Interior Doors – Top Tips for wooden door care and maintenance


Interior doors have a lot to contend with from everyday knocks, bumps, scuffs to hand-prints, dirt from passing pets and more. So how do you keep wooden interior doors looking great when exposed to all this and more throughout the years?

If you’ve bought a set of lovely new interior doors, or are thinking about renovating or restoring some old period feature doors, our top tips will help you to get the best out of them so they look wonderful and stay protected for longer.

Antique Walnut Interior Doors
Antique Walnut Internal Doors – from

Choosing the right door treatment

It’s amazing just how many interior door types there are. Two, four, six and eight panel, made from Oak, Pine, Walnut or Cherry, to name just a few. Door construction can also vary from solid wood to veneered or engineered. Internal doors can also be finished or unfinished.

What are Door Finishes

A door finish is the treatment that protects wooden doors from day to day wear and other hazards associated with busy environments. Interior doors are usually finished with an oil, varnish, wax or paint. The choice of door finish usually comes down to the desired appearance: clear, semi translucent or opaque, the sheen level, matt, satin or gloss, the amount of protection it offers, ease of maintenance and of course budget. All things considered, making the right choice can be a challenge.

Pre-finished interior doors

When buying pre-finished internal doors, you can usually find out which type of finish it has by checking the manufacturer’s literature. If this doesn’t make it clear, ask the seller or even the manufacturer themselves. It’s worth asking if they can supply the name of the finishing product and brand as this may be useful for door cleaning and maintenance. Although interior doors can be waxed, most pre-finished wooden doors are varnished or oiled as these provide the best all-round durability.

Unfinished interior doors

Unfinished doors come with a world of possibilities. There are countless options in terms of colour and finish choices. They can be stained to virtually any colour or shade and sealed to a matt, soft satin sheen or gloss finish with a clear or coloured wood wax, door oil or varnish. If you prefer to keep the natural, untreated look of the wood whilst protecting doors from day-to-day dirt and knocks this can be achieved to.

Varnished interior wooden doors
Varnished Interior Wooden Doors – from

Types of Door Finishes

Most ‘clear’ door finishes tend to enhance the natural character and grain of the wood by slightly darkening the timber to give it an almost ‘damp like’ appearance. Wood oils tend to darken and enhance the wood the most followed by clear varnishes then clear waxes. It is recommended to always do a test area before finishing any door to assess product suitability and final finish.

Varnishes for interior doors probably offer the best all-round protection. Whilst most ready-to-use varnishes are ideal for homes and other domestic properties, 2-pack or 2-part varnishes offer better durability for commercial environments such as shops, flats, community halls and other doors that are subject to a high degree of contact and use. The disadvantage of varnishes is that should they become worn, chipped or badly scratched, the only real option is to sand doors back to bare wood and re-finish.

Top 3 Wood Varnishes for Interior Doors

  • Manns Extra Tough Door Varnish: A highly durable, clear, water-based varnish for wooden interior doors, door frames and architraves. Provides a high level of protection against knocks, scuffs, scratches and day-to-day wear.
  • Ronseal Diamond Hard Interior Varnish: A general purpose, fast drying interior varnish that is suitable for internal doors and other wood trim in domestic settings. Available in a range of sheen levels.
  • Fiddes Clear Glaze: A solvent-based, high build polyurethane varnish for interior wood. Formulated to be super durable and recommended for use on high demand surfaces including bar tops, doors, floors, wood panels and joinery.

Door oils offer almost as much protection from dirt, moisture, scuffs and scratches as varnishes do. Available in a range of clear and coloured variations, and a range of sheen levels, door oils have the benefit of being very easy to apply, maintain and repair. If an area of a door becomes stained, scratched or worn, it can be cleaned and re-oiled for a seamless repair making it as good as new. Clear door oils will darken and enhance the natural character and grain of the wood. If a more natural, untreated finish is preferred, using Osmo Door Oil Raw 3033 will offer the same level of protection whilst better retaining the untreated look of the wood. This product is designed for lighter coloured timbers such as pine and oak and is not suitable for dark exotic timbers like mahogany, iroko and walnut as it may produce a slightly milky looking finish.

Top 3 Internal Door Oils

  • Osmo Door Oil: A highly durable, protective door oil for all softwood and hardwood internal doors. Suitable for solid wood, engineered and veneered doors including oak and pine. Available in both a clear and ‘Raw’ version that better retains the natural, untreated look of lighter coloured wooden doors.
  • Mann Premier Door Oil: A premium grade door oil that enhances and protects solid wood, engineered and veneered interior doors and dries to a natural matt finish.

Wood waxes have been used to protect wood for centuries and produce a silky-smooth finish that has a distinct, unmistakable waxy feel. Like door oils, waxes are quick and easy to apply, maintain and repair but don’t offer the best durability. Waxed doors can mark easily in high moisture environments and if water is splashed on to them. They can also be scuffed and marked more easily.

