There are many types of wood finishes. They can play a dual role, on the one hand, by protecting the wood from certain actions or circumstances (friction, humidity, solar radiation, etc.) and, on the other, by improving or adapting the appearance of the wood from a decorative point of view.

We will explain here what are the main types of products for wood treatment, their properties and when it is best to use each one.


Wood Finishes

The varnish is a wood finish for protection and decoration purposes. It is a very common industrial product, used not only in wood, but also on other surfaces such as clay, stone or concrete.

Characteristics: A varnish is a combination of resins dissolved in a solvent (chemical solvents or even water) that creates an elastic and impermeable layer on the surface to which it is applied. Depending on its composition it can have different characteristics: resistance to friction, UV rays, against insects, different colors, level of brightness …

Types: There are several types of varnishes. Here you will find a list of the main types and their applications: polyurethane varnish, acrylic, synthetic, polyester….

Forms: There is a wide variety of varnishes on the market, they are available for almost any use: decorative, exterior, for marine environments, etc.


external stain

Lasur It is a protective finish for the treatment of wood outdoors and / or outdoors. Over time, the varnish was imposed and replaced in this area.

Characteristics: It is a finish with open pores, that is, it penetrates the wood allowing it to breathe and does not form a crackable film (as with other types of finishes such as paints or varnishes). It is found with fungicidal and insecticidal compounds and with filters against solar radiation.

Types: There are basically two types. Solvent-based and water-based. The latter represents a substantial improvement in the evolution of the product. It can be found in different levels of brightness and colors.

Forms: Protection of wood for the exterior: Pergolas and other structures, doors, windows, platforms, coverings …

Wood Oils as wood finishes

wood oils

Wood oils are vegetable oils that, when applied to wood, offer protection and hydration. They have been used for millennia and are still common today, especially outdoors.

They represent the natural option for the care and treatment of wood.

Characteristics: Provides protection for the wood and a natural looking finish (although pigments can be added to change the color of the wood). Product application and renewal are quick and easy.

Types: There are several types of wood oils, each with interesting and different properties. It is common for them to be distributed commercially pure and mixed with other chemical components to improve some of their qualities (drying speed, ultraviolet resistance …). The most used types of oil are:

  • Linseed oil. Oil obtained from pressing flax seeds. It is mainly used to protect and nourish wood outdoors.
  • Tung oil. Natural oil obtained from the seed of a tree native to Asia. It is characterized by offering great resistance and durability, even in marine environments. This oil is used as a base for the manufacture of all types of wood protection products.
  • Teak oil. It is mainly used to protect wood outdoors: floors, coverings, terrace furniture, etc. Nourishes and hydrates the wood without creating a film.
  • Danish oil. It is not a natural oil, but a compound that includes natural oils, mainly tung or flax, along with chemical compounds. It is easy to apply, penetrates the wood without forming a film and offers a finish that maintains the natural beauty of the wood.

Paintings as wood finishes

Paint wood

Characteristics: The paints create an impermeable layer on the wood that offers variable resistance to abrasion and moisture. They represent the option of finishing the wood needed to change its color to smooth tones (white, red, green …) and disguise the natural grain of the wood.


  • Nail polishes.
    • Acrylic. It is a water-based enamel, which among other advantages is that it does not give off strong odors and dries quickly. They offer good resistance and elasticity.
    • Synthetic. It is obtained from the mixture of alkyd resins and solvent-based pigments. They offer a more elastic and resistant surface than that offered by acrylic enamels, although on the other hand they take longer to dry, they are more polluting and the cleaning and stains during the painting process are more complex and difficult because they require the use of solvents.
  • Plastic paint. Although not the ideal option, plastic paints can be used on wood. Dry fast, good cleaning and washability, low odor and water based. On the other hand, you should be aware that they can slightly swell the wood.
  • Chalk ink or chalk ink. It is a combination of acrylic paint, plaster and other compounds. They have high covering power, dry quickly and are easy to apply, although they offer limited resistance to abrasion. They have long been in fashion because they provide an interesting vintage effect.
  • Base or primer paint. Although it is not exactly a type of paint, it is a complement worth mentioning. The primer or base paint is applied to virgin wood to seal mainly the pores and improve the adhesion of the paint that will be applied later.

Forms: In the world of wood, paint is used mainly in furniture and interior carpentry (doors, windows, frames …). Outdoors, the paint tends to crack and does not provide the protection that wood needs.

Wood stains

Wood stains

Characteristics: Wood stains are characterized by changing the color of the wood, leaving its natural grain visible. Dyes alone do not offer any protection, that is, they are a type of purely decorative finish. Therefore, normally after applying a paint the wood is protected with a colorless varnish, that is, the paint is just another component of some other finish.

Types: There are different types of wood stains, the most common are:

  • The water. Medium-fast drying, less polluting, low odor and wide variety of colors. With them it is possible to highlight the grain of the wood more easily.
  • For oil. Slow drying and very penetrating. Ideal for complex jobs.

Forms: Mainly furniture and interior carpentry. Outdoors, paint is generally not applied directly to the wood, but it can come as a component of the wood finish used.

Shellac or Shellac

Shellac or shellac is a product of natural origin, obtained from the mixture of the secretions of an insect (Kerria Lacca or lacquer worm) and alcohol, which when applied to wood creates a bright protective layer of amber tones.

Characteristics: Shellac offers a beautiful finish for wood that has been used for hundreds of years, so it is known by many as the primitive varnish. However, it is weak and deteriorates easily due to high temperatures and chemicals.

Types: Although there are different types, it is common to find it in flakes (already filtered and clean of impurities) and in two colors: orange and white (in fact it is a pale yellow). It is kept in a dry and solid state, and when it is to be used it is mixed with alcohol.

Forms: Its use has decreased mainly since the appearance of varnishes. For a few decades its uses were minor: musical instruments, handicrafts, carpentry …

Recently, and given the growing concern with the search for products of natural origin, shellac has been arousing interest.

Wood Wax

Characteristics: Wood wax that is also nourishing offers some protection, although obviously not the same as other finishes. It is very easy to apply and offers a variable gloss finish.

Types: There are basically two types of wax that are used as a finish for wood:

These waxes cannot be applied directly to the wood, they must first be prepared and diluted. Commercially, it is common to buy them already prepared and mixed with other components to improve some of their characteristics.

Forms: Wood wax is used mainly for indoor furniture. Waxing wooden floors has also been common, but this practice has fallen into disuse, since the renewal of waxing, although simple, should be relatively frequent.

Articles of wood finishes