But you can remove them, and there’s some top guidance on the UK eHow site about how to do it.

Want to watch a video about how to use wood filler?

Youtube has the perfect video about how to use fillers.
YouTube Preview Image

 Any questions?

If you’re not sure about which product to buy, our experts are always glad to help. You can chat to them via our Freephone helpline number during working hours: 0800 7818 123.

51 Weird and Wonderful Facts About Wood

July 14th, 2014

Wood must be one of humanity’s oldest natural resources. It has helped keep us safe, comfortable and warm for millions of years. But trees graced our beautiful blue planet long before our ancestors were a twinkle in the universe’s eye. Imagine a world with absolutely no human-generated noise, mess or disruption, just endless seas of gently-waving trees and plants as far as the eye can see. It would be a splendid and moving sight.

Aerial Forest Flyover

Aerial Forest Flyover from

We’ve used wood for so long that most of us don’t really ‘see’ it any more. It’s part of the cultural scenery. But in the same way the starry night sky blows your mind with its eternal vastness, looking at a tree with fresh eyes brings its miraculous nature back into focus: enormous, powerful plants whose origins lie way back in the depths of geological time, some of which live literally thousands of years. If trees could tell a story, what would they say?

In May 2014 the Weird and Wonderful wood festival took place in Haughley Park in Suffolk, a celebration of wood in all its glory. More than a hundred artists, craftspeople and musicians gathered to reveal their skills and passions to a keen-to-learn and fascinated public, a sign that our relationship with the planet’s biggest plants still means a great deal to us.

We thought it’d be interesting to hook out a bunch of fascinating, weird and wonderful facts about wood and the trees it comes from. Enjoy!

Firewood Stack in Bavaria

Bavarian Firewood Stack from

51 facts about trees - Weird and wonderful wood

  1. Wood is made up of a combination of living, dying, and dead cells.
  2. The world’s shortest tree is the dwarf willow, which lives in northerly and Arctic Tundra regions and rarely grows more than a couple of inches high.
  3. The tallest trees can grow as high as 100m, more than 320 feet. They include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.
  4. The world’s tallest living standing hardwood tree is a mountain ash called Centurion in Tasmania. It’s about 329 feet 8 3/4 inches high.
  5. Trees never die of old age. Insects, diseases and people are usually the killers. 
  6. The mighty Giant Sequoia is thought by many to be the biggest living organism in the world, although a 2,400 acre fungus mycelium in eastern Oregon - almost ten square kilometres of it – is a strong if less-visible contender.
  7. The world is home to more than 23,000 different kinds of trees.
  8. The terms softwood and hardwood describe the leaves, seeds and structure of the trees rather than the type of wood they produce.
  9. Redwood bark can be as much as two feet thick.
  10. City trees tend to live for an average of 13 years less than country trees.
  11. The Amazon Basin is the biggest area of tropical forest on earth, a whopping eight and a half million acres. 
  12. The plane tree, common in London’s streets, is excellent at absorbing pollution and sheds its bark regularly so it can absorb more.
  13. Just one tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and can sequester a ton of CO2 safely by the time it’s 40 years old, which is why they’re so important in the battle against climate change.
  14. Balsa is actually a hardwood!
  15. Every US state has its own official tree.
  16. Softwoods are not always softer than hardwoods.
  17. White oak is the easiest wood to bend using steam.
  18. Buddha experienced enlightenment under the wisdom tree. And ancient British graveyards often contain a yew tree, planted by pagan worshippers before the Christians took over and built churches on the same plots.
  19. The Osage Orange tree’s wood generates the most heat when burned.
  20. The tree with the widest diameter trunk is the African Baobab, just under 50 feet across with a 155 foot circumference.
  21. Kingley Vale in West Sussex contains a host of ancient yew trees, some of which are more than 2000 years old.
  22. The tree called “General Sherman” is not only the biggest giant sequoia, but it is also the biggest tree in the world. He is 83.8 m (274.9 feet) tall, his girth at breast height is 24,10 m (79 feet) (near the ground it is 31,3 m or 102,6 feet).
  23. Oak woodland was the most common vegetation in Britain before humans got their hands on it.
  24. British oak trees can live for 500 years. We’d have a lot more of them if Henry VIII hadn’t cut almost all of down to build warships.
  25. The world’s heaviest wood is Australian Bauhinia Red.
  26. The bark of the Cork oak is used for bottle corks and cork flooring.
  27.  Some bristlecone pines are thought to be more than 5000 years old. But the famous lime tree at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is probably nearer 6000 years old, and The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire could be as old as 9000.
  28. Softwoods come from gymnosperm trees (evergreens), while hardwoods come from angiosperm trees (deciduous types).
  29. Softwoods don’t have vessels like harder woods. Their cells are open, and are used to feed water and bring nutrients to the tree.
  30. Because softwoods take wood finishes so well, they were responsible for the pine furniture boom of the early 80′s to late 90′s.
  31. Trees trap 50% of all the sun’s energy caught by living organisms.
  32. All wood is biodegradable.
  33. Wet wood, unlike dry wood, can conduct electricity.
  34. The world’s blackest wood is ebony, the world’s whitest wood is holly.
  35. Lignin is what makes a wood hard. Softwoods have less of it, hardwoods contain more.
  36. The heaviest American wood is Lignum Vitae Holywood, particularly rich in Lignin.
  37. Softwoods are usually a lighter colour than hardwoods.
  38. Pine is denser than some hardwoods so is an affordable alternative.
  39. Softwoods account for about 80% of the world’s timber production.
  40. Well-maintained trees can increase a property’s value… some say by as much as 27%, others hang their hat on 14%.
  41. Place trees in the right way near a property and they can cut air conditioning by 30%
  42. Hardwood is denser than softwood and burns for longer, with more heat, as long as it’s properly seasoned.
  43. Softwood is not as dense and doesn’t burn for quite as long, but it can still give off as much as 75% of the heat than hardwood.
  44. As long as forests are properly managed, wood fuel is renewable. Modern appliances can achieve a 90% burning efficiency, and the net carbon emissions from wood tend to be less than for fossil fuels.
  45. Trees get 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from soil.
  46. Trees grow from the top, not the bottom. Watch for 100 years and you’ll notice the branches only move a few inches up the trunk as the tree grows.
  47. Insects hate the taste of tannin, the tea-coloured chemical trees contain in varying amounts.
  48. Some trees talk to one another. When willows are threatened by insect pests, they emit a chemical warning to nearby trees, who secrete more tannin to put the invaders off.
  49. Trees mean rain. Every day, just one acre of maple trees emits as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the air.
  50. In the USA the shade and wind-proofing that trees deliver reduce annual heating and cooling costs by $2.1 billion.
  51. Some ironwoods are so dense, with a specific gravity of more than 1, that they sink in water.

Stack of Firewood

Do you have any fascinating wood facts?

