What are Wood Oils and Where are They Best Used?


There’s a lot of confusion about how, when and where to use wood oils. It’s no surprise really, when there are so many to choose from: Teak oil, Tung oil, Danish oil, Oak furniture oil and many more, some of which are specifically designed for certain types of wood.

We thought it’d be helpful to take a look at wood oils and how to use them, and answer some of the most common questions on the subject.

First, what is wood oil?

Oil is one of the most popular ways to finish wood. The protection delivered by oils isn’t quite as robust and effective as contemporary wood finishing products like varnishes. But on the plus side, oils tend to bring out the character of the wood better, they’re made of natural products, plus they’re very easy to apply and maintain.

Osmo Top Oil on Kitchen Worktop

Types of wood oil and how to use them

Danish oil and Teak oil dry faster than linseed oil, which is traditionally used on willow cricket bats. The finish they provide is also much more resilient.

If your wood already has linseed oil on it, it’s best to carry on using it. But if it’s a new project, something that hasn’t been oiled before, steer clear of linseed oil. While Teak oil delivers a slight sheen, Danish oil leaves a more lustrous finish. As you can imagine,  Ronseal Teak Oil is a firm favourite with our customers.

  • Apply Danish and Teak oil with a soft brush or cloth, being careful not to use too much at a time or it won’t sink in. Sand the wood in between coats with a fine sandpaper. You will probably find 3 or 4 coats of oil is your optimum, delivering the best results.

Standard linseed oil takes ages to dry, at least two or three days per coat, and you need multiple coats when applying it to new wood, normally three to five coats but in some cases, as many as fifteen to twenty coats can be applied. Boiled linseed oil, on the other hand, ‘only’ takes a day to dry.  But neither are suitable for outdoor wood.

  • Apply the oil with a cloth and rub it in well. Leave a day between coats and once you’re happy with the finish, buff it to a lovely sheen with a soft cloth
An example of wood oil beading.

Mineral oil is actually a very effective laxative, which you should be able to buy at your local chemist. While it doesn’t give you the same sheen as the other oils we’ve talked about, it’s perfect for things like kitchen chopping boards where you need a non-toxic finish.

Tung oil is thought by many to be the finest natural finish for wood, with its legendary performance and stunning end results. As the Tung Oil website says:

“In over 100 years of development of synthetic resins and varnishes, no one has developed a coating that surpasses the overall performance of natural tung oil.
Tung oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the Tung tree (Vernicia fordii). As a drying oil, Tung oil dries upon exposure to air. The resulting coating is transparent, waterproof, and flexible, a property exploited in most of its applications, which include wood finishing and the composition of traditional oil paints, caulks, mortar and India ink. Tung oil is used on wooden toys as it is naturally non-toxic when dry and is not affected by mould like linseed oil. Tung oil is able to move and flex as wooden surfaces expand and contract with age and changing temperature.
The Chinese have utilised the properties of Tung oil for hundreds, if not thousands, of years for caulking and painting of their boats, treating leather and waterproofing paper and cloth.”
The Tung tree originated in central and southern China, concentrated around the Yangtse River, and it appears in the writings of Confucius from about 400 B.C.

You need to apply Tung oil using a special method called wet-on-wet burnishing, more complex and involved than many other oil application methods. Most amateurs find this process difficult. While you apply Tung oil just like linseed oil, you need to sand the surface after each application of oil and it usually takes at least 3-5 coats plus 2-3 days drying time in between each coat. If you’d like to attempt it, here’s an excellent video…

What is the difference between a wood oil and a varnish?

Oil is a natural product. Oils cure slowly and penetrate into the surface of the wood. Multiple coatings can be applied until the wood is unable to absorb any more. Additional coats can be applied if desired to create a surface build or coating of oil. Varnish is a synthetic product made by cooking a natural oil like linseed oil, Tung oil or even soya oil with a resin like polyurethane. It’s used to build up layers on the surface of the wood to create a plastic-like coating that gives a hard wearing, protective finish or seal to floors and other wooden surfaces.

Can I varnish over wood oil?

In short, the answer is ‘No’. Because most modern varnishes are water-based, they are generally not compatible with oiled surfaces. The easy way to think of this is having water and oil in a frying pan – try to mix them and they separate. If a water-based varnish is applied on top of an oiled surface, it’s highly likely that it will not bond with the wood and will therefore peel off very quickly. Some types of varnish can be applied over an oiled surface but the process is difficult and needs specific primers and varnishes to achieve this.

The easiest approach to varnishing a previously oiled floor is to use a floor sander to remove the surface of the wood, including the wood oil. Wood oils never penetrate more than a couple of microns into the surface of the timber so it won’t require too much sanding to get back to clean, bare wood.

What is the best oil for Oak furniture?

