Everything You Need To Know About Wood Oils

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Here you can find everything you need to know about wood oils, from the different types available to the best suited wood oil for your wood.

What is wood oil?

Wood oils can be applied both directly to bare wood and timber, as well as over the top of wood stains. It is a decorative wood finish that also has protective qualities. With a pleasantly contrasting sheen over the wood grain, it brings out the natural character of the wood. Although the protective qualities are not as durable as wood varnishes, woodworkers favour its emphasis on character.

How does it work?

Wood oils penetrate the timber, replacing and replenishing the wood's natural oils to add protection.

Through the exposure to elements as well as age and wear, wood oils can revive wood surfaces to their natural colour which provides them with a new lease of life. All types of furniture, decking and floors can be maintained and rejuvenated with high quality wood oils.


Health and Safety

When using wood oil, there is basic health and safety that you should follow. Wood oil is a flammable product, therefore when you are using application equipment such as brushes and rags precautions should be taken. Wet application equipment can generate heat as the oil dries. To prevent this risk, cloths and rags (neither scrunched or rolled) should be left to dry on flat concrete surfaces. This surface should not be exposed to any sunlight or heat sources.

When disposing of cloths and rags make sure that they are soaked in water and fully dried out as they have the potential to spontaneously combust.


Wood Oil Finishes

Decking Oil

Decking oils are perfect for the long-term protection of newly laid decking. Enhancing both the natural wood colour as well as a stain, decking oils will offer a durable weatherproof coating. If you have a smooth decking surface instead of a ribbed or grooved one, we recommend using a top coat of Osmo Anti-Slip Decking Oil after a coat of Osmo Decking Oil has been applied. This oil contains a special highly compressed organic non-slip additive which is evenly distributed in the coating and prevents slips when dry.

Garden Furniture Oil

Furniture oils are primarily used on exterior wooden furniture such as garden benches, tables and chairs.  Furniture oil can be used on both softwoods and hardwoods, however it is always best to check the manufacturer's compatability advice as oils (such as the Osmo exterior range) will often require certain timbers to have a weathering period.

Osmo Natural Oil Woodstain is an ideal choice for exterior furniture as it is suitable for both vertical and horizontal surfaces. It is available in a clear matt finish or various coloured satin finishes. The clear finish does not protect against UV rays and allows for the surface to naturally "grey" and "age" over time (popular in rustic design schemes), whilst the coloured finishes contain varying degrees of UV protection. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the colour, the higher the UV protection.

For an eco-friendlier option, we recommend using Rubio Monocoat Hybrid Wood Protector. RMC Hybrid Wood Protector is a 0% VOC one-coat oil that is suitable for decorating and protecting all exterior wood (both horizontal and vertical). The easy application and maintenance make this oil an exceptionally user-friendly product.

Floor Oils

Floor oil is designed to protect floors from heavy pedestrian traffic. They can come in a range of different finishes which can be used for application onto both softwoods and hardwoods. For a wooden floor, wood oils are preferred over varnish, because of their ability to bring out the wood's natural character. We recommend hardwax oils such as Osmo Polyx®-Oil Original.

The Different Types Of Wood Oils

There are many different types of wood oils. Certain wood types are better suited to specific oils.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is a traditional choice for nourishing and protecting wood. It comes in many forms and is obtained from the seed of the linseed-flax plant. Given its ease of use and cheap price, it is one of the most popular finishing oils in the world.

Raw linseed oil and boiled linseed oil are the two most common types of linseed oils. 

Raw linseed oil has not been processed and does not contain driers or thinners. It has a much longer drying time and is known for being used on cricket bats to maintain moisture and reduce the chances of cracking and splitting.

Boiled linseed oil, on the other hand, has had hot air passed through it to significantly accelerate the drying time. The oil seeps into the pores of the wood and provides a traditional hardwearing wood finish. It is suitable for use on all types of wood (except exterior oak). 

Linseed oil can generally be applied over stains depending on the type of wood stain used. Only water or non-grain-raising stains should be used, as solvent-based stains may interfere with the penetration of the oil. We recommend Rubio Monocoat Precolor as a water-based stain for interior wood, and Rubio Monocoat Sunprimer as a water-based stain for exterior wood.

Danish oil       

Danish oil works best on new and untreated woods. Compared to linseed oil, it is more of a thin oil and varnish mixture with a faster drying time. When applying Danish oil, it will take approximately 15 minutes to soak into the wood. A single layer should be applied per day; additional layers will produce a thick and durable coating. Our recommended choice is Liberon Superior Danish Oil

Tung oil

Also known as china wood oil, Tung oil is a clear plastic coating used in printing inks and oil paints. This type of oil can be weakened with a hydrocarbon thinner, which enables the oil to penetrate the finest grain woods. When applied in several thin coats, Tung oil can produce a satin ‘wetted wood’ look with a golden tint. Our recommended choice is Liberon Pure Tung Oil.