Whether it’s hardwood and softwood facts or a remarkable piece of information about a particularly amazing tree, we’d love to hear it. Feel free to leave a comment.

Confused? Everything You Need to Know About Softwoods and Hardwoods

July 8th, 2014

Most decent pieces of furniture are made of solid wood. The type of wood used is what gives the piece its personality and beauty as well as solidity and strength. If you’re into woodwork, or you fancy giving it a go, you’ll find this post interesting… we thought it’d be handy to take a look at a bunch of commonly-used softwoods and hardwoods, delve into their unique properties and research where to find them.

Softwoods and hardwoods – What’s the difference?

First, before we go into detail about specific tree types, why are they classified as either ’soft’ wood or ‘hard’ wood? What’s the difference?


Softwood – Renewable Resource

It isn’t about strength. Soft and hard woods are both very strong, soft woods aren’t the least bit weak. Soft woods come from coniferous trees, ie. trees with cones, including cedar, fir and pine. They often have a red or yellow tinge and because they naturally grow straight and fast instead of curvy and slow, they’re usually cheaper than hard woods and are generally more sustainable. Which means you’re not contributing to deforestation by using them or buying furniture and flooring made from them.

Hard woods are loved by woodworkers because of their gorgeous colours, beautiful grain patterns and exciting textures. The only down side is the cost. Because hard wood trees grow so slowly, some exotic species are far too costly to use anywhere except in fine detailed work, veneers, inlays and fancy decorative finishes.  If you want to work with a hard wood, make sure it comes from a sustainable source. Alternatively you can always find a piece of old, non-antique hard wood furniture to take apart and repurpose.

Common soft woods

  • Cedar tends to be reddish in colour and it’s a relatively soft wood. It smells lovely, like freshly cut pine, has a nice, straight grain and is usually used outdoors. Cedar shingles are used to roof buildings in the USA more often than here – think of a mountain log cabin with cedar shingles and you get the picture - and it’s also useful for furniture, decking and other exterior woodwork projects. Cedar is great at resisting rot and is used widely in damp environments as a result. As well as being very beautiful, it isn’t expensive.
  • Fir also has a straight grain like cedar, and is also reddish in colour. It’s a relatively cheap wood often used for building and isn’t great for furniture because its grain is a bit boring and dull, and it doesn’t take wood stain very well. It does, however, take paint perfectly. For a soft wood it’s relatively strong and hard.
  • Pine is the name used for all manner of trees, many of which are commonest in the USA. There’s the wonderfully named Ponderosa pine, for example, plus yellow pine and sugar pine, in the UK usually just labelled ‘pine’. It’s ridiculously easy to work with, very soft, really good for carving and perfect for furniture. And it takes wood stain well, provided you seal it first.
  • Redwood is resistant to damp and is often used outdoors. It’s fairly soft with a clear, straight grain so not the most interesting wood to look at. As you’d imagine, it has a red tint to it. It’s cheaper in the USA, where California Redwood comes from, more expensive in Britain.
Giant Redwoods

Giant Redwood Forest

Common hard woods

  • Ash might not be a common hard wood for much longer, bearing in mind the ravages of Ash Dieback Disease. But for the moment it’s still available, a stunning white to pale brown wood with a pretty, straight grain. It’s relatively soft and easy to work with, taking stain reasonably well. If you can’t find white oak, ash is a great substitute.
  • Birch has two faces, either yellow or white. The yellow variety is a lovely pale yellow/white with a heart – the centre of the tree – reddish brown. White birch is paler still. They’re both quite hard and as a rule are often cheaper than many hard woods. Ash is great for furniture, stable and easy to work, but staining can be tricky because it can easily go blotchy. On the other hand it takes paint really well.
  • Cherry is easy to work with, perfect for furniture and accepts wood stains well. It looks great finished with a wood oil. The heart is reddish and the outer part, known as the sap wood, is very pale, almost white. It’s less hard than birch and is readily available from sustainable sources. It tends to be more expensive than many other hardwoods, simply because it’s in greater demand.
  • Mahogany is probably the most famous furniture wood. Brown to deep red in colour with a straight grain, it’s less hard than birch. It accepts wood stain beautifully and appreciates a wood oil finish.  You may need several coats of oil but the end result is awesome, well worth the effort. One thing to remember – the wood is rarely available from sustainable sources, so buying new mahogany is down to your conscience. Luckily you can sometimes buy used mahogany from wood reclamation yards.
  • Maple can be either a hard wood or soft wood, and the hard version is so hard it’s tricky to work with. The softer type of maple is fairly easy to work by comparison and because both have such a lovely fine, straight grain pattern they’re both very stable, more so than many other woods. It’s relatively cheap, too.
  • Oak comes in red and white and is probably one of the world’s most popular woods for furniture and hardwood flooring. It’s strong, hard and easy to work. The white variety is the woodworkers’ favourite because the ray-like patterns in the grain are so attractive. It’s moisture resistant so is often used for garden furniture. And white oak costs less than many hard woods.
  • Poplar is another relatively low-cost hardwood, quite soft and easy to work. It’s usually very pale, more or less white, with greenish or brown streaks at the heart. The resulting strange and not entirely attractive pattern makes it less popular for furniture than oak so it isn’t used to make fine furniture very often. But it’s great for the inside of drawers, stable and cheap. It takes paint really well, much better than it accepts a wood stain. People often use it to make bowls, toys and small craft items.
  • Teak is getting rarer but is still popular for good quality outdoor furniture, extremely weather-resistant and very beautiful as well as costly. It’s golden brown with an exotic, oily texture and it’s a medium-hard wood.
  • Walnut is extremely hard, a rich, deep brown colour and easy to work. Sadly it’s expensive and relatively rare. These days craftsmen use it for fancy stuff like inlays.
Hardwood Flooring

Beautiful Hardwood Flooring

Where can I buy exotic hardwoods?

Rainforest deforestation in particular and deforestation in general is a no-no these days, and sustainable woods are used more often as a result. Luckily there are plenty of wood reclamation and architectural reclamation yards springing up all over Britain as the trend for repurposing and recycling heats up. It’s amazing what you can find, everything from wonderful old oak railway sleepers to the pillars from old beach groynes and chunks of exotic woods like Sapele, the most stunning conker red colour and a joy to carve by hand.

If you need new hardwood, you could try British Hardwoods, a leading UK supplier of everything from timber to specialist planed hardwoods. You can even buy online. Softwoods are much more easily available - try your local timber merchant.

Amazing wood bargains for craft, furniture and woodwork projects

Sapele Wood Carving

Sapele Wood Carving

I found a lovely piece of Sapele which I used for my first ever wood carving, inspired by seabirds, pictured above. The wood only cost a fiver! At the same Brighton wood recycling yard we found a huge, silvery, worn mahogany block, about eight feet by two by two. They cut it into four chunks for us, which have been out in the garden for five years or more, still good as new and perfect for outdoor seating. The cost? £70. It just goes to show, if you’re dying to have a go at wood carving or woodwork, it needn’t cost a fortune.