  • Oiling Oak worktops provides the best finish. It adds more depth and character than varnishes and lacquers, is easy to work with, and provides a water-resistant finish.
  • For other interior Oak, an Oak furniture oil like Danish oil is a popular choice for preventing stains and cracking and providing a beautiful, lustrous finish.
  • Danish oil makes an excellent wood floor oil, but modern proprietary products are sometimes easier to work with. If you’d like advice from the experts, feel free to call us.
  • A common question is ‘What is the best outdoor furniture oil?’ We recommend using a high quality Teak oil or other specialist garden furniture oil to protect wooden garden furniture.

Can I use olive oil on wood furniture?

Yes, you can. Use a cloth to work the oil into the wood grain, rubbing back and forth. When the wood has absorbed the oil, leave it for ten minutes then wipe the excess off with a clean cloth. Untreated wood tends to take 2-3 coats, but if you’re unsure just stop when the wood stops absorbing the oil.

Although vegetable and other natural oils can be used, we would always recommend using a dedicated furniture oil as these contain a specially formulated blend of oils and resins, which provide additional durability and wear resistance. A great wood oil that can be used on most types of wooden furniture is clear Osmo Polyx Oil, or if additional colour of a stain is required, we recommend  Osmo Polyx Oil Tints.

What is the difference between decking oil, decking preservative, decking paint and decking stain?

  • Decking oil penetrates into the surface of the wood, protecting it from cracking splitting and warping, it also helps to repel rain and moisture. Available in clear and coloured variants.
  • Decking stains are usually a coloured varnish-like coating that sit on top of the wood to provide colour and protection.
  • Decking preservative is usually a spirit-based preserver that penetrates into the wood to protect against mould, algae, dry rot and insect attack, depending on the product you’re using. Many spirit-based wood preservatives are available in a range of colours that can be over-coated with a clear decking oil.
  • Decking paint sits on the surface of the wood and helps keep moisture out. Decking paints are very similar to decking stains in that the paint produces a surface coating that sits on top of the decking timber.

Is there a substitute for linseed oil on a cricket bat?

Yes, but most cricket experts believe you can’t beat raw linseed oil. For a new bat with no finish, apply at least two coats of raw linseed oil to the front, back, edges and toe, using a soft rag. The face and edges of the bat should be rubbed down with fine sandpaper every 3-4 weeks during the cricket season and a light coat of linseed oil re-applied. When it has sunk in, wipe off the excess then buff your bat to a sheen using a clean cloth.

How do I refinish olive wood bowls?

If you’re using the bowls to store or present food, never use a vegetable oil. All you’ll get is a horrible smelly, sticky finish. Use a colourless, odour-free, light mineral oil instead, a safe and popular by-product of petroleum.

Olive bowl finished with wood oil

Tips for using wood oils safely and effectively

  1. If you want to stain the wood before you oil it, use a water-based stain. If you use an oil-based stain, it’ll block the pores in the wood and prevent the oil from doing its job properly.
  2. Never, ever leave an oily cloth rolled up. It can easily generate heat and catch fire. Dry it flat outdoors before storing it or chucking it in the bin.

Need help with choosing the right wood oil?

Do you have any questions about interior or exterior wood oils? We’ll be more than happy to answer them. Just get in touch. Alternatively, visit our FAQ page for any and all wood oil-related queries.

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

Some of our other great oil related posts

  • Traditional Wood Oils: 3 of the Best
  • Which is the Best Wood Oil for Wooden Worktops

    1. Hello, just wondering if you could recommend various options for protecting outdoor furniture made from Iroko? It will be bare with nothing on it. Many thanks, Craig

      • Hi Craig,

        We’d recommend you go for either Ronseal Ultimate Protection Hardwood Furniture Oil or the Barrettine Garden Furniture Oil.

        However, the furniture needs to have been exposed to weathering before application of either of these.

        For more detailed info and our best advice, give us a call and we’d be happy to help.

        Kind regards,

    2. What an excellent page, thank you for the great information.
      We have been making some furniture using steel and reclaimed timber. For indoors we have been using Danish oil which seems good, but what I’d like to ask is what is best for outdoors.
      The problem is we usually dont know the type of wood, it’ll very likely be relatively cheap softwood that wasnt meant to last long term outdoors.
      What treatment would you recommend for this to give us the best chance of preserving the wood.

      • Good Afternoon Chris,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry, we would love to see some of you projects, you can share on any of our Social Media Pages or email us directly via our contact us

        For exterior projects there are a wide range of options you can consider, however to keep it simple a good all rounder will be a Decking Oil over a Preserver. So the preserver will help to prevent mould, decay and algae and I would recommend the Barrettine Premier Universal this is a clear product, although it will very slightly darken the wood, and can be applied with one or two coats. And then two coats of a Decking Oil such as Barrettine Decking Oil this will give a moisture repellent finish to the wood and can be used for most wood types with out issue.

