Which Wood Finish Applicator is Best?


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.


  1. As a school we are looking for a wood coating/preservative to treat a large array of benching and seating ares. All wood is hardwood althougth not exactly sure which as it has now weathered turning grey/silver. All repairs have been done using iroko and this has weathered very similar. Can you recommend a treatment that would
    1 bring back some colour and
    2 preserve the timber.
    This would be applied later this month during school holiday, so timber may be a little damp. Is there any thing we could use in these condition to achieve all the above.
    Many thanks in advance

    • Good Afternoon John,

      Thank you for getting in touch. I would not advice the application of any product whilst the wood is damp, you will be sealing in the damp and whilst many products are micro porous to allow moisture out, it is still recommended that application is done to clean dry wood. Also do you know if the benches have any remaining previous product? As this will also impact on what can be advised moving forward.

      And finally are these exterior benches that are stored outside at all times? Perhaps you can email me via our contact us page with the above details.

      For now, assuming that these are for an exterior space you could have a look at the Osmo Decking Oil which is a thinner oil more suited to tropical hard woods like Iroko, however does require application to bear well prepared wood.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  2. Please tell me the correct brushes to use for Base coat, and UV Protection Oil.

    Also how long will it last before it needs doing again?

    • Good Afternoon Pauline,

      For application of Oils products we always recommend the Mako Natural Bristle Woodcare Brush with a hollow bristle design it gives an even and smooth finish.

      Longevity of a treatment will depend on a number of factors and if you would like to let me know a little more about your project, what it is ? Where it is ? Type of wood and anything else you think is relevant ? And I may be able to help.

      All the Best Samantha.


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