We have a huge range of wood oils and stains to help you transform your next woodwork project to a high sheen and bring it into a state of sheer perfection.  If you have any questions about which wood finish is best for the type of wood you have, just give our experts a call on 0800 7818 123 or 01303 487978.

Decorating with Colour – What You Need to Know

July 2nd, 2014

We’ve already looked at using innovative, exciting products like wood stain colours and decking stain colours to give wooden surfaces a boost, creating effects that are much more visually interesting than ordinary decorative finishes. But what about taking things a step further and bringing even more colour into your home?

Beautiful Yellow Colour Scheme

Using colour with confidence

First, why focus on colour? Because minimalism is dead, eclectic clutter is the bees knees and colour is back on the interior design menu.  It’s powerful stuff. Colour affects your mood, influences your feelings and makes everyday life more – or less – visually stimulating. So how do you harness the joy of colour to bring your home to vibrant, beautiful life? There’s more to life than coloured wood stain… here’s some information about decorating with colour, colour psychology and colour therapy.

Plenty of us are fussy about colour. We’re worried we won’t make the right decisions, ending up with a colour scheme that’s more of a dog’s dinner than a decorative delight. But there are plenty of tricks you can use to help you choose wisely.

  • Clash or tone? Clashing colours are fine, toning colours are equally acceptable. They can both look beautiful.
  • Right or wrong? Colour is about personal preferences. There’s no such thing as bad taste, just taste.
  • Ready-made reference. You could base your home colour scheme on a piece of clothing you particularly like. Take inspiration from a photo of a garden or landscape, a piece of wrapping paper or a length of fabric. Places like B&Q and Dulux Decorator Centres often offer paint mixing services and can match any colour you like, whether it’s from a scrap of wallpaper, fabric or even a leaf or flower.
  • Pick your favourite three colours… and use the same tone of each one, for example a deep pink, deep turquoise and deep green or pale coffee, pale violet and pale yellow. How do you know if a colour is the same ‘tone’ as another? Hold the paint swatches up in front of your face, then squint. Similar tones will blend together and look the same. Different tones still stand out against one another.
  • Choose just two contrasting colours… and stick to them. A two colour limit means you’re less likely to go off-piste and end up in creative trouble. For example pick a bright Mexican orange and a vivid sky blue, a vibrant magenta and deep turquoise, a ‘heritage’ duck egg green and a dusky rose pink. Or deep, rich olive green and spring-like apple green.
  • Paint three walls cream or white and paint just one wall a bright colour, creating  a feature wall. Doing it this way can be much less scary than trying to deal with four coloured walls or a choice of more than one colour.
  • Search Pinterest for images of vivid interiors and take your inspiration from there.
  • Have you ever entered a room that took your breath away with its beauty, whether it was somewhere exotic like Brighton Pavilion or the Taj Mahal, a posh hotel room, a historic building or your friend’s lounge? If so, just copy the colour scheme.
  • Ask a tasteful or artistic friend. If you’re rubbish at the whole décor thing and find picking colours too much of a challenge for comfort, perhaps you can get a colour-confident friend to help you pick the best shades.
  • Learn how colours work using a colour wheel. Here’s a link to an excellent resource about colour wheels, the theory behind them and how to use them. More about colour wheels later…
  • Look at your wardrobe and copy the colours you wear most often, since they obviously make you feel good.
  • Buy sample pots to test before you go the whole hog. Most good paint suppliers offer small, cheap test pots so you can see what the colour actually looks like on a wall, or piece of furniture, or woodwork.
  • Pick just one colour and use a variety of different shades and tones of the same colour: a pale, a mid and a dark blue, for example. Most paint swatches come in strip of five or more shades of the same colour, which makes life really easy.
  • Watch TVGeorge Clarke’s amazing spaces, for example, is packed with inspirational interiors created on a shoestring

The best thing about house paints is that they’re relatively cheap. If you get the colour wrong, you can easily paint over it.

Peacock Colour Scheme

About the colour spectrum – The science bit

Colours reflect the way our brains interpret wavelengths in the visible spectrum, which lies between 400 and 700 nanometres. We see different wavelengths as different colours, usually split into seven different bands just like a rainbow:

  1. red
  2. orange
  3. yellow
  4. green
  5. blue
  6. indigo
  7. violet

A colour wheel represents the visible spectrum in circular form where 1 and 7, violet and red, are joined. It’s a brilliant way to get to grips with the way colour works, revealing how they relate to each other and how to create new shades by mixing two or more together.

Colour Wheel

About colour psychology – Handy guides to help you choose

Different colours make us feel different. Wikipedia has a great page about the psychology of colour. Reds, for example, tend to make us feel excited and stimulated, blues tend to make us feel more relaxed. Oranges are supposed to be optimistic, yellow intellectual, purple imaginative. You might not want to paint your bedroom scarlet and magenta… on the other hand, it might suit you down to the ground.

Here’s some excellent guidance about how different colours can affect your mood. Just remember that while colour psychology provides clues, it doesn’t deliver hard and fast rules. Any colour combination that makes you feel good will work.

About colour therapy – Feeling good about the shades you choose

As the Bcenter site says:

“Color therapy (also known as chromotherapy) is a therapeutic science that has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used specially built solarium rooms with different colored glasses. The sun would shine through the colored glass onto the patient to achieve specific therapeutic benefits. Others used different colored silk clothes to filter varying shades of light onto their bodies.”

“These days, many natural therapists are using chromotherapy on their patients in interesting ways. They report success in recovery of stroke victims, and in others who have chronic depression. In the United States, chromotherapy is being recognized as a complimentary system to other therapies and treatments.”

Colour therapists believe colour should be a part of our everyday life. It’s all around us, and heightening our awareness of its energy can transform our lives. You can research the subject and follow its recommendations to a tee, or use it as a guide to help you pick the right kind of colours to deliver the kind of effect you’re looking for. On the other hand you can ignore colour therapy, which is after all just one way of looking at the wonder of colour and translating it so it enhances your home, and follow your heart.

What about dark and light?

You might love to see the light flooding into a room and adore nothing more than fresh, pale, bright colours. That’s fine. You might prefer dark colours, which are also perfectly OK. Nobody says you have to have light rooms. If you only sleep in your bedroom, is there really any need to paint it light and bright? Would you feel more relaxed if it was painted deep, cosy, warm colours instead? Where colour is concerned, the rules are made to be broken. It’s personal.

Channel 4 has some great advice and guidance about choosing colour schemes for your home décor, including how to co-ordinate colours successfully, how to create a mood board, how light affects a colour scheme and how to link rooms together using colour.

What can you paint?