        If the reclaimed wood has any previous products on these would need to be removed first to avoid product uptake issues. The Decking Oils are also available in coloured options and when you start to apply colour, even light colours, this will greatly improve the UV protection to the wood.

        If you take a look at these products and do feel free to get in touch via the above contact page if you have any questions at all.

        All the Best Samantha

    3. I just inherited my great, great, grandfather’s sleigh from around 1890. It has been stored in the rafters of a shed on my aunt and uncles farm for around 100 years. The black, lead based paint on the body of the sleigh is in relatively good condition and I am leaning towards not repainting, just redoing the pinstriping which is faded. I have had people tell me to treat the sleigh with linseed, Tung, or watco oil, but will it soak in through the paint? (I am thinking not Tung after reading your article because of the sanding process.) The red paint on the shafts, runners and other trim pieces is more worn. Should I treat with an oil before restaining or painting these parts?
      Thank you, nice article!

      • Hello Teresa,

        Thank you for getting in touch. Oils are designed to soak into the woods surface, if there is paint applied, this will prevent the oil from soaking in, so no to the oil application.

        If you are looking for something to go over the current paint then I would recommend taking a look at the Polyvine products. These are ideal for restoration projects, they can be applied over many pre existing surfaces and come in sample sizes to allow you to try test areas first.

        The Decorators Varnish from Polyvine is a good place to start and can be used inside and out.

        Polyvine also do an Enamel paint >>> Enamel Paint which you could consider for restoration of the other areas of the sleigh.

        If you take a look at these options and do feel free to get back to me via our contact us page.

        All the best Samantha.

    4. Hi , I have a coffee table which I am not sure what kind of wood is that but I want to strip the paint and oil it , What oil you recommend as we use it a lot for drinks and food . I want something waterproofed and if a piece of oily food drops, doesn’t damage it. It has a glass on top which I hate and love to remove it. Kind regards

      • Hi Shirin,

        Thank you for getting in touch. For a quick and effective stripper of varnish I would recommend the Barrettine Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover this gel takes around 15 minutes to take effect, making the varnish bubble and lift to be scrapped off. Once you have removed all the varnish, I would still recommend a light sand to prepare the surface well to have a new finish applied.

        Once you are back to bare wood and the surface is well prepared you could look at one of the Hard Wax Oil products such as the Fiddes Hard Wax oil as this can be used on most wood types.

        The key is that the oil soaks into the woods surface and dries hard to offer a moisture repellent and durable finish. The Oil will darken the wood a little and highlight the grain and to be sure it is what you are looking for there are sample sachets or tins for test areas to be carried out and its vital to read all the product details to make sure it is the right thing for your project.

        I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get back in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    5. Hi. We have a teak table on the deck of our boat which is constantly getting oil stains from food. We’ve used a teak cleaner and got them out and then sealed it but this hasn’t stopped food/grease stains. I’m thinking of using osmo hard wax oil in Matt. Would this be suitable?

      • Hello Nicola,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. The Osmo Polyx Oil will be a more durable finish than than some of the more traditional or natural oils treatments. Its dries to a hard finish that will repel liquids and stains. The only exception will be oily food types, gravy, salad dressing or meat fats, these will be repelled initially however if left for long periods can stain.

        As the table is Teak I would recommend considering the Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin as this is slightly thinner in viscosity and more suited to a hard wood such as the Teak. To prepare the wood, you would need to remove all previous products and take back to bare wood, give a good wipe down with Methylated Spirits first. Two thin coats of the Osmo oil is all that is needed to give good protection to your table.

        I would also recommend using a suitable cleaners, some of the brand names on the market can damage the oil and make it wear quicker. Osmo Spray Cleaner

        If you take a look at these and do feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions via our contact us page, we’ll be happy to help.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    6. Hi, I have some beautiful wood windows and the interior of the windows are really dry and I do not want to wood to deteriorate. What oil should I use on this to keep them from becoming damaged from the sun and heat?

      • Good Afternoon Jay,

        Thank you for your question a common issue particularly for South facing windows, that get a lot of sun. It can depend on the type of wood your frames are, however a good starting point is a tinted Hard Wax oil such as the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil this is a penetrating oil that will add colour and protection to your wood, as well as nourish it.

        The pigments act as filters against the sun and will greatly reduce the silvering of the wood and can make you wood look natural and refreshed. You only need two thin coats of these types on oil and you will have a long lasting protective finish for your window frames. For more help and advice please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page and we will be happy to help.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    7. Hi,

      I’ve just managed to get a piece of cedar from a tree they were cutting down. I’d like to leave it in the garden as a feature and show off its grain. What is the best oil to use on it ? I notice that some posting say it already has a natural oil which in time will disperse. How long would that take and would I need to treat it now ?

