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Working in oils

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At the point of quoting for a project, decorators would do well to consider whether furniture and other wooden surfaces around the site are looking tired and in need of some attention. The customer might be time-poor or lacking in DIY skills, and at the point of quoting for the project, offering to take care of the woodwork at the same time will create a more finished look, whilst adding some welcome extra profit to the bottom line. Richard Bradley, Liberon’s Marketing Manager, here talks about one of the oldest forms of wood finishing: the application of oils, which gives a natural, hardwearing finish with an unmistakable sheen and silky smoothness that customers will appreciate.

The great thing about the right oil is that it is highly resistant to moisture and heat. Easy to apply, it greatly enhances the colour of the timber, intensifies the grain pattern, and feeds timber safely, from well-worn rocking chairs to turned woodwork. Some specially blended oils even provide UV protection, making them ideal for helping to prevent wood from fading.

So how can professional decorators go about choosing the right oil for the job?

Where an oil is required to protect hard and soft woods both indoors and outdoors, it is recommended that a low viscosity option is selected, which allows deep penetration of the wood to feed, protect and enhance it. Select a blend of pure tung oil and natural oils with an added UV filter for protection against sunlight. Ideally, the oil chosen should have a resin content that affords protection against water, heat and alcohol plus added driers for quick drying.

Liberon’s Superior Danish Oil protects against daylight and is alcohol, heat and food acid resistant, making it safe for use on kitchen surfaces. It is also ideal for doors and skirting boards. Outdoors it may be used on wooden garden furniture.

To prepare interior woodwork prior to applying this oil, ensure the surface is bare. Remove any wax finishes and any varnish finishes. Clean, dry and ensure the surface is dust free. To prepare exterior woodwork ensure the surface is clean, dry and free from decaying timber. Surface greying or mould should also be removed as this may cause blackening of the timber. If there is discolouration then treating with Liberon Wood Bleacher can help.

On interior jobs apply the oil with a brush or lint-free cotton cloth and allow to penetrate for five to ten minutes before wiping off the excess with a clean lint-free cloth. Allow to dry for a minimum of five hours, and apply more coats as required. It is recommended that a minimum of three coats are applied. For best results gently rub with Liberon’s Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000) between coats.  Instead of steel wool use a fine sandpaper (400 grit or finer) on exterior Oak. In damp areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, more coats will be required to ensure adequate protection. On exterior jobs the same application process applies. Four coats are recommended for minimum protection. This oil can darken some light grained timbers, therefore it is a good idea to test it on an unseen area first.

Where an oil is required to provide a hardwearing finish, and the surface in question comes into contact with food it is recommended that a premium, pure and natural oil be selected with no additives.  Pure Tung Oil is the ideal solution. Look for a very high water resistance to ensure it is suitable for exterior use on items such as garden tables or barbeque surrounds.  Liberon’s Pure Tung Oil is also ideal for external oak furniture on which it helps to prevent black spot problems. 

To prepare wood surfaces prior to applying this oil, firstly ensure they are bare. This means removing any wax finishes with Liberon’s Wax and Polish Remover and any varnish finishes with Liberon’s Fine Wood Stripper. Clean, dry and ensure the surface is dust-free.

To apply this oil, use a brush or lint-free cotton cloth. For ease of application dilute the first one or two coats with up to 50% white spirit. Allow the oil to penetrate for 20 to 30 minutes then wipe off the excess oil using a clean lint-free cloth. Allow to dry for 24 hours between coats. Apply further coats in the same way, reducing the amount of white spirit used with subsequent coats. Apply the last one or two coats undiluted. After the final coat has been applied, and the excess removed, leave for 24 hours and wipe over again to aid drying and remove any oil that may have surfaced. It is recommended that a minimum of four coats are applied, and more coats will be required for porous or external surfaces. Again, for best results gently rub with Liberon’s Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000) between coats.  Instead of steel wool use a fine sandpaper (400 grit or finer) on exterior Oak. Leave for a few days before use to allow this oil to dry fully. Again, testing the oil on an unseen surface is recommended.

When looking for an oil that can be used on interior wood and turned woodwork that will really nourish and enhance the colour of the wood, seek out a blended option containing hardwearing oils and resins for a lasting and water-resistant finish.  Liberon’s Finishing Oil has a resin content that enables protection not only against water but heat and alcohol too.  By applying extra coats of this oil, resin build-up is facilitated, which means that a variety of finishes can be achieved, including matt, satin or gloss. Seek out a low viscosity oil to ensure deep penetration, that makes it ideal for all types of bare wood. If working in kitchens and bathrooms it is recommended to choose a water-resistant formula.

Preparing the wood before using this oil is the same process as that mentioned above. To use it, the container must be shaken well before beginning, then a coat  can be applied using a brush or lint-free cotton cloth. The oil should be allowed to penetrate for up to ten minutes, then all the excess should be wiped off with a clean lint-free cloth, before the surface dries enough to become sticky. Allow to dry for a minimum of five hours, and apply more coats as required.  A minimum of three coats is recommended. The more coats applied the higher the sheen and the more durable the finish will be.  As for the other two oils mentioned above, for best results gently rub with Liberon Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000) between coats. 

For further information about Liberon and the company’s extensive range of woodcare products, visit www.liberon.co.uk. 

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