How To Guides

Wood Floor Adhesive Shouldn’t Be a Sticky Subject

Monday, March 4th, 2019

Now that you’ve decided a wooden floor will be the finishing touch for your room, it’s time to think about installing it. The process of installing wood floors requires more preparation than any other type of flooring, so it’s important to know the basics.

Sub-Floor Preparation

Acclimatise your wooden boards in the room they’re going to be laid in for up to a week before you’re going to lay them. The conditions in the room are unique and the wood needs to get used to being in these conditions, otherwise it could shrink or contract after you’ve laid them.

Make sure the entire area is smooth and level, even and dry. If it’s newly laid concrete, make sure it is fully dried out and cured- this can take upwards of a week. Fix any screws and nails firmly below the surface. This gives the best possible platform for your adhesive and ultimately your wooden flooring. Remove your skirting boards as these can always be replaced or re-installed after the flooring has been laid for the best possible fit. Make sure there’s no dust or debris left in this area by hoovering the area thoroughly.

Check your sub-floor’s moisture content using a moisture meter in several places: the middle of the room, in a corner, making sure the points are well spaced out. This will get you an accurate, even measurement. You’ll get a Relative Humidity (RH) reading. This reading needs to be below 65% or you will have to use a Damp Proof Membrane (DPM). A DPM acts as a highly effective barrier against moisture. Excess moisture will prevent adhesives from drying and can cause cupping or raising in your floorboards. Bona R410 is a two-part epoxy resin DPM, which is highly effective and quick-drying, can also be used over bitumen, which commonly was used to fix down parquet and other types of block flooring. It also strengthens your subfloor for long lasting adhesion.

The Right Tools for the Job

Getting the right flooring adhesive for the job is key. Choose the wrong one and floor planks could start to squeak, move around or eventually come away from the sub-floor as the adhesive fails. All of the following floor adhesives are virtually solvent and water free, so there won’t be any odours or V.O.C’s escaping into the room after installation.

Finger parquet and very narrow solid boards (less than 190mm in width)

Bona R848 Adhesive is a one-component, silane-based flexible flooring adhesive. It has high initial bonding strength, which reduces potential for hollow spots which is perfect for smaller, narrower boards which will move more under foot traffic.

Solid wood and engineered flooring (between 190mm – 400mm wide)

Bona R850 Wood Floor Adhesive, a silane-based, elastic flooring adhesive or Osmo MS Wooden Floor Adhesive, a polymer-based floor adhesive. Both of these are perfect for the installation of solid and engineered wood flooring but widely used as a universal product for most flooring types. Both are high strength and medium elasticity, remaining flexible for seasonal expansion and contraction of floor boards.

End-grain/ultra-wide (400mm+)/resinous tropical woods

With it’s very high strength and little elasticity, Bona Titan is one of the strongest wood flooring adhesives currently on the market. It has very high bonding strength and high initial grab, making it suitable for all physically sound subfloors.

Wooden stairs, skirting boards and door thresholds

Bona R880 is a soft elastic, silane-based adhesive in a mastic tube for easier application.

It is worth mentioning that high strength adhesives, such as Bona Titan put a lot of stress on the subfloor, as opposed to the flexible, silane-based products like Bona R850. So good sub-floor preparation is vital. More information can be found on our product pages for each of these products. Alternatively, see our FAQ page for wood glues and adhesives.

For more information, Contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your flooring installation photos with us, you can either email them to us or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Show your love with a handmade Valentine’s gift

Monday, February 4th, 2019

With less than 2 weeks until Valentine’s day, the shop shelves are brimming with cards, cuddly toys, and about anything else that will tempt those that have forgotten about, or left Valentine’s Day to the very last minute, to part with their hard earned cash.

Valentines gifts in-store to temp last minute shoppers
Valentine’s gifts in-store to tempt last minute shoppers

According to one piece of research, spending on Valentine’s gifts in the UK has increased from £460 million in 2015 to an estimated £650 million in 2018. That’s an increase of £190 million or over 41% in just 3 years.

What will you be giving this Valentine’s Day? Will it be flowers, chocolates or something more extravagant? Although there’s virtually no end to the list of gift possibilities, many Valentine’s gifts are expensive, cheaply produced and often, forgotten about from one year to the next. This year, why not break from tradition and come up with something that is relatively cheap, takes just a couple of hours to make, and is likely to hold pride of place in your home for years to come. After all, nothing shows your love more than a personalised gift.

In terms of skill, we class this project as ‘easy’ as all that is required is a little sawing, some gluing, the ability to cut out a stencil and some simple painting.  

What are we going to create?

In short, it’s a wonderfully simple yet rustic looking heart picture painted on to reclaimed wooden pallet slats. The finished article produces a pleasing weathered, Shabby Chic or even drift wood appearance. The beauty of this piece is that it can be as big or small as you please so that it fits in with the décor of any sized room, be it the bathroom, bedroom, hallway or lounge.

What will you need?

How is it done?

  1. Start by cutting the pallet slats to length. For our picture we cut 3 pieces of wood to 36cm or around 14 inch lengths. We cut 2 additional pieces for sticking to the rear which hold the picture together. This project can be scaled up or down as much as you please.
Sawing pallet slats to length

2. Sand the pallet slats smooth with P120 & P240 grit sandpaper sheets, paying attention to the edges and ends to remove rough edges and splinters. Once sanded, we recommend to wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove all traces of sanding dust prior to painting, then allow to dry.

3. Glue the pallet slats together using 2 more slats running in the opposite direction across the back with a strong PVA glue.

Applying PVA glue to pallet slats

4. Paint the front side and edges of the panel with 2 coats of Manns Classic Interior Paint in ‘Fresh Cotton White’, using a synthetic bristle brush.

Applying Manns Interior Classic Paint with a Synthetic Bristle Brush

5. Allow the paint to fully dry then lightly sand the painted surface with p240 grit sandpaper to give it the slightly distressed or ‘Shabby Chic’ look. The level of distressing depends on how aged or weathered you want the final item to look. For a more worn or distressed look, simply sand the white painted area more or by using a coarser 120 or even an 80 grit sandpaper.

6. Fix the heart shaped stencil in place using masking tape or other suitable fixing tape. As the Manns Interior Classic Paint is super durable, the tape is unlikely to mark the finish.

Stick the heart shaped stencil to the wooden pallet slats with masking tape

7. Paint the stencilled heart shape with Manns Classic Interior Paint, ‘Leather Bound’, by dabbing the paint over the stencilled area with the foam sponge.

Applying the Manns Classic Interior Paint by dabbing with a sponge

8. Gently brush inwards from the edges of the stencil to ensure a nice crisp edge to the stencilled heart area. If you are confident enough, the piece can be personalised further by adding either a stencilled or written message.

Gently brush inwards from the stencil edge for a crisp edge to the heart shape

9. Allow the paint to fully dry then gently remove the stencil from the surface of the wood. Although not essential, the picture can then be coated with a clear or coloured wood wax to give it a waxy character and a more aged look.

Waxing the wood with Liberon Wax Polish Paste Black Bison (Maple)


And as the claimed most romantic nation on the planet would say “Voila”, a master piece good enough to be hung at the Louvre in Paris.

The whole project, including drying time should only take 4 or 5 hours. Exclude the drying time, and the actual working time is going to be more like an hour to 90 mins, hardly any time at all for the one you Love.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project, wood crafts included. If you would like to share them with us, you can either email us your photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Valentines craft made by Wood Finishes Direct
Items used to make this Valentine’s Gift

Here to help

Need some help or advice on which products to use on your wood finishing projects? Contact our team of resident experts who are on hand to answer any questions you have about your project and which products to use.

The Ultimate Guide to Wooden Beam Restoration

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Love them or hate them, exposed wooden beams can make or break the aesthetic of your home. Whether they’re tired and need of an uplift, or previously coated and won’t match the new décor. Whether it’s creating a striking contrast against the pristine, painted walls and ceilings or having a centrepiece for your open plan kitchen. Properly treating old oak beams will add heaps of character giving your home the traditional, rustic farmhouse look it deserves.

New wood beams used to replace old in restoration project
New wood beams used in a restoration project

Stripping Wood Beams

To restore the rustic, authentic look, it is always advised to strip back and remove paint and other old finishes from wood beams, where possible. This gives you a blank canvas to work with and the best possible result with a plethora of options at your disposal. Products such as Paint Panther or Nitromors are fast acting, traditional paint strippers which will make light work of most coatings. A test area to confirm suitability is a must. If you’re in need of something stronger, ‘Peelaway’ paint and varnish remover is your next best bet. We recommend doing a test with the Peel away sample pack to determine variables such as application thickness and working time is recommended. Follow up with some sanding to further prepare the area for refinishing and you’re ready for treating your old wood beams.

Stripping Oak Beams

It’s worth noting that using Peelaway 1 on Oak is likely to cause some discolouration of the timber so it’s advised to only use the Peelaway 7 formulation.

Finishing Wooden Beams

If you’re looking to create a striking, rugged look against a backdrop of painted walls, or colour matching to flooring or other wood in the area, you’re going to need to apply a product with a splash of colour in it. A great place to start is a wood stain. Manns Classic Oak Wood Stain is a water-based wood stain, the perfect treatment for Oak beams. Liberon Palette Wood Dye is a water-based, acrylic wood dye, which gives a more saturated colour for the wood, whilst still showing the beauty of the wood grain. These products should then be sealed with an appropriate wood varnish or wood oil. For minimal colour changes once the top coat is applied, we recommend using a wood wax.

Restored rustic Oak beams
Restored Oak beams in a large kitchen setting

Using Oil and Wax for Wooden Beams

Alternatively, two-in-one products such as Osmo Polyx Oil Tints get the job done by sealing, protecting and colouring with an attractive range of wood tones. For a more rustic look, consider a coloured wax, such as Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish. It has a wide range of colours to truly make the woodwork stand out. For an aged look, why not try Liberon Black Patinating Wax which is made to make new, untreated wood look aged and give it a rugged sense of timelessness.

Clear Finishes for Wood Beams

If colour changes aren’t your thing and you’re looking to just emphasise the natural colour and beauty of the wood, clear oils such as hard wax oils are fantastic for sealing and protecting whilst showing-off the grain of the beautiful beams. A more traditional route is also available in the shape of Linseed oil, Danish oil or Liberon Finishing Oil which will nourish and protect just as well as their modern cousins.

New wood beams treated with wood wax
New wood beams in a new construction treated with a coloured wood oil

Once you’re done, stand back and marvel at the exposed skeleton of your home and the bags of character it now has!

Need help treating new or old wooden beams?

If you’re about to restore your old wooden beams or matching new ones to older woodwork and have unanswered questions, check out our wooden beams FAQ page. Alternatively, you can contact our in-house experts by phone or email for more specific project advice on which products can be used.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project, wooden beams included. If you would like to share them with us, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

The Essential Guide to Wood Colour

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Wood Finishes Direct are about wood colour. From the shade of a fruit bowl to the colour of a mile long fence, sheds and other wooden fixtures including furniture, floors, doors and more.

It’s simple right? You have your new or freshly sanded floor or piece of wooden furniture, you choose the clear or coloured stain, varnish or wood oil you like – job done! If only it were that simple…

Wood is unique. It’s unlike almost any other type of surface or as some would say, substrate. Why? Wood is a natural organism and although it could be said that a tree is a tree, it could also be said that a person is a person and therefore shouldn’t be any different to anyone else.


Trees are complex

There are thousands of tree species around the world and potentially dozens if not hundreds of variants within species. For example, an American White Oak tree, is very different to an English Oak in terms of wood colour and grain structure. Environmental conditions can also have a huge impact on trees of the same species, even if they grow in a similar location. For example, the density, structure and colour of the timber from a Pine tree that grows in a darker, wetter part of the woods will differ from a Pine tree that grows in a lighter, drier part of the same woods. The age of a tree also affects the wood colour, density and structure of the timber. In short – No 2 trees are the same.


How does this affect wood colour?

All timbers, regardless of age, species, density and growing conditions have their own unique characteristics. For example, pine timbers can typically look pale and neutral when freshly sanded, the timber however, depending on species, inherently has a reddish, pink or yellowy characteristic. This often results in freshly sanded pine floors, turning a golden orange or yellow colour when treated with a ‘clear’ wood oil or varnish. In the same way, the natural timber colouration will influence the final colour of any coloured wood finish. For example, a natural cocoa brown stain will take on a warmer, golden-brown appearance when applied to pine.

Keeping it natural

The good news is that for lighter wood species such as pine, there are a range of products that have been specifically designed to help counteract the darkening or colour enhancing effects usually associated with clear wood finishes. These wood finishes tend to contain a very small amount of white pigment which helps to retain the natural, untreated look of lighter coloured woods. These products however are usually not recommended for dark woods as they can leave a slightly milky looking appearance on the darker, contrasting grain of the timber.

So, what does this all mean?

Simply put, it means that no two pieces of wood are the same. This can make things complicated when it comes to wood finishes and especially coloured wood finishes. The simplest way to explain this is if you paint green on white paper, the result is green paper. Paint green on red paper and you get brown(ish) paper. Apply the same medium oak wood finish to a piece of pine, beech and oak and you’ll get 3 different results.


Different planks of wood treated with the same wood finish

Red is Red. Right?

To demonstrate the point that the final finish is dependent on the type, age and condition of the wood, we applied the same red wood dye to 3 different pieces of wood and scanned the results.


This experiment shows how the same wood finishing product, regardless of colour, will give very different results on pine, oak and particle-board. Colour would differ again if applied to beech, mahogany and larch for example. This shows the importance of always doing a test area before starting any project to assess product suitability, colour and final finish.

Other factors to consider…

When looking at or choosing a wood stain, coloured varnish or wood oil for a project, there are several things to consider.

Firstly, is the timber to be stained smooth or rough sawn? Rough sawn timber has a more open grain structure than sanded wood therefore allowing for deeper penetration of the wood finish. This will result in a considerably deeper, darker finish than if applied to a sanded piece of wood. When sanding wood, the coarseness of the grit will have an effect. Wood sanded with an 80-grit sandpaper will take on more stain than wood sanded with a 240-grit sandpaper. (Typically, furniture and floors are usually sanded to around 120 – 150-grit on their final sanding).

Secondly, monitor or screen calibration. Viewing colours on a computer monitor for anything should never be taken as gospel as every type of screen and monitor is calibrated differently in terms of colour, contrast and brightness. Look at the same product be it a jumper, watch strap or paint swatch on various monitors, laptop screens and mobile phones and they will all reproduce a slightly different colour tone or shade. These images should only be used as a colour guide rather than a true representation of the actual product colour.

And lastly, individual eyesite. Many of us like to think that we have perfect or at least good vision, and believe that what we see is what everyone else sees. Truth is, just like computer monitors and other screens, our own perception of colour tone and strength is individual to us. One person might see black whilst another may see a very deep blue or purple. Who is correct?

Our expert advice

Getting the right wood colour for a project comes down to knowing and understanding what type of wood you have, how it has been prepared (sanded) and by testing various products to get the desired effect, before starting any project. The following tips and advice will help you to avoid many of the most common issues and help you to achieve the perfect finish.

  • It’s far easier to make a lighter wood darker than a dark wood lighter. For example, it’s best to avoid trying to make Mahogany look like Oak
  • Where possible, For the classiest effect, use clear coats. They enhance the wood grain, patterns and structure of the wood
  • Wet the wood with a new or clean dampened sponge (not one contaminated with detergent, bleach or other chemicals). How the wood looks when damp is a good indication of how the wood will look when a clear wood oil or varnish is applied
  • Take care when over-coating white finishes such as white wood stains, oils, waxes and paints. Be mindful that clear coats give white finishes an off-white, yellowy or aged look due to light reflecting off the white and refracting through the clear coat. If this look is exactly what you are looking for then a clear-coat is perfect. To retain the whiteness of a finish we recommend a suitable product that is designed to retain the ‘raw’ or ‘untreated’ look of wood
  • Ignore the names given to colour swatches and go by the visual appeal of the wood colour. Compare a medium oak colour swatch from 6 different companies and its pretty certain that they will all be different
  • Know which wood species you are working with. This will help when seeking advice on which wood finish to use
  • In the same way as paint swatches from DIY shops, ours are there to serve as a guide only and do not guarantee the final wood colour
  • Always do a test area on the wood that is to be treated be it an off-cut or in an inconspicuous area. For floors, do a test area in a corner, on a floorboard where a rug or piece of furniture will be, or somewhere that can be sanded again if required. For furniture, use the underside of a table, chair or again somewhere that can be sanded again if required. Testing a product on a different piece or type of wood will give a different result
  • Always be aware that the type, colour and condition of the wood will always have an influence on the final wood colour and finish
  • Take care when sanding wood. Wood that has been sanded evenly will produce a more even colour. Poorly sanded wood is likely to produce a more patchy, uneven finish
  • Accept the natural characteristics of the wood. Lighter and darker patches are a feature of natural looking wood
  • Work with nature and success is more likely
  • Lastly, did we mention the importance of always doing test areas?


Getting the best advice and product recommendations

With over 200 years of combined experience in the wood finishing field, Wood Finishes Direct know a thing or two about wood colour and the best type of finishes to use to achieve a particular look or style. Contact our team of resident experts, who are on hand 7 days a week to answer any questions or queries that you have about your project.

Which Wood Finish Applicator is Best?

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Here at Wood Finishes Direct, one of the most common issues we get is when customers hire a painter and decorator to apply a wood oil, stain, varnish or wax. Whilst these professionals are undoubtedly skilled and equipped to apply paint to walls, doors and other interior and exterior surfaces, the same can’t always be said for wood finishing products.

With the exception of varnishes, lacquers and paints, most wood finishes are designed to penetrate into the surface of the wood to nourish and feed the timber. The key to a professional finish is using the correct type of applicator and application method. To help you pick the right tools for the job, we’ve produced a handy infographic which explains which applicators are best for various finishing products and projects.


Recommended Natural Bristle Brushes

For areas big and small, these natural bristle brushes are perfect for use with a wide range of solvent-based and oil-based products.

Recommended Synthetic Bristle Brushes

Perfect for water-based and thicker products such as paints and varnishes.

Recommended Rollers

Ideal for applying a wide range of water, solvent and oil-based wood finishing products to larger areas including walls and floors.

Recommended Paint Pads

A modern alternative to paint brushes and rollers. Paint pads offer excellent control, coverage and are compatible with most wood finishing products.

Recommended T-Bar Floor Applicators

The applicator of choice for professional floor finishers. T-bar applicators are best suited to larger floor areas.

Recommended Disposable Applicators

Ideal for arts, crafts and small domestic projects. These cheap, disposable applicators are designed for single use so no need to clean.

Recommended Application Cloths

Wipe on, wipe off. These high quality cloths are colour and lint free meaning no fibres trapped in your oil finish. Ideal for applying a wide range of wood oils and wood stains.

Recommended Application Blades and Knifes

Predominantly used by professional floor finishers, application blades are used to apply oil stains and other oil-based products to large areas. Flexible filler knifes are a must for applying a wide range of wood fillers.

So there you have it. Whether applying a wood oil, wax or other type of finish, you can now be confident in picking the applicator that best suits your needs – Happy DIYing!

Need help choosing an applicator?

From decking to doors, picture frames to floors, we have an applicator that’s right for your choice of product and project. If you’re unsure about which applicator is right for you contact our team of in-house experts who are on hand to help you pick the right brush, roller or other applicator.

How to Clean & Maintain Wood Floors – The Essential Guide

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Wooden floors can be the highlight of any home. The natural strength and beauty of wood has been used for centuries and to this day, remains the material of choice for flooring.

