How to seal wood? – Wood surfaces need adequate protection against moisture, dirt, and mechanical damage.
There are various agents with different properties available for this: Would you like to varnish, oil, or wax your wood for sealing?
Thick-layer varnishes can also be extremely useful as protective coatings for interior and exterior use.
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Are you sealing the wood with oil, varnish, or wax?
The right care is essential to keep wooden floors, furniture, and doors beautiful for a long time. It includes sealing the wood to protect it from dirt and scratches. This guide tells you whether oil, wax, or varnish is more suitable.
First, check it, then seal it!
Before you take care of the wood, it is essential to know whether it is untreated or already oiled, waxed, or varnished wood. Because it depends on which sealing is applicable at all.
If possible, clarify this at the time of purchase – this saves you having to guess or try it out later. If the wood has already been pre-treated, you should stick to the same type of care. If the wood is oiled, you should also seal it with oil.
Tip: If a piece of wooden furniture is an old heirloom and you are not sure about its history, you can consult a carpenter. Another possibility is to sand down the wood and then seal it again.
A related video about “How To Choose A Wood Finish, and How To Apply” here to watch.
Video Credit: Rag ‘n’ Bone Brown
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How to seal wood? – The best way to seal wood!
Before you seal your wood, ask if the wood has been getting treated before.
- There are different types of sealing, and you should stick with the one you have chosen. Therefore it is recommended to inquire whether and how the wood has been sealed when you buy it. Otherwise, a carpenter can usually give you the appropriate information.
- Sometimes it is not possible to determine afterward how the wood was getting sealed before. In this case, you must first sand the wood before sealing it. Of course, this also applies if you want to change the type of sealant or if the wood is already significantly damaged.
- If it is a larger wood surface, it is best to sand the wood with a sanding machine. In many DIY stores, you can also rent a sanding machine.
- Once you have sanded the wood surface, you should take the opportunity to repair any small unevenness or damage to the wood.
- It is vital that you finally vacuum and clean the surface thoroughly so that there is no more dust or dirt on the wood.
1. Sealing wood – Preliminary considerations
- Which sealant is most suitable for the wood depends on whether it is untreated or pre-treated wood. Pre-treated wood should only be treated with the type of sealant that has already been getting applied previously. For old heirlooms, a carpenter can be consulted if necessary.
- Wood sealing for untreated wood, however, depends on the purpose and use. For example, floors need a hardwearing sealant, while a shelf only needs a light wood sealant.
2. Sealing Untreated Wood
- Wood oil: Wood oil is suitable for untreated wood that requires little protection. With this, you create a light wood seal, which is even waterproof to a certain extent. The nice thing about wood oil is that the surface structure is retained – the grain also comes out, and the oil darkens the material somewhat. Wood oil is made from linseed oil and tropical fruits and sometimes has an unpleasant odor, so you should pay attention to sufficient ventilation when working. Before oiling, the wood should be sanded briefly. Afterward, the furniture can be aired outside. A new layer of oil can be applied again later, merely with a cloth.
- Hard oil: Wood that is subjected to more intensive use, such as a dining table, requires more intensive protection. It is where hard oil comes in. The wax and oil it contains makes for good wood care and allows moisture to roll off. Here too, the material should be sanded briefly before sealing.
- Glaze: Cheaper wood or wood that is already getting marked with stains can be reprocessed with a glaze and looks noble again. The advantage of a glaze is that the grain is preserved.
- Varnish: Furniture is well sealed, and shiny is best getting treated with pure, clear varnish. Floors are given an effective protective layer with varnish, the base of which consists of acrylic or alkyd resin. With this wood sealing, they are protected against water and cleaning agents.
- Wax: Furniture wax is excellent wood care and produces a slight shine on furniture. However, it does not help to prevent water stains and also attracts dust.
3. Sealing Treated Wood
Already treated wood should only be sealed in the way it has already been applied. It means, for example, oiled wood is sealed again with oil.
However, there are situations where the wood needs to be resealed, for example, when:
- A different type of wood sealing is to be applied.
- The wood is damaged.
- The original sealing method is no longer traceable.
In these cases, the wood must be treated before sealing:
- Sand the wood with sandpaper. For larger surfaces, a sanding machine is recommended.
- The surface must then be cleaned so that it is free of wood dust and dirt. Scratches and damage can also be repaired in this process.
- Finally, new woodcare or sealant is applied.
The different sealing types for wood
Which kind of wood sealing you choose depends mostly on how the wood is loaded. The hallway’s wooden floor needs a different sealant than the excellent piece of furniture in the corner.
- Wood can be maintained very well with wood oil. The wood oil also gives the wood a light waterproof seal. However, this should not be overused. For wooden floors in the kitchen or bathroom, wood oil is therefore not suitable.
- With wood that is more heavily getting strained, you should better use hard oil instead of wood oil. With it, you seal the wood quite reliably. At the same time, you maintain your wood by the wax contained in the hard oil. Besides, hard oil has a pleasant side effect that liquid beads on it. So you can prevent unsightly stains on the dining table.