      Many thanks.

      • Good Morning Lee,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your question. The first thing to do will be to allow the wood to air dry. Cedar is a naturally oily wood and this will offer some protection for a good period. However the wood is also likely to have a high moisture content if freshly cut and so before you can even consider application of any future products the wood will need to be sufficiently dry. As a rough guide, and all woods will vary, wood will dry 1 inch depth per year. So how long will depend on the size of your slab.

        All the while the cedar is repelling moisture with its own natural oils the wood will be fine and you could check this every 3 months or so and check the moisture content with a meter also. Once the moisture content comes down to around the 15% mark you may then be able to consider and exterior oil to continue the protection and enhance the appearance of the grain.

        If you have any questions at all please do feel free to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    8. Hi – recently bought the below oak table. What oil would you recommend? I’m not sure between the Osmo top Oil and Osmo POLYX®-OIL EFFECT RAW

      • Good Morning Jay,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. I can not share the link on our Blog page, however I can see this is a beautiful table. Although details do not specify any current finish applied I suspect an oil is already applied, perhaps a danish or simple finishing oil, it would be good to know so that future oils can be checked for compatibility.

        I would recommend taking a look at the Osmo Top Oil as a good option to consider. It is durable and food safe and comes in a range of option, including the Natural 3068 which is very similar to the Polyx Oil Raw. However from the images of the table, I can see it is a dark colour and using the Natural on this is likely to result in a a slightly milky appearance. The Natural and Polyx Oil raw have a minute amount of white pigment in it to counteract the darkening you get with a clear oil.

        For your project I think a clear is the better option to consider and if you are unsure then it worth getting a 5ml sample sachet first and trying a small test area.

        I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    9. Thanks for creating such a helpful blog!

      I’m building a ladder out of cedar to be used indoors to access an open loft space. I’d like to keep the natural cedar color but add a bit of protection as guests will be going up and down to access another living space. I’m considering finishing with some sort of oil (linseed?) or polyurethane. Ideally nothing that has a strong odor and is easy to apply. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

      • Hello Trisha,

        Cedar is a wood naturally high in its own oil, if the wood is specifically for interiors then chance are you can consider application at this time. However is well worth trying test areas first, this is to check that anything applied is either absorbed well into the wood or adheres to the surface, depending on the product type.

        If the cedar is still high in oil content it will repel most products that you try to apply. All you need to do is wait for a while for those oils to naturally disperse, over a few weeks, and try again.

        If and when the wood is ready I would recommend taking a look at the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil this is more durable than some of the traditional oils such as Linseed or Danish, it requires just two thin coats to be applied and will last far longer and give better over all protection. Sample sizes are available for test areas and I would recommend these as the wood type, age and condition will all impact on the result.

        I hope that helps, if you have any further questions or would like more recommendations please get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    10. Hi there!

      I just bought a Magkono (Philippine Ironwood) tabletop for my working/computer desk. I did not get it varnished as I wanted to preserve the grains of the wood itself. I believe it has not been applied with any varnishes or oils before. I was wondering if Danish oil would be a good finish for it? And if not, do you have any recommendations on what kind of oil should I be using for it? As much as possible, I would love to preserve the wood grains as well as not damage the tabletop itself.

      Other than that if you have any other advice on how I can apply the oils properly, it would be much appreciated

      best regards,


      • Good Morning Mia,

        Iron wood is a very hard wood and so a thin oil is the best option, with wood like this oil uptake will be low and test areas are recommended to ensure the oil does not dry on the surface.

        Natural Oils like Danish are an option and can be topped up regularly when further protection is needed, they do not dry hard however and if you are leaning arms on the desk to work for long periods may find the oil, comes away.

        Hard Wax Oils dry much harder and are more durable over time and for the thinnest option you could have a look at the Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin. I would also recommend wiping the surface of the wood thoroughly with Methylated Spirits first and then trying a test area to check for uptake of the oil.

        It will slightly darken the wood and enhance the beauty of the grain and just two very very thin coats are all that is required.

        If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    11. I have a cherry cabinet set. I live in Arizona. Dry, lack-luster looking, but still my all time heart throb piece of furniture I want to do right by it. It has been neglected, and I just finished using commercial furniture polish on it to at least perk it up a little…I now want to do a better, more long lasting oil or polish to it. Question: oil or wax polish? I know nothing about these things. For sure I want to preserve the original color and just bring back its original luster. #theshining 😉

      • Hi Robin,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. If you are wanting to maintain a good shine to the piece then a wax or polish is going to be the best option. If it is more of a show piece than a everyday used piece then this will be sufficient. Waxes and Polishes can be buffed up to the desire shine level, however I can recommend products as I am UK based so our products will vary from your in the US.