If you’ve stripped back an old Victorian floor, had new solid wood or engineered flooring installed, or even used reclaimed boards, looking after and maintaining them once they’ve been oiled or varnished is key. It’s a simple fact that wooden floor finishes that have been well maintained will look better and last much longer than those that have not.

So, what is the best way to look after and maintain a wooden floor? Well you’ll be pleased to know that it’s not that difficult and doesn’t require a great deal of work. To help we’ve produced a lovely infographic guide to help you keep your wooden floors looking amazing.


We hope that the above guide will set you on the path to wood floor heaven but to help further, here are some of our floor care product recommendations.

Cleaning oiled wooden floors

Oiled floors should be cleaned with a dedicated pH balanced wood floor cleaner to protect and preserve the finish. Using domestic household cleaners can actually degrade or strip oil finishes from floors over time as they are designed to break down oil and grease. Floor cleaners are available in both ready-to-use and concentrated formulations that are diluted with water. Here are some of our most popular oiled floor cleaners: –

Maintaining oiled wooden floors

Maintaining the finish of oiled floors is both quick and easy with the right maintenance products. Even areas that have become dull or worn in high traffic areas can be easily restored without the need for sanding. Here are some great floor maintenance products that will keep oiled floors looking like new.

Cleaning varnished wooden floors

Stubborn scuff marks and surface dirt are a common issue with varnished floors. Using the right floor cleaner will help to remove these marks whilst retaining and protecting the varnish finish.

Maintaining varnished wooden floors

  • Bona Freshen Up: A ready-to-use, waterborne maintenance coating for use on interior varnished floors
  • Bona Wood Floor Refresher: A ready-to-use, water-borne maintenance coating for previously varnished or painted wooden floors
  • Bona Polish: An all-in-one maintenance coating for interior wooden floors.
    Creates a durable wear layer suitable for heavy foot traffic

Wood Floor Mops

Specialist floor mops offer a convenient and effective way to clean and maintain wooden floors. Some have interchangeable, Velcro backed cleaning heads, others have built in refillable cartridges that contain cleaning solutions, and some have both. Here are some of the more popular wooden floor mops on the market.

Need help with your wood floor?

Need to speak with an expert? Our resident floor care experts are on hand to offer free advice on the best way to clean and maintain your wooden floors. If you have a question or query on which is the best wood floor mop for your floor, contact us here.

Garden Gates – The Essential Guide

Friday, May 26th, 2017

The humble garden gate – It’s easy to think of them as just a necessary fixture of the garden, a continuation of the garden fence or wall and merely a point of entry and exit. In reality however, they enhance the aesthetic appeal of a property or garden by adding character, colour and style. The gate is often the first thing visitors see and its appearance can define someones expectation of what lies beyond by giving a good or bad first impression.


Shutterstock | By Happy cake Happy cafe

Which garden gate to choose

Choosing a garden gate largely depends on the style and intended purpose. For some, a small white picket style gate that blends in seamlessly with the fence provides a traditional country cottage look. For others, something altogether more sturdy and secure that provides a higher level of privacy and security may be what is needed.


Shutterstock | By Chrislofotos

Types of gate

Essentially, garden gates tend to be made from one of two materials, wood or metal. Metal gates come in a variety of shapes and styles. Although straight angular designs are available, metal gates traditionally tend to be more ornate in nature with symmetrical twists and curves in the metal work.

In terms of size, it depends on the size of the opening. From the standard garden gate and side gate to the altogether more impressive estate and driveway gates. They can be as small and simple or as big and impressive as can be imagined.

New metal gates

Deciding on whether to invest in a new metal garden gate largely depends on budget and the type or style of gate required. Modern metal gates can be picked up from many of the major DIY chains relatively cheaply, in many cases for as little as £40. High quality metal gates can cost hundreds of pounds or more for bespoke designs and materials.

Metal gate restoration

Reclaimed metal gates, usually constructed out of Wrought Iron can be purchased from around £50 upwards. Depending on size and style, and if they are sold ‘as is’ or have been lovingly restored, reclaimed gates can run into the hundreds or even thousands of pounds. The beauty of an old metal gate is that it can be taken on as a home DIY project. They can be sanded back with an abrasive paper or wire brush to remove rust and other loose surface material. Once returned to clean metal they can be treated with a rust treatment if required and painted with a suitable exterior metal paint, or other treatment such as Hammerite.


Shutterstock | By Kent Taylor

If getting your hands dirty isn’t for you, there are companies who can be found online that offer sand or shot blasting services. This takes old gates back to bare metal by removing all traces of rust, corrosion and previous surface coatings. Some provide professional refinishing or coating services or are happy to send the stripped gates back to the owner for painting.

Wooden garden gates

Wood has been used in gates for centuries, think of castle draw bridges, ancient church gates and doors. This all proves that wooden garden gates can last as long if not longer than a metal one if well maintained. For some, keeping it wooden reinforces the connection with nature and the surrounding plants and trees.

New wooden gates

As with metal gates, wooden garden gates can be bought off the shelf at any number off online and high street retailers. Costs can vary dramatically depending on the size, style, type and grade of the wood used. For a budget garden gate, look to spend around £30 to £50. For a budget full height side gate, usually around 1.8mtrs tall, look at spending around £70 to £100. At the other end of the spectrum, an off the shelf premium garden gate usually costs between £80 and £160 with full height premium side gates costing anything up to the £250 mark.


Shutterstock | By jacqueline moore

Basic estate and driveway gates can range from £200 upwards, again depending on size, style and construction. High end versions can cost thousands.

Gate care and maintenance

Having spent your hard earned cash on the perfect gate for your garden, it makes sense to ensure that your investment is given the best protection to keep it looking good for as long as possible. If well maintained there’s no reason why a good quality wooden gate wouldn’t last a lifetime.

Almost all new garden gates are tanalised or pressure treated to protect the timber against wood rot and insect attack. This said, these treatments don’t provide all-round protection against weathering. Weather erosion and UV rays will slowly degrade the effectiveness of these treatments eventually rendering them ineffective. Whether made from a softwood or hardwood, treating the timber with a wood preservative and a top coat of oil, stain, paint or varnish will protect the wood for years.

If the gate is to be kept natural where the wood is clearly visible, our recommendation is to overcoat any preservative treatment with a clear exterior wood oil or decking oil. These products tend to contain a blend of wood oils, waxes and resins that penetrate into the wood grain to provide excellent protection against water ingress. Many of these products also contain UV filters which help to retain the natural colour of the timber for longer, delaying the onset of the grey, weathered look.

Garden gate paint

If painting a wooden gate to add character is on your agenda, it’s important to ensure that any wood preservative used beforehand is wax, oil and silicon free. Many garden paints are water based and any pre-treatment that contains wax, oil or silicon will simply repel the paint from the wood.

An alternative to painting is using a pigmented or coloured exterior wood oil. These are available in both semi-translucent and opaque finishes and work perfectly well over wood preservatives that contain wax or oil.


Shutterstock | By Natalia Dobryanskaya

Wood Stains

Applying an exterior wood stain to a wooden gate is a great way of retaining the natural grain of the timber while changing the colour to give a desired effect. For example, a light coloured softwood gate can be stained and sealed to give the colour appearance of Mahogany, Teak, Rosewood or Walnut. Wood stains such as Sadolin and Sikkens are designed to provide excellent colour and long lasting protection to exterior joinery and wood. Ideally suited to smooth planed timber rather than rough sawn wood, a key feature of these varnish-like stains is that they can be maintained over the years by cleaning and re-coating when the finish starts to look dull or tired.

Why oil wooden gates?

As with any other garden wood such as sheds, fences and decking, it’s always a good idea to oil the wood as part of a yearly garden maintenance program. Why? Simply speaking, wood oils penetrate in to the wood grain to replace the natural oils lost over time. This helps to keep the wood nourished and flexible, helping to prevent or reduce cracking, warping and splitting. In addition, many exterior wood oils and decking oils contain UV filters that help to protect the timber from the bleaching effect of the sun.

Another benefit of using wood oils is that they help to prevent water ingress, a common cause of mould, algae and wood rot.

Wooden gate restoration

Old wooden gates that have turned grey or silver over time can usually be restored, as long as they’re not rotten and falling apart. Follow these simple steps to give old wooden garden gates a new lease of life.

  • Remove any old coatings such as paint or varnish with a paint stripper or by sanding
  • Treat any green or black areas with a suitable mould and mildew cleaner
  • To restore the colour of timber that has turned grey or silver over time, use a wood reviver and restorer and scrub in to the surface of the wood grain with a stiff brush or scotch pad
  • Rinse off the wood reviver with water, following the manufacturer’s instructions at all times
  • Treat the gate with a suitable exterior wood preservative remembering that if the gate is going to be painted or treated with a water based product, the preservative must be wax, oil and silicon free
  • Apply a clear or coloured exterior wood oil, decking oil, exterior wood stain or paint

Top Tips

  • Wooden and metal garden gates must be clean, dry and free from surface dirt, grease and other surface contaminates before treating, coating or painting. Wiping the gate down with White Spirit or Methylated Spirit is a great way to de-grease the surface before treating
  • Wooden gates should be allowed to dry for several days to allow any moisture in the wood to evaporate before treating
  • Most paints and wood finishing products require an ambient air temperature of 10? or above to aid application and work effectively
  • Do not paint or treat garden gates if frost or rain is likely within the next 48 hours

Need help from an expert?

If you have a new or old garden gate and are unsure of how to tackle the project, give our resident experts a call. They’re here to help and best of all, our expert advice is free.

Small Garden Design Guide

Friday, May 20th, 2016

With literally thousands of books and websites offering large and small garden design guides, there’s certainly no shortage of great ideas to update and transform your outdoor living spaces. Although large scale renovation guides are great, sometimes all that’s needed are a few easy to follow principles to start you off down the garden path of discovery and creativity.

Take it from the experts – The small garden design guide

This week we’re sharing an infographic from called the ‘Small Garden Design Guide’. This handy visual provides some quick and easy wins for creating more space and achieving the garden of your dreams on a budget. Created with advice from six of London’s top garden designers, it gives their top tips for creating a visually impressive space in even the smallest of gardens.

So, if you’ve been procrastinating over what to do in the garden, it’s time to get those hands dirty and let the creative juices flow.

Small Garden Design Guide


Now although we can’t help with the patio or potted plants, we certainly can when it comes to protecting, preserving and even colouring your garden shed, fences and wooden garden furniture. From wood oils to stains, varnishes to paints we have everything you’ll need to help with your garden transformation.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re unsure of what products you need for your garden projects, give our team of resident experts a call.* They’re always on hand to give expert help and advice.

At Wood Finishes Direct we love to see how your projects have turned out. If you’ve been working hard to revive, renovate or restore a garden shed, decking or garden furniture, and are happy to share your photos with us and our community of followers, simply send us an email with your photos or share on our Twitter and Facebook pages by clicking on the social share buttons below.

*Call us or pop in to our shop 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday : Saturday 8am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 6pm.

How To Preserve a Fence Panel So it Will Last! – Ronseal Total Wood Preserver.

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Are you looking for a High Quality, Great Value Wood Preserver? Then The Total Wood Preservative from Ronseal is an ideal solution. A suitable Preservative for both rough and smooth timber. Coming in a clear version that is suitable to be used on interior and exterior projects and a coloured version that is suitable for exterior use only

Ronseal Total Wood Preserver Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Ben O’Reilly From Wood Finishes Direct and Welcome to the Product Test and How to Video Guide in this video i’m going to be trying out The Total Wood Preservative from Ronseal. It’s a great preservative treatment that helps prevent, rot, decay, woodworm and fungus that can cause discoloration such as blue stain.

The coloured Ronseal Total Wood Preserver comes in black, green, light brown and dark brown. It is suitable for both rough sawn and smooth planed timber alike. However, it is only suitable for exterior use. It has a slight wax content which helps with water run off. However, if you want increased durability and weatherproofing, you will have to use a suitable clear exterior wood oil.

Today, however, I will be applying The Ronseal Total Wood Preserver in clear, this one is not just suitable for exterior work it’s actually suitable for interior jobs as well. It again can be used on rough sawn and smooth planed timber, this one however, does not contain any wax, so that means its not just suitable for wood oils, it can also be used with surface finishes as well, for example varnishes and paints.

Firstly i’m going to be applying to this rough sawn fence panel here, just make sure that any area to be treated is free of any other finishes and is clean and dry. I will be using The Ronseal Fence Life Brush, its large head and soft bristles are great for applying paints, oils and preservatives. When applying the Ronseal Total Wood Preserver, take special care, make sure you wear protective equipment, and do so in a well ventilated area. firstly, mix the preservative well, and pour into your paint tray. Then to apply brush it on in long even strokes and work a plank at a time.

After you have finished applying make sure you do clean your brush out immediately with white spirit.

I left it 24 hours before applying another coat, and it hasn’t changed the colour of the wood at all. You will need to do a minimum of two coats, 3 for best protection. The Ronseal Total Wood Preserver is a high quality low cost preservative, thats great for rough sawn and smooth planed timber alike. A full list of products featured and used in this video is available in the description on youtube, also if you have any questions or would like some advice feel free to get in touch by phoning the phone number or emailing the email address on screen now. Also if you liked this video and would like to see more unique content then simply subscribe, like and comment on any video you like and of course, always do a test area.

Other Posts You Will Love!

All About Fence Paint – And How to Create Something Special.
All About Wooden Garden Fence Maintenance.
How To Work Out Area of Sheds & Fences.

The Big Brush Issue – Synthetic Vs Natural Paint Brushes – What Brush To Use.

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Deciding what brush to use can make all the difference in the quality of finish on your projects. Luckily this helpful video will point you in the right direction.

If you already know what Applicator You Require Click Here.

Brushes Video Transcript

Hi I’m Ben O’Reilly from Wood-Finishes-Direct and welcome to the product test and how to video guide, in this video I’m going to be solving the riddle of natural vs synthetic brushes, when to use them and why.

Natural Bristle Brushes.

The Mako Natural Bristle Woodcare Brush is a really unique designed high quality brush, thats made for use with wood oils and other low viscosity woodcare products such as Preservatives and Stains. They have microscopically hollow bristles that essentially suck the product up like a straw and disperse it at a really nice consistent rate. When using natural bristle brushes with water based finishes you will find that they suck the water in the finish which causes the bristles to clump. So when you apply it, it will leave you with brushstrokes and imperfections in the finish.

When using solvent based finishes make sure you clean the brush out thoroughly after use, otherwise it will shorten the lifespan of your brush.

Synthetic Bristle Brushes.

The Marshall 401X Pro Synthetic Brush is a specially designed brush, for use with thicker finishes for example varnishes and paints, its specially tapered bristle edge is designed to limit the amount of drips and limit over application while holding a lot of finish, which helps limit the amount of trips back and forth to your paint tray.

Ultimately if it’s water based or a thicker finish, go for the Marshall Pro 401X Pro Synthetic Brush and if it is Oil or a less viscous finish, for example a preservative or stain go for the Mako Natural Bristle Woodcare Brush. This is just one of the many questions you need to ask when deciding what applicator to use. For a full list of applicators visit this page here, and you will be able to have a good look and read through and it’ll help you decide what applicator is perfect for you. If you have any questions just phone the phone number or email the email address on screen now. Also if you liked this video and would like to see more unique content then simply subscribe, like and comment on any video you like and of course, always do a test area.

Secrets Of The Experts – Denibbing Explained – How to Finish Like a Pro.

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Denibbing is a really important step in applying any finish, it helps either the adhesion or absorption of further coats and can make a real difference to your projects.

Denibbing Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Ben O’Reilly From Wood Finishes Direct and Welcome to the Product Test and How to Video Guide, in this video I am going to be discussing Manns Flexible Sanding Pads, Manns Finishing Pads and the act of Denibbing. Denibbing is the removal of “nibs” and imperfections from your finish, and it should be performed between each coat of any finish applied.

Denibbing Varnishes, Paints and Surface Finishes

A few weeks ago I put Manns Extra Tough Floor Varnish on these boards, in this video here. When you do apply a surface finish, such as a varnish or a paint it’s only natural you are going to get imperfections such as brush strokes and bumps or areas that have slightly more finish than others

To remove these areas what you need to use is a Manns Flexible Sanding Pads, I’ll be using one in p180. Just work across your project working with the grain, applying just enough pressure to smooth it out the finish. Because you are roughing up the surface as well it’ll improve the adhesion of any further coats too. Also once you’ve finished denibbing, give the area a wipe over with a Manns Microfibre Cloth as well.

Denibbing Oil’s

I treated this piece of Beech with Manns Top Oil in this video here, and I’m going to use it to show you how to denib oils. Wood is a naturally porous material, and when you put oils on wood, they soak in, giving excellent liquid repellency and protection while still maintaining a natural look and feel. When you apply an oil on you want to remove all excess as soon as you can, and then you want to help open some of those pores again by denibbing, use a Manns Finishing Pads to do this. Denib just like I did with the varnish, follow the grain work across the
project, try not to apply too much pressure.

Denibbing is all about the feel. Your project should feel smooth. If it doesn’t that means that more denibbing is required, and after that if it still isnt smooth then it probably hasn’t been as sanded as well as it should of. I know of course if you’ve been watching my video’s that won’t be the case.

A full list of products featured and used in this video is available in the description on YouTube, also if you have any questions or would like some advice feel free to get in touch by phoning the phone number or emailing the email address on screen now. Also if you liked this video and would like to see more unique content then simply subscribe, like and comment on any video you like and of course, always do a test area.

What the Pro’s Use – Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. How to Apply Hard Wax Oils.

Friday, April 1st, 2016

This video will show you the best way apply A Hard Wax Oil Specifically – Fiddes HardWax Oil. However, this advice is also suitable for other Hard Wax Oils, such as Osmo Polyx Oil And Osmo Polyx Oil Tints.

Hard Wax Oils F.A.Q.

Q.Is the hard wax oil durable enough for a table top?

A. Absolutely, this product is perfect for any wooden items requiring good protection. Another big advantage of this product is that repairs are very easy to do should the need arise.

Q.Is hard wax oil any different to linseed oil or Danish oil?

A. It’s better because the wax content keeps the oil suspended in the surface of the wood for longer. This means that it’s a more durable oil and that that maintenance is required less frequently. Also 2-3 coats are recommended (2 for everywhere except table tops and high traffic areas) where as 3-5 coats are recommended for Linseed oil, Danish oil and Tung oil.

Q. I have an old oak floor that has been finely sanded, is the hard wax oil a good choice for it?

A. It is beneficial if the wood grain is open when applying this product because hard wax oil mainly sinks into the wood and becomes a part of the wood. For that reason it requires a fairly open grain to accept the oil and whilst being applied it is necessary to work the product into the wood. If you want to use any oil on your floor, but especially a wax oil it is recommended to sand the floor with a 150 grit sandpaper or coarser. Then this product will be ideal for you.

Q. Can I use a steam cleaner or steam mop to clean my oiled floor?

A. In short, ‘No’. Oiled and waxed finishes on floors are ‘Micro-porous’ which means that although the wood is protected, it can still breath as it is not completely sealed as it would be with a varnish.

Cleaning oiled or waxed floors with a steam cleaner or steam mop introduces high temperature and pressure water which can strip and penetrate the oiled or waxed finish and potentially damage the wooden floor.

Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Video Transcript

Hi I’m Ben O’Reilly from Wood-Finishes-Direct, and welcome to the product test and how to video guide. In this video I’m going to be discussing the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil ranges. They are a solvent based blend of natural oils and waxes that offer excellent durability, liquid repellency and a more natural look and feel to your interior wooden surfaces. They come in a range of clear and coloured oils.