Top 3 Wood Waxes for Interior Doors

  • Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish: A high quality wax polish for suitable for interior doors and other wood. Available in clear and and a range of other colours it can be applied and left for a natural wax look or buffed to increase the sheen.
  • Manns Classic Beeswax Polish: A clear, traditional high quality beeswax for use on sealed and unsealed interior wooden doors and other surfaces. Can be applied over previously oiled or varnished doors to produce a luxurious wax finish.
  • Osmo Uviwax: A unique product that is more like an oil but dries to a wax-like finish. Contains UV filters that help to prevent the natural yellowing and fading of interior doors exposed to direct sunlight. Dries to a gentle satin-matt finish.

Things to check before finishing unfinished doors

At Wood Finishes Direct, we often receive calls from people who have bought veneered interior doors, only to discover that the door label advises against using some types of wood finishes. More often than not this is usually wood oils such as  Danish Oil Teak Oil, door oils and hardwax oils but can also include wood waxes and wood varnishes. But does it really mean you can’t use these products and if so, do you risk damaging the wood? It’s an interesting point and one worth investigating further.

What is a veneered door?

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

About 20th century mass production of doors

Wood veneers have been used for centuries to produce high quality finishes. But mass production in the mid to late 20th century saw quality take a tumble as the drive for cheaper, thinner veneers and glues took hold. This sometimes led to door veneers de-laminating or peeling off in extreme heat or when certain products, usually solvent-based finishes were used. In reality, things have moved on a great deal since then and the risks of delamination are virtually non-existent. So why do door manufacturers still warn against using certain products?

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

It’s estimated that most veneered doors originate from the Far East. It’s highly likely that these door manufacturers have taken the lead from one of the larger producers, giving warnings about wood finishing products without checking whether the risk is genuine. Unlike the manufacturers, we at Wood Finishes Direct are well placed to talk about wood finishes – it’s our area of expertise. We supply a vast range of different products from different manufacturers, all of whom agree that stains, waxes, varnishes, oils, paints and so on DO NOT penetrate deeper than 1mm into a veneer.

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

Modern wood finishing products designed for veneers

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

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

Reclaimed 1930s interior wood doors
Reclaimed 1930s Interior Wood Doors – from

Always do a test area

Our advice if you want to stain, oil, wax or varnish any sort of door is to always do a test area first, ideally where the wood can be sanded if the product doesn’t deliver the finish you were expecting. After-all, you see and use your doors dozens of times a day so it’s important to be happy with the final finish.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. Take your time with any preparation, apply the door finish as directed on the tin and it’s safe to say that you can’t go far wrong. 

Need expert help with your doors?

Do you need help with your interior doors? Our wood finishing experts are always on hand to offer free project and product advice. So, if you have a question about a door finishing, restoration or renovation project, contact our team of wood finishing experts to get the help you need to achieve the perfect door finish.

Alternatively, see our door finishes FAQ page that answers many of the more commonly asked door finishing questions. Want to know how to finish a door with a door oil? See our Youtube video below that explains how best to oil wooden doors.

Need help with your wooden doors?

For more information about wooden door projects, contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. Alternatively, see our door finishes FAQ page which covers many of the most commonly asked questions about door finishes.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any interior door project. If you would like to share your door project pictures with us and our followers, send us your photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great blogs that discuss door care and maintenance

  • Interior Door Makeover With Osmo Door Oil
  • Getting Wood Door Restoration Right

    1. I have just had 7 Wickes oak veneer doors fitted and intend to varnish them. I gather that applying varnish is required to seal the door to prevent moisture getting in and subsequent warping. However the doors have already been hung and i am concerned that i will not be able to varnish the bottom edge of the doors unless i take them off. Given that they are heavy and i paid to have them fitted in order to avoid having to attach them i wanted to know if there is much risk if i leave the bottom edge unsealed. One door is a bathroom door and another is a toilet door and i suspect that these would be the most vulnerable. Your advice would be appreciated.

      • Hello Geoff,

        The Varnish is to seal and protect the wood from the likes of moisture and humidity damage as well as make it easy to clean and protect the wood long term. Generally I would not expect the bottom being untreated to be a problem but I can not make guarantees I am afraid. The bathroom door could be a concern if untreated, the door may swell or shrink, but only if it is really exposed to the effects of moisture regularly. If you are really worried it could be worth checking with your manufacturers but I would not believe it to be to much of an issue.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    2. Hi. I recently purchased 8 Wickes Cottage style oak veneer internal doors. They are unfinished and I like the look of them as they are. I’d like to finish them in something that will leave the natural look. The instructions say not to use oil on them. Can you advise on the best product to use to achieve the look closest to their current unfinished state please. Many thanks.

      • Hello Andrew,

        I can recommend the Supreme Wax. It will leave the doors looking very natural and nourished. There is little protection with this product however and as an alternative you could have a look at the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish. It is more durable and hard wearing but slightly less natural looking.

        If you have a read up of the products and let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    3. Hi

      I have recently installed three travis Perkins oak veneered doors (part ref 480439)

      I looking for a clear Matt finish, what would you recommend? The label suggests paint, varnish or woods stain none of which I want to use.