Colour is about much more than just the walls of a space. You can use water-based eggshell paints to paint anything from mirror frames to brown furniture, decorative ceramics and terracotta plant pots, radiators and the places you’d ordinarily use gloss paint for, for example skirting boards and door frames. You can paint all your furniture the same shade or tone as the walls if you like, or use one or more toning or contrasting colours.

A splash of decorative colour

More help and advice about choosing the right colours for your home decor

Here are some more cool resources and inspiration to help you choose the right colours for your home, ‘right’ being the colours you love best and that make you feel happiest.

Wood preservative colours and more…

Once you’ve picked the perfect colour scheme for your room,  or for your entire home, you can think about the wood. Do you want to use coloured wood dye to enhance the beauty of your skirting boards and door frames, even the doors themselves? Or paint them the same colour as the walls for a spectacularly smart, contemporary look that makes spaces look bigger? Perhaps you have your eye on our collection of beautiful wood stain colours from Ronseal, Osmo, Fiddes and Manns – in all their wonderful variety?

If you have any questions about our wood finishes, our experts are always delighted to help. While they can’t actually choose the colours for you, they’re hot on the technical and scientific side of things. And they’re available on a Freephone number.  If you want help, just call.

Exterior doors – What Does Your Front Door Say About You?

June 23rd, 2014

Wooden exterior doors need some form of outdoor wood protection to prevent them getting hopelessly tatty, which can happen reasonably quickly if left unchecked, especially when they’re exposed to winter weather or full-on summer sun. A lack of exterior wood treatment on wooden doors can eventually lead to warping and bowing, which could affect the fit of the door resulting in drafts and potentially compromise security. Once the wood preservative side of things has been sorted, how do you choose the right colour and paint finish?

Oak Front Door

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t treat and protect external hardwood doors then simply varnish or oil them. Plain, natural wood is beautiful stuff. But most of us paint our wood front door with either exterior gloss, silk or matt paint. Here are some tips about making the best possible job of it, and insights into why it’s so important.

Exterior doors décor – Making a great first impression

No plans to sell your home?

If you’re loving living in your home and have no plans to sell, the wonderful world of paint is your oyster. The impression you make is entirely down to your personal taste.

There’s a massive range of water-based and oil-based exterior eggshell paints available, a seriously trendy option particularly popular with people who like heritage colours. You can buy regular gloss paint, probably Britain’s best-loved choice for wood front doors, in literally hundreds of shades from subtle, historic and traditional to vibrant, vivid and rebellious. And you can buy exterior matt and silk alternatives, again in a truly vast choice of colours. You can even specify your own unique colour, for example taking a scrap of fabric to the shop for staff to copy.

Lime Front Door

How on earth do you make up your mind about colour? You could simply choose your favourite colour, whether it’s high-gloss lime green or a lovely deep shade of aubergine, cheery pillarbox red or clean, crisp white. You can pick a shade that reflects your interior décor, or the flowers along your garden path. Or you could even use Feng Shui principles to pin down the right one. It’s as good a method as any if you’re lost in space, bewildered by the endless variety of shades available. If that sounds like a good idea, here’s a link to a site about using Feng Shui to get it right.

As a general rule pale colours need a little more maintenance than darker shades, touching the finish up with a small brush whenever you get a dink or minor flaking and making sure damage doesn’t spread unchecked.

What if you want to sell your home?

If you want to sell your home, your personal colour sense might have to take the back seat. The thing is, your exterior door or the door of your flat is the first thing people see when they approach your property. It’s where the eye focuses, and first impressions are really important.

As long as your door is smartly finished, sporting a clean, fresh-looking paint job, the colour is often academic. On the other hand, plenty of people prefer neutral colours and a strong, unusual or downright eccentric choice might put them off at the starting line. It’s horses for courses. If you’re concerned, you can’t go far wrong with a spotless glossy black or white door. Dark blue, racing green and deep red are also popular and perfectly acceptable. While bright purple or day-glo orange might not quite be the thing if you’re keen to sell fast!

Gorgeous wood exterior doors – First impressions really do count

As an article in The Telegraph says:

“It takes just eight seconds to decide whether or not you will buy a house, according to the latest research. And at least four of them will be spent waiting at the front door. Lord Lloyd-Webber has a mahogany one, Richard Rogers has a white one, and Kate Middleton has just installed a pair of them, in black. “People look at a front door before they look at anything else,” says designer Cecilia Neal, of Meltons. “Your front door reflects what you think about the house. A door can sell a property.”

Eight seconds? That’s actually quite scary. And there’s more. Apparently some experts feel it’s important for exterior wood doors to be ‘appropriate to a house’. Others feel you can’t beat simple good taste, waxing lyrical about the significant charms of the typical Georgian front door with its perfect proportions and, if you’re fortunate, glazed fanlight.

Ancient Door

Can you fit a repro or original Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian-style exterior front door? Yes, you can. And it often works beautifully, especially on an exclusive new build or graceful old building. On the other hand a classic Georgian masterpiece crowbarred onto a 1970s pebbledash semi might look a bit strange. Many experts say the design should be in sympathy with the building. So while a big, stained glass-rich Edwardian masterpiece may not suit your modern bungalow, a contemporary planked door might give it exactly the visual boost it needs and make your home look really special.

One thing is certain: a cheap and nasty, tatty-looking door won’t do an otherwise smart building any favours, and a seriously good-looking one can raise the bar even when the property itself is nothing special. A beautiful, well-maintained and well-presented hardwood external door gives a powerful signal that you love and care for the property, and hints at the quality of the interior. With only a few seconds to make the right impression, it’s a relatively easy win.

What can I do with a UPVC exterior door?

Over time even UPVC can start to look worn and tatty. Many people choose the material because you don’t need to paint it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t. UPVC can be painted with oil or water-based eggshell paint in any colour you like. Alternatively, get busy with the UPVC cleaning fluid, available from all good DIY shops.

The door as an investment

Estate agencies take the front door thing even further, with some insisting that it’s actually an essential investment. If all you do is fit new exterior doors before you sell, the results will be worthwhile.

Shabby Chic Front Door

It can even be a love thing. Some people move mountains to take their beloved door with them when they move, fitting it in their new home despite considerable cost and inconvenience.

Need inspiration? Here are lots of images of beautiful front doors

What’s your best front door style, design and colour? No idea? Short on inspiration? Here’s a site packed with glorious, eccentric, contemporary and classic wooden door décor ideas to whet your appetite. And if you need to create the perfect surface over which to paint, here’s a link to our exterior doors project page, full of excellent products.

Product Spotlight – Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Finish

June 20th, 2014

A question we often get asked at Wood Finishes Direct is ‘What product can be used on interior wood that is both food safe and child safe?’. Although there are a number of products that fit this category, a popular choice is Fiddes Hard Wax Oil, available in both clear and coloured (pigmented) versions.