The oil I am going to be using is, Fiddes Hard Wax Oil in Clear Satin. And I will be putting it onto my trusty spool table, over time of me filming video’s on it and it also being used as a demo table in our shop it had picked up a few stains and a little bit of damage, so I have knocked it back with some p120 paper just far enough to give me the opportunity to do a maintenance coat, whilst still maintaining its rustic look.

The applicator I’m going for today is the Mako Natural Bristle Wood-Care brush, it’s a really unique brush, they actually have hollow bristles so they suck the oil up like a straw and disperse it at really nice even rate. Once you’ve stirred your oil, and poured it into your paint tray you are ready to apply. To apply, just work in manageable areas, in long even strokes and with the grain, and of-course apply sparingly too.

So after applying I’m now going to remove any excess, with a Woodleys Microfibre Cloth, this may seem counter-intuitive however its very important you don’t let any excess dry on the surface. What you are actually doing is half helping it work into the wood, half wiping it off.

So I have let this dry for just over 4 hours, and its really brought it back to life. That’s the beauty of oils, for example say when you do eventually get some damage you need to either clean the area or give it a sand back depending on the severity of the damage and then re-apply another thin coat of oil and you are back as good as new.

If this was your first coat you would need to denib now, you would be denibbing with a Woodleys Finishing Pad. What you need to do is just work with the grain and work across the whole item. As this is technically a top coat, I won’t be doing it today.

A full list of products featured and used in this video is available in the description on YouTube. And if you need any help or advice, get in touch by phoning the phone number or emailing the email address on screen now, If you liked this video and would like to see more unique content, simply subscribe to our YouTube channel, like and comment on any of the video’s you like, and of course, always do a test area.

Other Posts You Will Love!

Product Spotlight – Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Finish.

Should You Use an Oil or Varnish to Finish Your Floor?

Top 3 Causes of Damage to Decking and How to Combat Them.

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Have you Ever Wondered How to Renovate Grey Decking? What Causes Damage to Decking? What to use to protect and preserve Decking? What products to use to colour, protect and restore decking? This handy video shows the 3 main causes of damage to decking, and how best to combat them, pointing you in the right direction

Decking Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Ben O’Reilly from wood finishes direct and welcome to the product test and how to video guide, in this video I am going to be discussing various Decking treatments and cleaners, that can help combat the most common causes of damage to decking. And hopefully help you extend the lifespan of your deck.

The top 3 causes of damage to decking are Mould, Water and Sunlight.

Firstly Mould – Mould causes a slippery deck with grey, green or black discolouration it can either be in localised areas or spread across the whole deck. To protect against mould you must preserve your decking, and as well it’s best to remove any debris, such as dead leaves or dirt with a stiff bristled broom and don’t allow water to sit on your deck for extended periods of time. If you do already have a slippy or mouldy deck, all’s not lost, we have a full range of Decking Cleaners and Mould Killers available. And as well to Protect your deck from mould we have a full range of Preservatives available too. So click either of the boxes to my left and right now to access them.

Next water and general bad weather – When Water is absorbed into your deck it washes the natural resins out of the wood and the freeze/thaw cycle can cause the surface to splinter and crack. And sitting water promote growth of algae, mould, and mildew and other issues such as wet rot can arise. It’s important to remember even if your deck is Tanalised or Pressure Treated it doesn’t mean its weather proofed so you must use a Weatherproof Finish. We have a full range waterproof decking stains, decking oils, decking paints and and other finishes available if you click the click the link in the box now.

Next – Sunlight and specifically harmful Ultraviolet rays, just like the sun damages human skin it also causes damage to timber.It bleaches it a silvery, grey colour and it also damages the fibres of the wood making them brittle. If your wood is already grey there are restorers on the market such as the Osmo Wood Reviver Gel  6609 and the Ronseal Decking Restorer. And protecting your wood from U.V. damage there are U.V. resistant oils on the market for example the Mann’s U.V. Decking Oil it not only protects your deck from water, mould and general wear and tear but it also protects your deck from harmful U.V. rays and to find these products click the suitable box either side of me now.

Wood is a natural building material and as a result of such without care and maintenance it will rot and damage. Yearly maintenance won’t just make your gardens and outside areas look great it will extend the lifespan of your deck considerably. If you have any questions or would just like some advice you could get in touch by phoning the phone number or emailing the email address on screen now.

If you liked this video and want to see more unique content, simply subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like and comment on any video’s you like, and don’t forget, always do a test area.

Should You Use an Oil or Varnish to Finish Your Floor?

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

What should you treat your hardwood floor with? How do you apply a Varnish or a Hard Wax Oil? Which is better – a Varnish or Oil Floor Finish? Need answers? Then this video is for you!

Know what you want? View our range of wood finishing products for flooring.

Floor Finishes Video Transcript

Hi I’m Ben O’Reilly,  from Wood Finishes Direct in this video I will be discussing Floor Finishes – specifically water based Polyurethane Varnish and a Hard Wax Oils. I’m going to be discussing the best way to apply them, the pros’ and cons’ and hopefully help you decide what one is right for your floor.


Firstly let’s talk about Varnishes, specifically the Mann’s Extra Tough Floor Varnish and the Bona Mega. Typically they look like this, a white fairly thick liquid. Application is nice and easy, I have made up a few planks as a fake floor that I’m going to be applying to today and I have stained it with a Manns Trade Light Fast Wood Stain in Light Oak. It’s a really nice stain to work with, and it goes on nice and easy and it comes in a brilliant range of colours. When you are applying a varnish to wood it’s really important to make sure the wood is well sanded, to a p120 minimum.

And for some application tips, the varnish I’m going to be using today is the Mann’s Extra Tough Floor Varnish in Matt. The applicator I will be using is the Padco Snappy applicator, it’s a 6 inch disposable application tool that’s ideal for the application of varnishes or oils. Firstly you do need to make sure you stir the varnish and allow any bubbles to settle. And make sure you are wearing suitable protective equipment pour some into a paint tray and using your applicator apply it in long even strokes, work in manageable areas, to the full length of individual boards and avoid letting it pool as well.

So I have let this dry for a few hours,  the next step is “de-nibbing” or giving the area a light sand, I’ll be doing it with a Woodleys Finishing Pad, it’s kind of like a scotch pad. You can also do this with very fine sandpaper just don’t put too much pressure on you’ll undo a lot of your hard work, this step aids adhesion of further coats and helps it level out, you just do it by lightly rubbing it down like so, and wipe off any dust after this step.

Regarding amount of coats, it’s best to follow the guidelines on the tin or bottle, if you have any worries about durability or want to improve the sheen adding an extra coat or two is a good idea.

Varnishes offer increased durability and require less maintenance than oils, however it is more than likely need to re-sand the entire floor when it does eventually gets damaged and worn. The life of a varnish is typically between 5-10 years. It does depend on what varnish you use, the quality of the varnish, how busy your household gets and regularly you maintain and clean your floor.

Hard Wax Oils

Now Hard Wax Oils, specifically Osmo Polyx Oil and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil, Hard Wax Oils that have slight wax content, this improves durability and prevents them from soaking in too far, meaning whereas with traditional oil you would have to do 3-5 coats with the hard wax oils you only have to do 2-3 depending on what wood you are treating. Again for this i’ve mocked up a fake floor and just like varnishes the floor you are treating does have to be sanded to a P120 minimum.

The Oil I will be using today is the Osmo Polyx Oil in Matt – and again the applicator is the Padco Snappy Applicator, and with it i’m going to be using these, it’s a Woodleys Microfibre Cloth.

With the Oil it’s very important a good stir, make sure you get into the corners just in case there is any matting agent that has settled at the bottom, once you’ve done that all you need to do is pour it into your paint tray, and then using your applicator sparingly apply the oil working in long even strokes, try to work to the full length of the board as well.

Once you’ve applied, you need to get your cloth and if you have any excess on the surface as I do it’s best to work that into the wood and wipe it off.

So I have let this dry now it’s time to denib, I’m using again a Mann’s Finishing Pad, de-nibbing is really important helps the second coat soak into the wood, and regarding coats it is best to follow the guidelines on the back of the tin.

Oils do require more maintenance normally every year or two but only the areas that have started to wear, Oils are great because they don’t crack they don’t peel and they don’t flake, when they do start looking tired, they do maintain their look a lot better. And also they are so easy to patch repair, for example say you have a small area of damage or a small stain all you have to do is clean them with a Suitable Cleaner and apply a nice thin coat and you’re as good as new. any areas that are a little more damaged for example say a red wine stain or a big scratch, all you need to do is sand it back with fine sandpaper and again it’ll be as good as new,


What floor finish is right for you does depend on what look you want to achieve, how durable you require the finish to be and also how much time you want to devote maintenance. I’ve finished both these boards and both of them look fantastic. The Varnish feels strong and it looks great, the Oil feels and looks a lot more natural you can actually feel the grain as you touch it.

Ultimately as with any wood finish it is always best to do test areas, maybe decide what sheen level you like get a sample of the oil, get a sample of the varnish and try them out in different areas on your floor, see what one you like to apply and see what one works best in your home.

A full list of all the products featured and used in this video is available in the description on YouTube, and also If you liked this video and want to see more unique content, simply subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like and comment on any video’s you like, and of course, always do a test area.

Know what you want? View our range of wood finishing products for flooring.

Other Content You Will Love!

Blog: Everything You Need to Know About Pine Flooring

Blog: Product Spotlight – Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Finish

Blog: Beautiful White Wood Finishes for Dreamy Interiors

Blog: How to Clean Wooden Floors

Blog: Oak Floor Maintenance – Top Tips for Finishing Oak

Blog: How to Varnish a Wooden Floor?

Blog: The Big Brush Issue – Synthetic Vs Natural Paint Brushes – What Brush To Use.

Blog: Secrets Of The Experts – Denibbing Explained – How to Finish Like a Pro.

Video: Hardwood Oil – Osmo Wood Wax Extra Thin 1101 Product Test

Video: Floor Finishing With Wood Finishes Direct


  • Always try a test area before beginning any project!
  • Always use suitable protective equipment, and take due care while applying any of the products featured in these video’s.
  • All prices are accurate at time of the video going live.

Which is the Best Oil For Wooden Worktops?

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Kitchen worktops come in a huge variety of materials and styles, from man made laminate and composite materials to natural materials such as stone, granite, quartz and wood. All of which give a very specific look and feel and while some worktops can be relatively cheap, others can run into the many thousands.

One of the more popular kitchen worktop materials, both traditionally and today, is wood. In terms of durability, wood is up there with the best but unlike, stone, slate and granite worktops, it’s less likely to get chipped, lose a corner or suffer from a jagged or damaged edge. Even if it does, repair is usually quicker, easier and cheaper.

When it comes to wooden kitchen worktops, there’s a wide range of woods to choose from with the more common being Oak and Beech, other woods such as Walnut, Iroko and Bamboo are also available as are other more exotic and rare wood types but these usually come at a higher cost.

Wooden Kitchen Worktop Care

Although wood is a great material for kitchen worktops, it does require some care to keep it looking great and functioning well. Wood oils have been used for centuries to protect and preserve wood and although the same is true today, new types and blends of oils are more commonly used.

The pros and cons of wooden kitchen worktops?

By its nature, wood is porous meaning that if left untreated, liquids, juices and bacteria from meats and other sources can seep into the surface grain, discolouring and staining the wood. More importantly, the unsealed wood can create the perfect environment for germs and bacteria to collect and breed.

A common issue with poorly maintained kitchen worktops is black mould around taps and sinks. This is usually caused by water damage and mould spores growing in the surface of the timber, encouraged by warm, damp conditions. Although this sounds serious, as long as the work top hasn’t been varnished, it can usually be remedied by scrubbing the black areas with a mould and mildew cleaner. This will remove the black staining and kill off the bacteria and spores responsible. In severe cases, a second treatment may be required. Once the wood has been successfully treated and cleaned it’s ready for oiling.

The great news is that wooden worktops can look fabulous and even if they’ve been neglected and abused, left with stains, marks, discolourations and stains, it’s usually a fairly easy process to get them looking amazing again with little more than a light sanding, some white spirit and the all important worktop oil.

Why Does Oiling Wooden Worktops Work?

Simply speaking, oiling wooden worktops works by filling the surface grain of the timber with natural oils and waxes, that dry and harden in the surface fibres of the timber. This acts as an effective wood preserver and sealer, helping to prevent moisture and bacteria from entering the wood grain.

Wooden Worktop Oil – Old v New

A question that we’re often asked is “Which is the best oil for wooden worktops?” Wood oils such as Tung, Linseed and Danish Oils have always been used to protect and preserve work surfaces and other types of timber, and are still commonly used today. So why use a modern worktop oil? Which is best? We hear you ask. The difference between traditional wood oils and the newer ranges of wooden worktop oil products comes down to several key differences.

Ease of use – Application and drying times

The number of coats can depend on the type and condition of the wood, many of the traditional oils may require anything from 3 to 7 coats to be effective and with drying times of around 24 hours between coats, oiling a wooden work top could take as long as a week. In comparison, most modern top oils require just 2 thin coats and are dry in 4 to 8 hours, depending on the oil brand and environmental conditions.

Worktop durability

In terms of durability, traditional wood oils tend to require maintenance on a more regular basis as they dissipate in the wood and evaporate from the surface of the worktop more quickly than their modern equivalents. Modern purpose made worktop oils are made from specially formulated blends of waxes and oils, that harden in the surface of the wood, to form a durable, protective barrier.

Oil penetration in the worktop surface

Modern kitchen worktop oils are highly refined and are blended with solvents to thin and aid penetration into the surface of the wooden work top. In many cases, especially on denser woods, traditional wood oils will not penetrate in to the wood as well unless they are first thinned with turps.

It’s true to say however that even with modern top oils some are better suited to specific wood types than others depending on how dense the wood is and how thin the worktop oil is. Some products such as Manns Premier Top Oil and Osmo Extra Thin 1101 are especially great for denser timbers such as Beech, Bamboo and Walnut worktops. While Holzol Worktop Oil is a great all rounder.

The great thing with an oiled wooden worktop is that they look great, are easy to maintain and repair even if they do become stained, scratched or worn looking. For more on the subject, we’ve created a great video that shows how easy it is to apply a solid wood worktop oil.

An additional bonus of top oil products is that because they are completely food and child safe when dry, they’re perfect for rejuvenating and restoring wooden chopping boards and other wooden kitchen utensils.

Top Tip

Applying a top oil to a kitchen worktop will enhance the natural colour, grain and character of the timber. If you’re installing a new or renovating an old worktop by sanding, wipe over a small section with a slightly damp (not wet) cloth or sponge to get a good indication of how the worktop will look when oiled. See our full range of wooden worktop oils here.

Worktop oil help and advice

Need some help with your wooden kitchen worktop surfaces? See our worktop FAQ page that answers many of the most common questions and issues. Need specialist help and advice? Contact our resident experts who are on hand to provide free advice on how to clean, maintain and restore all manner of wooden worktops and worktop finishes.

Hand Made Valentines Gifts – Part 2

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Judging by the response we received from last week’s blog post about hand crafted Valentines gifts, a fair number of you were inspired to give it a go and for those that haven’t started yet, and in case you needed a gentle reminder, Valentines Day is this Sunday. Time is running short so if you are going to make something, now’s the time to get busy.

Although time is running short, it doesn’t mean that there’s not enough time to create something that is both beautiful and personal, a gift that will be treasured for ever. And the good news is that this weeks offering is even more simple to make than last weeks. Interested? Lets get started.


An easy to make Valentines Plaque – Wood Finishes Direct

If you prefer a video guide to this project, you’ll find one nearer the bottom of this article.

So as with last weeks project, we suggest using a piece of plank from an old pallet as it’s ideal for the project and free. Wooden pallets are a great source of free timber for all sorts of projects, big and small. Presuming your pallet has been dismantled, you’ll be left with a load of planks and wooden blocks, which we used for last weeks Valentines gift idea.

Cut the timber plank down to the required size then sand it smooth, firstly using p80 and then p120 grit sandpaper to get it ready for dying. Gently rounding off the edges with an electric sander or by hand gives the wooden plaque a softer, weathered look but its not essential as it’s just a question of taste. Drill two holes in the corners so that twine can be put through for hanging. Again this isn’t essential as it’ll look great free-standing on a shelf or mantlepiece.

Use Manns Classic Wood Dye in white and a Woodleys Disposable Foam Brush to apply the dye. Stir the wood dye thoroughly before and at regular intervals during application to ensure a consistent colour. Pour the dye into a paint tray or other container then apply liberally. finish off by working along the grain taking care to remove all excess from the surface of the timber with a clean, lint free cloth before leaving to dry for around an hour.

While the wooden plaque is drying make your stencil by finding a design you like and score it out on some thin plastic with a sharp craft or Stanley knife, for our example we’re doing alternating hearts to match the design we did on last weeks tealight holder.

Next, just fix the stencil in place with some masking tape, we’ll be using the same Manns Water Based Dye in red that we used last week. Dip just the end of the Manns Disposable foam brush lightly in to the dye, blot off any excess on a microfibre cloth, then test it on another piece of wood to make sure not much is coming off. Apply to the stencilled area very carefully to avoid bleeding – work in from the edges applying just a tiny amount at a time.


The wood dye should be applied very thinly to retain the crisp edge of the stencil.

Leave again to dry for an hour then carefully remove the stencil. Once fully dry give it a gentle rub down with a Woodleys Finishing Pad, then you’re ready to apply a topcoat.

For the top coat we’re using Morrells Nitrocellulose Spray Lacquer in High Gloss. As with any spray, always apply in a well ventilated area and wear a suitable mask too. For the sake of our video, we’ve applied the first coat in our shop and then moved outside to apply subsequent coats.

Firstly shake the can well, then from around 15cm spray the lacquer over it in short even bursts. Allow the lacquer spray to dry for around 20 minutes between coats under normal conditions. If spraying in cooler or damp conditions, these drying times may be extended.

It’s important that between coats you lightly denib with a fine or medium Manns Finishing Pad, this smooths out imperfections and aids adhesion of further coats. you should be doing around 5-8 coats for this project. So without further delay, here’s our video guide to producing another stunning Valentines gift.

Follow the steps above and your Valentines gift will go down a treat. As with last weeks project, let us know how you got on with your before, during and after photo’s.

If you’re unsure about anything covered in the above blog post or video, don’t be shy. Contact our team of dedicated experts who will happily answer any questions you may have. If you want a different colour or perhaps a wax or oiled finish, not a problem, we can advise on a wide range of alternative products that’ll give you the finish that you’re looking for.

Valentines Gifts With a Personal Touch – Part 1

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Valentine day is celebrated all around the world on February the 14th, but the true origins of this day and how it came in to being is largely unknown by most.


Nur die LIEBE zahlt = Counts only the love

Some historians believe that Valentine day originated from the very ancient, possibly pre-Roman festival of Lupercalia, observed on February 13th through 15th, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Other researchers have rejected this claim saying that there’s no proof that the modern customs of Saint Valentine’s Day originate from Lupercalia customs. No matter what the origins, the celebration of Saint Valentines was later Christianised by the Catholic Church.

Although there are several saints throughout history who shared the Valentine name, not much is known about the actual Saint Valentine that this day was named after. It’s likely named however after a Saint Valentine who was sentenced to death for conducting secret marriage ceremonies, after Claudius II banned marriage. Claudius II did this as he believed that unmarried men made better soldiers. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

Nowadays, an estimated 1 billion Valentines Day cards are sent every year, making it the second most popular celebration, beaten only by Christmas. In America alone $20 Billion Dollars are spent every year on Valentine’s day. Although some people go all out to lavish their loved ones with jewellery and other expensive gifts, many people feel that a personalised hand made gift, made with love, just can’t be beaten.


Home made Valentines gifts can be easy to make and totally unique.