      Any ideas? It does say wax and oil not recommend

      • Hello Craig,

        Many manufacturers do not recommend the use of oils as they believe that it can cause the adhesion to fail on the veneer. Here at wood finishes Direct we do not believe this to be true, however if you use oil or wax then it is likely to invalidate any guarantee that you have with your new doors.

        Because of this it only leaves you with the option of using a varnish Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish is a great option with a range of sheen levels including matt. It is available in a sample size as well to allow you to try a test area.

        Should you choose to use an Oil which will give a more natural look and feel to the wood then I suggest the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil but of course bear in mind your guarantee.

        Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions or if there is anything else I can help with.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    4. Hi I read somewhere that I should not use a solvent based wood dye? but a Water base wood dye. Can you advise please?

      Many thanks in advance, Tony

      • Hello Tony,

        Both are suitable for a variety of projects and should you wish to let me know a little more about your project I will be happy to advice further on which may be the best for you. A water based stain will give a more natural hue but is likely to raise the grain slightly, requiring denibbing between coats.

        The solvent stain can give a more intense colour finish and is less likely to raise the grain.

        I hope that helps and feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    5. Hi

      I’ve just bought some unfinished solid oak doors. The door instructions says they need to be varnished or waxed but i like how they look now and really don’t want to varnish them.

      Can you recommend how best to finish the doors so they keep the natural look that they have now

      Many thanks

      • Hello Lee,

        You could have a look at Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish. This will leave the wood looking very natural and it will offer a little protection but nothing like the durability of an Oil or Varnish.

        For a more durable finish you could consider a Manns Premier Door Oil. It is an all in one oil that dries clear and Matt leaving the wood looking and feeling natural.

        If you have a read up of those products and let me know if you have any further questions, I will be happy to help.

        Kind regards Sam.

    6. hi.

      I have just bought solid meranti wooden doors for my two bedrooms a bathroom and guest toilet. with a wooden door frame. pls advise whether I shld use a clear oil or tint it to a darker colour. if i use a tint would that prevent me from changing the colour of the door in future,since the oil penetrates into the wood?
      I’m very confused about what to do.

      • Hello,

        You are able to use either Tinted Oil or Clear Oil for this wood, although it would require very thin application, as this is a tropical hard wood. It is likely to penetrate less than 1mm of the surface of the wood.

        It would be fair to say that once colour is applied it is not very difficult to remove over time with sanding and wiping over with Methylated Spirit. And you are able to apply darker colours if you wanted.

        They key is good preparation and test areas to ensure you like the colour that can be achieved. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    7. Hi I put in a solid american oak staircase, doors and skirting in to our new build home. This was about 6 years ago and they finished it in danish oil. The problem was it didn’t look great at the time and still doesn’t. I wanted a polished effect and instead have a matt finish. Basically it still looks untreated. I looked in to French polishing but this was very expensive is there anything that would give me this same effect?
      Many thanks

      • Hello Lesley,

        You could have a look at Osmo Polyx Oil. It is available in a glossy sheen, but this, although shiny, is not a high glossy that you can get with varnish.

        For a real high shine you could have a look at the Manns Extra Tough Floor Varnish which is available in a High Gloss, but you would need to remove any oil left on the wood before application.

        Both products are easy to apply and are beneficial in different ways. If you have a read up of the products and let me know if you have any questions.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    8. Hello Sam
      Really good article and advice! Wondered if you could help please.
      We’ve had 6 internal doors ( original 1930s) stripped/sanded and waxed by local company. We asked them to use a clear wax as we wanted a natural finish.
      We’re not happy with the finish as its patchy and most doors have light and dark areas on them.
      On one door there’s a very dark area/patch so it looks like its been burnt.
      Any advice on how this may have happened or if it can be fixed please.
      Many thanks

      • Hello Angela,

        Sounds disappointing, are you able to send me some photos to have a look at. You can send them FAO Sam to and I will happily take a look and see if there is anything I can suggest.

        All the Best Sam.

    9. Good evening.
      we had a new banister fitted quite a while a go now, unfortunately i was taken ill, so was not able to polish same, in the mean time,the bannister had darkened ( i quess with natural oils coming to the surface),plus off course, finger marks etc.

      could you be so kind as confirm what i should use to clean it up, as i wish to polish it in the near future,so the hall way has the finished look.. best regards Steve Herron

      • Hello Steven,

        I would recommend wiping down the wood with some White Spirit and a Finishing Pad. This will help to remove the grease and dirt. If you find this is not enough you may need to lightly sand to remove any stubborn stains. Once back to bare wood you can then apply your polish. If you need any further advice on this or what are the best products to finish your wood in then please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    10. Hi ,
      I’ve just purchased some clear pine doors from Howdens .
      They need to be finished ??
      Please can you recommend an easy to apply , low maintenance product which will protect the door .
      Many thanks

      • Hello Helen,

        If you are looking for a natural look and feel to the wood then you could have a look at the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil it is easy to apply and maintain. If you have a ready up on the product and feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    11. Hi

      Is Manns water based wood dye compatible with Fiddles Hard wax oil; I would like to lighten my unfinished oak doors further before oiling them.

