Woodcare: The Ultimate Guide

March 13th, 2024

Getting the right finish when working with timber can be a bit of a mine field. There are several things you need to think about before purchasing so we are here to remind you what kind of woodcare is out there and how it can transform and preserve timber.

What type of wood are you working with?

There are two types of wood, softwood and hardwood. 


Softwoods are fast-growing usually evergreen with needles and cones. They are often used in construction and are usually lighter in appearance. Their soft nature makes them easier to cut and shape but are prone to scratches and dents which could affect the kind of woodcare product or system you decide to use. They absorb moisture easily as their fibres are less densely packed than hardwoods.

Some examples of softwood include pine, cedar, juniper and redwood.


Hardwoods are mostly slow-growing, broad leaved and shed their leaves seasonally. They tend to be darker with varnishes and waxes enhancing their natural grain. Typically more expensive, their higher density means they are durable, resistant to minor damage and easier to maintain. They are most commonly used for flooring, doors and high-quality furniture.

Some examples of hardwoods include oak, beech, maple and mahogany.

Finding your finish:

Enhancing timber with wax, polishes and oils.

Interior woodwork:

Oil is great for bare timber. It’s an easy way to protect wooden floors, tables and kitchen worktops thanks to its water repellence. Waxes and polishes create shine as well as protection which is perfect for wooden furniture.

Exterior woodwork:

Oils nourish and protect exterior timber such as decking and garden furniture, replacing natural oils lost with weathering. Make sure you use a wax finish that has been design specifically for exterior use. Do not polish on exterior woodwork as they weather easily and leave wood unprotected.

Protecting woodwork with varnish and preservatives.

Varnishes provide a hard-wearing protective layer, while preservatives protect the wood itself and help prevent rot and woodworm.

Interior woodwork:

Varnishes provide long-lasting protection, reducing wear and tear, helping hygiene and in some cases, complying with fire regulations. Varnishing high traffic areas like flooring reduces damage.

Exterior woodwork:

Exterior wood needs protection from sunlight, moisture and infestations (such as rot, mould and insects). Wood preservers are deep-penetrating and should be used on bare timber to extend its life. Treated wood can still be stained or varnished. 

Add colour to woodwork with stains and dyes.

Wood stains and dyes change the colour of wood. Wood stains are available in different finishes from translucent to opaque. Both stains and dyes are available in a broad range of natural wood colours and bold hues.

Discover the brand new wood stain range from Albany>>

Interior woodwork:

Stains protect against damage from sunlight. As stains create a thicker paint film than dyes, they provide better wear and tear protection. Dyes change the colour of the wood but offer no protection, so it is recommended you apply a topcoat of varnish.

Exterior woodwork:

Woodstains contain pigment which protects against UV damage and fading. They help the wood age well over time and make maintenance easier. Make sure you use dyes created specifically for exterior timber such as Polyvine Wood Dye.

Paint can transform tired wood and cover imperfections. Primer and undercoats add a layer of protection and provide a good, even base for topcoats.

Interior woodwork:

Interior wood paints add opaque colour and revive worn wood with a painted matt, satin or gloss finish. They are suitable for anything from shelves and kitchen cupboards to chairs and tables. They will also brighten and protect interior trim such as wooden doors and skirting.

Exterior woodwork:

Exterior wood paints protect wood from weathering for up to ten years and can make old wood look as good as new. Painting garden furniture and balustrades can have a transformative, uplifting effect.

For more information about finding your perfect finish, head into your local Brewers Decorator Centre.