Truth is that you can make an amazingly romantic gift, without spending a fortune. These gifts can be made relatively quickly and easily, often from recycled items and don’t require any exceptional skills.

There are literally hundreds of great craft and DIY Valentines gift ideas that anyone can make, using handy online guides and tutorials, to add a personal touch to your Valentine’s day gift. To demonstrate just one example, we’ve made a video tutorial on how to turn the corner block from a wooden pallet into a beautiful and unique tea light holder.


We hope the video above has inspired you. If you’re ready to give it a go, here is a handy step by step guide to help you make this amazing Valentine tea light holder.


How to make the Holder: Wear suitable protective equipment for each step.

1. Dismantle, or get someone else to dismantle an old wooden pallet

2. Sand the block, firstly with p80 and then p120 sandpaper – You can either leave the edges as they are or smooth and round them off by sanding for a softer appearance.

3. Bore the hole for the tealight and non-flammable insert such as a dedicated glass or other tealight holder using a power drill and a flat bit. Make the hole a few millimeters larger than the non-flammable insert.

4. Re-Sand the block using p120 sandpaper paying special attention to the newly bored out hole.

5. Dye the block white using Manns Classic Wood Dye in White, working in the direction of the grain and removing any excess dye after application with a Woodleys Microfibre Cloth.

6. Make your stencil – use any design you like. This could be a love heart, name or any other symbol that has a special meaning – trace it on to a thin sheet of plastic or card using a sharp scalpel or craft knife.

7. Once the dye has dried, denib using a Woodleys Finishing Pad. Remove any traces of surface dust then position your stencil on to the wooden block with masking tape. Apply the Manns Classic Wood Dye in Red or another colour of your choice. Work in from the edges and be really sparing to avoid any bleeding of the dye.

8. Once it has fully dried, remove the stencil, then apply several thin coats of Morrells Nitrocellulose Lacquer Spray. in a well ventilated area while wearing a suitable mask. Denib between each coat of lacquer but not the final one. You can apply between 3 and 9 coats of spray lacquer depending on the look and depth of finish you require.

9. Insert the tealight and Hey Presto – you’re done!

It goes without saying that candles in any shape or form can be a fire risk. It’s for this reason that the hole in your candle block must be big enough to accommodate a glass or other suitable tealight holder. Tealights should never be used in the wooden block without a suitable holder and naked flames should never be left unattended.

If this Valentines gift idea has got your creative juices flowing, and you’re already thinking about other great things that can be made, here are a few more helpful resources with dozens of craft ideas. It’s worth remembering that the enjoyment isn’t just in the giving but also in the doing and there are a huge number of things that can be safely made with the children.


Making things with children can be great fun

Great resources for making valentines gifts

Next week we’ll be posting another great Valentines Day gift project that can be done as either an addition or as an alternative to the one above.

Here at Wood Finishes Direct, we love to see other peoples projects and how they turn out. If you want to share your experience with us and our community of followers, feel free to send in any before, during and after photos you have.

If you have any questions about the materials or products that we’ve used in our Valentines gift guide video above, simply contact our resident experts, who are always on hand to offer help and advice.

Which Wood Finish Is Best?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

A question we’re asked frequently here at Wood Finishes Direct is simply ‘which wood finish is best?’ Like most things involving wood, there’s no simple answer to this but fear not, help is at hand.


Which wood finish is best? A wood oil, varnish, stain, wax or paint?

Wood finishing can be complex. Trees are naturally growing organisms, with their own unique DNA and as with most living things, are sensitive and adaptive to the environmental conditions they grow in. Because of this, even two pieces of wood from the same species of tree from the same woodland or forest could produce different results when treated. It’s a little like two children from the same parents, unless they’re identical twins, chances are that they may be similar but have distinct differences or be as different as chalk and cheese.

So what is the best finish for wood? In a nutshell it depends on a host of factors, the most common being listed below:-

  • What type of wood, Softwood or Hardwood?
  • Is the wood interior or exterior?
  • Has the wood been sanded and how?
  • What is the wood being used for i.e. floor, door, picture frame, bookshelf, dog kennel etc
  • Is it old or new wood?
  • Is it bare or treated wood?
  • What sort of finish is required coloured or clear?
  • What sheen is required, matt, satin or gloss?
  • Easy maintenance or outright durability?
  • What is the expectation of durability?

So to help with trying to determine which wood finish is best for you, the wood your working with and the project to hand, let’s explore some of these key questions.

What type of wood? Softwood or Hardwood?

And before anyone answers ‘from a tree’ it’s worth noting that there are a lot of ‘wood’ products that are not strictly from a tree but can still be treated in the same way. As an example, Bamboo is technically a grass and what about all those man-made woods such as MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) and particle board?


It’s not always easy to know if something is softwood or hardwood

Softwood and hardwoods

This is another area that can be confusing as the classification of a softwood or hardwood is determined by how it fruits and its leaves and not just by the weight, density or strength of the wood. There are actually some softwoods that are harder than some hardwoods and some hardwoods that are softer than some softwoods. Confused yet? We’ve written a blog post entitled Confused everything you need to know about wood if you want to know more.

Natural colouration of the timber

Wood has its own natural coloration that isn’t always evident when freshly planed or sanded. As an example, pine, especially old pine can look pale and virtually colourless in its raw state. Put on a clear wood oil or varnish and they will enhance the natural character and colour of the timber, normally a warm golden or orange colour. Although some people like and enjoy the warm colouration that this gives, it’s not to everyone’s taste. The natural colouration of the timber will also have an effect on the final colour if treating the wood with a pigmented or coloured product. Stain a piece of Pine and Beech with the same wood stain and it will produce quite different results. Remember those school days of mixing two colours to make a completely different colour?

The good news is that if you want to keep wood, especially Pine, Oak and other light coloured woods looking natural, without the natural colouration coming through, there are some great hard wax oils from Osmo and Fiddes that do the trick, namely Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044 and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural (also known as Oak Lightning).

Is the wood interior or exterior?

Although softwoods and hardwoods can both be used for interior and exterior projects, it’s fair to say that some wood types are better for some projects than others based on practicality, cost and the types of finish required.


Decaying roof exposing inside wood to the outside elements

Exotic hardwoods such as Teak, Iroko, Balau and Ipe are great for decking, garden furniture and other exterior projects due to their dense and oil rich nature. They’re naturally hardy, resistant to weathering, and biological issues such as mould, algae and other types of fungal and insect attack. The flip side is that because of their dense, oily nature, they have to be carefully prepared if coating with a varnish or paint, to ensure good adhesion with the surface of the timber and to prevent the finish from breaking away from the surface of the wood. Specialist opaque products from brands such as Sadolin, Sikkens and Dulux Trade work well and are available in a range of colours.

Very dense hardwoods can also be problematic when it comes to oiling. Many types of decking oil and other exterior wood oils are too thick to penetrate into the dense grain of the timber with specialist, highly refined oils such as Osmo Extra Thin 1101 for interior wood, or high quality Teak Oil for exterior wood being the best option. These products are clear so will not add additional colour to the timber other than giving the wood a darker damp look and drawing out the natural grain and colour of the wood. Even with these oils, the wood may need to be left to weather for a while to open up the wood grain before oiling. It’s highly likely that these types of wood will only absorb one or two very thin coats of oil. Not all clear wood oils contain UV filters meaning that when exposed to direct sunlight and rain, the wood will naturally turn grey / silver over time.

Generally, commonly used timbers such as Pine and Oak are easier to paint, varnish, oil and stain than exotic hardwoods. If protected correctly with a suitable preservative and finished in the correct way, they will perform very well in external environments and could last a life time if maintained correctly. The other benefit of using these woods is that they are cheaper and more suitable for products with UV resistance or the thicker pigmented or coloured oils.

Has the wood been sanded and how?

Proper sanding is key to a good finish, especially so with wooden floors. If you’re looking to oil a piece of wood that has been previously painted or varnished, it’s imperative that all traces of the old surface coating are completely removed. Failing to do this may prevent the oil from penetrating into sections of the timber resulting in an inconsistent finish.


Sanding wood correctly is imperative to get the best results

In most cases, sanding to a 120 or 150 grit is perfect. If wood is sanded too finely it can block the surface pores of the timber making it difficult for wood oils to penetrate. This could result in a tacky or sticky surface or an inconsistent finish / colour if using a pigmented product or stain.

Wooden floors should be sanded a number of times using progressively finer grits of sandpaper. Depending on the condition of the floor, it may require a very course grit to start with then several passes with varying grits until reaching a 120 / 150 grit smoothness. If the sanding hasn’t been done properly, swirls, scratches and other strange patterns and marks may appear when staining with inconsistent colour patches. If this happens the only option is to sand again taking extra care to sand properly.

What is the wood being used for?

If you’re working on a picture frame, there’s no need to use a bullet proof varnish that is more suitable for a dance floor or sports hall. Easy maintenance wood oils may be better in high moisture environments where a varnish may start to crack and peel. For a classic Shabby Chic look, some products are better at giving that ‘worn over time’ look than others. This is why we have wood finishing project pages on our site which list which products are best for which projects.


Different wood finishes work better on different projects.

Is it old or new wood?

Old wood can react differently to new wood. If the wood has been recycled and was previously treated, this could also have an impact on the type of product to use and the finish it will give. For example, old wood that was previously oiled or treated with a wood preservative that contained wax could repel water based paints and varnishes.


New wood can be treated with almost anything, old wood may need thorough sanding.

Is it bare or treated wood?

This is similar to the point above. If its new bare wood then it can be treated, stained or coated with a huge variety of products. If it is or has been previously treated, it could limit the type of product that can be used. As an example, you can’t oil a floor that has a varnish finish.


Bare wood is ready for treating, pre-finished wood may need sanding.

What sort of finish is required coloured or clear?

There are a vast range of products that give a variety of different finishes from the slightly tinted to the totally opaque, soft colour tones to vibrant primary colours and everything in between. We always take it upon ourselves to try and understand the type of finish that the customer wants and make recommendations based on the information provided.


Wood can be kept bare or coloured with a wide variety of semi translucent or opaque colours.

When we are asked what product is best to achieve a Medium Oak or a Victorian Pine colour, our first response is ‘define what colour Medium Oak or Victorian Pine is? A good way to demonstrate this it to go to Google Image Search and type in ‘medium Oak wood’. Google will present thousands of images of wood and furniture and it soon becomes very apparent that everyone’s interpretation of medium oak is different. This also applies to high street brands. Buy a tin of dark oak wood stain from one manufacturer and the same from another and they could be anything from slightly different to not having any similarity at all. When it comes to colour, the best approach is to ignore the product colour name and decide visually on what colour best meets your preference and the needs of the project.

Another reason why colour is always tricky is because everyone’s computer monitor is calibrated differently in terms of brightness, colour and contrast. A product colour on one monitor may look different on another and different again on another. Then there’s the issue of the type, age, condition and natural characteristics of the wood, the same product on one piece may look different on another. This is why we always stipulate that a test area must be done and allowed to fully dry before starting any project to test colour suitability.

Which sheen level, matt, satin or gloss?

The sheen level of a product can change the whole appearance and feel of an object or room. while a shiny floor screams elegance and class a matt finish gives a more natural, cosy feel. In terms of exterior finishes, most wood oils leave a soft satin finish when first applied. For a lasting exterior satin or gloss finish, opaque wood coatings and paints are the answer.

Interior finishes tend to come with more sheen options from dead matt through to super gloss. in some cases, a satin variation can be mixed with a matt or gloss to achieve a sheen level that is something in between what the manufacturer supplies.

Easy maintenance or outright durability?

In a nut shell wood finishes tend to fall into just a few categories, waxes and oils (products that penetrate into the surface of the wood), varnishes and paints including pigmented opaques (Products that form a skin or seal on the surface of the wood).


Varnishes and paints can be longer lasting. Wood oils are easier to maintain

Generally speaking, If the wood has been prepared correctly and the product has been applied correctly, surface coatings such as paints and varnishes tend to have a longer service life than waxes and oils, potentially lasting many years before requiring attention. The thing to consider is that when these types of wood finishes reach the end of their useful life, usually when they start to show signs of wear, peeling, flaking or cracking, its often a case of stripping the old coating back to bare wood by sanding or using a suitable paint and varnish remover, before re-coating or painting.

Wood waxes are used for interior surfaces, usually furniture (see Wood Furniture Wax) and other low contact surfaces such as picture frames and wood panelling. Wax will never crack and peel and is very easy to maintain. Although stand alone waxes can be used on flooring, they’re not very durable and are prone to wear and staining from liquid spillages, far from ideal in kitchens and bathrooms. The only wax products we recommend for wooden floors are hard wax oil products.

Wood oils are very popular and it’s not difficult to see why. There are a wide range of interior and exterior wood oils that are all formulated to provide a specific look and function. Interior wood oils for floors and kitchen worktops are highly durable, potentially lasting years but unlike a varnish, there is never a need to sand them off when they start to look tired and worn. It’s simply a case of cleaning the surface or perhaps giving a very light sanding before applying a fresh coat of oil over the top of the old. As good as new.

Exterior wood oils move with the wood so will not crack and split. They allow the wood to breath and many, not all, offer some degree of UV protection to protect the natural colour of the timber for longer. If colour is desired there are a range of semi translucent tints and opaque coloured oils that can provide a ‘paint like’ appearance. These are great for protecting and colouring exterior wooden surfaces without the risks of cracking, peeling or flaking.

How long will a wood finish last

This is the classic ‘How long is a piece of string?’ question. As with anything, how long something lasts comes down to the amount of wear and tear it’s subjected to. An oiled floor in a restaurant will require more regular maintenance than one in a domestic property, An exterior coating on a beach side property will likely require more maintenance than that of a sheltered town house. This is why manufacturers rarely give a stipulated life expectancy of a product. This said however it doesn’t mean that a job will have to be redone every year or two. If a wooden surface has been properly prepared and a product has been applied to the manufacturers guidelines, then most wood finishes will provide years of protection to the timber and pleasure to the property owner.

Wood Finishing Help

We hope that the above article and video helps to explain some of the finer points about wood finishing, but if you have any questions about which wood finish is best for your project, just give our team of resident experts a call. They’re always on hand to give friendly help and advice.

Celebrating 25 Years of Osmo UK

Friday, November 20th, 2015


Osmo Celebration Tin – 25 Years of Osmo UK

In 2015, Osmo celebrated 25 years in the UK by releasing a special anniversary edition, 3 litre tin of Osmo Polyx Oil 3032, Clear Satin, for the same price as the standard 2.5 litre size. As you can imagine, these flew off our shelves like Christmas Cake at an Elf convention. Because of the amazing response to last year’s offer, Osmo are doing it again. For a limited time, and while stocks last, you can once again bag 3 litres for the price of 2.5. That’s 20% extra, enough to do up to 12 square meters for free.

Osmo is a brand that we here at Wood Finishes Direct have been dealing with for many years and for good reason, it’s simply one of the best producers of wood finishing products in the world! Now you don’t get a reputation like this from thin air so why are Osmo oils held with such high regard? It’s a question that can’t be simply answered as different customers praise different aspects of the Osmo brand and its products. Here are just some of the many thousands of customer reviews we’ve received over the years.

“Love this product,it gave just the effect i was looking for.”
“Good quality and the smallest amount goes a long way.”
“First rate stuff – wouldn’t buy anything else.”
“Easy to use and a very tough finish.”
“Excellent product. Easy to apply and performs extremely well.”


Osmo pride themselves in not only producing outstanding wood finishing products for both interior and exterior projects, but they do so with legendary German efficiency and without ever losing site of their ecological ethos of producing exceptional products that are as user and environmentally friendly as possible.

Celebrating 25 Years of Osmo UK

3032-osmo-celebration-tin-25th-anniversary sml

Osmo – Celebrating 25 Years in the UK.

For 25 years now, Osmo have been protecting everything from wooden floors to interior doors, garden benches to garden fences. And to celebrate, Osmo have released a celebration tin of Osmo Polyx Oil 3032 with an additional 20% free, that’s three litres for the price of two and a half. Now this may not sound like much to those not familiar with the product, but in terms of coverage, that’s equivalent to an additional 12 square meters, or put another way the floor of a small room or a couple of interior doors based on 2 coats.

Why Use Osmo Hard Wax Oil

One of the questions we get asked on a regular basis is what does Polyx Oil or as it’s also known ‘hard wax oil’, offer that varnishes don’t. The main appeal with Osmo wood oils, other than their user and environmental credentials are that they are incredibly easy to apply and maintain. Although perhaps not quite as durable as a good quality varnish, a key benefit is that unlike a varnish, when the finish starts to show signs of wear and tear, it doesn’t have to be sanded back to bare wood again. It’s simply a case of ensuring that the wooden surface is clean, free from surface dirt and debris then re-applying a thin maintenance coat – Hey Presto! As good as new.

How Long Does an Oiled Finish Last?


The maintenance duration of Osmo Oils is dependant on many factors.

Knowing how long an oiled surface will last before requiring maintenance is a little like the age old question of how long is a piece of string? It all depends on the wear and tear that the surface is subjected to. For external wood oils, this is largely down to how much wind, rain and sun the wood gets. As an example, An oiled wooden surface on an exposed coastal location will require more maintenance than a sheltered town or city one. An oiled wooden floor in a restaurant will require more maintenance than a domestic property. In general, the vast majority of a floor will be fine for many years with just the high traffic areas that take the brunt of wear and tear perhaps needing a little attention more often. But, as a very rough general guide, most surfaces treated with an Osmo Oil will be good for at least a couple of years. Low contact areas such as interior wooden doors, skirting boards, wooden bookshelves etc will require much less care, potentially lasting many, many years before requiring a spruce up.

How Do Osmo Wood Oils Work?

Osmo wood oils are formulated from a blend of natural waxes and oils that penetrate and harden in the surface of the wood once dry. The natural oils help to prevent the timber from drying out which in turn helps to prevent cracking and warping of the wood. And because the oil sits in the surface of the wood rather than producing a plastic like film on top of the wood like a paint or varnish, there is nothing to crack, peel or flake off.

A key feature of Osmo oils is that they protect the surface of the timber from within by providing a highly durable, scratch and liquid resistant finish. making them perfect for a wide range of interior and exterior wood care projects. In terms of the Polyx Oil range, it’s classified as child and food safe so can be used to protect and seal hand crafted wooden children’s toys, kitchen worktops, tabletops, chopping boards, wooden kitchen utensils, serving bowls and a whole host of wooden food preparation and storage surfaces.

Applying and Maintaining Osmo Polyx Oil

When applying Osmo Polyx Oil, you’ll be surprised at how far it goes. The standard 2.5 ltr tin covers an area of around 60 square meters based on one coat, that’s around 34 square meters based on 2 coats, this is because less is absorbed by the wood on the second coat. With the Osmo 25th anniversary promotional 3 litre tins of 3032 clear satin, that jumps to around 72 square meters based on 1 coat and around 40 square meters based on 2 coats.


Osmo Polyx Oil Applied With An Osmo Floor Brush

Applying Osmo Polyx Oil Correctly

The correct way to apply Osmo Polyx Oil is to simply follow the very straight forward instructions on the tin. Here are our top tips on how to achieve a professional looking wood finish every time.

