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best wood finishes

10 Best Wood Finish Reviews For The Money 2024

Wooden furniture, cabinets, and other surfaces made from wood lend beauty and depth to our home and office.

The natural beauty of this material comes in many different hues and shades. It is up to us to take care of them so that they look gorgeous and enhance the style we have chosen for our abode.

With so many wood types to choose from – cedar, birch, teak, etc. – it is only logical that each needs to be treated in a specific way with a wood finish that will protect it without diminishing the looks.

Hence, choosing the best wood finish is a matter of careful consideration and knowledge regarding the type of wood and what type of finish would be ideal for it.

There are many brands of wood finish available in the market but selecting the right one needs some research and know-how. Hence, this post will provide you with the basic knowledge so that you know which to buy depending on your project. Read on to discover more!



Editor's Rating


Minwax Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finishes

5 out of 5

Original Wood Finish

5 out of 5

Watco Danish Oil Wood Finish, Pint, Medium Walnut

4.5 out of 5

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil

4 out of 5

Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

4.5 out of 5

Why You Should Use Wood Finish?

There are several benefits of using a wood finish on the deck, fences, patio furniture, and other objects.

Anti-Rotting Properties

Wood can easily develop mold and mildew if left untreated and exposed to the elements. Rotten wood is not only ugly to look at but it can also cause the wood to give away and collapse. Thus, any wooden project without a finish can be hazardous.

Remember that there is no way to slow down or stop the rotting process once it starts. Hence, the only way to prevent rot from forming is by giving a coat of finish to seal the wood.

Protection From The Elements

The natural elements like sun and moisture can create havoc on the outside and inside of wood. If moisture seeps in and freezes, the wood will crack. If this takes place over and over again, the wooden project will fall apart.

The sun causes discoloration on the wooden surface, hence a finish is used for protection. It will ensure the structure of the wood remains strong and that it retains its good looks.


Where wooden decks are used for people to walk on, the wood sustains immense pressure from continuous foot traffic. Painting the surface will not be long-lasting as it tends to flake and expose the wood beneath to rain, snow, and sun.

Hence, a finish for the wood is the only solution that guarantees you won’t need to spend a hefty amount of money to fix your wooden deck. It is cheaper, will last longer, and keep the wood on the deck looking great.

Retain Natural Looks

Wood looks the finest when it retains its natural grain and looks. Painting the wood covers its natural beauty. But, with a wood finish, you can be sure to preserve the natural look.

There are many kinds of wood finish available according to the type and color of wood you have. Hence, it’s a great way to make wood look just as it’s supposed to without causing harm to it.

Ease Of Application

Wood finishes are easier to apply compared to paint. Often, they don’t need the use of a primer. Hence, you don’t need to spend any time on prepping, therefore reducing the total process time.

Best Wood Finishes On The Market 2020

1. Minwax 233334444 | Best Wood Finish for Outdoors

In a rush to finish that long-pending woodwork finishing job? This ultra-fast drying wood finish can do the job for you in half the time it usually takes!

Dress up your favorite wood furniture, doors, etc to look perfect with this product. Suitable only for the interiors, this will enhance the natural looks and grain of the wood.

Besides. It will also protect the wood from rot, mildew, and mold, thereby keeping the structural integrity intact.

If your wood is birch, maple, or ash or any other wood type that has a light shade, then this is the ideal finish. It will leave a crystal clear satin finish, leaving the wood surfaces looking polished and clean.

As the finish dries super-fast, you won’t waste any time getting your wooden objects and surfaces ready to rock!

It’s easy to apply as it can be wiped away easily with warm water and cloth. Besides, with a mild and low odor, you won't feel any queasiness during the application.

The finish is non-yellowing, meaning that what you see after the finish is the way it will stay with time. Hence, your wooden projects will retain their natural grain and beauty.

Highlighted Features:

  • Ultra-fast drying formula for quicker processing time.
  • Low odor and easy to wipe.
  • It doesn’t become yellow over time.
  • It protects the structural strength and beauty naturally.
  • It’s ideal for light shade wood like maple, ash, birch.