        Oils give more in the way of durability to the wood and will prevent moisture ingress and protect for longer than a wax will. However the oils penetrate the wood surface and combine with the wood, this means there is little product on the surface to reflect light and so far less shine can be seen or encouraged by buffing.

        I hope that helps.

        All the Best Samantha.

    12. hi
      I would be grateful for advice on treating a number of different issues. All are regarding exterior use.
      1. I have two slices of willow, approx. 20cm thick and 50cm diameter, given to me by the tree surgeon felling the tree in an adjacent garden. They have spent several years drying and all the bark has fallen off. I want to use them as outdoor steps so they will be exposed to standing water.
      2. The tree surgeon also gave me several slices of silver birch – these are about 30cm high and 20cm diameter. They have become infested with wood boring insects and (I think) wet rot. The bark is still on and I would like to use them as plant stands (ideally outside).

      From research on your site, I believe I need to apply,
      1. a wood treatment for existing issues
      (The birch will by dried out and kept safe from further damage before going on to step 2).
      2. a preserver
      3. a protective treatment against UV damage
      4. a water seal
      5. possibly either Danish oil or decking oil
      which feels like I’m using more products than an Instagram influencer’s skin care regime.

      Are any of these unnecessary? Am I missing anything out? Perhaps you might consider an advice page on treating green wood?

      Either way, many thanks for the wealth of information on your site.


      • Hello Lo,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your questions. You certainly have a lot on your list and we can reduce those down to few products for sure.

        The first thing to think about really is making sure the wood is dry, standard kiln dried wood contains between 5% and 15% moisture any more than this and problems can arise and ‘green’ woods can take many year to naturally dry out. Sealing moisture into the wood can cause mould to develop. That’s only if the product is able to adhere to the surface or penetrate, depending on the type of product used. Often if the wood is still wet products will not adhere well, long term.

        Any decay or damaged areas will need to be removed. There are wood hardeners for area that have a touch of rot, however these are only ever short term fixes. Clean the wood and allow to dry.

        You can think about what is next, and as a general guide for exterior wood a preserve first followed by a top coat finish. These can between them protect against mould, mildew, rot and decay, UV damage and moisture ingress, so a lot. However with your project the wood is going to be in direct contact with the ground and exposed to all the element 365 days a year including standing water. It will be difficult to keep this wood looking good and not succumbing to the ravages of the outside world. And chances are over time they probably will, wood is a natural and porous substrate.

        Lets get them to last as long as possible. So if you are concreting them in this may help the underside, it will reduce the moisture contact some what. Then two or even three coats of the Barrettine Premier Wood Preserver will help to prevent the decay and mould.

        For the top coat product I would take a look at Decking Oils, these are designed to stand up to that constant weather, the oil will penetrate the wood surface and repel moisture, one of the biggest causes of damage to wood. The oil can be applied in two coats and can be topped up annually to ensure continued protection to your Steps.

        Barrettine Decking Oil is available in a clear or coloured option. The Clear does have UV filters and will slow down the natural silvering process, but it will not stop it, application of a colour, even a very light one will reduce UV damage even further, if you think of the colours as factors in sun cream the darker the colour the higher the factor.

        I hope all that help and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch. And we always love to see the results of our customers projects you can share your natural steps with us on any of the Wood Finishes Direct Social Media pages.

        All the Best Samantha.

    13. Hello,

      I have purchased a solid blonde oak door for the front of my house. It is recessed about 5′ from the front of the house, so it does not get direct sun or rain.

      Nonetheless, it has started to bleach out a little at the bottom from indirect sunlight. As far as I can tell it is unfinished. I wish to apply an oil to protect it, but would like some suggestions first, please?

      Kind regards,

      • Good Morning Angel,

        Even with out direct exposure to the elements it is worth protecting any exterior wood. For an Oak door that is currently untreated I would recommend a preserver first and to work in line with my top coat recommendation, you could take a look at the Osmo WR Basecoat this will penetrate the woods surface and protect against mould and decay.

        Then two very thin coats of one of the Osmo UV products Osmo UV Protection Oil Extra is the clear version and there are a few colours with in the range also. These are quite subtle and natural looking, but will increase the UV protection as the pigments act as filters. And a little goes a long way with the Osmo products, check out the calculators on the product page to see how much you will need.

        If you take a look at these and I am here to help if you have any questions. Just get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    14. Hi, could you clarify this sentence for me:

      “Wood oils never penetrate more than a couple of microns into the surface of the timber”

      When I sat my furniture legs in a shallow basin of creocote, the brown colour travelled a good bit up the leg and stained it brown. For some reason I thought that the oil was soaking in very deeply and travelling up the leg, but now I see that wood oil only barely penetrates?