- If you want a shiny finish, you should choose a clear varnish. The pure, clear lacquer is more suitable for furniture. The clear varnish is not ideal for more heavily used wood, such as wooden floors.
- In contrast to clear varnish or hard varnish on an acrylic or alkyd resin basis, it’s much more resistant to water and household cleaning agents.
- If your wood already has unsightly stains, you can easily cover them with a glaze. The grain of the wood is not covered, and you give your wood a chic look again. Cheaper types of wood can also be getting spiced up with a layer of glaze.
Sealing wood waterproof – Effective protection against moisture for wooden furniture
With some types of wood, such as teak, moisture causes only a patina. Other materials lose their robust character because they swell, crack, or warp. It is advisable to seal the wood so that it is as waterproof as possible.
Pure wood wax is not suitable for this purpose as it hardly prevents the penetration of liquids. Various wood oils and glazes are getting recommended for protective treatment. Although the products score points with different properties, they are getting used similarly.
Sealing solid wood in the interior
Treatment with pure linseed oil has a long tradition, as it intensifies the natural color tone and fires the grain. Although boiled linseed oils are of high quality and ideal for many projects, they contain toxic substances.
On the other hand, Raw linseed oil is harmless and suitable for dining tables and kitchen work surfaces. Mainly during the first pass, the natural essence of linseed is not applied pure. It is getting mixed with white spirit according to the manufacturer’s product description.
Some do-it-yourselfers swear by the fact that adding apple vinegar gives even better results.
However, this method is only conditionally suitable for sealing wood waterproof. After application, the surface repels any liquids that may hit it, so they do not immediately penetrate the material.
It must be getting remembered, however, that this is comparatively lightweight wood protection. In the event of various breakdowns in everyday life, quick action is getting indicated.
A hard oil is better suited for more heavily used wooden furniture. It is a modern, formulated mixed product.
It not only contains valuable natural oils that act reliably and cover the deeper layers. Wood wax optimizes hardening and ensures that liquid substances first roll off.
As a result, the surfaces are waterproof for a certain period and are effectively protected. Classic treatments such as waxing or oiling never aim to seal the wood completely.
It is advantageous for the object’s longevity and the room climate if the natural material remains breathable.
Waterproof wood sealing protection for outdoor use
Outside, wooden furniture in the local latitudes is getting confronted with various environmental influences. The contrast between wet and cold weather and dry heat is incredibly exhausting.
Also, some fungi or pests can infest the material. Nature ensures that some types of wood are weatherproof without any protective treatment.
For garden furniture made of Robinia or teak, it is not necessary to seal the wood waterproof. It only receives a silver-grey patina without impairing its functionality.
If you want to keep the actual wood color, you should treat the furniture with teak oil. Not every wood shows the weather the cold shoulder. Most materials require impregnation and a UV filter.
These criteria are met by a cover oil that contains tung oil as one of its ingredients and is exceptionally water-resistant. Resins are also getting added to seal wooden furniture effectively.
Many experts appreciate the optical advantages of transparent cover oils. They hardly intensify the wood’s color or grain, which means that the original aesthetics are largely getting preserved.
A sensible alternative to lacquer: Wood glazes with natural waxes
Often varnish is used for wood to make the furniture surfaces waterproof. Initially, the idea is entirely correct, because after drying, a coating closes the wood pores.
However, mechanical stress and weathering quickly cause scratches or cracks in the layer. Even if the traces of use are tiny and hardly noticeable, the material is getting unprotected in the affected areas. If moisture penetrates, visible damage can occur unexpectedly.
If you do not want to varnish wood and want a sealant with similar properties, we recommend glaze. It protects the wood optimally against water, as it contains both resins and waxes. The material finish does not hide the grain and does not tend to flake off.
Professionals often prefer to glaze softwoods in particular. Pigmented glazes are also ideal if irreversible discoloration already impairs the aesthetics. They restore the uniform overall appearance without losing the charismatic wood structure.
Double sealing wood for adequate protection
If you want to seal wood waterproof, choosing the right product is crucial. Light moisture protection is sufficient for furniture that is subject to little wear and tear.
In the garden, rainwater should best roll off the wooden surfaces. Completely independent of the product decision, you proceed should similarly when using the product:
- Before you seal the wooden furniture, it must be thoroughly getting cleaned. It is often getting followed by working with coarse sandpaper. In the process, raw woods are getting smoothed, old seals are getting removed, or signs of wear are repaired.
- If the surfaces are clean and dust-free, start with the protective treatment. Oils are applied to a lint-free cloth and then spread evenly over the furniture. Use a brush to apply the wood glaze.
- After the specified application time, which is usually half an hour, excess product residue is removed. One pass is not sufficient for a result that is as waterproof as possible if you seal the wood. It would help if you waited until it is scorched, which usually takes 24 hours.
- Afterward, slightly roughen the material with steel wool of thickness 0000. Finally, apply a second coat to intensify the protective effect of the wood sealant.
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