Made in the UK from a blend of natural oils and waxes, Hard Wax Oil penetrates into the surface of the wood to provide a durable finish that can be used on a wide range of projects including flooring, real wood furniture, kitchen worktops, children’s toys, woodturning pieces, wooden fruit bowls, wooden kitchen utensils and more.


This product works by penetrating into the grain of the wood to provide a hard durable surface that is resistant to scuffs, scratches and liquid spillages such as tea, coffee, wine, cola and water. It can be quickly and easily applied and is very easy to maintain and repair if it becomes tired looking, worn or damaged, without the need to sand the whole area back to bare wood.

Key Benefits of Fiddes Hard Wax Oil

  • Quick drying (Approximately 4 Hours*)
  • Quick and easy to apply
  • Food and child safe
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Water & stain and resistant
  • Ideal for food preperation surfaces
  • Treadfast
  • Excellent coverage

Fiddes Hard Wax Oil is available in a clear matt, satin and semi gloss finish. The matt finish is a popular choice for those looking to retain the natural, flat, non reflective appearance of wood. For a soft sheen, the satin finish is perfect as it provides a slight sheen without being glossy or shiny while the semi-gloss provides a finish that is glossy without being overly reflective like a mirror.

Although the clear versions of this product do not contain any pigment or colouration, they will enhance the natural grain and colour of the wood as well as giving the timber a darker, damp like appearance. A good way to test this is to wipe a piece of the wood after sanding with a damp (not wet) cloth. This will give a good representation of how the wood will look when oiled. Soft woods such as pine can often look fairly colourless and pale when freshly sanded but when oiled, can turn a golden, yellow / orange colour. This can also be tested by using the damp cloth approach after sanding.

For those looking to keep the wood looking natural and as close to the ‘sanded look’ as possible, Fiddes have produced a version of their Hard Wax Oil specifically designed to achieve this called ‘Hard Wax Oil Natural‘. This works well on lighter coloured woods such as pine and oak but may leave a slight white film on darker species of wood.

To stain (colour) and protect the wood, all in one process, there are nine colours in the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints range…

  • American
  • Antique
  • Dark Oak
  • English
  • Medium Oak
  • Onyx
  • Walnut
  • Whiskey
  • White

Tinted Hard Wax Oils provide a coloured translucent finish that enable the grain of the wood to show through the colour. These are popular for use on floors, staircases and furniture to transform the look of one wood type to another.


Full details of this product including prices, wood preperation tips, application, drying times and more are available on our Hard Wax Oil product pages.

If you are have just completed a project using Fiddes Hard Wax Oil, we always love to hear about and see the end result. Feel free to send in any pictures of the completed project using the email address on our ‘contact us’ page and if you’re happy for us to use your pictures, we may include them on our site in the future.

*Drying times may vary depending on application, room temperature and humidity.

Wood Colours – When Is Medium Oak Not Medium Oak?

June 17th, 2014

When looking to colour real wood flooring, wood veneers, furniture, decking or for that matter, any sort of interior or exterior wood, getting the right colour is always an important factor. From rich teak to medium oak, stripped pine to mahogany, there are an amazing array of wood stains, wood waxes, coloured varnishes and wood oils for any project.

French Oak Wood Stained Floor

One of the difficulties with wood specific colours is that every manufacturer of wood finishing products and indeed most people’s interpretation of what particular wood colours should be called differs. A classic example of this is demonstrated by going to Google Search, typing in ‘medium oak wood‘ then clicking on the ‘images’ link beneath the search box. Google will display literally thousands of images that companies and individuals have tagged on their websites as ‘medium oak wood’, it becomes immediately obvious that a lot of these websites have a very different idea of what a ‘medium oak’ colour should be. The same can be said for pretty much any type or colour of wood when searching in Google Images.

A common approach we take at Wood Finishes Direct when customers call to discuss the staining of wood is to ask them to ignore the colour names and to focus more on the actual colour swatch. It’s often the case that although they come to us initially looking for a medium oak wood stain, they may very well feel that our medium oak stain is too light, too dark, too warm or not warm enough but then see another colour which exactly matches their expectation such as our dark pine or teak wood stain.

Oak Wood Stain Colours

Another major consideration with wood finishing products is that the coloured product, be it a wax, oil, stain or varnish, is designed to be translucent i.e. allowing the wood grain to show through the colour. As the natural colour of the wood will always have a major influence on the colour of the applied wood finish. There will always be a differenT result if the same product is used on a piece of pine, oak, larch, beech or any other type of wood. The same is true even if sticking with the same type of wood. Taking pine as an example with hundreds of pine species, all will give a different final tone to the colour in one way or another. This can be an issue with old floors where the majority of the boards are original but some have been replaced over the years. The replaced boards will react differently with the applied finish and will probably give a different look to the original boards when coloured, even if they are the same species. The difference in colour can usually be made less obvious but may take some experimentation and testing to get it right.

Applying Wood Stain

So what is the best approach when looking to colour wood with a coloured or pigmented wood finishing product? In short, trust your eyes and go with the colour that looks right rather than by the name of a colour. Always keep in mind that the colour of the product on your floor or furniture will likely differ to the example colour swatch on the tin. Another thing to take into account is that when viewing wood finishing and indeed paint colours online, everyone’s monitor is set to different contrast and colour setting similar to when you see the same TV programme on many TV’s when you walk into a TV shop.

With so many factors to take into account when choosing a colour for a wood finishing project, our advice is to always do a test area first on the actual wood to be stained and finished. If you find that the colour is either too light or too dark on the test patch, there are probably things that can be done to fine tune the final colour. For example a water based stain can be diluted with water to lighten the shade. This is by far better than completing a major project to then be faced with the prospect of having to sand it all off and start again.

The Art of Aging Guitars – How to Achieve the Road Worn Look

June 13th, 2014

Do you play guitar, or do you just love the instrument? If so, have you come across the trend for custom guitars? It’s often called ‘relicing guitars’, and it’s a hot topic that’s been fascinating guitar owners, players, collectors and lovers for a number of years.

Directly in line with the current fashion for shabby chic interior décor, aging guitars is all about making new or relatively recent instruments look like beautiful old, used and well-loved vintage guitars. The idea is to make the instrument look like it’s been heavily used for forty or fifty years, and the effect is often called ‘road worn’.

Fender Custom Shop Relic Telecaster

Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster Ultimate Relic

As the Fender Telecaster Discussion site says:

“Because of the expense of buying a beat up vintage Tele, guitar manufacturers decided in the ’90s to “recreate” the look and feel of 40 years of use on brand new guitars. Relics as Fender branded them were an instant success–and an instant controversy. For many they are completely wonderful, for others they are complete heresy.”Why beat up a brand new guitar and then charge more for it?” Seems to be the main sentiment, but for many others it just makes perfect sense. Naturally, if the factory can do it then the DIY market can do it better.”