  • Wooden floors and other wooden surfaces must be bare wood, it simply won’t work on surfaces that have been painted, varnished or waxed as the oil cannot penetrate in to the surface of the wood.
  • Wooden floors and other surfaces shouldn’t be sanded too finely. Maximum sanding grit should be 120 to 150. Anything finer will close the surface pours of the wood, preventing the oil from penetrating into the fibres of the timber.
  • Once sanded, wooden surfaces should be cleaned to remove all traces of sanding dust, dirt and grit. wooden floors should be vacuumed thoroughly so that surface dust and dirt doesn’t contaminate the oil finish.
  • Always do a test area to make sure that you’re happy with the finish the oil produces. Applying a clear wood oil will always enhance the natural grain and colour of the timber. Many types of Pine for example can look fairly pale and colourless when freshly sanded but when wood oil is added, it can draw out the natural golden warmth of the pine.
  • It’s essential that Osmo oils are applied thinly to achieve the optimum coverage and the best possible finish. Osmo wood oils can be applied with a paint brush, lint free cloth, rag, microfibre cloth, paint pad or other floor finish applicator. The key is to spread the wood oil out as far as it will go, not overload brushes and applicators with oil and to wipe up any excess oil from the surface immediately with a clean lint free cloth.
  • Allow the first coat to dry fully before applying the second coat. The second coat requires less oil than the first so again, thin application is key.

Cleaning and Maintaining Oiled Wood

Cleaning and maintaining an oiled wooden floor or for that matter, any oiled surface, is reasonably stress free and easy to do.

The best way to protect an oiled finish on a floor is to vacuum or dry sweep with a broom on a regular basis, especially if the floor in question is near an entrance point such as a front or back door, more likely than not a hallway or kitchen. The main reason for this is that fine grit brought in on the bottom of shoes could cause minor scratches or tiny dents in the surface of the wood. Keeping the floor clean of surface debris will help to prevent this sort of damage.


Cleaning an oiled floor with the Osmo Spray Mop

For more thorough cleaning, oiled flooring can be mopped with a slightly damp mop or with a dedicated wood surface cleaner such as Osmo Wash and Care. These tend to be PH balanced and formulated specifically for the purpose of cleaning wooden floor finishes and are ideal for cleaning stubborn marks and shoes scuff marks, perfect for a weekly or bi-weekly clean.

Despite the many TV and magazine ads, wooden floors and other wooden surfaces should never be cleaned with a steam cleaner. These cleaners inject high pressure steam into the floor finish and the wood below degrading the integrity of the floor finish and potentially damaging the flooring itself due to absorbsion of steam which can cause the wood to swell, twist and split.

When it’s time for a maintenance coat the process is almost the same as when first applying the oil. Use a vacuum or dry mop to ensure that the wooden surface is dust and dirt free. Areas that have been scuffed, marked, scratched or worn can be lightly sanded with a scotch pad or fine grit sandpaper to remove the damage, taking care to vacuum or sweep up any new dust that this creates. Then it’s just a matter of applying one thin maintenance coat and allowing to fully dry.

What To Do If Too Much Oil Has Been Applied

A common issue we get calls from customers about is when their floors or other wooden surfaces are still tacky or sticky a day or 2 after application or has brush marks in the finish. In terms of the coloured variations of Polyx Oil, another common issue is uneven colour with swirl marks and darker patches. These situations are virtually always down to over application of the oil. These issues are usually, do we dare say, a male thing where the tin says 2 thin coats, but the thinking is that 4 thick coats must be better. Right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Wood is like a sponge but will only absorb a small amount of oil. When it reaches its limit, surplus oil builds on the surface to form a film or skin on the wood. This causes 2 issues, firstly by extending the drying time by many hours or even days. And secondly, a poor finish that among other things, is soft and easy to mark, peel and damage because of the surplus oil that has dried on the surface of the wood.

Thankfully, over application of Polyx Oil and other oils from the Osmo range is a rarity and is normally caused by shall we say, over enthusiastic DIYers, or when people employ painters and decorators to apply wood finishing products. Although painters and decorators are undoubtedly great at painting, they sometimes apply the same principles to applying wood oils which isn’t always the best approach.

If you do find yourself in situation where the oil has been over applied, the good news is that it can often be fairly easily rectified. Wax and oil based products, including hard wax oils like Osmo Polyx Oil can be dissolved with white spirit. In most cases, simply wiping the surface with lint free cloths dampened with white spirit will dissolve the surplus oil on the surface, allowing to be ragged off to leave a good finish.

If the oil has been heavily over applied, it may be easier to remove the bulk of the surplus with a plastic scraper before using white spirit to finish the job. Avoid using a metal scrapper as this could dig in to the floor or door, damaging or splintering the wood. In the worst cases, sanding back to bare wood may be the only option but be prepared to use lots of sanding belts or disks as the wax quickly clogs them up requiring frequent changes.

Top Tip For Applying Osmo Polyx Oil On Wooden Floors

When applying Polyx Oil in a large room which may need to be done in 2 or 3 stages, always work along the full length of the boards stopping on a board edge rather than across the floor boards. This will prevent joint, tide or overlapping marks when coming back to finish the job. So if the room is 20 floor boards wide, oil the full length of the room across 10 board widths, taking care not to get any on the next set of boards, then come back and finish the next 10 board widths later.

What Next

So there you have it, follow these simple processes and you should be able to transform a neglected wooden floor into something very special. And don’t forget, it’s not just wooden floors that can be transformed. Polyx oil can be used on most types or real wood including wooden staircases, furniture, wood crafts and more. If you’ve been pondering and procrastinating over a wood care project in your home, now’s the time to do something about it. Join in with the Osmo 25th anniversary celebrations and get an extra half a litre for free.

If you have any questions about Osmo Polyx Oil or any of the products from the Osmo Oil range, feel free to call or email our team of resident experts who are always on hand to answer any questions you have. And don’t forget we love to hear about and see your projects here at Wood Finishes Direct so if you’re thinking about renovating a wooden floor, staircase, kitchen worktop or other project, and happy to share your experience with us and our community of followers, please take some before and after pictures and send them in.

How To Work Out Area of Sheds & Fences

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Here at Wood Finishes Direct, one of the most common questions we get asked is ‘How much paint, varnish, oil or stain do I need?’ Although there are logical calculations that can be used, knowing how to work out area for wood finishing products isn’t always as straight forward as simply measuring the physical dimensions of the surface area to be treated.


Working out and checking calculations – Photo by jeremiah.andrick

In this blog, we aim to take out some of the uncertainty relating to product coverage and explain why the normal methods used to calculate an area, for say a carpet or floor tiles, won’t always work for wood finishing products. So, how long is a piece of string we hear you ask!

When contacting us for product advice, you can be certain that our team of experts will ask you several questions such as, what type of wood are you working with? Is it bare wood or previously finished, oiled, waxed, varnished or painted? For decking as an example, we’ll ask if its smooth or grooved? This is because there are a number of factors that are directly related to the wood that can have an affect on how much product you need.

Did You Know?

Did you know that grooved decking can have a considerably larger surface area than smooth? How can this be we hear you ask. Imagine a piece of paper that has been folded along its length to form a concertina or corrugated effect. In its folded form it may measure one square meter, straighten the paper out so its flat and the actual surface measurement could be 1 x 1.5 meters or more depending on the depth and number of folds. If grooved decking could be flattened out, the same principle would apply.


Just like folded paper, decking has a larger surface area because of its grooves.

When we ask questions about the wood you’re working with, although it’s handy to know the type i.e. Oak, Pine, Mahogany, Beech, Cedar, Larch etc, we know that not everyone is a wood expert, for that reason it’s not imperative to know if the timber is English Oak, French Oak, Canadian Oak or other specific variation. As a general rule, although there can be exceptions with some tree species, Oak is Oak and Pine is Pine. In most cases, all we need to know is if the timber to be treated is a hardwood or softwood. For more information on the key differences, see our blog post about softwoods and hardwoods.

Working Out Area With Simple Maths

So starting with the basics, it’s time to work out how many square meters or feet there are in your project. Let’s start with an easy one, a rectangular table top that is 2 meters long and 1 meter wide. To work out the square meterage, simply times one length by the other, 1 x 2 = 2 meters squared, easy huh!! Or if you prefer to work in feet then there are many metric conversion calculator online that can work out the conversion for you. As a rough guide 1 meter is equivalent to around 3 feet 3 inches.

Now we’re sure for many, this is teaching you to suck eggs as it’s fairly basic math, however it is the starting point for many more complicated projects. Getting back to the table top for now, the next thing to work out is how much wood varnish, stain or oil you’ll require to treat 2 meters squared, this is where our handy product coverage calculator comes in handy.

For every product on our website there is an area calculator to the right of the screen, where you can input your 2 dimensional measurements to get a guide as to how much of the product you’ll need. Phew I hear you say, as this can make life so much easier. (trust me, we use it all the time too ) Many of our calculators will tell you how much you need for 1, 2 and sometimes even 3 coats of a specific product. And for decking paint and oil it will even calculate how much you need if your decking is smooth or grooved, clever stuff!!


How Much Product Do I need? The Unique Nature Of Wood

This is where the unique nature of wood comes into play. So, as an example, 2 coats of wood oil requires twice the amount as one right? This is where logic starts to distort slightly. In simple terms, wood is a little like a sponge so in terms of micro-porous products like oils and waxes and even with paints and varnishes to a lesser degree, more of the first coat is absorbed into the timber surface so requires slightly more product than the second coat. This has been cleverly programmed into our product coverage calculators but even these can’t take into account other influencing factors such as, how old the tree was when felled, how long ago the tree was cut down, how the timber from the tree has been stored and even the natural characteristics of that specific tree. Truth is that you could have two pieces of timber, same species, same age, same woodland or forest and potentially even from the same tree that will absorb different amounts of the same wood finishing product.

Calculating the Area of 3 Dimensional Objects.

So what about the slightly more complicated stuff like sheds, log cabins or fence panels? Well the maths is the same really, you just have to work out the square meterage of each side.


Working out the area of a garden shed isn’t rocket science.

Length x Width x Height = Area

For example a common sized garden shed is 6ft x 4ft. It has four panels comprising of two sides, plus a front and a back. The height of these shed panels from floor level to the base of the roof can vary but is more often than not around 6 feet. The first step is to measure the width of the front panel by the height which will look like this : 4 feet wide x 6 feet tall = 24 square feet. ‘ What about the triangular bit at the top of the shed sides?’ we hear you say, well let’s not complicate things, rounding things up slightly will mean that there is enough in the pot, and it’s better to have a little too much than not enough. This is the square footage for 1 of your shed panels, simply double that calculation to get the measurement for 2 sides i.e. 24 square feet x 2 = 48 square feet. It’s not worth calculating or subtracting the surface area of windows as in terms of the amount of product, it’s not going to be anymore than perhaps half a tea mug worth or less. Now for the front and back panels. These will be 6 feet wide by 6 feet tall = 36 square feet. Double that measurement to get the area of both side panels so 36 square feet x 2 = 72 square feet.


measuring a shed – width x height x 2, length x height x 2

Quick recap…

  • Front Panel: 6ft x 4ft = 24 feet square
  • Back panel: 6ft x 4ft = 24 feet square
  • Side Panel 1: 6ft x 6ft = 36 feet square
  • Side Panel 2: 6ft x 6ft = 36 feet sqaure

So at this point all you need to do is add all the panel totals together to work out your shed total

24ft + 24ft + 36ft + 36ft = 120 square feet

See that was easy, wasn’t it, but we’re not quite finished yet, you need to input this calculation into the product calculator to work out how much of the product you actually need for the number of coats that you intend to apply, Sorted !!

These calculations will work for both interior and exterior projects in the same way so if it’s a two dimensional object like a wooden floor or table top its simply width x length. For three dimensional objects such as kitchen units or a bookcase, log cabin or garden shed, the principle is length x height x 2 + width x height x 2 = area.

All that’s left to point out is that although our coverage area calculators are super helpful and fairly accurate, they can’t predict if your wood is smooth or rough sawn, new or aged, pre-treated or untreated, weathered or un-weathered. These factors along with the unique characteristics of the tree that the timber came from can all have an effect on the absorption rate, coverage and colour of wood finishing products, that’s why we always recommend rounding up rather than down. After all, it’s far better to finish a job with a little spare than run out with just a patch to do. In terms of coloured wood finishing products, always do a small test area first, perhaps on the back or side of the shed and allow to dry fully before deciding if the colour is right for you.

If you need help calculating how much wood stain, paint, oil varnish or wax you need, feel free to call our helpful team of wood finishing experts, who are always on hand to answer your questions. Don’t be shy! Give us a call or if you prefer, send us an email and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Everything You Need to Know About Pine Flooring

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Of all the types of flooring available, wood is still the most popular. And oak floorboards are gorgeous as well as fashionable. But pine wood flooring is another strong contender in the beauty stakes, a softwood that’s been used to make floorboards for centuries and a feature of many old homes across Britain.


Vintage Pine Floorboards

We’ve taken several long, detailed looks at oak flooring, furniture and doors. Now it’s time to explore the wonderful world of pine. If you have a pine floor that needs attention, or you’ve been tasked with getting one in apple-pie order for someone else, here’s everything you need to know.

Types of pine

Pine, also sometimes called redwood, is cheaper and more common than traditional hardwoods, ranging from almost white through various yellow shades to a deep, rich red. For a softwood it’s often remarkably resilient and long-lasting, especially in the context of well looked after pine floors.

Pinus is the species we see most in UK and EU plantations. It’s useful for all sorts of utility work, a common wood for beams, flooring and structural purposes. But that’s just the start of it. There are a whole load of different types of pine trees found in the wild, so many in fact that the Wood Database website’s impressively long list is far too detailed to repeat here.

If you’re interested in the similarities and differences between soft pines and hard pines, and those within each group, you can’t beat the Wood Database pine page, an excellent resource.

Horses for courses – The pine flooring aesthetic

There’s a variety of flooring ideas and opinions concerning keeping wooden floors looking good. Some concerns involve floor maintenance, as some floors require little in the way of maintenance, while others require plenty of elbow grease and attention. And the choice is often a matter of aesthetics.

One of the best things about wood flooring is that it changes, going through all sorts of fascinating stages over time, depending on its type and location, with an equally wide range of end results. And every stage of the ageing process has its own beauty.

You might love the hundred year (or much older) patina your old pine boards have acquired through generations of wear. It might be stained and dirty, uneven and bent, sometimes more or less black. But to you it’s perfect – a living piece of history marking decades or even centuries of human use. And that’s fine. If it has lasted this long in one piece, it might well last a great deal longer without falling apart on you.

Your floor might be reasonably worn, part way between new and aged. You might adore the effect – the real shabby chic ideal – or you may prefer to get rid of the muck and repair any damage, giving it a whole new lease of life as well as a smooth, contemporary look.

A brand new pine floor, on the other hand, can look pretty raw. The paler it is, the newer and less settled-in it looks. You might want to use a wood dye to create a subtler, less in-your-face effect, calming the brightness down a bit, and if it hasn’t already been protected, you’ll want to add a finishing oil or good quality varnish.

How pine changes over time

The colour is one thing. The condition of old pine floors is another. Old boards can cup or arch over time, each board curling up at the edges, which means when you try to sand them you tend to get a thin sanded strip down the middle of each board at the high point, which widens on each pass of the sander as the boards are slowly levelled by the sanding process.

When you sand old pine boards back to the wood they can look very pale, even colourless. But don’t worry. The minute you apply a clear wood finishing product like an oil or varnish, that warm, attractive natural golden colour will come flooding through.

Testing the colour of your floorboards before finishing them

This change in colour is so dramatic that it’s usually best to test how it’ll look finished before choosing an oil or varnish. Luckily it’s easy. All you do is rub the surface with a damp – not wet – cloth and you get the exact same effect as oiling or varnishing – the colour suddenly shines through. Once you know what’s what, you can choose your finish: either something to enhance the natural colour or a colourless product.

What if you want to get rid of that bright orange/gold colour?

Orange or golden pine isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s the effect you can get from a standard clear oil or varnish – as time passes it can turn a deeper orange/gold, even a nasty brown. If your pine floor has gone a funny colour, you can always sand the old finish off and replace it with a product that won’t change colour as it ages.

If you’re looking to retain the natural appearance of freshly sanded boards, pine or oak, Osmo Polyx Oil Raw and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural are both great products for defusing and countering the gold / orange colour you sometimes get.

  • Osmo Polyx Oil Raw (3044) is made with natural oils and waxes, gives excellent protection and durability and is specifically formulated to retain the ‘natural’ look of wood. It counteracts the damp-looking darkening effect and grain enhancement you typically get with standard clear oils or varnishes.
  • Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural also keeps wood looking as natural and unaltered in colour as possible and dries to a clear, satin-matt finish. It’s perfect for light coloured woods like pine, spruce and oak.

Osmo Polyx Oil

Osmo Polyx Oil

Pine wood floor refinishing – Varnish or oil?

What’s best, an oil or a varnish? The protective qualities are much the same. But oil and varnish come with different types of maintenance, and to a great extent your choice depends on the amount of wear and tear the floor receives.

  • Using a wooden floor varnish tends to provide better durability and less maintenance, but you’ll need to re-sand the entire floor back to bare wood when the varnish eventually gets damaged and worn. How long this takes depends on the type and quality of the varnish and how much wear your floor is subjected to. It could be every year if you have pets, visitors and kids running in and out all the time. It could be five years or more if your home life is a lot quieter or you’ve covered the floor with rugs.
  • Using a wooden floor oil on the other hand requires maintenance, usually every couple of years, but it won’t flake, crack or peel off. It looks better than varnish as it begins to wear and is very easy to patch repair if it becomes worn in specific areas, unlike varnish. When an oiled floor starts to look like its past its best, simply clean with a suitable floor cleaner to remove any marks, scuffs or stains, then re-apply a thin coat of oil, and “Voila!” it’s just like new again. Even bad scuffs, stains, marks and light scratches can be fixed by lightly sanding the area and re-applying a fresh coat of oil.

A tough varnish, by the way, won’t make the flooring itself hard. If you drop something heavy on the floor, the wood will still dent even though the varnish stays intact.

We have put together this handy video helping you to understand the key difference between a varnish and oil, as well as application techniques.

Any pine floorboard maintenance questions?

As always we’ll be pleased to help should you have any questions or queries about interior floor finishes and treatments. Just contact us or leave a comment below and we’ll get right back to you.

Hardwood vs Softwood Furniture and Decking

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Do you choose hardwood garden furniture and decking or go for softwood? It’s a common question. We thought it’d be useful to take a look at the pros and cons of each from a wood finish expert’s perspective.

Key differences between softwoods & hardwoods

How do hard and softwood differ? It’s actually nothing to do with whether the wood feels soft or hard. Softwood furniture is not necessarily soft, nor hardwood furniture particularly hard. It’s all about the seeds. If a tree’s seeds have some sort of covering, like a nutty shell or fleshy fruit coat, it’s a hardwood. If the seeds are bare, open to the elements, it’s a softwood. Another good indicator is if the tree is evergreen or not. Generally speaking, trees such as pine and spruce that keep their leaves and foliage all year long tend to be classed as softwoods.

Hardwood vs Softwood – Which is best?

Is hardwood always a better choice for wooden garden furniture and decks? Perhaps counter-intuitively, no. Hardwood isn’t better than softwood, it’s just different. Hardwood tends to require better woodworking skills and can be a bit more difficult to deal with. It’s almost always better to pre-drill and screw it, not nail it. But both types of wood make great decking and if you treat and maintain softwood decking and furniture properly it can last for decades. And both hard and softwoods are readily available in the UK.

What they look like

Whether you use soft or hard wood outside, it all ends up grey if you don’t treat or stain it in some way. But they’re very different colours when new and untreated.

  • Most new hardwoods are either a golden brown or red brown
  • Treated softwood is usually a pale greeny brown, but it’ll turn a honey brown after a few weeks outdoors
  • A softwood can look very like hardwood when you stain it

Durability is key

Most British garden decking is made from commercially treated softwoods, in other words ‘tanalised’. And it usually comes with a 15 year guarantee against rot, perfectly achievable as long as you look after it and treat any cut surfaces. Having said that, a really well-made and maintained deck can last a great deal longer.

