Water based or Oil based clear wood treatment?

Wood is a great natural product, but to get the best out of it it is often necessary to protect the surface from wear and tear. In order to maintain its’ beauty we often want a clear treatment, but treatments do alter the way that the wood acts.

There are a few options here with regards to suitable products. The basic choice though is down to whether to use a water based or an oil based solution. Your choice will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, but the main points to understand which each choice are:

A. Oil based solutions.

Here (in an art work) the difference that an oil treatment and the bare wood is clear to see

1. Change the colour of the wood and make it a much richer finish (this depends on the wood type as to which colours are more pronounced).

2. The create a harder wearing surface

3. Need to have a solvent in order to deliver the oils into the wood (this tends to be petro-chemical based, although Auro do have an orange oil based product)

4. If using a Hard Oil then it will need to have a wearing layer (generally a wax) unless a Hard Wax Oil combination product is used. Osmo and Auro have such products.

5. Take time to dry – around 12 hours unless a more volatile solvent is used.

B. Water based solutions

1. Do not change the colour of the wood

2. Are not as hard wearing

3. Are very quick drying

4. Lift the grain of the wood

Most people tend to err on the side of oil based products, especially where hard wear is expected (floors, work surfaces, furniture). If you are looking for more natural products, then Osmo and Auro only use natural oils in their products, although the Osmo use debezenated white spirit for their solvent. Blanchon produce a good water based Hard Wax Oil for those areas where quick drying, low wear applications are required.

For more information it is worth using our Paint Chooser on the Eco Home Centre where you can explore the wood treatment options that are available through the Eco Home Centre.