The trend was given a boost at the infamous Dallas guitar show back in 2006, where a demo was carried out by the legendary Fender Custom Shop. You can read all about the demo in fine detail via the link above, where there’s a step-by-step guide showing the demonstrator using a tinted wood stain to help age the instrument to perfection.

Original vintage guitars from the 1950s and ’60s can sell for tens of thousands of pounds, because of their historical value as well as the lovely, aged finish. A genuine relic Stratocaster is a highly desirable object, far beyond the pockets of most people. A real road worn Telecaster is a seriously costly item. New road worn guitars usually cost more than standard guitars. But they’re still a lot less than the ancient originals, which are worn naturally over many decades.

Obviously a Fender relicing job is an expensive business when carried out by the masters themselves. But you can DIY, making beautiful, old-looking guitar bodies, necks and fittings yourself with a little confidence, creativity and the right wood finishing materials.

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Iconic Road Worn Stratocaster

Stevie Ray Vaughan and his iconic, road worn Stratocaster – and a great guitar face!

How to relic a guitar – Guitar relicing 101

You might not want to practice on a guitar you love, just in case it goes horribly wrong.  You can pick up cheap second hand guitars at junk shops, antique emporia, charity shops or online and hone your skills before letting yourself loose on your favourite instrument!

Does relicing a guitar change the sound?

Because the body material and the pickups remain the same, the sound of your guitar shouldn’t change. If it’s a cheap model, sadly it won’t sound any better. On the positive side you won’t ruin the sound of a good quality guitar either.

DIY relic guitars part 1 – Making the wood look old

The guitar body, neck and the headstock are easy to age. Manufacturers do it by enhancing the varnish’s ‘fraying’, usually with a very fine grit sandpaper. It’s simple, but you need patience.

Where do you carry out the distressing? Natural wear occurs wherever the act of playing, storing or transporting the instrument causes damage. There are plenty of images online, or you could make a note of the effects your own style of playing has on various areas, for example:

  • where your hand rests on the body
  • where your fingers habitually rub the neck
  • either side of the strings (although not below them)
  • the upper part of the guitar, where your arm rests when strumming
  • just below the pickups, where your pick wears the lacquer away
  • around the control buttons
  • on the neck, between the frets

Before you begin, take all the metal parts off and, if at all possible, remove the neck altogether.

Most instruments are coated with polyurethane lacquer, some are coated with nitrocellulose, which is thinner and helps the guitar resonate. You need to remove the varnish in the places you want to create wear. Both types of finish are sensitive to sunlight and temperature differences, so you can stand the body in sunlight after you’ve carefully sanded the surface. When it’s hot, cool it down as quickly as you can. A freezer is ideal if yours is big enough. Then repeat the process until the finish starts to crack.

Alternatively, simply heat the parts of the body you want to look old with a hair dryer then cool it fast with a compressed air spray. If you hear a crack, don’t worry. It mean the process is working as it should. Just bear in mind it’s a bad idea to do this with the neck attached because you might bend it… potentially expensive to fix.

When you’re happy with the level of distressing, rub the instrument down with a damp cloth. While the un-lacquered parts will soon get grubby through natural wear as you play, you can use a dirty cloth to give the finish instant personality.

Road Worn Telecaster - Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer Road Worn Telecaster

Create a road worn guitar step 2 – Distressing the metal

You don’t have to distress the metal parts. But it goes a long way towards a fabulous final effect, playing an important part. First, take them off the body.  Then get busy creating damage. You can hit the parts with a brick or stone, or even concrete, to pit the surface and create a key for dirt to accumulate. Scratches are also good, exposing the metal underneath the shiny plated finish.

You can also rub the shine off with either a fine metal file, wet sandpaper or steel wool. If you want to take things further for a more dramatic look, you can dip them in bathroom cleaner, which is abrasive and often acid, and eats away the surface beautifully. Remember to check progress regularly so you don’t go too far. Twelve hours isn’t uncommon, so exercise patience. When it’s done, simply rinse the parts with soap and water.

Relic guitar creation step 3 – Distressing the plastic

This is the easiest bit. Take the plastic parts off the guitar body first, including the pick guard and pickup covers if you like. Then make random scratches and marks with a pair of scissors or a screwdriver to create places where dirt can accumulate.

Most pick guards have two or three layers, usually in different colours. So filing or sanding down the top layer will reveal the layers below, an enormously satisfying process.

White plastic looks great when it goes yellow, a sure sign of age. After sanding the surface you can get the effect with a small amount of dark oil-based wood stain, dotted onto a cotton rag or paper towel.  Clean off the excess with a clean cloth to leave a subtle stain that sits in the scratches you’ve made. Then add a coat of nitro lacquer tinted gloss to complete the yellowing process. An amber colour is just about perfect. Finally, spray the whole thing with a generous coat of clear gloss lacquer.

Leave everything to dry for a couple of days to make 100% sure it’s ready, strong and durable. Then re-assemble your instrument and you’re ready to play.

Rory Gallagher and his famous Stratocaster

Rory Gallagher and his iconic, road worn Stratocaster

How far can you go?

You can be as subtle or extreme as you like. You can go your own way and get creative, or take a leaf out of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s infamous book and create a copy of his knackered-looking and highly desirable, beat-up Number One Stratocaster, which looks so worn it’s amazing it still functions. But as we said, the look doesn’t affect the sound. In fact wear often delivers that unique personality that so many guitar lovers envy.

You can make your own relic Strat or a relic Les Paul, distress an acoustic instrument or age an electric guitar, create guitar bodies with subtle or dramatic wear. The world is your oyster and once you get the basics under your belt, it’s immensely satisfying. People make a great deal of money out of it, and it may even provide you with an extra income if you discover a hidden talent for making new and boring-looking models look just like vintage guitars.

How to age a guitar - 7 top resources

Here are some really good resources to help you create something special.

  1. How to Relic a Guitar - An excellent YouTube video
  2. A great guitar relicing website dedicated to the subject
  3. How to age an electric guitar
  4. Steve’s Guitar Site
  5. Wikihow on guitar relicing
  6. A great article about why to relic your guitar
  7. And finally, to whet your creative appetite, the absolutely inspirational Fender Custom Shop site, including galleries and collections, a shop and a section on master built masterpieces. The real deal from Fender’s craftsmen costs a fortune. But you can learn how…

Products to help you create your own epic custom guitars

Why not explore our special section full of cool products for distressing and ageing your guitar?

Black Wood Finishes – Sophisticated Decor Inside and Out

June 6th, 2014

There’s much more to décor than plain white. How about its diametric and dramatic opposite, black? It’s a simple way to achieve stunning, contemporary and highly unusual effects and it’s bang on trend. The shabby chic look can be dark as well as light, and the effects can be absolutely breathtaking.

As with any wood finishing project, it’s essential to do a small test patch first to make sure you’ll get the effect you’ve decided upon. Luckily many of the products we stock are available in small sample sizes, which makes it easy to test-drive different variations and get the very best result.

