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Wood coating

wood coating

Protect wooden surfaces with the right coating

Wood is a popular construction and building material not the least due to its beautiful, natural looks. Wood is however, also a cost efficient and durable material which is suitable for example for facades, floors walls and furniture. Therefore, the biggest user of wood coating is the wood processing industry which includes joinery and furniture sectors.

Wood finishing products for any application

Wood COATINGDESCRIPTION
Wood primer & undercoatMost of the times wood requires an appropriate primer or undercoat which improves adhesion of the topcoat and also provides additional protection to the wooden surface.
PreservativeWood preservatives make the wood last longer. Especially softwood is prone to rot easily if no preservative is applied.
Wood oilWood oils offer protection while letting the surface retain its natural beauty. The oils are additionally easy to apply and maintain. The oils exist as Danish, teak, linseed, mineral and tung oil.
Stain Wood stains penetrate the wooden surface, which means that it preserves and protects it giving it additional protection from the elements. It additionally provides the surface with a colour. Wood stains are however, slightly different from wood paint in that it brings out the beauty of the woodgrain instead of covering it
Varnish Varnish is a tough but transparent protective film which consist of drying oil, resin and a thinner (or solvent). A varnish protects the wooden surface from UV light and it also provides protection against water and moisture. Therefore, it is also suitable for outdoor applications.
LacquerLacquers provides the wooden surface with a high gloss smooth finish which is extremely tough and resistant to damage. However, lacquers however, wear over time leading to discolouring and scratches. Wood lacquers are also applicable on painted surfaces to provide additional protection and gloss.
Wood paint Wood paint does not penetrate the wooden surface but forms a transparent or opaque film on top of it. The paints also form a uniform surface hiding the texture of the surface. Before applying wood paint, applying a primer is recommended.
Wood dyeWood dyes are sometimes used instead of stains due to the fact that they allow better colour retention. The dyes penetrate wood more deeply and allow also colouring agents to function from withing. The dyes are a result of mixing colouring agents in oils, water or alcohol.
Wood waxWood waxes exist in liquid and solid forms and they are available in some colours such as amber, white and natural wood tones.

Wood types

Types of wood can be divided into soft and hardwood which require different kinds of coatings. Additionally, there are cheaper, lower quality boards which are common in furniture such as wardrobes. The most common boards include the following types which are listed from low to high in value:

wood coating on ply wood

Plywood is one of the wood board types

  • Chipboard
  • Fibreboard
  • Plywood

Soft wood

Softwood refers to wood of coniferous trees which have needles instead of leaves. In general softwood is cheaper and more common than hardwood; almost 80% of all timber comes from softwood. However, softwood may require more protection than hardwood, due to the fact that it has lower density and is thus more porous. Additionally, softwood by nature has very poor fire resistance. However, in general softwood is easier to process and work with.

Hard wood

Hardwood types are those from broad-leaved trees which have thus, leaves and produce seeds. Hardwood is more expensive than softwood mainly due to the fact that it has higher durability. However, it is also more difficult to work with.  The prices nonetheless, vary depending on the hardwood type.

It is important to know your wood type before coating the surface due to the fact the boards, softwood and hardwood require different coatings which provide the wood with different properties. Especially softwood tends to have knots, splits or blue stain which all weaken the durability of the surface. It thus requires more care than hardwood. However, the same topcoats are applicable for soft- and hardwood. The problem with hardwood is that one often wants to retain the natural beauty of the wood and ends up applying too little coating which results decreasing the durability.

Wood coating for softwood and hardwood

wood coating

Applying wood coating does not always change natural appearance of wood.

The coating finish on hardwood and softwood is actually identical. The differences lay in the surface preparation. The durability of the wood finish is the same on both wood types as long as the surface is appropriately prepared. The preparation refers to dealing with knots, tannins, blue stain and preservation against rotting. However, soft wood also tends to “move” referring to shrinking and swelling. Hardwood on the other hand is less prone to such movement and therefore, requires less treatment than softwood.  In other words, wood coating on hardwood lasts five years compared to four year coating on softwood.


5 Wood coating problems and solutions

Wood is not always the easiest substrate to coat. There are several phenomena which may negatively affect the coating process if the surface is not appropriately prepared. The following tips may save your coating job!

  1. Knots & resins
    Knots and resins may cause trouble when coating softwood such as pine, spruce or latch. To minimise the risk of these ruining the finish, remove the dead knots and apply wood filler to fill the wholes. You can try removing live knots by using a heat gun. The resins can best be removed with methylated spirits, however, be sure not to use white spirit.
  2. Rotting & decaying
    Some wood sorts are more prone to rotting and decaying than others. Most softwoods my suffer from early rotting if not treated appropriately. Therefore, you should always pre-treat softwood with preservatives to make the surface last longer.
  3. Tannin bleeding
    Many coloured timber types such as oak and (western red) cedar are prone to tannin bleeding. To prevent damage caused by tannin bleed, degrease the surface with methylated spirits and be sure to thoroughly coat the surface. Pay especially attention to the end grains.
  4. Acidic tannins & discolouring with metal fixings
    Some hardwoods such as oak, and high density softwoods like cedar contain acidic tannin which leads to discolouring. To reduce the risk for discolouring, degrease the surface with methylated spirits and avoid using fixings of ferrous metals such as steel.
  5. Oil, gums or extractives content
    Some hardwood types such as teak contain oils, gums or extractives which lead to slow drying and poor adhesion. To solve the problem, use methylated spirits to degrease the surface and allow the  wood coating (s) additional time to dry.

Clear wood finishes for natural look

Wood is a popular material not only due to its properties but also because of its natural beauty. The goal of most wood coatings is to let the wooden surface retain its grain and natural looks. All the wood coatings are available as transparent systems, however, not all of the guarantee grain retention. The ones that do include

  • Wood stains
  • Varnishes
  • Oils

wood coating paint

Wood paint is also available in different gloss levels which have an influence to the final looks of the surface. The sheen availability consists of the following:

  • Matt emulsion:
    a smooth, velvety finish which helps cover imperfections on imperfect walls.
  • Flat matt emulsion:
     an even more velvety finish. Due to the fact that matt surfaces do not reflect light, they make all colours look as similar as they in very different light conditions. Flat matt looks also great in deeper shades.
  • Silk & Satin:
    ‘mid-sheen’ finishes, looking like a slightly polished surface and reflecting some light. Silk is a finish for walls and satin for wood work. It is possible to easily wipe silk wall finishes, which makes them very practical. However, if the wall is not in a good condition, it is possible the paint surface appears imperfect. A satin finish on woodwork helps to hide imperfections and gives colour a softer appearance.
  • Eggshell:
    less shiny than silk or satin and it does look like the surface of an eggshell (the clue’s in the name). It sits somewhere between matt and a silk finish and gives a beautiful classic look to woodwork.
  • Gloss:
    a shiny finish designed for woodwork and it reflects lots of light – so is perfect for paler colours. You have to have a well prepared surface to make it look its best, but it is hugely practical.

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