2. Tried and True Original Wood Finish for Dining Table

Did you know that you can get a wood finish made from 100% natural, plant derivatives?

Since this finish contains natural plant extracts and is oil-based, it brings out the beauty of the wood grain. The sheen it produces looks natural without making it glossy. The product successfully protects all wooden projects by keeping rot away.

Approved by the authorities, it is non-toxic and contains no allergens. Hence, it is safe to use on children’s wooden toys and the chopping board in your kitchen.

Suitable for indoor use only, this wood finish contains zero heavy metal driers or solvents. It has been made from 100% solids consisting of beeswax and linseed oil that has been highly polymerized.

With time, the wood finish becomes harder and longer-lasting. Which is why you have fewer reasons to go for frequent maintenance. You can also apply this product to the current finish to refresh and renew the look.

Apply in thin coats. Between each coat, permit at least an hour. Using a clean cloth, buff and wipe down to your desired sheen. On the product label, there are instructions on wiping cloths disposal. Buff regularly to maintain the sheen.

Doors, windows, and trim work usually require two coats of this product. two coats are enough to make the finish durable. However, for wooden furniture, three coats are recommended.

Highlighted Features:

  • 100% plant-derivatives and solids content.
  • Non-toxic and non-allergenic.
  • For indoor use only.
  • It contains no solvents.
  • It becomes more durable over time.

3. Watco 65951 Danish Oil Wood Finish

You’ve landed in the right place if you were wondering what type of finish to buy for desk and other wooden furniture.

This product will protect your furniture and other fixtures from within. It penetrates deep inside with its unique blend of varnish and oil formula.

You can apply it on all types of wooden surfaces – stripped, sanded, or bare. However, this is not suitable for floors.

The one-pint container covers up to 85 square feet. The finish dries to the touch within only 6 hours, hence saving much time. Application is easy as you can use either a rag or a brush.

This finish for wooden surfaces and objects will prevent peeling, chipping, and marks from spills and other rough use.

You will wallow in the warm and rich sheen that the product leaves on your wood. This enhances the natural beauty and looks of walnut, leaving the impression that it was done by hand.

Even on wood with tight grains, this product works its magic of glow and protection. As time passes, the finish becomes harder and more durable. Thus, you need to fuss less over maintenance chores.

If you want to follow up with a coat of varnish or lacquer, it is recommended you wait for at least 72 hours.

Highlighted Features:

  • Leaves a rich and warm sheen.
  • Blend of varnish and oil for deep protection.
  • One pint covers 85 square feet area.
  • It dries within 6 hours.
  • Ideal for sanded, stripped, or bare wood.

4. Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for Wood

Do you want wood finishing products that have been scientifically proven for their efficiency?

Here’s news for you! This is a wood finish that’s suitable for wood surfaces as well as terracotta tiles, concrete, and stone objects.

It has been given the green signal by the authorities for its superior efficiency, unique selling points, and packaging. You can use it in both interior and exteriors wooden surfaces except for exterior oak.

The content of this product is linseed oil that has been boiled and treated with hot air. Hence, you get a wood finish that dries fast and provides superior protection on all your wooden surfaces from mildew and rot. It goes deep within the wood to ensure strength and durability.

Don’t be fooled by the slightly glossy finish. The protective sheen is durable and tough, making sure your favorite wooden products stay the same for years to come.

Lavish some of this product on your dining room and kitchen furniture, coffee tables, fireplace surrounding fixtures, patio and garden furniture, bedroom furniture, and others.

To ensure the maximum shelf life of the product, keep it in its original container with the lid closed tightly. Store in a cool, dry place. For covering up to 50 square feet, use 250 milliliters of this finish.

Highlighted Features:

  • Heat-treated, boiled linseed oil for drying fast.
  • Penetrates deep within for protection.
  • Durable and tough sheen.
  • Suitable for all types of wood except exterior oak.
  • Suitable for concrete, terracotta, and stone.

5. Rust-Oleum 200041H Water-Based Polyurethane for Furniture Finish

Do you have young kids who play constantly on your wooden furniture, leaving scratches and marks?