Stylish Black Wood Coffee Table

Here’s a detailed look at black wood finishes and a host of sophisticated black finish looks.

How to use black finishes for wood, black wood dye and more

How to achieve black semi translucent or opaque finishes on interior and exterior wooden surfaces? First, let’s look at the areas where black wood finishes really come into their own.

Black stains and other wood finishes are commonly used on interior and exterior wooden beams, decking, real wood flooring, engineered flooring and barns. But they’re fast becoming more popular on furniture, partly thanks to the hot trend for shabby chic design and up-cycling. Forget the nasty black ash veneer stuff so many of us bought from Argos in the late ’80s and early 1990s. Today’s contemporary trend is gentler, aiming for a more natural, softer look rather than cheap and spotlessly shiny.

You want to achieve that beautiful contemporary black finish. In this blog we’ll be tackling many of the common questions we get in relation to black wood finishes, to help you achieve the look you’ve been dreaming about. It’s time to bring it out of your mind’s eye and into reality.

What is a black wood finish?

First, you need to pin down the exact effect you’re looking for, which will be driven by the project in hand. Do you want to transform interior or exterior wood? Do you want a fabulously trendy and subtle black wash, where the gorgeous natural wood grain can still be clearly seen? Or a beautiful, deep, solid black where the wood’s natural texture is more or less obscured for a fine, even finish?

Beautiful black stains for wood – Water based wood stains and dyes

One highly popular way to achieve a cool black finish on interior wooden surfaces is to use Manns Water Based Black Wood Stain or dye.

  1. Manns Black Wood Dye is highly concentrated, perfect for an opaque black finish on flooring, furniture and so on. While it delivers a stunning deep black result, depending on the type of wood and how smooth it is, the texture and pattern – although not the colour or fine detail of the wood grain – can still be seen. The finished effect is visually interesting, letting the beauty of the wood shine through an opaque finish that’s wonderfully dark, dramatic and full of personality.
  2. Manns Black Wood Stain is similar to their excellent wood dye but more diluted, which means you get a lovely translucent finish where the grain of the wood can clearly be seen through the black stain.

Both products can be diluted with water – as much or as little as you like – to achieve any level of black, everything from a barely detectable wash to a gorgeous jet black effect. One thing to take note of: the brown stripes that make up the grain structure of certain woods do tend to show through. One way to subdue this and get rid of the brown altogether is to simply add another coat. The products’ flexibility means there’s a whole world of finishing effects at your fingertips, to suit every project and taste. And both products are remarkably easy to use, even if you’re a novice.

Black Wood Floor Stain

Do you need to seal black wood stain?

Does black wood stain need sealing? In a word, yes. Water based wood stains are simply pigments. So you need to seal the finished article with a wax, wood oil or wood varnish.

  • If you’ve stained furniture, doors, picture frames or even a black shabby chic mirror frame, you can use a clear wax to seal it.
  • If you’ve stained an object that needs a more durable finish than wax because it gets heavier wear, a varnish like Manns Extra Tough Clear Varnish or Manns Floor Varnish is perfect.

It’s worth bearing in mind that while wax polishes are very good at maintaining the colour of the black stain, varnishes and oils tend to take the edge off the colour so it ends up looking more like rich, exotic ebony.

An alternative to varnish on floors, table tops and other interior wooden surfaces is a hard wax oil like Osmo Polyx Oil or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. Both are impressively durable, easy to maintain and perfect for areas that demand a high level of protection against wear and tear.

Interior black wood oils – A host of fabulous black wood effects

Wood oils offer a good all-round solution. They’re easy to use, durable, easy to repair and with the right combination of products can produce a varied range of extremely attractive black wood effects. Black wood oils are available for both interior and exterior wood and are usually semi translucent, which means you can see the lovely grain through the colour, a finish that delivers depth, personality and plenty of visual interest.

For use on interior furniture, picture frames, doors and other surfaces that don’t suffer much wear and tear, we recommend:

  • Osmo Wood Wax Finish Creative 3169
  • Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3161, for a subtle brown/black finish
  • Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tint in Ebony, which also delivers a superb, rich brown/black finish

Wood oils are designed to be applied thinly and worked into the surface grain of the wood so 90% percent of the product sinks in and just 10% or so remains on the surface. As we mentioned when talking about white wood finishes in a previous post, it helps to treat it like sun cream - apply a small amount at a time and work it in until it disappears! If you apply too much, too quickly, you risk ending up with a streaky, uneven finish, obvious brush strokes and a finish that takes forever to dry. So chill… take it slow and easy.

Osmo’s advice is to finish coloured oils with a coat of clear oil, for a very good reason. When a floor becomes marked the clear finish gets marked first, rather than the colour itself. Which means scratches, scuffs and other marks are less noticeable.

While wood oils are easy to maintain and repair, applying two coats of black wood oil is still a good idea, especially if you want to create a particularly deep, strong shade.

Interior varnish – Black transforms kitchen cupboards, furniture and more

If you’re looking to transform your kitchen cupboards, furniture and picture frames and create a stunning opaque black finish, you can use black coloured varnish instead of an oil or stain.  Manns Water Based Black Varnish is opaque and available in a matt, satin or gloss finish. Being water based it is low odour and easy to apply with a brush or short microfibre roller.


Exterior black wood finishes – Beauty plus durability

The fantastic thing about black is that it provides brilliant contrast and considerable drama. Imagine a deep, rich black garden shed in contrast with the vibrant greens of the vegetation and the vivid shades of the flowers. Wow!

For exterior wooden surfaces like external doors, cladding, window frames and other types of exterior wood, Osmo Natural Oil Wood Stain 712 provides a luscious translucent brown / black finish. If you prefer an opaque finish, there’s Osmo Country Colour Ebony 2703 and Osmo One Coat Only HS Plus 9271.

Fancy opaque black decking? What about black exterior wooden beams, barns, stables, fences and wooden garage doors? We recommend one or two coats of Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver, which will help protect the wood from biological threats like mould, fungi, dry rot, woodworm and other wood related diseases as well as providing a great, solid black basecoat. Once it’s dry you can even over-coat it with either Osmo Black Decking Oil (Product Code 020) for decked areas or one of the other Osmo exterior wood oils for doors and exterior joinery. You can also use Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver on its own, which is more cost effective but less durable.

What about black shabby chic furniture?

Shabby chic décor also works beautifully with dark colours… and it looks fantastic. Imagine black chairs, a black table, black mirror frames and so on. The shabby chic look isn’t about achieving perfection. Quite the opposite – that’s where the ‘shabby’ bit comes in. So it’s perfect if you’re not quite 100% confident in your DIY abilities, a style where imperfections are a must, much more desirable than a seamless, perfect finish. For details about how to get the effect, see our special blog post on white wood finishes.

