How to Choose the Right Wood Finish for Your Project

wood furniture refinishing

How to Choose the Right Wood Finish for Your Project

When you decide to refinish a piece of wood furniture it’s important to find out which finish you should be using on it. The best finish will depend on the type of wood you are using and along with your preferences. Each finish comes with its own benefits and it’s important to know exactly what they are before you get started.

How to Refinish Wood Furniture with the Right Product

The first thing to consider is the kind of wood that you’ll be refinishing. While one piece of wood can be extremely porous, others are not. If the wood is porous, such as pine, the finish can soak into the wood easily. This makes it difficult to achieve an even finish. Make sure that you choose a finish that has been designed for the sort of wood that you will be refinishing.

You may also have to choose the product based on your budget to refinish wood furniture. Shellac and Danish oil, for example, are much less costly than varnish or lacquer. Choose the highest quality finishing product based on what you can afford and how valuable the wood furniture is.

You’ll also need to take into account the durability of the product. If you are going to be refinishing a wooden table that will be used often, for example, you’ll want to choose a durable finish that will be resistant to daily use, heat damage and scratches.

Another thing that will help you decide on the best wood finish for your project is how easy it is to apply. You’ll have your choice of spraying on some types of finishes, brushing them on or using a roller. Read the directions on the wood finishing product to learn about the suggested application method. If you have never worked with a spray finish before, you may find it difficult to get an even finish. If you’re a beginner, a cloth or a brush is often the best way to apply the finish to make the job look professional.


Choose varnish when you want your furniture to have a glossy appearance. This finish will also protect the wood from water damage, stains and scratches. The varnish can be brushed or sprayed on according to your level of skill.


Shellac isn’t as durable as varnish but it can provide a temporary shine to your wood. This finish cannot withstand solvents and water and is usually sprayed on. If you love the look of shellac, you’ll need to be dedicated to reapplying another coat as necessary.


There are various oils available for furniture refinishing such as tung, Danish, cedar and linseed oil. Linseed oil penetrates deep into the wood pores and provides a long-lasting durable finish. Tung oil is often the finish of choice for boat hulls since it is extremely water resistant. Both cedar and Danish oil will highlight the natural features of your wood and give it a deep, lustrous appearance.


Wax is one of the easiest furniture finishes to apply and provides good protection from scuffs and scratching. Waxing isn’t durable, however, so it must be reapplied quite often. The wax can also become dull and need to be buffed up to look shiny again. Wax can be applied with a brush, a cloth or it can even be sprayed on.

How to Restore Old Wood Furniture Safely

Safety must also be taken into account when you’re planning on refinishing a piece of wood furniture at home. Make sure that you work in a well ventilated area, even if you are working with a finish that doesn’t come with a lot of safety precautions. You’ll be in the same area for an extended period of time and it’s always a good idea to have a good flow of air circulating through the room while you are doing the job.

Some finish instructions will advise you to wear a mask when applying the product. Make sure that you choose an appropriate mask that will keep you protected from the chemicals that are emitted from the finish.

When you have a piece of wood furniture that needs refinishing and you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself, turn to the experts at Lanciano Furniture to get professional results.


Hello Donna

I just wanted to say Thank you for another amazing job! The table and chairs look absolutely amazing, as usual I am very happy with my new table and chairs. As always it’s a pleasure dealing with you guys from start to finish! Thank you again.

- Tina

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