      Thank you

      • Hello Peter,

        Yes you can use the Manns Classic Wood Dye with the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil although it is important to not over work the oil on top of the dye, as this can pull the dye out.

        The problem may come from trying to lighten the wood as this can be difficult, test areas are the key to getting the finish that you want. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    12. Hi

      Could you possibly provide me with an easy explanation of the difference in Oak doors that are pre finished compared to pre varnished compared to oak veneer pre finished. Its all very confusing.

      Thank you

      • Hello Linda,

        Pre finished means have either a varnished, oiled or waxed finish already applied to them and so are protected, coloured and finished, ready to hang.

        A veneer is a thin decorative layer of wood applied to a coarser wood for a decorative finish. It can be treated or untreated.

        I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any further questions.

        All the Best Sam.

    13. Hi

      I have just purchased a range of unfinished solid oak doors, bannister and rails for the staircase. I have read about oils, waxes and varnishes. I want to retain the colour but want to protect against knocks, pets, teenagers etc. Which would you say will offer this?


      • Hello Tracy,

        I would recommend having a look at the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. This is a durable hard wearing product that will protect from everyday wear and tear and is easy to maintain and repair over time and gives a natural look and feel to the wood. It will darken the wood slightly and give what we call the wet look.

        But if this is too dark for you then its worth looking at the Natural Hard Wax Oil which has a small amount of white pigment to counteract the darkening. Both are available in sample sizes in order to carry out test areas. I hope that helps and if you have any other questions please do let me know.

        Kind regards Sam.

    14. Hi, we have some Howden veneer doors and because it said not to stain them we didn’t, they are bow covered in marks and grease stains, I know you have advised people to sand them but surely on veneer you can’t do that? Wouldn’t mdf show through? Is there anything that will get stains out, tried water on damp cloth but just makes it worse 🙁 🙁

      • Hello Kate,

        You could try wiping down with White Spirits, this may help to remove some marks. Veneers can be lightly sanded but you should check with manufacturers for guidance to avoid invalidating any guarantee that you may have.

        It is usually okay to use Varnishes on veneered doors and I would recommend the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish as a good option for future protection of your doors. I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    15. Hi I recently purchased 5 deanta unfinished oak doors from doors world. I want to protect them but keep them as natural looking as possible. What would you recommend. Thanks

      • Hello Lisa,

        For the most natural looking finish to the door you could have a look at the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural. It is an oil that will protect and nourish the wood and is longer lasting than oils such as Danish or Tung oil. Most clear oils will darken the wood slightly and this one is designed to counter act that darkening. Test areas are strongly recommended before full application.

        I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any other questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    16. I have just installed Clear Pine indoor doors.What varnish should I use so that door keeps its natural look. Will antique pine varnish keep the looks without darkening it too much.

      • Hello Peri,

        My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I would recommend having a look at the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish, which is a clear finish product that will only darken the wood slightly rather than change the colour. It is a non yellowing varnish that comes in 4 sheen levels from Matt to Gloss. I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    17. Hi There,

      We have justed sanded down our two stack away doors and put the first coat of stainer on but I don’t know what’s happened it looks terrible. There is an oily substance coming out of the doors.

      Please help!!
      What can I do or use to correct it?

      Thank you

      • Hello Farren,

        I would be happy to take a look at some photos if you are able to send some in to And hopefully we can help to solve your problem and advice on the correct products to use.

        Kind regards Sam.

    18. Hi, i have recently bought some Howdens clear pine doors and dont know whether to use oil or wax, will wax mark on heavily used areas? I do want the doors to darken slightly, but would danish oil produce this finish?

      • Hello Vicky,

        Thank you for your inquiry, both oil and wax are suitable for use on doors but of the two the oil will be more hard wearing. Danish Oil is a good product to look at and will naturally darker the wood slightly. It required a number of coats and would need a maintenance coat every 6 month to a year depending on use.

        An alternative would be the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. This require two thin coats and is much more durable. Requiring maintenance for doors around every couple of years. Always try a test area. And if you have any other questions please let me know.

        All the Best Ben.

    19. Hi I have recently bought 6 interior oak veneer doors from wicks they are now hung up and ready to be finished. Wickes have stated not to use any or wax or oil I’m guessing it will invalidate their guarantee but I’ve not checked yet. The doors now have been in use for a few weeks they have many grease marks how would I take them off and what would you advise to use for a natural finish if I can’t use oil or wax? And finally I’m completely new to this why do you stain wood before varnishing? Thank you

      • Hello,

        You could try White Spirit to remove greasy mark if this doesn’t work then a light sand. To seal you could look at Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish. This is a clear varnish that will seal and protect your doors.

