Stain, wax, oil or varnish? Help!

7 Jul 2013
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United Kingdom
Two questions in one:
Just coming to the end of a big extension build and have lots of new internal light oak doors to finish. Faced with the huge array of varnishes, stains, oils and waxes I'm at a loss as to which would be best to use :confused:
Prefer the natural look and colour of the wood, satin or matt appearance and need something that can cope with lots of people traffic (4 kids and friends!) and be easily wiped down and repaired if damaged!

Second issue is that original woodwork (doors, skirting and staircase) appears to be pine, stained to a dark oak. I do plan to paint some of it but is there any way to reduce the dark colour on what remains to blend in more with the newer lighter doors? Realise that when finished and over time the new ones will darken up a bit but the contrast is huge at the moment.

All helpful suggestions gratefully received. :)
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Depends on the finish of the existing timber if its surface applied then you might be able to strip with paint stripper, try a small area first otherwise you are stuck with darker timber.
Thanks for the reply.
For the old existing woodwork it seems to be a stain rather than a varnish as has matt appearance. If using paint stripper on it would I just wipe on and off? I am going to paint some of the previously stained wood (skirting and spindles on the staircase).
Plan to clean with sugar soap , light sand then undercoat and paint. does that sound like a plan?
Any advice about the best thing to use on the new doors? Initially thought about using oil but have been told it is tricky to apply without ending up with overlap marks.
Varnish can be matt.
Paint on stripper scrape off with a wide scraper. Rinse off excess with white spirit.
Oil is about the easiest coating to apply as it is quick to wipe on avoiding any overlapping.
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Faced with a similar bewildering choice recently I tried a few finishes and have ended up addicted to Briwax (applying it that is, though the smell is probably mildly intoxicating!)

It's incredibly easy to apply, you can't really apply it unevenly as the wood just "takes" as much as it takes; it can be left matt or buffed up to a little sheen as the job demands. It can also be touched up at any time afterwards without leaving any sign of the intervention, unlike varnishes and some oils.

It comes in just enough colours that you can get pretty much exactly the shade you're after without being completely bewildered.

The main downside compared to varnish is that it's not fully water resistant but I can't imagine that being a problem on internal doors...
You can also apply 3 coats of Danish Oil followed by Briwax (or comparable product). Wax on its own is not tough, DO is not all that tough but it is easy to touch up. It is easy to apply, I've never had issues with overlap marks, you have to rub it in, and carry on rubbing to make sure it is worked in, and even. Varnish will be tougher, but I've never used it.

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