Everything you should know about wood finishes and how to use it

 

Buying furniture is confusing, when you think of all the design options out there. But then the intricate details about materials can be an avalanche of information that confuses more than it explains. In this series we’re exploring these kinds of complicated intricate details, so you have the information like a guide, when you’re ready to do your research. To begin at the beginning, also read this story, which went through the various kinds of solid wood and wood alternatives that are widely available in the market. In this article we’ve turned our attention to wood finishes. We’ve covered the different finishes one can use on these different wood and engineered wood materials.

WOOD VS ENGINEERED WOOD – A QUICK RECAP
Solid wood can be broadly categorized as hardwoods like Teak, Sheesham, Oak and Mahogany and softwoods like Himalayan Cedar and Pinewood. Hardwoods take longer to grow, are denser and rougher in texture and display a more prominent natural grain than softwoods. Hardwoods usually come from flowering trees while softwoods come from coniferous trees. Engineered wood, on the other hand, uses materials such as a mixture of wood fibre, sawdust, glues, resin and chemicals. The popular varieties include Plywood, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), and Particleboard or Low-Density Fibreboard. Choosing which kind of wood or wood alternative works best for you depends on a variety of factors like usage, thickness, weather conditions, moisture content, budget etc. However, all these materials require finishing of some kind. Read on to understand more about the popular options.

FINISHES FOR WOOD AND ENGINEERED WOOD

 

PU PAINTS IN MANY SHADES FOR SOLID AND ENGINEERED WOOD 
When painting engineered wood or even solid wood surfaces, opt for PU paints which are specifically made for these materials. The dents need to be filled and the surface needs to be lightly sanded and primed with an appropriate primer before painting for a longer-lasting finish. With engineered wood, a primer also reduces the absorption of paint into the material. WHAT IS PU PAINT?

Keep in mind: WoodTech Emporio PU Palette by Asian Paints comes in over 350 solid shades and provides scratch, stain and heat protection for the material while WoodTech Insignia is a PU-based textured coating range of over 450 shades with special effects. The latter can also be used on glass and veneer.

 

A set of black and white marble plates, bowls, salt and pepper dispensers placed on a black surface of Asian paints woodtech insignia.

WoodTech Insignia is a PU-based textured coating range of over 450 shades with special effects. This can also be used on glass and veneer. Photography by Prachi Damle.

CLEAR FINISHES FOR SOLID WOOD
When using solid wood, especially those which have a distinct grain, you don’t want to cover up its natural beauty with an opaque layer. This is why clear finishes are useful. The coating highlights the grain while providing a layer of protection for the wood. WoodTech Emporio PU Clear by Asian Paints is a stain and scratch-resistant acrylic-based clear coating. FYI: PU stands for polyurethane, which is the coating in paints and varnishes that acts as a protector and sealant. 

Keep in mind: It also provides a layer of weather resistance and UV protection, great for outdoor furniture as well. Available in matt and high gloss.

 

STAINS OR DYES FOR SOLID WOOD
Stains are dyes that work by saturating the wood with a translucent shade rather than applying a layer of colour on the wood surface like paint. This means that you can alter the shade of the wood but still retain the natural texture of the grain. Asian Paints’ WoodTech Wood Stains for interiors comes in a range of nine translucent shades to enhance or slightly alter the colour of your existing wood, namely Teak, Charcoal, Walnut, Red Brown, Red, Green, Wenge, Oak Yellow, Rosewood.  

Keep in mind: The solvent-based dyes are easy to apply with a muslin cloth and take about 30 minutes to dry. Once you have achieved the desired look, it is recommended to lock in the stain with a clear sealer.   

 

A white metal double bed placed in a room with a wooden floor along with a lamp and a planter placed on a green cabinet next to the bed

Wood veneer sheets are made using thin ‘slices’ of natural solid wood which can be used on everything from flooring to wardrobes and cabinets to desks and stand-alone furniture. Image Courtesy, IKEA

SOLID WOOD VENEERS FOR A DECORATIVE COATING FOR ENGINEERED WOOD
Since engineered wood has an unfinished appearance, it needs a decorative coating. Wood veneer sheets are made using thin ‘slices’ of natural solid wood which are then glued on to the underlying engineered wood substrate. Essentially, you can get the look and feel of natural wood at a fraction of the cost. Proper care has to be taken during the application process to make sure that the veneers are well adhered, grain patterns line up and the edges of the sheets are hidden. There is a plethora of designs, finishes and colours to choose from. Veneers can be used on everything from flooring to wardrobes and cabinets to desks and stand-alone furniture.

Keep in mind: An important drawback to note is that damaged or scratched veneers need to be replaced completely as they can’t be sanded or repaired. Veneers also don’t work for intricate or carved detailing, though you can use them for curved or rounded edges. 

 

LAMINATES IN A VARIETY OF TEXTURES FOR ENGINEERED WOOD
Laminates are artificially produced materials made from paper and plastic resins glued and hard-pressed into thin sheets. They come in a wide variety of finishes, colours, and textures and can replicate materials like wood, stone, metals, leather, etc. Laminates tend to be less expensive than veneers as they are manmade materials. These decorative overlays are easy to maintain, as well as heat, scratch and water-resistant. The sheets come in varying thicknesses ranging from 0.6mm to 1.5mm and finishes ranging from matte to glossy. 

Keep in mind: Laminates are perfect for high traffic areas like living room furniture, wardrobes and wet areas like kitchen and bathroom cabinetry as well as flooring. Again, a damaged laminate sheet will have to be completely replaced.

 

ACRYLICS ON ENGINEERED WOOD FOR A LUXE FINISH
An expensive option, acrylics give a luxe, reflective high-gloss finish and are very strong and long-lasting. The lightweight option, made of polymer fibre, is also available in a wide range of colours. While acrylics are a great option for kitchens and bathrooms, they require regular cleaning. You could also use them in places that are unlikely to see much use, such as the top line of cabinets. 

Keep in mind: This material is not kid or pet-friendly as it can get scratched easily. Marks like fingerprints, dirt and stains show out more on the surface.

 

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