How durable are different woods likely to be in your particular circumstances? It’s an important consideration. Because decking and garden furniture sets are outdoors 24/7, you need a wood that’ll stand up to the outdoor conditions all year round, come rain or shine…or worse!

Think about how it’ll look too, both straight away and after time has taken its toll. If you’re more interested in how it looks now than in years or decades time, a cheaper choice may suit you perfectly. If it’s a long-term investment, a more expensive wood might be more economical and practical.

As a rule, hardwoods like Teak, Iroko and Oak rot more slowly than softwoods. For durability, a properly-treated and manufactured softwood will perform very well compared to a hardwood product. If aesthetics and low maintenance are your priority, a hardwood may be your best bet, although treatment isn’t as necessary, treating it from time to time will help to keep it in top condition.

Most hardwoods survive outdoors all year round while softwood furniture often needs to be covered or brought indoors in the worst weather – not always practical when you’re short on storage space. There’s no such thing as weatherproof garden furniture if you’re looking at wood. And you can’t bring a garden deck indoors.

Environmental pros and cons

The hardwood vs softwood argument also has an environmental angle. Hardwood is cut from trees that grow very slowly. They tend to grow naturally in tropical areas so cost more to produce and ship, an important environmental concern. Most hardwood these days is carefully farmed, with new trees planted to replace those cut down.

It takes more energy to produce hardwoods because the drying process takes longer, as they’re denser than softwoods and contain more natural oils. They’re more likely to be used for high grade timber, dried to a lower moisture content than softwoods. Hardwoods are also usually cut thinner, which means the sawing process consumes more energy. And they usually have to travel further to reach Britain.

Some hardwoods are rare, which means they’re only an environmentally responsible solution when you know for sure they’ve been farmed responsibly, not cut down illegally in a protected forest. Look for the FSA logo and you should be fine.

Softwood tends to come from coniferous trees. They grow faster so they’re more economical, and they tend to be grown in the northern hemisphere rather than the tropics so transport costs are lower. Today’s softwoods almost always come from sustainable sources and the trees are often replaced many times over when farmed in fast-expanding commercial forests – a tick in the environmental box.

Softwoods are grown closer to home and grow much faster. They use less energy in the drying and cutting processes, which also comes with energy benefits. They’re also not as rare as some hardwood species.

Which is the most expensive – hard or softwood?

Softwoods are almost always cheaper. Garden furniture made of hardwood will last two to three decades as long as you maintain it in peak condition, while even well-maintained pine garden furniture only lasts about a decade. Hardwood garden furniture is significantly more expensive than softwood but it’s also more durable, which means it can work out more cost-efficient over time.

Whichever you go for, you can’t get out of the maintenance bit…you’ll need to treat the wood at least once a year, depending on the type of wood and the conditions where you live.

Treatments and maintenance for hard and soft woods

  • If you’re looking at brand new wood, use a wood protector then protect it with your chosen wood finish
  • If the wood is already grey and worn, first use a wood cleaner and colour restorer, then protect it with a wood finish of your choice
  • If the wood is already coated, oiled, painted or varnished and the finish is completely worn out, strip the old finish off by sanding back to bare wood, then clean the wood before adding a protective finish
  • If the finish is old but in good condition and you want to use the same product, clean and dust the surface, sand off any loose flakes and so on then re-coat it
  • If you want to change an existing finish you’ll need to get rid of the original product completely before adding a new type of finish

Recommended protection for exterior soft and hardwood

A penetrating oil finish is perfect for soft and hardwoods, protecting from within to prevent cracking, peeling and flaking, moisture and UV damage. Most oils are clear, although you can get gorgeous tinted wood oils, for example.

Exterior wood paints, stains and varnishes generally require less maintenance than wood oils. This said, however, they only coat the surface, not penetrating the wood, which means you’ll need to take extra care to keep them in tip top condition. On the flip side, although wood oils require maintenance on a more regular basis, they are much easier to maintain as there’s no need to sand back or sand off the old coating first, simply clean the surface and apply a fresh coat of oil…job done.

All the best protective coatings include water repellents and UV absorbents, will be fade resistant, flexible and offer long term protection as well as being easy to apply to your garden deck or outside garden furniture. So how do you choose which wood finish to use on your particular exterior wood?

The timber type matters. Hardwoods like oak and teak for instance will require more maintenance than mahogany, for example, but less than a softwood. If your garden faces south your exterior wood may suffer more sun damage than average, affecting the wood as much as 75% faster.

Wind is also an issue – it can ‘sandblast’ the surface, degrading the coating quicker. So choose a finish that suits your outdoor environment and gives you the least onerous maintenance schedule.

Lost? Ask us which exterior wood product we recommend

As you’ve discovered, it’s complicated. The decision about which wood to choose depends on so many things; the look you’re after, the project, the weather where you live, how much work you’re prepared to put into maintenance, and how you want the wood to look in the short and long term.

If you’re lost in space, why not give us a call? While we can’t choose your wood for you, we can help you pick the very best product for the job in hand. In the meantime this might help. Here’s what our expert says:

Hardwood decking and furniture in a sheltered garden

“In general, dense exotic hardwoods are naturally oily and resistant to mould, algae etc. In sheltered environments, best practice would be to keep them clean and free from organic build up such as leaves, tree sap and other organic matter. Clean yearly with a decking cleaner and treat with a ‘thin’ wood oil that can penetrate into the tight grain of the timber, such as teak oil.”

Softwood decking and furniture in a sheltered garden

“Softwoods in sheltered, damp environments, where there is a lack of direct sunlight, could become prone to mould and algae fairly quickly. Use a wood preservative followed by a decking oil or garden furniture oil. If mould or algae is already present, clean thoroughly with a fungicidal wash or mould and mildew cleaner first. When treated, try to keep free of organic matter. Covering with plastic or tarpaulin may not always help as it may prevent air flow to the wood and trap condensation, potentially accelerating the onset of rot.”

Hardwood decking and furniture in an exposed garden

“Untreated hardwood garden decking and furniture, exposed to wind rain and sun, will lose its colour and eventually turn grey. Using a product that contains Oxalic Acid, such as Osmo Wood Reviver Gel, can help to restore the natural colour of bare timber. Once treated, dense exotic hardwoods should be oiled with a refined oil, such as teak oil, or other thin oil that can penetrate into the tight grain. This will help to protect the timber and retain the colour of the wood for longer.”

Softwood decking and furniture in an exposed garden

“Softwood garden decking and furniture is more susceptible to the elements than hardwood so needs more care and protection, especially to end grain, furniture feet, table legs etc. If it’s new timber, treat with wood preservative then a good quality decking oil or furniture oil. Products with UV filters will prolong the colour of the timber for longer. Wood can easily be coloured with a pigmented / coloured exterior wood oil or decking oil. As a general rule, the darker the colour, the more UV protection it offers. It’s always a good idea to oil exterior softwoods in Autumn to help keep it protected over the wet, cold winter months.”

If you have any questions about what to use on your wooden garden furniture or decking, give us a call. Our team of experts are always on hand to provide helpful advice on how best to protect, restore and renovate new and old, softwood and hardwood garden decking and furniture.

Decking Finish Problems – Sticky Issues

Friday, July 24th, 2015

We’ve covered decking finish problems in some detail already. But some issues are more common – and cause more grief – than others. This week we’re going to look at the common problem of stickiness, where for some reason the decking oil you’re applying just isn’t doing what it says on the tin. We’ll also look at how to remove old finishes so you can re-apply lots of lovely oil, and provide sensible advice about what NOT to do!

Sticky garden decking – What to do about it

You’re doing the decent thing, keeping your garden deck in apple pie order. But when it comes down to actually applying the decking oil, or re-applying more coats, everything seems to be going pear-shaped. It’s sitting on the surface instead of being absorbed, and you’re getting into a right pickle. So what’s all this horrid stickiness about, and how do you fix it?

4 reasons why decking oil goes sticky

  1. Over-application – where the oil isn’t penetrating the surface properly
  2. Issues around using an oil over a non-compatible product like a decking stain, varnish or paint
  3. Not enough preparation – for example trying to use a decking oil over mould or algae
  4. Problems with new hardwood decking, which is already naturally oily

What’s the problem?

If the decking oil you’re applying has gone sticky and isn’t being absorbed properly, your number one reason – assuming it’s new decking – might be the type of wood the decking is made of.

If it’s a brand new deck, is it made from hardwood? If so, it might already be naturally oily. Which means there’s probably nothing wrong at all – the wood might be oily enough in the first place or even pre-treated with an oil. Some new hardwoods, especially exotic ones, are naturally very oily indeed, and you might find they absorb very little oil if any at all, at least until they’ve aged a bit and seen at least 3 months of our famously awful British weather!

Over-application is a simple one. If your deck has been happily absorbing plenty of oil then suddenly stops, it’s probably because the timber is already ‘full’ and can’t absorb any more. All you need to do is stop trying to apply more and wipe off any excess with a lint-free cloth.

Some people try to take short-cuts, or don’t fully understand how various decking products work, for example, trying to add an oil over the top of a non-compatible decking stain, a varnish or even a paint. If that’s what you’re thinking about doing, stop right now – it simply won’t work! Decking oils will only work on bare wood or on decking that has been previously oiled. If your garden deck has been treated with a product that forms a protective film on the surface, sometimes characterised by cracking, peeling of flaking, it will have to be fully removed before adding a decking oil.

The same goes for mould and algae. It might be tempting to just paint decking oil over the top and hope it disappears, but it won’t work. Mould and algea tend to penetrate into the surface, they don’t just sit on top of the wood. And oiling them won’t kill them off, they’re living things and they will only die when treated with a special wood fungicide and mould killer, such as Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner.

Many of the best anti-fungal products for wood kill the mould or algea and also prevent it coming back, which is an excellent idea and buys you more time in between maintenance sessions.

How to remove decking oil

If you’ve taken things too far and need to remove decking oil, or you want to remove a old decking oil and use a different finishing product like a stain or varnish, how do you do it?

Oils soak into the wood rather than just sitting on the surface, so while it’s easy enough to sand them off at surface level, it’s very difficult to get the product out of the grooves. If your deck is oiled, it’s best to use another oil rather than try to remove it and replace it with a stain or paint. Oils are, after all, the best product for decking because they penetrate the wood and protect it so much better, for longer, than something that just sits on the surface, and they let the lovely natural wood grain show through.

There’s a lot of talk online about getting rid of decking oil and replacing it with stain or paint, but the advice is always the same – it’s a huge challenge and you’re probably best off letting it lie. You could try white spirit or a jet washer but even they are far from ideal. Your best bet is to stick with oils. Here’s why…

  • Sanding only works when the deck is smooth, not grooved, and it won’t remove oil from the grooves
  • You can use a jet washer to clean decking finished with oil but it comes with risks of its own – you could damage the wood surface or contaminate the soil as the powerful jet of water pushes the finish out of the wood onto plants and into the ground
  • If you really want to re-treat your decking with a sealer (even though sealers aren’t the best idea for decking) you might be able to remove your oil-based finish with white spirit… on the other hand you might not, and it’s an awful lot of work

The easy way – Replacing other decking finishes with oil

Rather than try to remove an oil finish and replace it with something that won’t do as good a job – like a stain or varnish – it’s  always easier to remove a non-oil finish and replace it with decking oil. A decking stripper, for example, is a great way to get rid of many decking stains and paints so you can replace it with a lovely oil.

Make life easy with a good decking oil

If you want to re-treat a previously oiled decking with a fresh coat of oil – which is what we’d recommend – it’s a much easier job. You won’t even have to remove all the old oil. Just clean the surface thoroughly using a good quality decking cleaner, which will get rid of the dirt, then re-oil it. 2-3 coats should do the trick. If you’re looking for a great quality decking oil, we highly recommend Holzol Decking Oil.

How to maintain a perfect decking oil finish for longer

As a rule, the better you maintain your deck, the less frequently you’ll need to re-oil it.

  • You can’t beat a simple brush for a start, keeping the wood surface free of mud, soil, leaves and so on. Regular sweeping makes a huge difference to the life of a deck
  • Cleaning is your next job, regularly using a decking cleaner to get rid of moss, mould and algae and prevent regrowth for as long as six months
  • Re-finish your deck with oil whenever it starts looking tatty or worn, to help prevent damage before it starts to happen

Need advice?

We’re always happy to provide advice and give help. You can leave a comment below and we’ll get right back to you, or call us and we’ll talk things through with you.

It’s Summer – Can You Stop Wood Going Grey?

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Some people think silvered wood is gorgeous, all worn and vintage-looking, mellow and warm. Others hate the look, since it makes decking, garden furniture, fences and sheds look old and uncared for. It’s horses for courses. So what causes it, does it damage wood and what should you do about it?

How UV exposure affects wood

Sunshine, rain, snow, mist and fog are the culprits for exterior woodwork misery, and we get plenty of them in Britain. Under this constant battering, wood acts very like human skin. When sunburn and windburn peels dead skin flakes off it gives way to new skin, and the grey patina you get on untreated or neglected wood is caused by layers of dead wood fibres.

Even sealed wood will go silvery over time and because dead wood can’t regenerate fresh fibres, you need to do the job on its behalf. But do you really have to? Can you just leave your wooden decking, fences, sheds and so on to age gracefully, or is it important to keep up a decent standard of maintenance and try to stop wood going grey?

Does silvering damage wood?

According to ‘The Effects of Daylight’ by Rebecca Ellison, an expert article in The Building Conservation Directory 2000:

“Wood will also gradually degrade when it is exposed to sunlight. This is because one of its main components, cellulose, undergoes auto-oxidation in the presence of UV radiation in sunlight, leading to surface bleaching.

Cellulose itself does not absorb UV, but lignin, hemi-celluloses and some dyes and pigments cause cellulose to deteriorate because they act as photo-sensitisers, absorbing UV radiation and transferring the energy. As a result some of the long molecular chains of cellulose break up, weakening the material.

As this only occurs at the surface, it generally does not affect the structural integrity of the timber.”

So it really is mostly a matter of aesthetics. Interesting… If you’d like to find out more about the science side of wood’s surface and the way it behaves, we’ve added links to two really interesting resources at the end of this post.

Can grey wood be avoided?

The short answer is, no. But you can delay the greying process by using UV-resistant wood finishing products and keeping the finish of your exterior wood in good condition. These UV-resistant products are ideal for providing extra protection for wooden cladding, garden sheds, wooden decking and garden furniture against the elements.

Does interior wood go grey?

Although greying timber is usually a problem for exterior timber that is exposed to rain and UV rays, interior wooden furniture, floors and fixings, especially in areas such as conservatories and kitchens that are exposed to strong sunlight, will eventually start to lose colour and fade too, albeit at a much slower rate than garden wood. If these areas are also subject to high moisture, such as condensation and steam, this could accelerate the greying process if the wood isn’t protected properly.

Top Tip: If you spray house plants near or on wooden furniture, make sure you dry it afterwards. Not realising in the past, I’ve ended up with one side of a wooden table slightly warped, all grey and crispy. Lesson learned.

How to prevent and treat grey wood

While it appears that leaving wood silver-grey doesn’t necessarily shorten the wood’s useful life, what if you feel it’s more shabby than chic, preferring gleaming, fresh, colourful wood in all its glory? Here’s some information and advice about how to protect wood’s glorious natural colour and sheen…

Protecting new timber

  • Bear in mind most brand new timber comes pre-treated to one extent or another. It should be pre-protected with a good wood preserver or wood oil. If so, it helps to know exactly what it’s treated with so you can use a compatible product when the original finish wears off
  • If not, you can use a decking oil to treat fences and sheds since it’s so water-resistant, flexible and usually comes with built-in UV protection. Most wood preservers, if over-coated with some sort of decking oil or other exterior wood oil will last for up to 5 years. Most exterior wood oils including decking oil will need a top up every 1 to 3 years, depending on how much wind rain and sun the surface of the timber gets
  • Fence stains are pretty good for water protection but in our climate they’re not as good as oils. When water doesn’t sit on the surface and bead any more, its time to apply another coat
  • Wood sealing products work well but like stains they’re not quite as good as wood oils. If it’s particularly wet where you live you’ll have to renew it more often than normal

Restoring old timber

Top Tip: The more silver-grey your wood is, the more elbow grease and extra applications you’ll need. Like so much in life, maintenance is the key!

Now for the science bit we mentioned earlier…

Research by US wood finish experts Merillat

How can you tell, up front, the effect the sun will have on the colour of different woods, and what a UV inhibiting wood finish will do to mitigate it? It’s an interesting question, and one that the US company Merillat has looked into in some detail. It’s about cabinetry but the same principles apply. Here’s what they have to say on the subject…

“Natural sunlight contains Ultra Violet (UV) light rays that may affect the appearance of your cabinets. Merillat has tested our wood types and finishes so that you may be able to determine the approximate effect that UV rays may have on the cabinetry in your home.

The tests we use follow the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) standards for quartz ultra violet light (QUV). The actual results in your home will vary depending on these three factors:

1. Exposure to light (for example, direct from the South, East or West, or indirect from the North)
2. The portion of the cabinet that receives the light (top, base, etc.)
3. The wood itself. The finish does not change colour, the wood itself will.

UV inhibitors have been applied to all Merillat cabinetry. With varying exposure to UV rays, and over time, colour variations will occur.”

They’ve provided some excellent images of the effects of UV rays and various finishes on a range of woods, which you can see here.

Go geeky – The heavy, heavy science bit

The US Forest Service has also carried out some fascinating if dense research into the surface characteristics of wood. If you’d like to delve deep into the subject, here is the the paper on it.

Any questions?

We’re always happy to help you choose the best product for the job. Just give us a call and one of our friendly experts will be on hand to give advice and answer any questions you may have.

To Paint or Not to Paint – Colouring Exterior Wood

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

In conjunction with our latest special offer, this week we’re looking at whether to paint or not to paint, and the various ways you can get to grips with colouring exterior wood. It ties in with our Shed and Fence Free-For-All promotion, which runs from 5th to 12th July 2015 (EXPIRED) and delivers a generous 15% off ALL the discounted products in our shed and fence maintenance ranges. More about that later…

Why paint exterior wood?

Why bother painting exterior wood? Some people do it for protection, others do it for style. But the end result is the same. Provided you do the preparation properly you’ll achieve a beautiful, durable finish that’ll last for ages and protect the wood from the worst of the British weather’s ravages.

What is the definition of paint?

The dictionary definition of paint is “a coloured substance which is spread over a surface and dries to leave a thin decorative or protective coating.” Many people just want colour, and they assume paint is the only option. If that’s you, you’re in for a nice surprise. Coloured wood stains can deliver an equally attractive effect, although they tend to be translucent, and they protect exterior wood better than paint.

How to prepare exterior wood for paint

Every wood maintenance project begins the same way – you need to make sure the surface is sound, clean, dry, free from dirt, dust and grease. It’s also a good idea to fill cracks, holes and open joints with a good exterior filler, so you get a smooth, even, professional-looking finish.