      • Good Morning Mandra,

        In simple terms the structure of most woods is a little bit like a cluster of drinking straws, all squished together to make a piece of wood, each straw is a grain of the wood and the straws can vary in size. What you saw on your furniture legs is the colour traveling up the straws – grains of the wood. The opening of these straws is nearly always the cut end and this is why cut end absorb more product than the other surfaces and the sides do not absorb as much. Often only penetrate less the 1mm and for denser woods even less.

        I hope that helps to explain it a little. If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

        All the Best Samantha.

    15. Hi there, excellent article, thanks!
      I have a question- we just built 2 cedar benches for our steam room. After just one use, the benches are looking grey and discolored. I’m wondering if you can recommend a wood oil or finish that can stand up to the high moisture and heat? Because it’s a sealed small room, it also likely needs to be something that won’t be a hazard if we inhale the gases. Any ideas?

      • Hello Arya,

        Cedar is often used for these types of projects as it is naturally high in oil already and this will help to repel moisture. If the wood is not new then perhaps those oils have already naturally dispersed and left the wood exposed to the moisture and so silvered.

        I would say allow the wood to thoroughly dry out and then consider application of the Osmo Wood Protector this is extremely moisture repellent treatment.

        Then two thin coats of the Osmo Polyx Oil this will replace the natural oil lost in the cedar and again increase the repellency levels.

        Because of the environment that the wood is exposed to it is likely to need more regular top up coats and you will need to allow the wood to cool and dry for a period of days and then carry out test areas, to test for good uptake, and to get an idea of how often this will need to be done. I would also recommend allowing at least 7 days, more if possible, after application to allow the oil to cure well before it is exposed to the temperatures and humidity.

        Kind regards Samantha

    16. I’m building a coffee table from a slab of London Plane. There is a lot of figure in the grain (lacewood) as well as some lovely colour differentiation between the pinkish heart wood and the lighter, sap wood which makes up around 2/3 of the width. I want a finish that is going to be durable enough that we don’t have to be super anal about coasters etc all the time but the primary concern is bringing out the depth of the grain. What finishes would you recommend I consider? I have ordered some Osmo samples but wonder if an oil finish / danish oil might be better (if they also give enough protection)

      • Good Afternoon Matthew,

        The Osmo is definitely one to consider, it is a penetrating oil, and so will enhance the natural beauty of the wood, and the grain. Very very thin application is required and I would advice not to over sand the surface before application, see how you get on with those samples and go from there. It will be more hard wearing and durable than a Danish Oil.

        With any Finish it is always adviced to use coasters and protect the finish from hot plates and cups, rings are often the result of moisture in the wood being drawn up to the surface, rather than damage to the product itself. Hard Wax Oils like the Polyx will take warm mugs being placed on it for example, but always exercise care with wooden surfaces.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    17. Hi
      Just bought a big slab of Suar Wood 200x100x5 what oil do you suggest and application I’ll need enough to treat and ongoing maintenance

      • Hi Nigel,

        Where is the wood going to be situated? Is it for indoors or outdoors and what purpose will it be serving? If you can provide some additional information this will enable us to make some product recommendations for you. Alternatively, you can speak with one of our in-house experts by contacting us here and they will be able to discuss your project and the products required.

        Kind regards,

    18. Hi. I’ve got 3 pieces of oak to be used as window cills in my kitchen. They’ve been sanded to a nice smooth finish and habe no treatment on them. One will be behind the sink so will get wet occasionally, the other two , are close to the Aga cooker so a constant warm, dry atmosphere. Options are to fit them unfinished and let nature take it’s course, varnish with a matt or satin finish or wax them. Could you advise which option would give the most consistent finish that will resist variety of conditions and remain easy to clean

      • Hi Russell,

        Using an interior wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil would be a good option. These oils provide excellent resistance to water splashes and will also help to keep the wood nourished and supple, especially good for the pieces close to the Aga. Apply 2 thin coats and remove any excess oil from the surface.

        These products are easy to apply, maintain and are frequently used on furniture and flooring so are therefore also durable. Being subjected to warmth and moisture your pieces of wood may just need slightly more regular maintenance than furniture and flooring. If they start to look dry or worn, simply apply a thin maintenance coat to restore the appearance and protective properties.

        In terms of sanding the wood, avoid going any finer than a 120 to 150 grit sandpaper. If the wood is sanded too smooth, it can prevent the oil from penetrating in to the wood to protect it.

    19. Hi, I’m looking for advice for oil finish on an out door front porch support in sapele which has the morning sun on one face then shade after.
      Thank you in advance for your response.

      • Hi Mike,

        Sapele is a very dense wood and as a result, not all wood oils are suitable for this wood. Osmo Decking Oil is a highly refined teak oil that is very thin in nature and will work well with Sapele. Because it is very thin, it will be able to penetrate into the tight wood grain to offer protection whereas other wood oils may not. In terms of UV protection, it doesn’t contain any added UV filters but as a general rule, the darker a wood product is, the better the UV protection it provides. It’s a little like sunglasses, the darker the lenses the more sunlight they filter out. What this means is that the clear version of Osmo Decking Oil will not provide any added UV protection, but the coloured or pigmented versions will provide varying degrees of UV protection depending on the colour. This is because the colour pigments in the oil prevent some of the sunlight from reaching the wood, therefore providing some UV protection.