        If you wanted to add some colour to the doors then you could look at applying a stain such as Manns Classic Pine Stain and then a top coat of the Manns Extra Tough Varnish. I hope that helps and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    20. Hi,

      We recently bought a set of knotted pine interior doors and I’ve been using a good brand gloss medium oak varnish. The colour is fine but the finish is a little dull and flat. Is it worthwhile getting a clear varnish or lacquer to cover further? Will it have the desired effect of giving a gloss finish?



      • Hello Patrick,

        Yes you could apply a clear varnish over the top to add a glossier finish. Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish has a Gloss and High Gloss finish. I would recommend a test area first to ensure that this product will adhere to the previous treatment and that it will achieve the look you want. Please let me know should you need any further assistance.

        All the Best, Ben.

    21. Hello,

      I am having oak veneer doors fitted and want something that looks like a limed finish – is there anything you would recommend?



      • Hello Nikki,

        It might be worth you having a look at one of our other Blog all about White Finishes. There are some great tips on how to achieve the desired white finish on your wood.

        Please check your manufacturers instructions or paper work also as some companies give a list of products that they believe you should not use. If this is the case then you could have a look at Manns Classic Oak Stain for colour and then Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish for the top coat protection. I hope that helps and please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions – Sam

    22. Hello Sam. I recently had some 1930’s door stopped and was told to use viniger before applying briwax. I did this but after several weeks of drying between processes the door have started to have white powder marks on them. How can I sort this out? Thanks Helen

      • Hello Helen.

        The vinegar may have been advised to neutralize the doors after being stripped. The white may be a build up of the wax that you have applied. Wax can collect in small grooves or crevises and leave a white residue. The best way to remove this is with a Coarse Brush. Give the areas a scrub with this brush and it should reduce or clear the built up wax. When you reapply to freshen up use the brush again to avoid the build up. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    23. Sam,

      I’ve got 5 internal oak doors,that I waxed and polished 3 years ago. The doors have had the occasional buff to remove any marks, but that’s been it. How often do i need to re-apply the wax, or can I continue to buff the door? One of them, the bathroom, has what appears to be water stains on it. Will buffing remove these?



      • Hello Duncan,

        There are no hard or fast rules about how often you need to apply wax. If you feel that the door is becoming a bit dull and needs a fresh coat then you can simply ensure the surface is clean and re apply, this could be 6 months, a year or longer. For any areas that are marked or stained use a Finishing Pad to lightly take back to bare wood and remove the mark and then simply re-wax the area. I hope this helps and if you have any further questions pleased don’t hesitate to ask.

        Kind regards Sam.

    24. Hi,

      I’ve recently varnished white oak doors, we bought clear varnish as I didn’t want to alter the colour of the door just give it some protection. However, the doors seemed to have darkened quite a lot and I’m not happy with the colour. Firstly, should this of happened and secondly, what’s the best way to get the doors back to their original state (if at all possible).

      Many thanks

      • Hi Michelle,

        Clear wood finishing products all give wood this almost “wet look” bringing out the natural colour of the wood and pronouncing the grain more. It is possible to counter this “wet look” however only a few products offer this, for example the Osmo Door Oil Raw 3033 and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural. Both these products are however solvent-based and if your doors are veneered the solvent present may cause de-lamination, so it would be worth contacting your doors manufacturer before using either of these products to find out if you can use solvent based products on them.

        Also worth noting these oils cannot be used over varnishes so you will have to remove all traces of the varnish prior to application of the oil.

        Any further questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with our in-house sales and technical team or email

        Best of Luck!

        Ben O’Reilly

    25. Morning, fantastic article,good read.
      I also have these Howdens oak veneered doors and have used osmo door oil which is suitable for veneered doors, as it says on the tin and have no problems at all, I know they are expensive and people do worry about putting oils on them, but dont panic, they come up a treat. My query is by using osmo door oil or any other make of oil, will the door in time become porous and be prone to marking around the door handles from your natural oils from your skin and in time stain the door, or does the oil actually seal the oak, therefore making a barrier so grime cannot get into the grain of the wood,as with a varnish. Many Thanks Simon

    26. Hi we’ve just had an oak staircase installed and not sure what to put on it to protect it. I recently varnished some oak doors but they are already showing grubby marks that I can’t get off. Maybe I didn’t put enough coats on.

      Would wax/oil be better than varnish for the stairs and also what can we do to stop it going yellow with age?

      • Hello Mark,

        Varnish is a durable and hard wearing finish and you should be able to clean effectively. But the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil is easier to patch repair should you get any scratches or stains that can not be washed off.

        Most varnishes will not yellow these days and neither will the oil, but test areas are always recommended when using a new product to ensure that you like the finish that you are going to get. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    27. Hi, I have 5 of exactly the same type of 1930 interior doors you have pictured on your post. I would like to give them a bit of a subtle lift as they look quite dull at the moment but not sure the best way to go about it ( apply with brush or cloth) and what to use stain, oil, wax or vanish (although I don’t particularly like the vanish finish) also small bits of wood are missing in some parts of the doors so would need some type of coloured filler as well if you can recommend anything? (Again the doors are the same colour as the 1930s ones in your picture) any help would be great. Thanks in advance.

