Old-World Oil Finish for Interior Woodwork
Protect floors, countertops, and other wood surfaces in your home while giving them a rich, natural look with Sutherland Welles Polymerized Tung Oil finish.
A natural oil finish is a great alternative to polyurethane or lacquer for wood flooring, countertops, doors, trim, or any interior wood surface if you want to show off the beautiful grain and vibrant colors that inspired you to choose real wood in the first place. Because of its ease of application and durability, my go-to clear finish for any interior surfaces is Sutherland Welles’s Polymerized Tung Oil, which is available in low, medium, and high-lustre versions, plus in a tung-oil sealer that’s generally used as a first coat. Since I started using Sutherland Welles products years ago, the company has introduced a Botanical line of this finish, which is simply their same high-quality polymerized tung oil that’s been formulated with an even more sustainable, non-ozone depleting citrus based solvent instead of the traditional petroleum-based solvent.
At $158 per gal. with 600 sq. ft. to 1000 sq.ft. of coverage per coat, a hand-rubbed oil finish like this costs a bit more than basic polyurethane, but the rich look that the tung oil provides is well worth it. Plus, unlike polyurethane or lacquer, tung oil is a living finish that can be refreshed or even spot finished at any time with just another coat of oil without the hassle of sanding or stripping the original finish like you would need to with most other interior finishes.
The application process is a bit different from most modern finishes you would use around your home in that you have to let the oil penetrate the wood for a bit and then wipe the excess off with a clean rag—or you can let the initial coat cure and then buff the surface with abrasive pads and steel wool throughout the process of applying consecutive coats. Whichever process you choose, be sure to follow the detailed instructions on the can or on the Sutherland Welles website for best results. Four coats are generally recommended for a finish that will provide an even sheen and good protection for years to come.
Go to sutherlandwelles.com to find out more about these and other fine finishing products that Sutherland Welles produces in northern Vermont.
Main image courtesy of Kevin Anderson. Second image courtesy of the manufacturer.