Preparing bare wood for paint

  • Give the surface a sand to provide a ‘key’ for the paint to stick to
  • Brush and dust the surface afterwards to get rid of every spot of sawdust
  • If the wood is showing signs of fungus or mildew, treat the surface with an anti-fungal exterior wood treatment, followed by a non wax or oil-based preservative before you prime it
  • Rotten wood needs to be cut out, including at least 25mm of good wood around the rot and replaced with new wood
  • If the wood is knotty, you’ll need to cover the knots with a good wood knot and resin blocker or the knots will cause stains that show through the paint. If not, an ordinary primer or undercoat should do the trick. Having said that, some wood paints don’t require an undercoat, so check first
  • Now you’re ready to apply a topcoat of coloured paint. Just make sure you leave adequate time for any undercoat or primer to fully dry first
  • You might need two top coats – it depends on how the wood looks after one coat, and what the manufacturer’s instructions say

Preparing exterior wood that’s already been painted

  • Again, your first task is to get busy with the sandpaper, getting rid of loose paint that has flaked, peeled and blistered to reveal a flat, smooth surface with a good key
  • Use a mould remover if there’s any wood rotting fungus in evidence or the wood is in a particularly damp area and might need extra protection
  • As before, cover any knots with a special knot and resin blocker, otherwise use an ordinary primer or undercoat
  • Leave your undercoat/s to dry completely then add your topcoat

What if you want a translucent finish?

Paint isn’t the only product for fabulous-looking exterior wood. You might not want an opaque finish, which covers the wood completely and blocks its natural colour. What if you prefer a translucent finish, where the beauty of the wood’s grain and glowing hue shines through?

If that’s what you’re after, wood oils, wood preservers and wood stains might be just the thing. Unlike exterior paints they won’t flake, crack or peel. And also unlike paint, they have a useful extra function: they nourish the wood and keep it supple, which in turn makes for a longer life.

How to prepare exterior wood for an oil-based wood stain

  • Sand the timber back to bare wood and dust the surface
  • Use a good quality brush to apply the stain
  • Work in small sections so you keep control of the job – try to cover too much of the surface at once and you risk runs, overly-thick or thin areas and sticky bits
  • Always brush in the direction of the wood grain
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about the number of coats – many wood oils require at least two coats, some more
  • Let the product dry fully before adding the next coat
  • Sand the surface down with 240 grade sandpaper before you add the final coat for an extra-smooth and longer-lasting finish

Preparing exterior wood for a wood preserver

  • Remove any existing surface coats of varnish, paint or other surface coatings by sanding or with a suitable stripping or removing product
  • Make sure the wood is clean, dry and dust-free
  • Apply the wood preservative with a brush or paint roller – if the surface area is large you might want to invest in a spray system and save yourself a lot of time
  • Let the product dry fully in between coats, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about how many coats you need

How to prepare exterior wood for a wood oil

Wood oils deliver a water-repellent finish and enhance the wood’s natural colour. They also feed, seal, nourish and protect it. Some oils deliver a very hard wearing surface, for example decking oils, others give protection against damaging UV rays. Many do both to some degree or another. Colourless or clear wood oils may offer some UV resistance but it’ll never be as much as a coloured wood oil or oil-based wood stain. As a general rule, the darker the colour, the more UV resistance the product offers.

  • If the wood is new, sand and dust it first to create a smooth surface
  • Many wood oils can be applied to a previously-oiled surface, but always do a test area first
  • If the wood has already been varnished, painted or stained with some sort of surface coating, you’ll need to remove the original finish first with a suitable stripper or by sanding
  • If the wood has gone grey through weather-wear and UV rays, you’ll need to sand it back first to reveal the natural colour
  • Never apply wood oil to a damp surface or in direct sunlight
  • Apply the wood oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions – they’re all slightly different

Colouring exterior wood – Your front door and window frames

Very few people tend to use oils and varnishes on their front door. Natural wood looks lovely, of course, but doors and window frames are usually painted.

Why? Apart from being traditional, it’s an aesthetic thing. Top quality old or new solid oak doors and lovely, old, distressed vintage doors can look fantastic unpainted, simply preserved and sealed.

If you want to varnish or oil your exterior wood doors and window frames, follow the same instructions as you would for a wooden fence or shed for a beautiful, rich, natural wood look.

  • If the paint is flaking and obviously on its last legs, strip it off and start again using a good quality primer, two undercoat and usually 2 or more coats of gloss
  • If the paintwork isn’t in too much of a state you can rub it down with wet and dry sandpaper to create a smooth surface then add two undercoat layers and one or 2 coats of gloss or, if you don’t want that super-shiny look, a matt or silk-finish exterior paint

Exterior wood finish health and safety tips

Some wood maintenance products are solvent-based, which means there are a few essential safety tips to take into account. If you don’t know, read the label. Here are some common sense health and safety tips which are useful whatever product you end up using.

  • Check for any product-specific safety tips on the tin or container
  • Only use solvent-based wood products in well ventilated areas
  • Either wash or throw away any rags, cloths or brushes you’ve used – in some circumstances solvent-soaked items can catch fire
  • Wear protective clothing and gloves if the manufacturer recommends it
  • If you get any product in your eyes or on your skin, wash it off straight away – better safe than sorry
  • Keep wood finishing products away from food, areas where food is prepared, children and pets. If you’re working near a water tank or pond make sure you keep the product away from the water – many wood maintenance products can be harmful to plants, people, animals, insects and especially fish when the product is in liquid form. When dry, they’re generally perfectly safe for people, plants and animals
  • It’s wise to keep the product in the container it came in and keep it tightly closed when you’re not actively using it
  • Avoid breathing in any fumes
  • Steer clear of naked flames, including cigarettes and lighters – some products are highly flammable, especially before they’re dry
  • Always dispose of any unwanted product responsibly – find out how on your local council website
  • If anyone accidentally ingests any of the product, get to a doctor straight away and take the product label with you so medical staff know exactly what’s been consumed
  • Don’t spill products on plastic, concrete, bricks or anything else, since it might stain or otherwise damage them

Any questions about wood paint, oil, preserver or varnish?

Unlike many online suppliers, we’re more than happy to give you advice, help and support with choosing the right product or products for the job. Call us for friendly, expert advice.

What is Wood Rot?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Rotted wood is more than just a nuisance. Advanced decay can cause structural failure. We’ve talked about wood rot in previous posts, and about wood rot repair. But what is wood rot in its various guises?

We thought it’d be useful to take a look at the nature of wood fungus in general, dry rot, wet rot and other types of rot that can make your wood look less than its best and ultimately destroy it.

About wood decay fungus on dead and live wood

Wood decay fungus comes in various varieties but they all digest damp wood. Take brown rot, the major contributor to decay in dead wood, or the Honey Fungus which colonises and attacks living trees. Some fungi actually grow on the wood and consume it, effectively destroying their own home. Others affect the carbohydrates contained in wood and others go for the lignin, the organic polymer that keeps the cells in plants rigid.

How is wood rot classified?

The commonest types of wood decay fungus are soft rot, brown rot and white rot, and because they each contain their own unique destructive enzymes they can take hold on a wide variety of trees.

About brown rot – A common wood killer

Brown rot fungi break down cellulose using hydrogen peroxide, a substance that comes from broken-down hemi-cellulose. A tiny molecule, it slips into the wood and spreads fast. The wood shrinks, goes a nasty brown colour and ultimately cracks into separate cubes, all weak and crumbly.

There are many different types of brown rot fungus, but those causing the most damage to the wood humans use are Serpula lacrymans, what experts call ‘true’ dry rot, and Coniophora puteana, a cellular fungus which attacks timber in buildings.

About dry rot…which doesn’t actually exist!

Experts used to classify wood rot as dry and wet, but this was misleading since all rotten wood is wet or has been wet at one time or another. Because brown rot makes wood dry and easy to crumble it’s often called ‘dry rot’, but this isn’t strictly accurate since wood has to be damp in the first place or it won’t decay. So the term dry rot tends to be an umbrella term for brown fungi in general.

About soft rot – Loves harsh conditions, rare indoors

The fungi responsible for soft rot do their dirty deeds by secreting the enzyme cellulase which destroys cellulose, generating tiny holes inside the wood which eventually discolour and crack, very much like brown rot.

Soft rot fungi in general have the ability to thrive where it’s too hot, wet or cold for their brown or wet rot relatives. They can even cause damage to the bark, which often contains so much tannin it’s notoriously difficult to decompose. Common variants include Chaetomium and Ceratocystis, but they’re not the worst offenders. The top chart position for mayhem and chaos is taken by white rot fungi, one of the most aggresive and successful decomposers of all.

About white rot – Commonest in hardwoods

Some white rot fungi destroy both lignin and cellulose, leaving wood in a horrible moist, soft, sponge-like or stringy state with a sickly white or yellowy colour. Others only attack the lignin, using particularly powerful enzymes like laccase. White rot can involve all sorts of enzymes, some of which are even strong enough to oxidise lignin. Take the honey mushroom which, despite its pretty name, attacks live trees and causes untold damage.

Other white rot fungus variations include the turkey tail and artist’s conch, both fascinating and oddly beautiful. And some are even edible, like the famously delicious Shiitake mushroom, prized the world over for its delicate flavour.

Is rot the same as mould?

No. Mould and mildew are also fungal and love damp wood, but they only cause discolouration, not decay. On the other hand because they can make wood more absorbent, they can leave it vulnerable to rot.

How fungus gets into wood

Dry wood doesn’t tend to rot. It lasts for centuries – all you need to do is visit one of Britain’s spectacular cathedrals or minsters to see ancient wood in action, doing a brilliant job many generations after it was put in place.

How wet does wood need to be to start rotting? A good general rule is ‘when it goes past the Fibre Saturation Point’, which means  about 30% or more water content. If it’s soggy to the touch, it’s time to identify where the damp is coming from and fix it, then treat the timber for fungi.

How does fungus get into wood? Tiny wood decaying spores are blown onto the wood by the wind and settle on the surface before germinating once the temperature is high enough. The resulting mini-fungi ‘plants’ penetrate the wood and secrete their enzymes, softening it and making it easier to digest. Under the right conditions they multiply like crazy and before you know it, they’ve smothered the wood.

Common causes of rotten wood

Wood can rot for all sorts of reasons but it will never rot if it’s dry and has always been dry. The most common causes of timber rot are:

  • Wood that comes in contact with the soil – you need to leave at least six clear inches between the wood and the earth to stop damp wicking up through capillary action
  • Badly-placed lawn sprinklers and badly-fitting drainpipes that keep wood wet
  • Too much greenery against the building, which holds moisture
  • Leaky plumbing and bad drainage
  • Not enough ventilation, a common issue in new-build homes with their excellent insulation
  • Water sitting under the building
  • Roof damage which lets water in
  • Neglected wooden decking and sad, saggy garden sheds

Can I buy rot resistant wood?

Yes, and it comes in many guises from fairly resistant to extremely. Here’s a list.

Reasonably rot resistant woods:

  • Cypress
  • Redwood
  • Old-growth pine

Rot resistant woods:

  • Pressure treated pine (a process using harsh chemicals)
  • Old-growth cypress and redwood
  • Cedar
  • White oak

Very rot resistant woods:

  • Mahogany
  • Spanish cedar
  • Teak
  • Ipe
  • Accoya

Wood rot treatment and wood preservative

Wood can rot all over your home. In structural timber, door trim, eaves, exterior trims, anywhere there’s damp. The best approach is to remove all rotten timber and replace with new where possible. As a guide, when removing old rotten wood, you should also remove 2 to 3 inches of good sound wood around the rot just to be certain that you have removed all of the affected timber. This will ensure that no trace rot has migrated on to as yet unaffected timber that can potentially start the process again. If this isn’t an option then there are a range of wood repair and dry rot treatment solutions.

Recommended products for dry rot treatment

Brown rot epoxy treatments work by filling gaps in the damaged wood, killing the rot and restoring the timber’s structural integrity. Oddly enough, commercial antifreeze also works beautifully to prevent brown rot in the first place, as well as killing the fungus itself.

Some compounds of copper, including copper naphthenate, come in solution form and are often used to fix brown rot damage. When you remove the rotten bits then drench the surface with the compound, it helps protect against further damage.

Brown rot can spread way beyond its original site and even travel through and along walls, hiding behind plaster and render. This is serious, and you’ll need to get down and dirty stripping the plaster and wall coverings right back, as far as a metre beyond where the fungus has reached, then treat the lot. But you need to exercise common sense – since brown rot only attacks wet wood, there’s no need to remove plaster and so on where there’s no timber present at all or the timber is completely dry.

It’s also important to find out where the water is coming from and stop it making your wood wet again. Fungi need moisture so when the affected wood dries, the rot also dies.

Recommended wood rot treatment

Can we recommend a really good anti-fungal product for decking treatment, indoor wood rot and other fungal nightmares?

Yes. We highly recommend Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner, a powerful fungicidal wash perfect for removing nasties like fungi, mould, mildew and algae from all manner of different surfaces – inside and out – including stone, wood and even UPVC. It gets rid of the horrid black mouldy stuff wood fungi creates and it barely smells at all, something our customers appreciate! Once you’ve treated your wood with it, you can beautify the wood again using a good wood preserver or wood oil.

Any questions?

As ever, we’ll be delighted to put our technical hats on and provide expert advice. Simply call us or send us an email.

Looking After Log Cabins

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Not so long ago you’d only see log cabins in cowboy movies, or perhaps while on holiday in the USA or Canada. But in recent years the log cabin has been growing in popularity over here.

Sometimes they’re built as holiday homes. They’re a popular way to enjoy glamping. They’re also popping up in people’s gardens from Lands End to John O’Groats, fulfilling the need for extra living space in the form of home offices, play spaces, smart garden storage, cosy private dens for teens and miniature house party venues.

There are increasing numbers of log cabins with hot tubs. Log cabin weekend breaks are hugely popular with families and couples alike. And residential log cabins make super permanent homes. You can buy log cabin kits and build your own holiday haven, a kids’ playroom in the garden or an outdoor home office. You can even build a log cabin simply as an alternative to a garden shed, much better looking and longer lasting than your ordinary, everyday shed.

Log cabins are eco-friendly, supremely cosy, natural, beautiful to look at and, when they’re built right and maintained properly, they can last for decades if not hundreds of years. We thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the rise and rise of the not-so-humble log cabin and explore the ins and outs of log cabin maintenance.

If you’re considering building one or getting someone else to build one for you, read on…

Britain’s love affair with log cabins

No wonder log cabin holidays are so popular. Picture this: you’ve booked a log cabin holiday with someone like Forest Holidays, just one of many providers. Their brand new Golden Oak Hideaway cabins are exclusively for couples, the ultimate romantic hideaway, and they come beautifully equipped with a hot tub, a wood burning stove, outdoor hammock, decking, a massive two-person sunken bath and panoramic forest views.

Then there’s Lincolnshire Lodges, which runs the gorgeous Highfields Retreat. It’s a haven for older people who want to make the most of retirement and people of working age who want an unusual second home. They have a bunch of top quality, affordable wooden lodges for sale in a lovely natural setting – 190 acres of private meadows, lakes and woodlands.

And what about Hoseasons, a household name holiday firm that’s grabbed the log cabin trend with both hands and run with it, offering a huge range of log cabin holidays and breaks in luxurious lodges.

No wonder more and more of us are building log cabins at home. Wood is wonderfully warm and cosy, solid and rugged, and you really can’t beat the tangy, fresh smell of timber. They tend to cost less to build than a regular bricks and mortar structure. And they look a whole lot nicer.

About log cabin kits

While building a log cabin from scratch might be a bit too much of a challenge for ordinary bods, most of us can handle a DIY log cabin kit with its simple instructions and all the materials you need delivered together. If not, plenty of kit retailers offer a home delivery and build service, where experts turn up and erect your cabin for you in no time. If you’ve ever struggled helplessly and failed to assemble a piece of flat pack Ikea furniture, ending up furious and frustrated, it’s probably your best bet!

Here are some UK firms offering wooden lodge kits, some of which also provide support putting them together:

Looking after log cabins – Good log cabin maintenance

So you’ve bought and built your own log cabin, either using a kit, starting from scratch or getting an expert to build it for you. It looks absolutely fabulous. But how do you keep it looking that way for posterity?

Log home maintenance is mainly a matter of up-keeping the shell, the outside of the structure, to protect the wood from UV radiation, water damage, air infiltration and insects. The first thing to do is carry out an annual wash to get rid of dust, pollen, bird poo and insects debris like webs and egg sacs, all of which can prematurely wear off the finish. Washing the outside also lets you spot any knackered caulking, the stuff that goes in between the logs in some – but not all – cabin designs.

Wash the outside, let the wood dry then you’ll be in a position to make sensible decisions about what you need to do next. It’s important to know which type of wood stain, treatment or preservative has been used, if any. If it’s an oil-based log cabin preservative or treatment you’ll be able to see when washing whether the water is beading and running off the timber or soaking in. If water is soaking into the timber, it’s a sign that the oil treatment or preservative has worn off and needs replacing. One or two maintenance coats should do the trick.

If your log cabin features caulking, remove any failed caulking with a knife, let the surface dry out completely then add new caulking before re-staining.

Many experts recommend you fix rain gutters to your log cabin. They might not look brilliant, often far from rustic, but they can save you a fortune in the long run by helping prevent water damage.

Don’t forget the doors, door frames, windows and window frames. If they’re wood too, they’ll need an equal amount of care and attention to keep them looking and performing their best.

6 handy log cabin maintenance facts

  1. The single most important factor is cleanliness, cleaning and drying the surface and getting rid of pollen, dust and mould every season, especially the bits that face into the prevailing weather.
  2. The more moisture there is, the more potential there is for mould and mildew to grow. If your cabin is under trees, shaded or has a dripping roof line, mould and mildew will arrive sooner or later. But it’s a matter of regular maintenance. Using a mould and mildew cleaner to clean and clear any biological growth will help preserve the life of your log cabin for perhaps a lifetime.
  3. In Britain – so far – insects aren’t as much of an issue as they are in the USA, where log cabins are decimated by termites and carpenter bees. Climate change is bringing new risks as the weather warms, so fingers crossed we don’t end up with termites over here. If you do find woodworm or other insect damage, treat it appropriately then fill any small holes with wood filler before re-sealing the surface.
  4. A wood stain’s main job is to repel water and protect the surface from damaging UV rays, both of which can quickly degrade the surface. The pigment in wood stain helps keep the logs in prime condition.
  5. Do you need a water-based or oil-based stain? It depends on the cabin’s location and the weather in the area. Oil stain is often a thicker product which holds more pigment than its water-based counterparts. If your cabin already has an oil based stain, you must use another oil-based product for maintenance unless you completely remove the oil-based stain first. As a general rule you can’t mix and match oil and water-based products.
  6. Logs crack. It’s perfectly natural and nothing to worry about unless they’re in a place where exposure to the elements causes them to widen and broaden. The best way to prevent cracking is to clean the wood well and ensure that the wood is well preserved and oiled to keep it supple and protected from moisture and rain. If the split or crack is widening and becoming a problem, it can be either filled with an exterior wood filler or sealer or alternatively, sealed with a crafted splint of timber that fits the crack.

Recommended wood log cabin treatment

A good quality wood preservative is the best way to achieve longevity, and 2-3 coats of oil should do the trick. Some people use a coloured preservative with a clear oil on top, others use a clear preservative with a coloured oil on top for good looks as well as preservation.

We highly recommend the excellent Barrettine Log Cabin Treatment, a specially formulated clear oil that repels water like nobody’s business. We also have a great range of brilliant wood preservation products suitable for log cabins, wooden sheds and other wood buildings. Here’s a link to our dedicated log cabin treatment page.

Any questions?

As usual, our wood preservation experts are at hand to help and advise. Just call us for an informal chat with someone who knows their onions.

7 Common Decking Problems and Solutions

Friday, May 15th, 2015

We’re launching a special Decking Promotion on 7th June (EXPIRED), for one week only, which makes now the ideal time to explore the most common decking problems people encounter, especially at this time of year. For 15% off of a great range of decking maintenance and restoration products, simply enter the discount code ‘DECKSPEC15‘ at checkout during the offer dates.

Common garden decking questions answered

If your wooden decking is slippery, blackened, faded, dirty, warped or marred by unsightly gaps, all is not lost. Read on for expert advice about getting timber decking back into tip top condition for a long, hot, lazy summer of alfresco fun.

