How to Refinish Wood for a Unique Look

There are numerous ways to create a beautiful finish on your wood. You can use French polish, oils, penetrating, and surface finishes. Various approaches allow you to customize your finish to look just like the original wood.

Surface Finishes

Whether you are restoring a wooden piece or need to refresh your home’s appearance, the best wood finishing techniques can make a big difference in the look and feel of your wood. But before you start sanding, painting, or dipping, you must choose the best finish.

There are three main types of wood finishes: Penetrating Finishes, Surface Finishes, and Oil Finishes. Each one offers a unique look.

Penetrating finishes seep into the wood’s pores and create a natural look. These are easier to apply than surface finishes and can be used on interior and exterior wood. They are also flexible. However, these finishes are less durable than surface finishes.

Surface finishes are applied on top of the wood and form a protective layer. They are usually high gloss and are easy to clean. Nevertheless, they tend to wear off in a short period.

Oil-based polyurethanes are the most common surface finishes. They are relatively easy to apply and give the wood a rich, deep look. They also give the wood a warm glow and provide protection.

On the other hand, water-based polyurethanes dry fast, have low odor, and require fewer coats. The finish is less durable than oil-based varieties, however.

Penetrating Finishes

Penetrating finishes are ideal for giving your wood project a natural look. These finishes are easy to apply and leave a soft sheen on your surface. They tend to highlight the grain of your wood. However, they are less durable than polyurethanes.

Penetrating wood finishes have improved to make them easier to apply. The process involves a layer of oil or wax penetrating deep into the wood. When the finish is cured, it hardens to form a durable integral defense.

Some penetrating finishes are formulated with linseed oil. Linseed oil has been used for years to seal the wood. It is also used to create paints and varnishes.

Tung oil is another type of penetrating finish. Unlike linseed oil, tung oil is not likely to yellow over time. It is also environmentally friendly.

Another option for penetrating finishes is Danish oil. This mixture of boiled linseed oil, thinner, and varnish, provides enhanced protection for the varnish. You can apply it directly to the bare wood, but it does not completely seal the wood.

Oil-varnish blends are a popular type of finish. These blends combine the ease of application of rub-in oils with the versatility of color options of varnishes. Most of these blends are based on linseed oil, but they may also contain dyes and pigments.

Another finish is shellac. Shellac is a natural wax finish that is easy to apply. It accentuates the grain of your wood and comes in a wide range of colors.


Wood oils are a fantastic way to bring out the natural look of your wood. They’re easy to apply, can rejuvenate your wooden surfaces, and can be used instead of varnish. You’ll also find that they are environmentally friendly and very easy to maintain.

When choosing a wood oil for your project, you’ll want to consider the type of wood you’re working with, the amount of exposure the wood is exposed to, and the type of finish you’d like to achieve. Choosing the right oil will help your wood last longer and make it more durable.

Traditional wood oils work well for new or existing wood. They provide a rich, natural-looking finish highlighting the wood’s natural grain. But they take time to apply, and you’ll need to prep the wood before applying the oil.

There are several types of oil that you can choose from, and they all have different finishes. Choose the one that best matches your decor and the type of wood you’re working with.

Tung Oil is a penetrating oil that gives your wood a glossy, satin finish without stripping. It’s a great option for hardwood and pinewood furniture. However, it’s more expensive than other wood finishes.

Danish Oil is another non-drying wood oil. It works especially well on untreated wood. The finish lasts longer than linseed oil and can be applied by brush or roller.

French Polishing

French polishing is one of the oldest methods of wood finishing. It is used to make wooden furniture and musical instruments look better. Today, the method is popular in Hobart, where people can refinish their wood to a shiny finish.

The technique is easy to learn and offers a premium finish. However, it does require some practice to master. Some people opt for a sprayed-on lacquer look that can be applied to a surface using a brush.

First, you need to prepare the surface. You can use paint and varnish remover to remove stains and marks. Alternatively, you can strip the old finish with methylated spirit and wire wool. After stripping the wood, you can apply a stain that matches the timber’s color.

For a smooth finish, you should use a hard shellac. You can use lubricant oil to prevent the shellac from sticking to the surface. This is especially useful in closed-grain hardwoods.

After applying the shellac, you need to wait at least three days. Next, you can use a dabber to polish the surface. To maintain a thin and even application, you need to move the dabber in small circles.

In addition, you can use a rubbing pad to apply the French polish. A rubbing pad is made from cotton or wool. When you are done applying the polish, you can remove the pad. You can also add a small amount of non-drying oil, like olive oil, to the pad.