Don’t worry about as this product has been specially formulated to address these!

Take care of your indoor wood projects like cabinets, doors, windows, etc.

This is a water-based wood protection that dries within 30 minutes of application. There may be bubbles when you start to wipe this product. Leave it for an hour and the bubbles will be gone.

The initial coat will raise the wood grains since it is water-based. You will need to sand it after it dries completely and wait for a minimum of 2 hours before you apply the second coat.

With 1 quart, you can cover up to 125 square feet of area. After application, you can clean up with no hassle using soap and water solution. A low level of odor renders the application a pleasant chore.

The gloss finish of this product will make all your wooden surfaces look and feel clean. The clarity won’t be affected by scratches, spills, and abrasion that you might get regularly due to having younger kids in the house.

Moreover, the clear finish will not turn yellow over time. It will continue to protect the wood from rot and mold, helping it to retain its original great looks.

Highlighted Features:

  • Water-based formula that dries in 30 minutes.
  • Resistant to scratches and marks.
  • One quart covers 125 square feet.
  • Low-odor, easy to apply.
  • Clear, gloss finish.

6. Howard Products RF4016 | Best Wood Finish For Desk

Here’s a magical wood finish that both protects the wood plus blends out slight blemishes and scratches!

It offers a wide range of colors so that you can match one easily to any of your medium brown tone wooden projects that need some finishing. There’s mahogany, neutral, maple-pine, ebony brown, golden oak, cherry, walnut, dark walnut, and dark oak finishes to choose from.

The application is very easy. You just have to wipe on and wipe off with a cloth until you get the tone you want. Within minutes, your wooden furniture and surfaces will be restored and protected. Plus, there will be very minimal signs of previous abrasions and scratches.

With its deep-penetration formula, it works effectively on the depth of the wood grains to restore them.

Besides scratches, this finish for wood projects also removes water marks, smoke damage, rings left by hot utensils, oxidation, faded marks due to sun, and other types of blemishes. Hence, this is the top -notch quality wood finish for keeping your dining room and kitchen looking shiny and clean.

Apply on shellac, varnish, and lacquer to bring out the original and natural looks. It will not remove the current finish but will only enhance it to give it some good luster. You can try this product before you decide to strip or sand your wooden projects.

Highlighted Features:

  • A deep-penetrating restorer with 9 medium brown tones.
  • Protects and rejuvenates existing finishes.
  • Easy application by wiping on and off.
  • It blends out minor blemishes and scratches.
  • It leaves a clear luster.

7. Osmo Wood Wax Finish

Has the boisterous party last night left some marks on the coffee table and your bar with a wooden surface?

You are in great need of a wood finish that is resistant to wine, cola, beer, fruit juice, water, and tea! This wood wax is just the solution for you.

It combines all the goodness of oils and wax so that your wooden furniture and other fixtures get a satin and clear finish sans the marks left by a rowdy party!

You can also use this product on wood that is exotic and valuable. Suitable for dark-toned hardwoods also, apply this as a stand-alone finish or a base coat before you want to add a varnish.

Another unique property of this wax is that it can remove minor stains and spots, rendering a brand new look to your precious wooden projects. It is microporous and will not, therefore, peel, lake, or chip that results in an unsightly look.

The thin finish protects against water and dirt. It makes the surfaces of all wooden projects smooth. With its durability, you will not need to go for maintenance as often as before.

Since the oil component in this product has been derived from vegetables, the sheen you get is natural and uniform. You will not have patches of mismatched shades.

With no need for sanding or priming, you can apply more than a coat easily and save time and money in the process.

Highlighted Features:

  • Vegetable oil and wax blend.
  • Natural and uniform sheen.
  • Resistant to water, dirt, beer, wine, fruit juice, cola.
  • Long-lasting and requires less maintenance.
  • Saves time and money as no primer or sanding needed.

8. Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil, Moisture Resistant Wood Finish

Exotic furniture and antiques need an equally exotic wood finish to protect them and let their unique beauty shine through.

