Finish in terms furniture or similar wood products, refers to the film forming coatings applied to the surface of wood to protect it and highlight its appearance. There are different types of wood finishes used in woodwork construction.

Types of wood finishes


Lacquer finish is applied to the wood either by spraying or with the use of brush. This type of finish comes in a clear liquid form and it dry fast when applied to a wooden surface because it content contains evaporating solvent, during this evaporating process, it also cures the wood and it goes deeper into the wood and nourishes the grains. In addition, lacquer also bring out the natural beauty of the wood and It final appearance bring glossy look to the wood. However, Lacquer gets damaged when contact with water and it is not scratch-proof.

Fig 1: Lacquer finish


This type of finish are colourless, transparent and usually clear in nature. It form thin layers when used on surface of wooden furniture. It has ability to withstand weather and it is resistance to chemicals. Vanish are made up of oil, solvents, and resins. It can be applied on stained wood but there’s no need to use a clear-coat protective finish because some vanish contains a stain and sealer on one product. if vanish is applied on top of dyes on a wood surface, it gives better protection. It is advisable to have a well sanded and smooth wood surface and free from dust before vanish is apply to obtain better result.

Fig 2: varnish finish


Shellac is a resin which is secreted by bug, on trees. It comes with variety of colours and it is processed and sold as dry flakes. It devolves in alcohol to make a liquid shelac. Shellac as an alcohol solvent, repairs wood surfaces, and it is easy to apply and dries quickly when applied on a wooden surface. A mixture of shellac and vanish gives a clear shine and a glossy finish to the wood. However, Shellac can be damage by water.
It also functions as a tough natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin -blocker, odour-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish.

Fig 3: Shellac finish


Water based finishes are easier to clean and maintain. It provide a clear finish and have little odor than oil based finishes. The water based finishes contain an acrytic resin along with urethane and alkyd which allows it to adhere to any wooden surface quickly.

Fig 4: Water-based finish


Oil based finishes enhanced appearance when applied on a wooden surface. It serves as protection to the wood both internal and external and it nourish the wood grain. However, oil based finishes dries over time.

Fig 5: Oil-based finish

6. Natural Oil

Typically, Tung and linseed oil are natural oil. They contains vanish in them and require less application time. Tung oil is an eco-friendly natural oil but gives a slightly wet look, while linseed oil gives shinny look although, linseed oil is not scratch-proof.

Fig 6: Natural oil finish

7. WAX

This type of finish is easy to apply and requires buffing at the end. Wax seems to be uncommon to woodworkers because it gives short-term protection to the wood and multiple application will be needed.

Fig 7: Wax finish

8. DYE

This type of finishes comes in water-based and oil-based. Dye finish completely change the colour of wood surface and can matches the wood colour. Dye finish protect the interior wooden surfaces.

Fig 8: Dye finish


French polish have been a polishing technique available since 19th century still date. It is a classic technique of wood finishing. It contains a mixture of shellac and alcohol. French polish gives glass look to the wooden surface.

Fig 9: French polish


Basically, there are two type of paint used as wood finishes. they are, Oil and latex paint. Oil based paint are used on furnitures and trim, they are stronger than of the latex paint and it can be clean with any mineral spirit or thinner. In addition, oil paint can resist more wear and tear. While latex paint are water-based type. They are best used on wood surfaces mostly on outside of homes and it can be wipe off with water. It is advisable to use latex or oil primer before oil or latex paint is applied.

Fig 10: paint finish


Wood stains are applied to improve or change the color of the wood. The stains act better if they are darker than the colour if the wood as it increases the visibility of the grains. Stains doesn’t protect the wood but it is advisable to clear-coat the wood finish for better protection and the stains comes in different fine colours.


If solid stain is applied, the wood grain is completely covered, this means that the stains are not opaque unless they are heavily grained. Example Of heavily grained wood is Oak. As mentioned above stains must be clear-coated after been applied most especially on furnitures or interior trim


Clear stains are said to be opaque because when applied the wood grains can be seen through it. Paint brush and rag are use to apply the stains. The operation is done by brushing the stains on the wood and the excess should be wipe off with rag. After the stains is applied the final operation is to add a clear-coat finish to the stained surfaces.


Natural finishes is main the colour of wood, this means that no paint or stain are applied to the wood. Natural finish are clear-coated in order to preserve the wood. Two coats are applied for the preservation of the wood. The first coat applied is clear-coated just to raise the wood grain. This coat will be sanded to obtain a smooth surface before the second grain is added. It is advisable to wipe or clean the sanded surface before applying the second coat.

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