Is It Okay To Leave Wood Unfinished?

It’s important to know the different types of wood and their purposes when you’re buying new furniture or planning a DIY woodworking project at home. You will come across many types of wood, but the two main types are unfinished and finished wood.

Unfinished wood is the type that makes up furniture most craftsmen build, so it needs a finish application for it to look good in appearance. It also comes in handy for other uses. However, there are various possibilities when it comes to using unfinished wood. You can incorporate numerous ideas.

You don’t necessarily have to finish the wood unless you want to add a bit of aesthetic touch to it. You’re probably wondering if it’s okay to leave the wood unfinished? Well, the answer to this depends on many elements, such as the weather and its effect on unfinished wood. The purpose of the wood product also matters in this case. If you’re fascinated by unfinished wood and want to learn more about it, read further below.

What’s The Difference Between Unfinished And Untreated?

Unfinished and untreated wood are just about the same, depending on how you use them. Both these woods come directly from the natural form of word without undergoing any chemical-based processes at the factory. As mentioned earlier, unfinished wood is wood that has not gone through any finishing process, making it the purest form of wood. The finishing process involves applying a protective layer or adding a stain to give the wood an aesthetic finish.

On the other hand, untreated wood has not gone through the infusion of chemicals to lay off decay and destructive bugs. Untreated wood is also natural wood and does not go through any chemicalized process. In a nutshell, there is no major difference between the two.

There is one major similarity between both unfinished and untreated- they are fresh wood. This type of wood allows you to do a lot when it comes to building furniture. Nevertheless, the wood you use may require a finish due to a few reasons. Continue reading further below to understand more.

How Do You Waterproof Unfinished Wood?

Unfinished wood is prone to damage in intense weather conditions like heavy rain or snowfall. As unfinished wood doesn’t have any protective layers, you must weatherproof it to protect it from the elements. You can naturally waterproof wood in a few ways. Mentioned below are three ways you can waterproof unfinished wood.

Waterproof Unfinished Wood with Oil

You can use oil to waterproof unfinished wood, but not just any random oil. You can choose between Tung oil or Linseed oil. Tung oil is derived from the Chinese Tung tree, while Lisee oil derives from flax plant seeds. When it comes to applying oil on unfinished wood, you have to do it in a specific way. Mix the oil in a container and apply it on the wood with the help of a brush and allow the oil to dry. If there is any residual oil, wipe it off. Then, allow the wood to dry off overnight. The most important thing to see is if you’ve coated the wood properly and make sure it dries before using that specific piece of furniture.

Waterproof with Stain Sealant

Waterproofing your unfinished wood with a stain sealant is the best option, especially if you’re using it to waterproof a large piece of wood or furniture. Stain-sealant products consist of color pigment and an oil or water base. You have to apply this on the wood and watch the magic happen in no time.

The final result might differ depending on how much color pigment has gone into the wood. You can expect it to look opaque, transparent, or somewhere in-between. Once you apply, make sure to apply this every year or at least twice a year. This is, so the waterproof effects protect the unfinished wood.

Waterproof with Sealants

Sealants like varnish, lacquer, and polyurethane have amazing waterproofing properties. Consequently, you can easily apply it to unfinished wood to protect it. You may want to have your wood sanded before applying this. However, unfinished wood does not go through sanding.

You can apply the sealant with the help of a brush or spray in a room-temperature environment. Make sure that you don’t stir the sealants briskly or shake them before applying, as this could lead to the formation of air bubbles on the surface of the unfinished wood.

The best part about using sealants to waterproof unfinished wood is that it dries off quickly within 15 minutes. You’re probably wondering which sealant is the best? Well, all of them are fairly effective, but you may want to sort out the pros and cons of each before using:

Lacquer Sealants

Lacquer sealant is not something you want to use on lighter wood. Over time, it develops a yellowish tinge that can affect the wood’s appearance. On the other hand, it would look fantastic on dark wood, also giving it a good finish. One thing to remember is that lacquer gives off strong fumes, so if you’re using the sealant to waterproof or finish the wood, make sure to do so in a well-ventilated area.