This product has tung oil as its key ingredient. Tung oil is found only in China and South America. It’s the only exotic drying oil that seasoned craftsmen of wooden products swear by. It’s the ideal finish for antiques and furniture made from fine wood.

Tung oil does not sit on the wood surface but penetrates deep inside to become part of the wood. Thus, it cures the wood from within and gives it superior protection along with the finest and subtle sheen.

The product results in a uniform finish that looks like a fine, hand-rubbed job. Besides the consequent gorgeous looks, the finish lasts a long time so that you don’t have to go for frequent maintenance. It is extremely resistant to alcohol and water, thus saving your furniture from ugly water marks.

It has the ideal features of oil and varnish as it is easy to apply with its oil-like consistency and dries fast like a varnish. You don’t need to sand the wood surfaces before application. There won’t be any streaks or other marks left after finishing.

You should apply it only on bare or unfinished wood and those surfaces that have been stripped of their previous finish.

Highlighted Features:

  • It contains exotic and fast-drying tung oil.
  • To be applied on bare, stripped, or unfinished wood.
  • High resistance to alcohol and water.
  • Suitable for fine wood and antiques.
  • It penetrates deep to cure and protect the wood.

9. Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish

For both your wood and metal surfaces in the interior of your home or workspace, this finish is the perfect solution.

Its composition is based on 100% nitrocellulose which makes it a faster drying alternative than paints and other varnishes. After application, it dries within 2 hours and is self-leveling, which means you don’t have to wipe or brush it down after you apply a coat.

This product is time-saving as you don’t need to sand the surface between the application of coats. Post-application, you will be surprised to see the clear, satin, and professional results. You can quickly apply multiple layers as each layer dries very quickly.

Unlike many other wood finishing products, this will not become yellowish and will retain the original color and beauty of your valuable wooden projects. Apply on wooden crafts, doors, windows, bartops, cabinets and other interiors surface for protection from mildew and mold.

Each gallon of this product ensures coverage of 400 square feet of area. If you find it too viscous, mix a lacquer thinner in 3:1 finish and thinner ratio for easy application. Using a spraying gun, coating the wooden surfaces becomes very simple.

It’s also durable, making it a preferred choice among those who do not like to go for frequent polishing of their wooden furniture and fixtures.

Highlighted Features:

  • Fast-drying formula based on a 100% nitrocellulose component.
  • It requires no sanding in between coats.
  • One gallon covers 400 square feet.
  • Durable and does not turn yellow.
  • Dries within 2 hours.

10. Minwax 227184444 Wood Finish for desk

For pine wood, you need a kind of finish that will elevate its natural looks.

Well, here is a special kind of finish that will make your pine furniture look like seasoned oak. Pick the one that closely matches your wooden surface and furniture from among a wide range of 28 colors. Use it on stripped or unfinished surfaces and watch the transformation from bare to beauty.

Suitable for hardwood floors, doors, windows, trim work, cabinets, and furniture, this product goes deep into the wood, bringing out the natural grains. By highlighting the grains, it enhances the overall glamor of your wooden furniture and fittings.

You can either wipe or spray it as is it also available in an aerosol can.  The application is thus made easy. The finish is oil-based and hence, easy to apply. Moreover, it leaves a deep rich sheen that looks like it has been done by professionals.

The superior power of protection will ensure your wooden furniture and fixtures are safe from mildew and mold that lead to wood rotting. It spreads wide and deep into the pores to make sure the structure is sealed and strengthened from within.

It’s also great for achieving a rustic look. You can get this look by ensuring you don’t apply any wood conditioner. Just wipe on and off the product and leave it dry to get some natural-looking blotches. Otherwise, use a wood conditioner for a more uniform finish.

Highlighted Features:

  • Oil-based finish for easy application and rich color.
  • Enhances natural beauty by highlighting wood grains.
  • Protects from mildew and mold.
  • Available in 28 colors.
  • It can be sprayed or wiped.

