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.
Do you need to seal black wood stain?
- 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 Interior Varnish or Manns Extra Tough 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 Transparent for a subtle brown/black finish.
- Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints 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 Classic Interior Paint is a varnish based interior paint that dries to a soft sheen finish. If more of a satin or gloss sheen is required, it can be over-coated with either a Manns satin or gloss clear varnish, it can also be taken down to a matt finish by over-coating with Manns clear matt varnish. Being water-based they are low odour and easy to apply with a brush or 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 provides a luscious translucent brown / black finish. If you prefer an opaque finish, there’s Osmo Country Colour in Charcoal (2703) or perhaps Anthracite Grey (2716).
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 base coat. Once it’s dry you can even over-coat it with either Osmo Decking Oil (Black 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 hints:
- White brings items forward so they stand out more, black sends them backwards so they stand out less.
- Colours can look washed out against white, but they glow much more dramatically against black.
- 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:
- Nicky Cornell
- Classics Direct
- La Maison Chic
- The French Bedroom Company
- How to Create Shabby Chic Furniture – A great video on YouTube
Alternatively, do a Google Images search for visual inspiration. Or explore Pinterest.
If you’re looking for the perfect black interior or exterior wood finish, our guide should hopefully help you make the right choice. If you’re still unsure or have any questions we haven’t answered, why not call our friendly experts? They are always on-hand to offer help and advice.