      • Hello Clive,

        Thank you for your inquiry, if the doors are back to bare wood then you could have a look at Osmo Polyx Oil which is a clear wood oil that will slightly darken and enhance the wood grain, giving a warm and protected finish. Or if you wanted to add a little colour then Osmo Polyx Oil Tints will both stain and protect the wood in one.

        Both these products require very thin application and are available in sample sizes for a test area. Application with a lint-free, microfiber cloth, foam sponge or natural bristle paint brush, just as long as application is thin. Please let me know if you need any further advise.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    28. Hi Sam
      My internal doors were originally treated with dark oak liquid wax but over time they have aged so to freshen them up I applied a coat of Danish oil but they look awful now. Very patchy as if the oil hasn’t soaked into the wood. Would more coats of oil solve this problem?
      Many thanks

      • Hello Jason,

        Thank you for your inquiry, no please don’t add any more oil. The wax is likely to be preventing the danish oil from penetrating and causing the patchiness. Can you tell me what the original product was that you used ? And hopefully I can advise from there – Sam

    29. Hi Sam.

      Andrew here, all the way from 30th October….my doors still keep falling off the agenda.

      How can I send you the photos you requested? 🙂

    30. Hi I hope you can help.
      We had some 1930s lovely wooden doors.
      We had them stripped and the person recommend oil.
      He was a cowboy and they are awful.
      I’ve sanded them all down but they still look really uneven and patchy.
      Any advise on what I can do ?

      • Hello Tony,

        Thank you for your inquiry, there are many oils that we would recommend for doors. I would take a guess that the application or preparation process of the doors may be the reason for the bad finish. It may be that there was previous treatment on the wood that was preventing the oil from penetrating or the sanding was uneven, but there are a number of reasons why a good finish was not achieved.

        You could try wiping with White Spirit. This should remove a lot of oil from the wood and then its good old sanding I’m afraid. I hope this helps and if you would like any further information or advise on alternative products please let me know – Sam

    31. Hi I’ve just had 2 oak vaneer doors fitted they haven’t bn treated yet and I’ve got oil on one of them . How will I get this out . Thanks

      • Hello Angela,

        Have you tried wiping down with some White Spirit this is good for removing stains and oils. If this doesn’t work you may need to sand back to remove any marks – Sam.

    32. This has been a great read , I am a pro decorator , I do oak veneer doors a lot and have used a water based varnish on them because this label really put me off using oils (which do provide a better finish ) on them , I would like to use oil more on them as I believe it is tougher than WB ,
      Thank you for this insight


    33. Thanks for the reply.

      The doors are actually varnished/stained, not oiled! As the decorator has tried to remove it with white spirt ( left a white smear), is it now time to sand the whole door and re varnish (clear)? Or do as you say above?

      Would white spirt do damage to the door?

      Many thanks again,

    34. Hi,

      I have oak veneered doors from howdens which have been treated with oil. We have recently had the architrave around the doors painted in satin, and unfortunately there are splashes of paint on the doors. I think they have tried to remove the paint with white spirt as the marks left are white smears.

      Could you advise in any way how to remove this? Would we need to sand doors and reapply oil?

      Many thanks

      • Hello Vicky,

        You should, in this case be able to just sand the areas that are marked, back to bare wood and then re apply the oil that the doors where originally treated with. Most Oils will blend quite nicely for patch repairs, but you should try a test area first – Sam

    35. Hello!

      I have read your tips and all various commens with a great interest. I am looking to get this door, saw them in B&Q today and also touched them – they look fine to me and feel reall smooth. Why would I need to stain or varnish them, could I not leave them as they are? They look perfectly fine to me but as you can imagine I am not an expert in this field. Another reason is that if I was to stain or varnish them I do not think I could do it perfectly and apply an even and smooth coat…

      Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you.

      • Hello,

        One of the main reasons for treating Internal doors is to get the look that you want, but also to protect from moisture ingress, stains and general dirt. There is a natural amount of moisture in the atmosphere, that is generally not enough to cause immediate of visible damage to your doors, but over a long term period if the wood is absorbing moisture you may get various issues including Swelling, shrinking, and even mould. Temperature changes can also effect the wood and greasy finger prints and dirt marks that inevitably build up over time can be harder to clean off of bare wood.