Slippery decking timber – How to make things safer

Our blog post about stopping slippery decking is one of the most popular ‘how to’ resources on our site. No surprise there when the great British weather delivers such a mish-mash of different conditions peppered with what seems like at least one record-breaking extreme weather event every year.

Here’s a link to How to Make Decking Non Slip. It tells you how and why decking gets slippery, and provides information about how to achieve non slip decking that’s both safe and good to look at.

We also make product recommendations, namely the splendidly effective Osmo Anti-Slip Decking Oil, which is much easier to maintain than the alternatives: anti-slip decking paint and anti-slip varnish, both of which will deteriorate, peel and flake over time, something a good quality anti-slip decking oil will never do.

Blackened decking – How to make your decking beautiful again

Whether you’ve gone for cheap decking or something sturdier and longer-lasting, blackening is a risk, especially after a long, wet winter. When fungus meets wet wood, the tannin in the timber reacts and forms a horrible black stain. It’s a sign you’re heading for rotten decking, something you really need to stop in its tracks before it damages the timber beyond repair.

We’ve talked about how to fix blackened timber decking in our blog post Wooden Decking Stains, Treatments & Oils: Part 2 – Problems & Cures. We also talk about dealing with wood rot in our post about How to Clean Decking, packed with practical advice about keeping your garden deck looking absolutely fabulous.

Both posts include sensible recommendations about fighting wood rot and getting rid of the black stuff, namely using Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner, a brilliant industrial-strength fungicidal wash designed to kill fungi, mould, mildew and algae. It also removes the famously nasty black slime and it’s perfect for use on exterior wooden doors, windows, garden sheds and fences as well as garden decks. Low odour and versatile, you can simply overcoat it with both wood preservation products and wood oils once fully dry.

Faded decking – Bring back that glorious natural colour and glow

A lot of people love the silvery sheen wood gets when it’s faded and worn. But the colour change actually signals UV and water damage to the surface of the timber and although it’s OK to leave it to fade, your decking will last longer if you treat the UV damage to help bring back the wood’s glorious natural colour and sheen. We talk about how to do this in the aforementioned blog posts.

Which products do we recommend for treating faded, silvery garden decking boards? In our experience you can’t go far wrong with Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel, an excellent quality biodegradable cleaner with no smell, specially designed to restore your decking’s lovely natural look and colour.

All you do is apply the stuff, exercise patience for twenty minutes then remove it with a hard-bristled brush and water. If the silvering is severe it’ll take some extra elbow grease and perhaps multiple applications. But it’s well worth the effort as the wood’s natural colour will come back through within 48 hours, just like magic. You can even use a good exterior wood oil after to help protect the wood against further weather damage.

Dirty decking – Get rid of the muck!

Our popular blog post about How to Clean Decking also delivers all the answers you need if your wooden garden deck is grubby and tired-looking. Luckily if all it’s suffering from is everyday dirt and muck, the solution is simple.

We recommend Barrettine Complete Decking and Patio Cleaner, a magical product that strips off dirt and grime like nobody’s business. It also helps control nasties like mould, algae and fungi and works on a host of different exterior surfaces, including concrete, stone and tiles. It’s easy to use, a nice quick job, and you can apply a good quality decking oil over the top, no problem at all. Ronseal Decking Oil is another firm favourite of ours – and our customers also love it.

Warped decking – How to fix bowed garden decks

If you’ve left your decking maintenance for too long you might find the boards have warped, something that happens when the deck hasn’t been adequately weather treated. It can also occur when the weather has been particularly bad. Whatever the reason, when your decking boards begin to warp and bow, you need to take action.

Here’s a video about straightening bent bowed deck boards…

And here’s some advice from Homeguides:

“Decking boards that have been in the sun and rain can’t help being affected, and some of them inevitably warp. This becomes a problem when a board pulls out the fasteners holding it to the joists.  Replacing the fasteners isn’t difficult – you simply pull out the old ones and drive new ones – but straightening the boards can be difficult. A solution is to use a bar clamp. Work one of the stops into the gap between two straight boards and place the other stop on the edge of the warped board, then tighten the clamp to draw the warped board into place. Use extra fasteners to hold it before removing the clamp.”

What if straightening the boards just isn’t going to fix the issue? You might have to replace the warped boards altogether, in which case here’s a link to some sensible advice about how to replace warped decking.

Gaps in decking – How to fill them?

If your deck’s full of nail holes or gaps where areas of rot have taken hold, how do you fill them? After all, wood flexes so you can’t use something that doesn’t flex with the substrate.

Luckily a good wood filling product, which acts like an epoxy filler, should do the trick. The instructions vary by manufacturer, but the basics are the same. Just bear in mind wood filler isn’t suitable for repairing gaps and holes so large they actually qualify as structural damage.

Here’s a video to help you repair gaps in decking…

More decking ideas – What if you want to add colour?

With 12 stunning shades to choose from, including slate, whitewash and stone grey, Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain  delivers rich, long lasting colour with excellent weather resistance, making it ideal for decked areas.

The product offers unrivalled durability with really good UV protection and it’s dry and rainproof in just an hour and a half. Better still it’s slip resistant, ideal for all kinds of decking designs whether it’s the smooth stuff or the version with a ridged profile, both softwood and hardwood decking.

Need advice about garden deck maintenance?

Our expert team is always happy to help with professional advice about wood finishing products and projects. Just call us for an informal chat with someone who knows their stuff.

Protecting Your Home from Water Damage

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Only a few stray eccentrics still believe climate change isn’t happening, or that it isn’t human-driven. The rest of us acknowledge the planet’s climate is warming and a good few of us are already taking special measures as the weather gets less predictable, more extreme and – here at home – more prone to flooding.

In Britain the main effect will probably be wetter, warmer, windier winters and drier, hotter summers, but the jury’s still out. The problem is there are so many different factors involved in predicting future weather patterns, especially since the British weather is already – and has always been – all over the place owing to our unique position on the globe.

Whatever happens it makes sense to be aware of the affect things like rain and water damage, flood damage and storm damage can do to your home and find out if there’s a way to prevent or reduce the impact.

We thought it’d be interesting to take a look at some basic tips for weather proofing your home and reducing water damage of various kinds. And, because we’re wood finishing specialists, we have a very special product to introduce to you, designed to help you protect wood from water damage and much more.

Protecting your home from weather damage

Water damage repair and waterproofing are a challenge, and it’s one many of us are likely to get familiar with over the coming years. Here are seven key tips to help you protect your home against the worst effects of water damage and flood damage.

7 tips to avoid the worst storm damage

  1. Check and repair the roof. The UK Environment Agency says the most important measure to take to prevent damage by water is good maintenance, since even minor roof defects can result in major damage. Wind damage also means water can get in. The unseen damage caused by roof leaks is often worse than it appears from the outside, so get a reputable roofing contractor in to inspect it, make repairs and recommend any extra waterproofing measures you might be able to take.
  2. Trim and stake trees and big bushes. Bare winter branches are one thing, but when they’re in full leaf, trees and bushes provide a much denser, sail-like wind barrier at extra risk of being blown down. Lop the tops off any trees close to your house and stake any that are loose or wobbly, firmly using guy ropes and tent pegs for belt-and-braces safety in particularly nasty weather. The last thing you want is for something to blow down and trash your garden shed or make a massive hole in your roof.
  3. Check your shed. If the shed roof felting is loose, damp or on its last legs, high winds can tear it right off, leaving it open to leaks. Replace it or stick everything back down firmly and waterproof the body of the shed with a specialist wood waterproofing product – more about that later.
  4. Clear gutters and downpipes. Keep your gutters free of leaves and muck, repairing any leaks. When they drain properly and are firmly fixed to the building, they’re less likely to be blown off and less likely to lead to damage.
  5. Get your sewerage pipes and drains sorted. A sewerage back-up is the last thing you need, adding fortunes to the clean-up cost and even making your home uninhabitable. Maintenance is really important, especially if you live in an older house with Victorian drains. You might even like to fit a Sewer Backflow Valve. You can protect your interior wood all you like but if your home’s three feet deep in filthy water, the best wood preservation products in the known universe won’t save it.
  6. Maintain wooden window frames and doors. Rotten warped wood lets the water in. Maintain your wooden windowsills, door frames and exterior doors on a regular basis to keep them in good condition, which will keep water at bay.
  7. Mould removal (AKA mold removal). Any kind of mould on interior or exterior wood is a clear indication that the wood isn’t exactly in the best condition. We sell a choice of proven wood cleaners for removing mould and mildew, so get busy before the heavens open and the downpours start.

Water damage prevention advice from the Environment Agency

Damage from wet comes in all sorts of guises, from an annoying leak to a fully-fledged disaster. What happens if the weather goes totally pear-shaped and you’re faced with a full-on flood? The Environment Agency provides sensible advice for residential property owners to minimise the risk and repercussions of water damage, flooding in particular.

Advising householders and businesses about flood threats and how to minimise their losses, a handy tool on the Agency’s website tells you how likely flooding is in your postcode area, and their Floodline gives plenty of advice about what to do before, during and after a flood.

Floodline’s special Factsheets are full of handy guidance, things like preparing a flood plan, collecting together a flood kit, what to do when there’s a flood warning and how to cope with the aftermath. And they recommend you keep a weather eye (pun intended) on the forecast if things start to look iffy.

Like us, they’re keen on prevention. As their website says: “While in many cases damage is difficult to prevent there is no doubt that the overall losses are increased as the result of inadequate building design, defects in workmanship or poor maintenance.” We’d like to think they approve of our expert recommendations for maintaining wood…

Barrettine Water Seal – Weatherproofing wood

And now for the exterior wood protection bit. You want to protect exterior wood from water damage? No problem. We’re pleased to present the excellent Barrettine Water Seal, the ideal way to seal and protect outdoor wood – and a great deal more – from the ravages of the wet stuff.


Barrettine Water Seal 5L

This product is absolutely brilliant. The deep penetrating formula provides a tough, invisible seal. It forms a clever breathable membrane which lets moisture vapour inside the wood evaporate away at the same time as stopping damp from getting in. It doesn’t degrade in the sun and it’s long-lasting even when the conditions are consistently soggy. Here’s some key points:

  • Recommended for most porous building materials, including brick, concrete, stone, slate, stucco and wood
  • Also waterproofs natural materials like cotton, canvas and leather
  • Easy to apply with a brush, roller or low pressure spray – or simply pour it on horizontal surfaces
  • Clear and colourless
  • Touch dry in 2 hours, fully dry within 24 – 48 hours
  • You can easily re-apply the product when it wears off, even in patches
  • It lasts 2 – 10 years depending on the conditions

A few caveats:

Barrettine Water Seal 5L can’t be used with any other products underneath, although you can paint over it. It isn’t suitable for the horizontal surfaces people walk on, like garden decking, steps or paths, since it’s silicon-rich and slippy. It’s not suitable for plywood, nor is it suitable for sealing roofs.

This fabulous product is easy to use but there are a few important instructions to follow. We’ve provided full details about this product, including where and how to use it on our Barrettine Water Seal product page.

Here to help with all your wood maintenance questions

As usual, if you’re unsure you can always contact us. We don’t just sell wood finishing products, we know all about them too, and our friendly team is always pleased to help.

All About Wooden Garden Fence Maintenance

Friday, April 17th, 2015

If you’re the proud owner of an attractive looking wood garden fence it can be a constant source of annoyance and stress, especially if you live somewhere that experiences the full force of the wind. If you live in a location like this and your fence lasts five years or more without any partial collapse, count yourself lucky.

Lattice and Trellis Wooden Fencing

Lattice and Trellis Wooden Fencing

Here’s our common sense guide to wooden garden fencing maintenance and how to keep it in the best possible condition for as long as you can, based on our own experiences.

Wooden garden fence maintenance nightmares

My husband and I moved into our current home in late summer 2004, when the house was just two years old. It’s around 500 feet above sea level looking due West towards the prevailing weather and the sea, very salty and windy. As you can imagine the views are spectacular but it can get very wild up here, especially in winter.

Less than three short years later the garden fence was in bits following a particularly windy week, a period during which we lay awake at night listening to the roaring gales, wondering which section of our fence would blow down next. No fun at all.

Wind Damaged Wooden Fencing

Wind Damaged Wooden Fencing

If you’ve ever watched your fences sail away in the wind…

In our experience the biggest issue with a regulation, bog standard wooden garden fence is that each panel acts like an enormous sail, catching the wind and putting the entire structure under massive amounts of stress, the fence posts in particular. When we staggered downstairs the morning after, all those years ago, we found four fence posts cracked at ground level, all broken in two, presumably weakened by damp coming from the soil. The panels themselves, however, were in pretty good nick.

Wooden Fencing Needs Preservation

Wooden Fencing Needs Preservation

We had been adding an annual coat of wood preserver to the posts and panels, doing our best to maintain a solid, strong structure. This had paid off on the timber above ground but it was the wood in the ground which was the problem. The first time around we replaced the posts with good quality, properly-preserved wooden fence posts, again set carefully in blocks of Postcrete. We even sat the bottom of the posts in tough plastic bags before setting them into the ground in an effort to prevent the wood from rotting so quickly at ground level.

Three years later they all blew down again, for the second time, and once more the majority of the damage was to the posts, with the panels remaining reasonably solid. We did the same thing, replacing the posts and re-fixing the panels, but during winter 2013 it blew down a third time…and this time was the final straw. The posts were the main culprits again and the panels, now more than ten years old, were now starting to show their age.

Mature Garden Next to Wooden Fencing

Mature Garden Next to Wooden Fencing

This time we gave up in disgust and replaced the majority of the broken wood fencing with laurel bushes, at a cost of £190 compared to not much less than £1000 if we’d replaced the fence using the same old stuff. The plants sway and bend in the wind but they won’t break and are easy to trim into shape. And they’re wildlife friendly, a great hiding place for birds and insects.

‘Hit and miss’ garden fencing does the trick

For privacy’s sake we still needed a 12 foot expanse of fence at the house end of the back garden, but this time we chose special wind-resistant fencing that is, apparently, very popular in windy places and lasts longer than the usual cheap stuff.


Hit and Miss Wooden Fencing

It’s called ‘hit and miss’ fencing, AKA ventilation panels, and I must admit it makes our original garden fencing seem pretty pathetic. The frame is both morticed and tenoned for extra strength and the design lets a percentage of the wind pass harmlessly through the panel instead of making it act like a tremendous sail and putting pressure on the posts. There’s a double layer of slats placed cleverly in relation to one another so there’s plenty of privacy, but the wind can still slip through – which means there’s a lot less wind resistance.

Hit and miss wood fence panel boards can run either vertically or horizontally, and you can even get a chevron design. They all do the same job, it’s just a matter of taste. The fence panels have a profiled timber frame, not just nailed slats. All the fixings are stainless steel. The wood is planed all round and you can even buy matching garden gates. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so solid. It’s remarkable stuff.

Compared to many of the wooden fences we see around our way, some of which we’ve included in this post, it looks like this one is designed to last.

An expensive but reliable solution

Although the two panels and three posts we bought came in at well over £300, they feel reassuringly rugged and haven’t budged an inch so far, despite a series of seriously violent winter gales. The posts are much more chunky and strong than ordinary posts, too.

An expensive solution, perhaps, but at least it means we don’t have to lie awake fretting every time there’s a breeze, wondering which bit of our garden fencing will collapse next. It’s worth the money for the peace of mind alone. Thanks to Jacksons Fencing, although you can buy hit and miss from most good fencing suppliers.

So…once you’ve fitted the best garden fencing solution for your home, in your location, how do you keep it in the best possible condition for the longest time?

Wooden Fencing with Hedge

Wooden Fencing with Hedge

How to maintain a wooden fence

Maintenance is the buzzword here. As a general rule, the better you look after your fence, the longer it will last.

Wood fence panel maintenance often means repairing any damage to the panels themselves. You can glue split and broken pieces as long as the wood is 100% dry, applying waterproof glue and clamping or taping the broken pieces together while the glue dries. If any of them are completely knackered, replace them. It’s fairly straightforward to replace individual panels without having to take the whole fence down.

To remove the surface layer of old, grey wood cells and expose a fresh layer of wood, use a power washer. You can easily hire one. Wooden fence panels should always be protected from the elements by using wood preservers and wood oils. Decking oil makes for an excellent fence treatment as it helps to keep the timber water-resistant, supple, and often contains UV filters which help to protect the panels from the bleaching affect of the sun. Wood preservers and decking oils come in clear or a wide range of colours so getting the desired look should be no problem. A good quality exterior wood oil stain will preserve this new layer of fresh wood and also help prolong the life of your fence.

Fence stain delivers a hint of colour while keeping a natural wood look. In rainy areas you will probably need to seal the fence more often than average. There isn’t a specific timescale. It depends on how your fence is looking. When water no longer beads on the surface but soaks into the wood, you need to re-seal.

Most semi-transparent oil stains last 2-5 years, but it’s better to be pessimistic and expect to do it again after two or three, since fences tend to get such a battering. Before re-coating, wash the fence with a garden hose and use a tough bristle brush to remove stubborn dirt, any traces of green or black should be treated with a mould and mildew cleaner to clean off the biological matter and kill off the cause so it doesn’t come back after just a couple of months. The length of time sealing products last is also dependent on the weather conditions where you are. If it’s particularly wet, windy and sunny where you live, you might need to reseal more frequently than average.

Make sure the exterior wood stain you use includes ultraviolet inhibitors, which slow down the bleaching triggered by sunlight. It also helps if it contains a mildew killer, which will slow down the fungal growth that also plays a part in weakening wood.

Use a paint roller and apply a good soaking coat to the wood and leave the fence to absorb the stain fully. Then stain three foot sections methodically, progressing along the fence. If the sealer sinks right in and leaves the panels looking dry, add more coats. Take care to work the sealer into all the cracks and corners, where moisture can collect.

Having said all that, as I mentioned, in our experience the main issue is the posts, which tend to rot first. So what’s the best way to maximise their lifespan?


New Wooden Fencing

7 steps to keep wooden fence posts from rotting

How can you stop fence posts rotting, or at least keep them in good condition for the longest possible time? Before they go in, it’s particularly important to coat the posts with a good quality wood preservative, paying particular attention to the end of the post where the timber meets the earth or goes into the concrete. Fitting the garden fence posts properly in the first place makes a big difference. Posts often fail because of poor drainage and low quality wood. Here are 6 ways to maximise their lifetime:

  1. Never use cheap, light sapwood posts. Choose darker, stronger heartwood posts, which are much denser and last a lot longer.
  2. Soak the ends of wooden fence posts in a wood preservative for 24 hours before installation. Use a bucket or other deep container, remember to coat the rest of the post with 2 coats while the ends are soaking. Let it dry fully.
  3. Once the wood preservative has fully dried, usually 24 to 48 hours, the same process can be done with an exterior wood oil or decking oil for additional protection.
  4. Put six inches of gravel at the bottom of your post hole, for drainage. Your post should protrude a few inches into the gravel.
  5. Pour the concrete or add Postcrete so it’s above soil level. Smooth the surface, ideally making it slope away from the post towards the ground so any water runs off.
  6. Use a top quality exterior acrylic latex caulk, or special silicone designed to stick to concrete, at the base of the post to seal the gap between the concrete and post. If there isn’t a gap yet there soon will be, caused by repeated thawing and freezing, wetting and drying.
  7. Re-coat the fence posts to re-seal and protect whenever you re-treat the fence panels.


Simple Wooden Fencing – Still Needs Maintaining

Last but not least, here’s a handy fence maintenance video…

Have you overcome serious garden fencing nightmares?

If so we’d love to hear about it. What’s your secret? Leave a comment below.