Buyers' Guide to Selecting a Timber Finish

Posted on: 20 August 2018

Irrespective of your residential applications of timber, you probably want to make the most of their longevity. And although durability of timber will vary from one species to another, they all require some form of protection to keep the wood in its best condition. The easiest way of providing this protection is through finishing the timber. Finishes not only offer striking beautification to your timber products, but they also function as a barrier against different forms of abuse ranging from weathering to high traffic. Check out this buyers' guide to selecting a timber finishes for your different household applications.


If you are looking to finish timber that is in a high traffic area, then lacquer will be a good choice. Firstly, since this finish is quite thin, it has a short drying time. Its quick drying makes it perfect for flooring that might need to be used as soon as possible. Another advantage of lacquer is that it forms a water-resistant barrier on the surface of the timber. Not only does this protect it from moisture, but it also prevents discolouration from spills and dirt.


Varnish is a distinctly hard coating, which is not absorbed by the timber. Instead, it forms a physical barrier against a range of things such as alcohol, water and more. The hardness of the varnish will also make your timber products less susceptible to harm from high impact. One of the attractive features of varnish is that it does not change the colour of timber. Thus, if you have a visually interesting grain of timber, you can showcase it without having to worry about how to keep the surface protected. Nonetheless, one drawback of varnish is that it eventually starts to yellow over time. Thus, you may have to get your timber re-varnished on occasion to preserve a shiny lustre.


If you have structural beams or flooring made of timber, you may want to accentuate the colour of the wood to increase the appeal of your décor. In these instances, staining will be the right choice of finish for your needs. Once the stain is applied onto the surface of the timber, it seeps into the wood and creates a decorative coating. However, take note on what type of stain you choose as they are manufactured to either lighten or darken the timber. Stains are typically available in either a gloss or a matte finish too, so you get the chance to enhance your timber surfaces to your preference. The main drawback of staining is that this finish is not water resistant. Thus, it is not suitable for exterior applications because it will not protect your timber from the elements. Moreover, staining needs to be re-applied frequently if the wood is to retain its appeal. 

Contact a timber supplier like Bowens for more information.