        If you seal the wood with an Oil or Varnish this will help protect against the above issues. If you like the natural finish of the wood and don’t want to change it we have a couple of products that would be suited for this. The first is Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural which is designed to leave the wood looking as natural and unaltered in colour as possible whilst still protecting. The other is from Osmo Door Oil Raw (3033) which works in the same way as the Fiddes but has less solvent in it. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please let me know.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    36. Hi Sam
      Thanks so much for your helpful reply.
      Have had a look at the Osmo country colour which does look like an excellent product from reading the reviews. I was originally thinking of painting the doors in a good qualty exterior satin paint as the house is only 50 yards from the seafront and the weather can include waves coming up the street during the winter! so the house does need to have the best finish for severe weather.
      If I were to use oil based exterior paint I’m wondering which is the best primer and undercoat to use especially considering the fact the doors are veneered and also to weatherproof them.
      Thanks again for your help

      • Hello Chihuahua,

        It is fair to say that when you are located in an area where you get extreme weather conditions no product will be totally fool proof, but there are some products that are more durable than others. If would fair to say that the Country Colour is pretty durable and with a base coat of Preservative it will do a good job for you and it is easy to maintain over time by just adding top a coat when you feel it needs it.

        Another product that you could consider is the Sikkens Rubbol XD Gloss this is an opaque paint like finish in Black or white and requires a base coat of Sikkens Rubbol Primer. It is an exceptionally durable product, but have good read of all the information on this product on our website – Sam.

    37. Hi Sam have read your blog about painting interior veneered doors with interest and wonder if you can help me. Have just bought 2 exterior American white oak veneered half glazed back doors in a clearance sale from B&Q. One is a bit damaged and needs filling but overall they are in good condition. The website says they should be stained or varnished but I want to paint them as they are going on the back of a cottage very close to the sea. A reviewer on the site says the veneer is aprox 5mm thick so am hoping they will be ok to paint even though it seems they are not supposed to be. Could you advise me on this and also which products to use? Thanks Chihuahua

      • Hello Chihauhau,

        5mm is quite a good depth for a veneer so you should be safe with which ever product you choose to use, it is still vital to carry out a test area first however, not only to check there is no adverse reaction but also to check that you like the finished effect. The product that you use will depend on the type of finish that you would like.

        So you have said that you would like to paint them, does this mean that you would like an opaque colour on the doors, if so you could look at the Osmo Country Colour. This is an oil-based product that gives a paint-like appearance but won’t peel and flake in the future like a paint will. Or if you are looking for a translucent finish then you could have a look at the Osmo Polyx Oil Tints or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints and see if there is a colour in either of those that you like. All of these products require thin application and for a better finish denib between coats with a Woodleys Finishing Pad.

        You should also check any paper work that you have with the doors that may tell you what not you use. You will invalidate any guarantee you have if you use anything that the manufacturer advises against. I hope that helps and if you have any other questions please let me know – Sam.

    38. Thank-you Sam!

      I will give all of the above a go.

      When we had the doors dipped, the provider left the handles on so we have had what I would call some bleeding into the doors which i think is rust (from the handles). Any magical suggestions on this? Ive tried sanding with minimal benefit so I think it has sunk well into the wood. Anything else yoy would normally try or do we just accept it?

      We will look to try to sort our finger prints out and then get the oil you recommend (will try a few testers to see what finish we would like.

      • Hello Andrew,

        Unfortunately Rust can be difficult to remove if it deeply in grained into the wood, but its worth trying the White Spirit again as this may fade if nothing else. There are lots of suggestions on forums of trying Oxalic Acid or Bleaching with Lemon Juice and the like but I am not sure any of these will really help I’m afraid. Sorry I could not be of more help on this one but I would love to see photos if you get chance.

        Best Wishes Sam.

    39. We have a set of 1930 doors that we got stripped last year. We haven’t got around the applying a finish to them….The doors are exactly like the reclaimed 1930s doors above.

      We were wondering:
      – is there anything we can do to remove our oily finger prints from them (we’ve ended up with no handles for too long!)
      – What type of finish you would recommend (young family with children so havent
      been too keen on wax)

      Any advice would be much appreciated!!!!


      • Hello Andy,

        If warm water is not working then you could try wiping down with White Spirit to see if that will remove then and if that doesn’t work than its down to sanding back.

        If you are looking for a clear natural finish then you can’t go wrong with a Hard Wax Oil product such as Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. It is durable and easy to maintain and you can easily keep clean with a pH-neutral cleaner. It will darken the wood slightly unless you go for the Natural finish which is designed to leave the wood looking almost as if it has no product on it. Always try a test area first. And if you have any further questions please let me know – Sam.

    40. Have solid oak doors about 4yrs old have beeswaxed them twice they now have greasy finger marks and other slight marks I want to now use a Matt varnish,how do I clean the old beeswax off please help

      • Hello Linda,

        You can use White Spirit and a coarse Steel Wool to remove the wax. Ensure that it is all off before applying the Varnish as this could effect the adhesion. And if you have any further questions please let me know – Sam.

    41. Similarly to Alun I have bought 9 hardwood interior doors from how dens and the technical spec states I shouldn’t use wax or oil. I cannot find any information relating to the thickness of the veneer and therefore I am confused on what product to employ for sealing the doors. Please can you advise… Please see howdens link below; there is technical specifications at the bottom of the page where you may find something that I have missed.


      • Hello Kristian,

        Our advice would be the same, if you use the Oil or wax on the doors it would be likely to invalidate your guarantee, no matter what the veneer thickness is. We feel that Oils and Waxes would be okay to use on most veneers (always do a test area).

