Applying Oil or Wax to Wood

Protecting wood with Oil or Wax is a very good idea if you want the natural wood colour exposed. Oil makes a great finish for good quality wood in areas of high traffic where it will be handled a lot, and in areas where moisture is going to be in the air, whilst Wax is best used for areas free from excess moisture. Both can take a bit of time and care to apply, but the results are worth it if done properly.

Applying Oil to Wood

Preparation

Prepare the area around the wood to be oiled as you would if you were painting or applying varnish. Protect carpets and other flooring with dust sheets or newspaper, and apply masking tape to glass or tiles adjacent to the wood. Make sure that the wood you are oiling is completely clear of any previous finish and that it is sanded smooth. It is best to sand the area with increasingly fine paper so that when you finish you are not left with scratch marks in the wood. Remove any dust from the sanding down and wipe the wood with a lint-free cloth dipped in a little linseed oil if you can.

[stextbox id=”info”]Tip: Oil will change the colour of the wood it is applied to, and is available in several shades. Test the oil on a small section of the wood which is hidden from normal view before applying to the main part of the wood.[/stextbox]

Application

Oil should be applied with a foam brush for best results, and these are available from most good DIY stores. Apply the first coat of oil to the wood, brushing in the direction of the grain. Try not to over brush (using too many small strokes) and do not stop halfway through the job or you may see lines appearing in the finish.

Let the oil soak into the wood for 15-20 minutes and then use a clean cloth to gently wipe any excess oil from the surface. Quite a lot of oil will come off of the wood at this point, so make sure you change to a clean cloth regularly. Now leave the oil to soak in for another couple of hours (3 hours at most) before applying a second coat in the same way as the first. Wipe the wood down with clean cloths as before and then leave to dry for at least 24 hours. When the oil is fully dry, buff the surface to a shine with a clean cloth.

Applying Wax to Wood

Wax is a good finish for natural wood as it will “feed” the wood and help to stop it drying out. It is fairly easy to apply (easier than oil) but the wood needs to be perfectly smooth and clean to achieve the best results. Wax is not as hard-wearing as oil or varnish, so may not be suitable for areas which are subjected to moisture or that are handled a lot.

Tip: Wax, like oil, will change the colour of the wood it is applied to, and is available in several shades. Test the wax on a small section of the wood which is hidden from normal view before applying to the main part of the wood.

Preparation

Make sure that the wood you are oiling is completely clear of any previous finish and that it is sanded smooth. It is best to sand the area with increasingly fine paper so that when you finish you are not left with scratch marks in the wood. Any scratches or imperfections may catch the wax and seem magnified. Once the surface is smooth, wipe it down with acetone or denatured alcohol to remove any impurities.

Application

Start to apply the wax with a lint-free cloth, working first in circular motions and then wiping along the grain to ensure that the wax is evenly applied. You do not need to apply too much wax for this first coat, just concentrate on getting an even finish. Leave the wax to soak into the wood for 10-15 minutes and then apply a second coat in the same way as the first. Again, leave this to soak into the wood for a little while before buffing the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth. Once the wax is absorbed fully into the wood and stops coming off onto the cloth, you can stop buffing.