Black versus white – Which décor effect to choose?

How do you decide which shabby chic finish to go for? Here are three helpful tips:

  1. white brings items forward so they stand out more, black sends them backwards so they stand out less
  2. colours can look washed out against white, but they glow much more dramatically against black
  3. white makes things look bigger, black makes things look smaller

Want inspiration? Here’s a short list of places to go to see black shabby chic in action:

Alternatively, do a Google images search for visual inspiration. Or explore Pinterest.

Need help with your black stain, black wood finish or black wood dye project?

If you’re looking for the perfect black interior or exterior wood finish, our guide should help you make the right choice. If you’re still unsure or have any questions we haven’t answered, why not call our friendly team? We’re always pleased to help and we know our wood finishing products inside out. Just call us on FREEPHONE 0800 7818 123 or on our ordinary landline number 01303 487978.

How to Shabby Chic Furniture for a Stunning Contemporary Look

June 2nd, 2014

Not so long ago interior decoration was all about chilly, bleak minimalism. It suited the times, born of a pre-recession zeitgeist where everyone and his dog were investing in property, wealth was king and money seemed to flow like water. Then came the credit crunch and the banking crisis… and everything changed.

Minimalist hotel-style décor took a few post-recession years to disappear altogether, but it has finally died a death. Which means we can start getting creative with our interiors again. Shabby chic and French country styling are hot. People all over the nation are collecting beautiful recycled, vintage, retro, up-cycled and found objects, creating their own fabulous paint effects and coming up with some truly awesome DIY decorative ideas.

Shabby Chic Furniture

Home is where the heart is. Décor is fun again. And we’re selling more craft-oriented wood finishing products than ever, testament to the nation’s new, softer, more environmentally responsible, less money-grabbing mood.

Décor these days is less about status, more about personality. So how, exactly, do you shabby chic your furniture and other wooden objects and achieve ‘the look’?

How to shabby chic furniture

Before we start talking about how to create shabby chic décor, let’s have a quick look at what you can transform and where to get it.

The brown furniture market has been in the doldrums for years but things are starting to move again, with more of us are looking for born-again vintage furniture bargains, many of which are still as cheap as chips.

You can pick up a lovely 1930s Art Deco wardrobe for less than £50, something with much more character than a brand new Ikea alternative. Or you could shabby chic chairs – how about a set of 1970s bistro-style chairs, or a mixed batch of kitchen chairs, each in a different style, easy to find for as little as a tenner each? Then there are shabby chic mirrors, with the frames transformed from gruesome gilded or dark wood nightmares into something cool, contemporary and stylish.

Your best source of all this interior décor treasure? Your local auction house, nearest furniture-focused charity shop or furniture recycling outlet, Freecycle community or Ebay.

Shabby Chic Decor

What about colour? Obviously you need to decide on the colours before you start. Most shabby chic stuff focuses on so-called ‘heritage’ colours like creamy whites, grey-whites, green-whites duck egg blues and pale greens, but there are no rules. Anything goes. You can either be bold and use two contrasting colours, or go for a subtle effect using toning colours for a softer look. It’s entirely up to you. It’s worth Googling ‘shabby chic furniture’ then clicking on Google images for inspiration. Alternatively, base your colour scheme on your soft furnishings or the colour of your walls.

DIY for cheap shabby chic - 8 simple steps to interior design heaven

You’ve found a piece of furniture you want to shabby chic. Here’s how.

  1. Prepare the wood - Remove the existing wood finish to create a key so your new paintwork will stick properly to the surface. If the wood has been polished with wax, a wire wool pad plus turps or white spirit should do the trick. If it’s varnished, use sandpaper or a good quality paint and varnish remover.
  2. Apply a coat of water-based acrylic primer – This simply gives your furniture a smoother finish, easier to work on. Because it’s a shabby chic project, you don’t need to be neat. Even if you’re rubbish at painting, you’ll be fine. Have fun!
  3. Apply two layers of paint – Next you need a couple of thin layers of coloured water based acrylic paint. Let the first layer dry completely before adding the next one. You can also gently sand the first layer with very fine sandpaper, say 180 grit, to provide a better finish.
  4. If you just want plain, painted wood, just seal the paint with acrylic varnish then carry out the final step below. Then you’re done. But there’s more. If you want to go the whole hog and get involved with actually distressing furniture, we’ll look at that next.
  5. Distressing your painted wooden furniture -  Distressing furniture also involves the first two  steps above. But instead of applying two coats of the same colour, you create a two-colour distressed finish where the second layer is rubbed away to reveal the first for a ’natural’ wear and tear look. Again, acrylic water-based paint is perfect.
  6. Add your first colour and let it dry completely. Now for the clever bit. You simply dab streaks of clear furniture wax where you want the wood to look distressed. You can use a paintbrush to apply the wax, or cloth, or a small sponge – a kitchen sponge will do. Or even your fingers. The wax repels the second layer of paint, letting the base colour show through. You need to paint the second layer of paint over the whole thing, wax included. Let it dry, then wipe the furniture with a soft cotton cloth to take the paint off the waxed areas, leaving a brilliant effect that looks as though it’s just come out of a posh interior décor shop.
  7. Not distressed enough? You can attack the pre-painted furniture with wire wool or sandpaper, scrape it with a large nail or even bash it with a hammer to take off the paint as deep as wood level. If you go wrong, just paint over it, or wax and paint it again. The most difficult part of the job is to make the distressed effect random, avoiding creating a pattern of any kind. As natural pattern-seekers, humans find it difficult to ‘do’ random. But luckily it’s more or less impossible to get the shabby chic look wrong.
  8. And finally… the finish - All you need is some good quality clear wax furniture polish. This delivers a lovely lustre as well as protecting the surface. You don’t need varnish.

Creative ideas

You might want to create an entire shabby chic bedroom, with matching or contrasting paint jobs on your bed, wardrobe, chairs, dressing tables or even modern fitted wardrobes. You can even create the effect on wooden doors.

Shabby Chic Door

You may prefer to take it easy and mix ‘n’ match plain wooden furniture with distressed pieces for that popular eclectic look. You can use bold, bright Mediterranean and Mexican colours to make a big, bright impact. Or stick to cool, subtle shades, for example a collection of different blues, creams, lilacs or greens.

For a final splash of colour, you can add applique images. Here’s an idea: buy a second hand book about butterflies, ferns, birds or flowers from a charity shop. Cut out a handful of beautiful pictures, for example a host of gorgeous butterflies or a flock of birds. Glue them onto your furniture with PVA glue after you’ve completed the paint effects but before you wax it. If they stand out too much, paint a watered-down layer of your top coat colour to mute the colours and blend them in with the background. Then wax over the top once everything is 100% dry.

Shabby Chic Picture Frame

We have a whole department of wood finishing products dedicated to crafts. Why not visit and see what fires your imagination?