        Osmo decking oil is very easy to apply and maintain. It will never crack, flake, or peel off and will also help to keep the wood nourished.

        I hope the above helps but if you have any further questions about your project or which products to use, please feel free to contact us at any time.

        Kind regards,

    20. Hi Samantha,

      I am making a large round (4ft dia.) hall table out of sepele. I would like to enhance the delicate pink colour of this wood along with making the top water-resistant in case it is used for either dining or a flower arrangement. I think a matt or semi-matt finish would be best. What would you recommend please?

      Further to my question above (still awaiting moderation) about my sepele hall table Samantha, my son would actually like a high gloss finish. Can I use a penetrating wax/oil to provide the protection and apply a finishing gloss top coat of something?

      • Hello John,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiries. Sapele is a beautiful wood to work with, it is a hard wood and can be naturally high in oil already, so once sanded you must give the surface a good wipe over with Barrettine Methylated Spirits this will remove that surface oil that will discourage any treatment that you try to apply to the wood.

        Once well prepared, a Hard Wax Oil can be applied and for Sapele I would recommend the Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin this is designed for use on hardwoods that are less willing to absorb oils and will give a subtle satin finish. It is important that the oil soaks into the surface of the wood and dries, over application results in poor protection and the surface is likely to mark easily.

        There is a product that you could look at for a glossy finish Polyx Oil Osmo Polyx Oil 3011. Although glossy, with oils is not as reflective as with a varnish and this Polyx Oil is thicker in viscosity than the 1101 Extra Thin and so will be less willing to soak into the woods surface. These oils will also highlight the natural tones of the wood they are applied to, so should bring out the pink and highlight the grain, beautifully.

        My recommendation would be to get a sample sachets of both the above products and try test areas first to see which gives you the desired finish and works well with your Sapele.

        If you need any further advice please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page and speak to one of our friendly advisers.

        Kind Regards Samantha

    21. Hi Samantha,

      I want some good oil which will be easily available in market for “outdoor furniture” and indoor furniture in following wood:

      1. Acacia
      2. White oak
      3. Ash
      4. Mahagony

      Also, what time should we recommend to customers regarding reoiling of the product. If different climatic conditions required different oil treatment?

      • Good Afternoon Manoj,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. For exterior furniture I can recommend the Barrettine Garden Furniture Oil as a good option. It is suitable for use on soft and hardwood and will give a moisture repellent protective finish that is easy to maintain. Simply apply a fresh coat, to clean dry wood, when you feel the wood needs it, annually or bi annually. And for even better long lasting protection you can apply a preservative before the Garden Oil, this will help to avoid mould and rot from forming and a good option is the Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver

        For interior Furniture you a product such as the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil can be used again on most soft and hard woods if a positive test area result is achieved. The clear oil will darken the wood slightly and requires just two very thin coats for a good level of protective finish. And is again easy to maintain over time.

        The oils must be tested on each type of wood as the results will vary, although application should always be very thin and the woods will benefit from a wipe down with Barrettine Methylated Spirits first.

        For further advice or option please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our contact us page

        Kind regards Samantha.

    22. Hello – I wonder if you can help? I have WREN Luxury Laminate Aleve Worktops (Matte Finish) and like an idiot I used an abrasive side of a kitchen sponge to clean off some small paint spots. this has caused several areas of blooming on the Matte tops. I’m really upset with myself. I’m pretty sure I can’t abrase further to try to blend in as I’m the surface would not be too thin. I’ve been told that there is not much to be able to do to fix laminate but I was wondering if the OSMO clear matte top oil would help dull the overall surface down? I know it’s meant for solid wood but their website does say their products have successfully been used on laminate without problem? You guys seem really knowledgeable about these products so any advice would really help me. Many thanks.

      • Hello Paul,

        Thank you for getting in touch, I wish I could help and offer a solution, however for Laminate, I unfortunately don’t, The Osmo is an oil that is designed to penetrate a woods surface and it just would not work on laminate. I would be interested to see where it says it is a possible use for laminate as this to my knowledge is not true. Laminate is a plastic seal over what is an image of wood, they are so good these days it can be difficult to tell them apart, however wood finishing products just will not adhere to the surface.

        Have you tried speaking to anyone at Wren or any other Laminate suppliers as they may have repair kits that would suit your needs.