Hardwax oil

Hardwax oil can give a superior finish to interior wooden floors and furniture. It has a tougher protective coating when compared to other wood oils. Hardwood oils form a highly durable barrier on soft and hardwoods against water, stains, heat, dirt and wear and tear. Harddax oils such as Osmo Polyx Oil Original creates a wood finish that combine the advantages of natural oils and waxes in one extremely fast drying product.

Olive oil

Olive oil is a non-drying vegetable based oil. It can be used as a style of polish on wood to give it a fresh rejuvenated look. However, it is best to avoid using olive oil on food storage bowls as it could spoil the food.

Teak oil

Teak oil is suitable mainly for exterior wood surfaces, specifically teak wood. However, teak oil can be used on other types of wood too. The oil is generally a mixture of linseed oil, varnish, mineral spirits and sometimes Tung oil. Our recommend choice is Rio Verde Teak Oil.

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is a good choice for wooden cutting surfaces such as chopping boards since it is a nontoxic oil. To give the wood a more water-resistant finish, we recommend using beeswax as a seal. 

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Application Of Wood Oils

Certain types of finishes will have different effects on various types of wood, so it may not look the same as it does in the picture. Therefore, we strongly recommend conducting a test first on an inconspicuous area of the timber that you will be staining, oiling or varnishing. Most of our wood finishes have sample options, so you can check you are happy with the final finish before committing to a larger tin.

If you are planning on staining your wood before applying oil, it is best to use a water-based stain. If you use an oil-based stain, it will seal the wood and will therefore not be able to absorb the wood oil.

Wood Oil Or Wood Varnish? 

As opposed to a lot of VOC wood varnishes, wood oils are natural products that are easy to apply and maintain overtime so generally contain a lower VOC content. If you want to keep the characteristics of your wood, as well as enhancing its protective qualities, wood oils could be the best choice of finish instead of wax or varnish.

Pros & Cons of Wood Oils


  • The majority of wood oils are more environmentally friendly
  • Oils provide a long-term and cost effective finish
  • They can protect surfaces from spillages as well as dirt
  • Oils can be more suitable for domestic as well as commercial areas
  • Create unique effects with pre-treatments and colour ranges


  • Maintenance is required over time
  • Oils tend to have a longer drying time compared to varnishes
  • Multiple layers can be required (not Rubio Monocoat)
  • When re-coating, the same type of oil should be used


Which Type Of Wood Oil Is Best For Your Wood?

Different types of wood oils are better suited to specific kinds of wood. The type of oil you use also depends on whether the wood is for interior or exterior use.


We would recommend using either danish oil or teak oil for ash. These oil finishes will help keep the natural blonde colour of ash. However, when exposed to excessive UV light, the wood can yellow slightly causing darker tones in the grain. To avoid this, some users will bleach the wood prior to oiling.


When finishing Bamboo we recommend using teak oil. This type of oil will finish your bamboo furniture or décor beautifully, whilst protecting the natural character of the bamboo.


We recommend using danish oil when finishing beech wood surfaces. Danish oil will enhance the natural colour of the wood. If you have old beech worktops or units, a fresh layer of danish oil can bring them back to life.


When finishing cedar wood, we recommend using linseed oil. This type of oil is the most popular with woodworkers, as well as cedar cladding users and craft enthusiasts.


If you would like an oil finish on a piece of mahogany, we recommend using tung oil, linseed oil or teak oil. These oil options are great for interior use, and will not leave a glassy sheen on the mahogany.


When finishing maple, we recommend using either a tung oil or a linseed oil. Both of these oils will bring out the curly, or tiger grain of the wood, finishing maple to the highest of standards.


We recommend using a tung oil for oak surfaces. This type of oil will maintain the oak's colour as well as character. However, if you would like to darken the oak, hardwax oil is more ideal. Another popular oil for oak is danish oil. This type of oil can bring out the rich tones in the wood as well as preventing surface stains.


When finishing pine, we recommend using a raw linseed oil. This type of oil will not contaminate food substances, which is perfect for pine dining tables.

For pine furniture that is not in contact with food, danish oil will provide the most durable finish.


We recommend using either a raw linseed oil or teak oil for rosewood. This type of oil can enhance the strong colours of rosewood surfaces and furniture.


When finishing teak, we recommend using specialised teak oil. Teak oil is not made out of teak. The oil is generally a mixture of linseed oil, varnish, mineral spirits and sometimes tung oil.


We recommend using tung oil for walnut. This type of oil will darken the grain, enhancing and protecting the wood.


Removing Wood Oils

Removing wood oil from wooden surfaces is an easy process. Because the oil doesn’t soak too deeply into the wood, the top layer can be sanded back. Once the bare wood is revealed, you can then apply paint, varnish or another oil. 

After reading this article you should now know everything that you should need to know about wood oils. However, if you have any questions, or need guidance on any of the things above, please contact us. For more information on the wood oil products we supply, please visit our interior wood oils or exterior wood oils page.