        But if you are uncertain then I would recommend using a Varnish to finish and protect your doors.

        For more advice please email us at

    42. I have purchased 11 Howdens Oak veneered hardwood interior doors which state that they should not be oiled or waxed as this does not seal them & could cause the laminate to come off. I have read all the articles on the site & all the posts above that say that oiling veneered doors should not be a problem. However it mentions veneers of 1mm or more thick & the specification of these doors states the veneer is 0.6mm thick. So, would it be ok to oil these doors or not? I realise that the guarantee on the doors would be void but just want to know if it is safe to oil them. Thanks

      • Hello Alun,

        I would say that this is a bit close for comfort and may be better not to risk using the Oil or Wax. An alternative product that we would recommend would be the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish. This varnish, if you use the Matt or Satin, can give quite a natural finish. I hope that helps – Sam

    43. Hello,

      This is a really useful post – I found it by fluke although funnily enough I bought some danish oil from you earlier this week!

      We have just bought and hung four oak veneered doors and one glazed pine veneer door.

      So I guess I’m in a similar position to Mike, above. I guess my question is: what is the advantage of using oils and waxes as against varnish? Do oils and waxes give a nicer finish?



      • Hello Chris,

        The Oils and Waxes will give a more natural finish to the wood for sure. The Oil soaks in to the surface of the wood where as the varnish creates a seal on the surface of the wood. The Varnish can look equally as good and if you go for the Matt or Satin Finish, will maintain a relatively natural look to the wood, but will subtly change the texture.

        In terms of ease of upkeep, the Oil can be patch repaired very easily if needed, blending well with surrounding oil. Or if after a few years you would like to refresh the look you can simply re apply another coat of Oil with out having to remove the previous Oil. These things would be less simple with a Varnish finish but still do able.
        The use of an Oil will of course invalidate your Guarantee if it specifically says not to use them. Always try a test area first.

    44. Hi
      We’re about to have Oak veneered doors hung, so just to clarify you think it would be OK to use OSMO door oil without it affecting the Veneer? I’m obviously a bit nervous about doing it as we’re having 4 doors hung. Here’s a link to the doors we’re getting.Many thanks.

      • Hello Mike,

        Thank you for your inquiry, we are often asked about using Oils or Waxes on Veneered doors, as many manufacturers advice against it. Having looked at the doors that you are getting it does say that Oils and Waxes are not suitable, so I can not recommend using the Osmo Door Oil as it would invalidate your guarantee.

        However here at Wood finishes Direct we do believe that on most Veneers, the Oil would be fine to use. This is because the Oil will only absorb into less than 1mm on the surface of the wood and most veneers are around 3mm. Many manufacturers believe that the Oils will have an effect on the adhesion of the veneer.

        An alternative product to use would be the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish if you wanted to be on the safe side.

    45. hi can you please please help me, I bought some oak doors about 5 years ago they were untreated so I sanded lightly and varnished. However I now have a problem as on all of the doors about two inches from the handles there is a mark about three inches long and two inches wide it seems to be oily I do not know what to do I have tried several thing but can not remove the mark. any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated x

      • Hello Maria,

        If you would like to send us a photo of the problem and we can get one of our experts to have a look and offer some advice – Sam

    46. i have exactly the same doors that are in the picture 1930s
      i applied bri wax to them after they where stripped but over the years they have got very black in places where greasy hands have been
      what would be the best thing to clean off the dirt as i dont really want to take all the wax off that i applied in the first place

      any advice would be welcome
      as i have researched on various sites and see that people recommend any thing from white spirit which i would guess would take all the wax off or even to cleaning with a brillo pad ! have even seen some one mention using GIN !!!

      i know sugar soap to be great for cleaning walls but would i be good for cleaning my dirty doors ???

      thanks in advance
      from peter

      • Hello Peter,

        The best option for removing ground in dirt would be the White spirits I’m afraid, which would also remove the wax as you predicted. Most cleaning products are too acidic for cleaning waxed wood I’m afraid and are likely to also strip some of the wax off, but it might be worth trying Osmo Wash and Care which is a neutral cleaner specifically for oiled or waxed wood. Sanding back or using White Spirit to remove the stains and then re waxing is the best option and relatively easy to do, the wax should blend in well with the rest of the door.

    47. I’m due to have some solid wood doors fitted and will need to ‘oil’ them, what do you recommend and what id=s the best way to undertake the work?

      Kind regards,


      • Hello Paul,

        Thank you for your inquiry, there are a number of products that you can use but here are two that I would recommend for you. The first is the Manns Premier Door Oil. This will slightly darken the wood and leave a Matt Finish. An alternative would be the Osmo Door Oil which will again slightly darken the wood and leave a Satin Matt Finish. Both these products need to go on thinly and and will give a good level of protection. If you can do application before the doors are hung then you may find that easier. We generally say its about three square meters per door so depending on how many doors you have to treat will depend on how much you need, and we have a coverage calculator for both products.


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