        I am so sorry that I can not be of more help and I hope that you are able to get the problem solved.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    23. Hello, I’ve installed solid mahogany bead board on the ceiling of both an exterior front porch and an interior enclosure sunroom vaulted ceiling ( no heating or AC. I’m looking to finish with an oil or other finish to keep the natural reddish mahogany color tint. Can you provide recommendations. Thank you, Joe

    24. I have made a pizza board out of English oak and want a dark stain that is also safe as it will be in contact with food. What would you recommend please?

      • Hello John,

        You could have a look at the Osmo Top Oil this is a food safe penetrating oil that will give a moisture repellent finish to the wood. It has excellent resistance against water, juices, wine, coffee, beer and fizzy drinks. Two thin coats are all that is required and it will darken the wood slightly to give that ‘wet look’

        Alternatively if you want an even darker finish perhaps the Fiddes Hard wax Oil Tints these are colour and protection in one product and again two thin coats, test areas are vital to check for uptake of the oil, particularly on a hard wood such as oak and sample sizes are available.

        If you take a look at the above products and if you have any questions feel free to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    25. We recently accidentally burned the top of a wooden kitchen worktop with a hot pan sitting on it, and planned to sandpaper off the burn and re-oil the area. Is there a way to determine which oil would be best to use to ensure the finish matches the rest of the worktop? Or is there a likely product that would have been used?

      Many thanks.

      • Hello James,

        Other than contacting the manufacturers to see if they can let you know what the product was, there is no way of knowing what the current treatment is. If when sanded you wipe the bare surface with a damp cloth this will show you how much the wood will darken with a clear oil and you could have a look at the Osmo Polyx Oil which is a popular choice for many oil finishes and has sample sachets that you are able to try test areas with. And may actually be sufficient for your patch repair anyway.

        If there is anything further that I am able to help with please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    26. Hi,

      I have an outdoor antique Indian teak gate with some carvings and I would like to avoid getting cracks and getting grey as it gets lots of sun and rain.
      What should I use to keep it looking good, keeping the wood health and not looking shiny ?


      • Good Afternoon Helena,

        It can be a bit of a catch 22 situation as the wood is a hardwood and will not readily accept a lot of oil and so thinner oils are recommend, such as the Osmo Decking Oil this does not contain UV filters and so is able to be slightly thinner in viscosity and in turn better for hardwoods such as Teak.

        Because this oil does not have UV filters, it will not slow down the silvering process, for those clear oils that do have UV filters they will require regular maintenance in order to up keep the UV protection and because they are slightly thicker are less likely to be suitable for hardwoods.

        With clear oils it is a little like applying factor 10 sun cream, more regular top ups are required, to increase the UV protection you can add colour the darker the colour the higher the factor, this of course is not always what customers are looking for when using these types of wood.

        Test areas are the starting point for you and if you purchase some sample sizes and see if the wood will take an oil with UV filters first and then make a decision from there.

        I am here to help if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Samantha

    27. Hello,
      We purchased a home with old western cedar tongue and grove walls. They look very dull and dry. A neighbor recommended putting a coat of Teak Oil on them. I started applying the Teak Oil on one wall today and the wood has turned very dark and a brown reddish color. Sorry to say, but my husband does not like it at all. He is worried that the room will be way to dark if I continue. So now I’m stuck, what can I do? Can I sand the pieces I applied oil to to lighten them up? What oil can I put on the cedar that will not darken them?

      • Good Afternoon Nancy,

        Thank you for getting in touch. I would recommend trying to scrub the surface with some Barrettine White Spirit this will remove some if not all of the oil. Any remaining can be sanded off.

        Many clear products will darken the wood slightly, however you could consider a wax such as the Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish this give a lustre and shine that can nourish and bring the wood back to life without darkening it too much. It offers some protective properties to the wood, not as much as oils will do however. The wax can be buffed up to be more shiny and you can add further coats as often or as little as you like.

        I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all please feel free to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    28. Hello,

      I bought an old condo which was built in an old brewery warehouse. I am on the top floor where there are a ton of huge old wood beams which are part of the structure and the roof. They have dark and rich color I suppose from all the years they have been around, the building is 100 years old. Another result of the time is dust in the grains, I have not been able to get completely out with a vacuum, as well as water stains, and overpainting. I don’t think these have ever been treated with anything and was considering trying to use tung oil to even out the color, eliminate the water stains, and hopefully eliminate that slightly dusty look. Not sure if there is much hope for the overpaint.

      I would like to get your feedback on this approach and anything I should watch out for.


      • Hello,

        Thank you for getting in touch, perhaps you could send me some photos of the beams, both close up and from a distance, this will help with further advice on what to do moving forward. You may find a brush will help to remove dust and debris from the crevices in the beams, finding the right texture bristle, not to hard but not to soft ( sorry I know that is some what vague ) You can email me FAO Sam at wfd.advice@wood-finishes-direct.com

        Kind regards Samantha.


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