Polyurethane Sealants

When using a polyurethane sealant, you don’t have to worry about your furniture getting too yellow. This sealant leaves you with a high-gloss touch, so it’s the perfect fit for light wood. If you’re opting for polyurethane sealant, choose an oil-based one that makes the wood more durable.

Varnish Sealant

Varnish sealant consists of drying oil, resin, and solvent, which gives the wood a nice finish and prevents yellowing. If you’re using varnish to waterproof the wood, you will have to do this outdoors. Make sure you choose marine varnish, as this comes with UV absorbers, best for extremely hot weather. You can use spar varnish for small furniture that you keep indoors, such as coffee tables.

How Long Will Unfinished Wood Last?

Unfinished wood is very common these days. Many homeowners and interior designers have a taste for the original texture and look of wood. This is in contrast to the polished appearance of finished wood. Many people get finished wood as it includes a protective layer that keeps it away from stains and also helps add a nice aesthetic appearance to the wood. There is no such harm that comes to unfinished wood, but there is a chance of damage.

The level of damage and how long your unfinished wood lasts depends on how and where you are using it. Are you using the wood for furniture, flooring, or as a wall? Will it be indoors or outdoors? The durability also depends on the weather elements. If you live in extreme weather conditions with heavy rainfall and hot summers, there is a high chance of your future suffering from damage if it comprises unfinished wood.

Unfinished wood tends to get dirty very fast as there is no protection from stains. So if your table is made from unfinished wood and you spill some wine on it, the stain may not come off. Of course, this does not imply that unfinished wood doesn’t last very long. It does, and it may even last longer than you expect it to. However, this depends on how well you keep it and on weather conditions, as this is one of the main things that have a major impact on unfinished wood.

How to Maintain Unfinished Wood?

If you want your unfinished wooden furniture to last longer, you can make sure of a few things that will help maintain its durability and appearance. Unfinished wood requires a lot of care, especially if it’s exposed to extreme weather conditions and is used daily. Mentioned below are a few things you can do to make sure that you maintain any unfinished wood:

Dust Regularly

Dust will accumulate on your unfinished wooden furniture, so try to wipe down your furniture on a regular basis. Failing to do so will cause the furniture to deteriorate. Dusting your furniture will help prevent caked debris from piling up. Otherwise, it will become difficult to remove later on. Make sure to use a soft-bristled brush when dusting. This also makes it easier to clean the corners of the unfinished wooden furniture, flooring, or wherever you have used it.

Clean with a Soap Solution

You can also use a soap solution to clean unfinished wood and maintain it properly. No matter how clean you might want to keep your unfinished wooden furniture, a stain tends to accumulate on your furniture. This could be from a wine spill, ice cream drip, or any dirt. If you notice a spill, clean it with a soapy solution immediately.

All you need is a bowl of lukewarm water and some dish soap. Dip a sponge into the mixture and wipe the furniture gently. This will clean whatever spill is on the furniture as well as keep it clean and shiny. Make sure to dry the wood properly with a dry piece of cloth, as leaving it wet could lead to further damage.

Why Use Unfinished Wood?

One of the main reasons people tend to opt for unfinished wood is that it is affordable. You get it at a lower price, and you don’t have to worry about any extra repairs. Unfinished wood also gives you the freedom to personalize the wood however you want, so you’re not limited to a particular design or look. Once you buy unfinished wooden furniture, you will automatically start to see all the benefits behind it.

Final Words

So is it okay to leave the wood unfinished? Well, hopefully, this article has provided a proper answer to this question. A lot of thinking and decision-making goes into the wood you choose, and that’s a good thing as it’s a big investment. You may be making a good decision by going for unfinished wood, and the best part is that you have an idea of how to maintain it, so it lasts long.