Top 10 Wood Finish Comparison Table






Minwax Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finishes

Minwax Polycrylic Water Based Finish

1/2 Pint

Clear Stain

Ultra fast-drying formula

Original Wood Finish

Original Wood Finish

1 Pint

linseed oil & beeswax

Non Toxic

Watco Danish Oil Wood Finish, Pint, Medium Walnut

Watco Wood Finish


Danish Oil

Protects Against Spills, Abrasion, Chipping & Peeling

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil


Boiled Linseed Oil

It Dries Quicker 

Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

32 Fl Oz

Water-Based Polyurethane

Scratch Resistance

Howard Products Restor-A-Finish

Howard Products Restor-A-Finish

16 oz

Restores Wood Finishes

Blending Out Minor Scratches, Blemishes & Abrasions

Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin

Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin

0.75 Liter

Wood Wax Finish

Resistant against cola, tea, fruit juice, milk water etc.

Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil

Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil

32 Ounce

Tung Oil

Resistant to moisture, alcohol, oil

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Satin

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Satin


Clear Wood Finish Satin


Minwax Wood Finish

Minwax Wood Finish

1/2 pint

Wood Finish Penetrating Stain

Dries in 2 Hours

Wood Finish Buying Guide

You should consider a few factors before you go on to buy the best wood finish for furniture or particular needs. Read further to know the details-

Placement Of The Wood Project

Firstly, you must decide where you are going to put your wood projects - indoors or outdoors? If you are going to protect decks and patio furniture, an exterior wood finish is what you must look for. It is more flexible and adapts to the changes in outdoor conditions like cold, heat, moisture, etc.

It’s alright to put an exterior finish on wooden projects that belong inside but it’s a no-no to use an interior wood finish for outdoor wood projects.

Extent Of Protection

Different wooden objects need different protection levels. For example, a console needs a lower level of protection as it is not subject to much wear and tear.

On the other hand, a dining room table or one in the kitchen must have a stronger wood finish to protect it from heat, water spills, etc.

Other wooden furniture may need protection from chemicals. So, depending on the extent of protection required, you should choose a wood finish that will be durable.

Type Of Wood

Different types of wood have different colors and grain. Therefore, they react differently to the wood finish you are applying. A clear finish may make the look of one type of wood cloudy while the same may make another wood type look clear. Or, it could make the appearance too dark or not dark at all.

So, before you buy a wood finish, make a sample with the wood and try on a coat of wood finish. Wait and see how it turns out before making the final purchase.

Oil-Based Versus Water-Based Finish

Wood finish can be either oil-based or water-based. This affects the way the wood appears over time as the finish may change its color. Oil-based finishes start to become yellow as time passes. Water-based finishes also start to darken over time but not as much as oil-based ones.

Therefore, think about the effect of the wood finish will have after a few months or years before you buy one.

And there is something called a film wood finish which leaves a thick layer that looks like plastic. If you don’t like this extra layer, then don’t buy it.

Application Method

Most finishes can be applied with a spray or a brush or cloth but some are easier to be applied with any one method. For example, it’s easier to apply lacquer using a spray for it dries fast. Doing so with a brush may leave an uneven finish.

An oil-based finish is heavier and harder to apply using a spray, although it is possible. However, it will subsequently need lots of wiping on the surface. Spraying it will leave a lot of it in need of removal.

A film finish is applied better with a brush or spray rather than wiping. The trouble with wiping a film finish is that it will require many coats before it can form a film.

Drying Time

You should always allow the time it takes for a wood finish to dry completely. However, if you are short of time and are working on a minor project, you can try shellac as it dries quickly. Water-based polyurethane finishes also dry faster than their oil-based counterpart.

Therefore, depending on how fast you want the finish to dry, pick one that suits your needs.

Tips for When Applying Finish on Your Wooden Items

Tips for When Applying Finish on Your Wooden Items

As wood finish varies in their composition, the way to apply them also varies. You can use a foam pad, a rag, a brush, or a spraying gun.

Application Tools

If you are applying a gel finish, use a cloth to do the wiping. Keep wiping until you get the color of your choice. Gel finish cannot be applied properly with a foam pad or brush.

