Popular Types of Wood Finishes Everyone Should Know About 

Want to revive your old wooden furniture and make them look new and chic again? All that you need is a tin of wood finish or wood paint and you are good to go. Wood finishes add a protective layer on top of your wooden surface and protect them from moisture and breathe back life into them. 

Never used wood finishes before and wondering which one to buy for your furniture? Lucky for you, we have come up with a comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you need to know about popular types of wood finishes.

Types of wood finishes 

There are primarily two types of wood finishes– surface finishing and penetrating finishing. Depending on your furniture and your requirement, you can choose one of them. 

Penetrating finishes

If you want a natural look for your wooden surface, then you must go for a penetrating finish as the wood oils from these finishes seep into your wooden surface and give them a natural sheen. Typically, penetrating finishes are applied with a cloth or a brush. If you are looking for an environment-friendly penetrating finish, then tung oil is perfect for you. You can use Danish oil if you want an easy-to-apply and moderately durable wood finish. People who want a wood finish that is a natural insect repellent and is resistant to rot and disease caused by moisture must give Cedar oil a try. 

Keep in mind that penetrating finishes take longer to dry and provide less sheen as compared to surface finishes.

Surface finishes

As the name suggests, surface finishes are applied on top of the wooden surfaces. They are perfect for wooden surfaces that witness heavy traffic. Here are some of the popular surface finishes that a DIY wood painter can use in 2022. 


Shellac is a great wood finish choice for people who are looking for a natural finish which will accentuate the grains on the wooden surface. It is easy to apply and dries quickly. However, it isn’t durable as it is moderately water resistant and dissolves in alcohol. So, it is not recommended to use Shellac on furniture pieces that will be exposed to alcohol spills or moisture. 


Lacquer will give you a hard, glossy and satin-like finish to your wooden surface. They are considered more durable than your shellac. Lacquer often emits strong fumes, so make sure that you keep your room well ventilated and wear protective gears while using lacquer to paint your wooden furniture. Lacquer is a great choice if you are looking for a wood finish for your doors, shelves and cabinetries.


If you are looking for a highly durable and water-resistant wood finish, then look no further than this type of wood finish. Polyurethane wood finishes give a satin, semi-gloss or glossy look to your furniture and make them look new and shiny. They are easy to use and you can apply them using synthetic brushes or natural bristle brushes. 


This finish will give you a highly glossy wooden surface. They are typically made from oil, solvent and resin and give you a clear and transparent finish. They are UV resistant and hence great for patio furniture. Note that they dry slowly so it might not be an ideal option if you are on a time crunch. You can shop for a wide variety of varnishes based on polyurethane, resins, acrylic, shellac etc. 

Not sure about painting your wooden furniture on your own and looking for a trustworthy wood painter? Or want help in deciding which wood paints you must buy for your next DIY wood painting project? Get in touch with the folks at Asian Paints and let them help you give your wooden furniture a new life this season. 


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