Use a brush or a cloth to apply an oil-based wood finish. Choose a brush with natural bristles like pig bristles if you want to apply the finish with a brush. For a uniform finish, first, apply with a brush and then give a wipe-down with a cloth.

Don’t use a natural-bristle brush when you are applying a water-based wood finish. That’s because it will absorb the water and go limp. As this type of wood finish dries fast, it’s ideal to use a cloth for application.


If you want a deeper shade, apply two coats of the wood finish. Wait till the first coat dries completely before applying the second one. It’s a good idea to wipe the surface lightly with a ball of steel wool and following up with a wipe using a tack cloth before the second coat is applied.


After you have wiped the wood project with the finish, wipe away the excess before it dries. Otherwise, it will leave areas with ugly blotches.

Applying a wood finish is difficult when it comes to areas that are hard to reach like recesses and corners. Make sure that your brush is wet enough with the finish to reach these areas. You can also use a cloth for this as long as it’s wet enough.


The oil-based finish takes a longer time to dry and that gives you the leeway in wiping off the excess. However, lacquer and water-based wood finish dry faster and so you will need assistants to wipe away the excess immediately if you are applying it on large surfaces like cabinets.

Dried Patches

After careful application, you may still end up with dry patches on the wooden surface. In that case, quickly apply more wood finish, working on smaller surface areas. Work your hands fast to remove the excess finish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What’s A Good Wood Finish For Light-Colored Wood?

Answer: For a light-colored wood like birch or maple, you should choose a wood finish that gives a clear sheen without darkening the wood or hiding its grain. The natural beauty of such wood can be shown at an advantage with a clear finish that is natural and doesn’t leave any gloss behind.

2. Is There a Safe Wood Finish for Chopping Boards?

Is There a Safe Wood Finish for Chopping Boards

Answer: Yes, some brands are 100% safe as they are made from natural, plant derivatives. These wood finishes are safe to apply on wooden chopping boards as well as wooden toys that kids play with. Such finishes are non-allergenic and non-toxic.

Related: Get Our Selected Glue for Cutting Boards

3. Is There a Wood Finish That is Suitable for Other Surfaces?

Answer: Yes, there are wood finishing products that can be applied on other types of surfaces like concrete, stone, and terracotta. Such products are usually made from a multipurpose oil, like linseed that not only polishes and protects wood, but also other materials found inside and outside your home.

4. Is There a Wood Finish That Will Not Harm Antiques?

Answer: Yes, there are some brands of finishing products for wood that will restore antiques without damaging its existing finish. These products are restorers that can work on lacquer, shellac, and varnish without harming this layer.

They go deep down to restore the wood grains and leaves the character of antique wood artifacts untouched.

5. What is the Benefit of a Multi-Porous Wood Finish?

Answer: A multi-porous wood finish penetrates deep into the wood, covering more pores than normal wood finishes. Hence, it spreads deeper and wider, preventing the wood from peeling, cracking, flaking, or breaking. It makes the structure stronger as it leaves very few pores unattended.

6. Why is Tung Oil Beneficial for Wood?

Answer: Tung oil dries fast and is an exotic ingredient found only in China and South America. It penetrates deep within the grains of wood, curing it and becoming a part of it. It results in a shine that looks hand-rubbed and subtle.

This oil is beneficial for antiques and fine wood as it doesn’t contain any chemical that might damage the looks and structure from within. It doesn’t need sanding and is resistant to moisture and alcohol.

Final Word

Wood finish can lend a new lease of life to your wooden furniture and other fixtures. It also helps to make the wood look naturally beautiful and healthy, with no blotches or patches.

A wood finish that lasts long is what you need for all your wood projects – both interior and exterior types. Depending on the type and color of wood, you should choose the finish. However, it also helps to know how to apply the finish for durability.

With the best wood finish, you can protect family heirlooms and hand them down the generations. It also keeps your deck, furniture, kitchen cabinets, etc in top shape, ensuring they don’t lose their value.

Invest in the right wood finish today to increase the value of all your wooden projects tomorrow!


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