wax vs oil for woodThe finish you add to your wood projects has the potential to make or break your piece, whether you intend to display and use it indoors or out.

Different woods have different properties and needs, and as such, different products exist to help them look their best.

If you’re vacillating between wax vs oil for wood projects, consider the project itself and what advantages and disadvantages each product brings to the table before making your final decision.

Considerations When Finishing Wood

Before you get started, it helps to examine the wood thoroughly to determine its properties and any special requirements necessary for its care and maintenance. The following questions can assist you in making these determinations:

  • Is the wood you’re using soft or hard?
  • What is the wood’s natural coloration?
  • Do you plan on using the wood indoors or out?
  • Is the wood sanded, treated or raw?
  • How do you plan on using the wood?
  • Do you need a clear or colored wood finish?
  • Do you want a matte, gloss or satin finish?
  • Does durability or ease of care matter most?

Wax Vs Oil for Wood

Designed to seal and protect wood when properly applied and cured and typically formulated without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), wood wax and oil help reduce damage from stains, spills, abrasions, humidity and moisture in general. Additionally, these wood finishes bring out the beauty in wood grain to showcase your DIY projects in their best possible light. Some products even help revive worn or old surfaces without much effort, making them a great choice for garage sale and thrift store items you wish to recycle. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each finish in the debate between wax vs oil for wood.

Advantages of Wax for Wood

When properly applied, paste wax for wood imbues a nice sheen to furniture and furnishings, and you can use it over other finish types when you want to add extra protection to your piece. Naturally sourced and typically nontoxic, wood waxes that are food-safe work great on kitchen items such as utensils and cuttingboards. The smooth feel on wooden surfaces makes wood waxes pleasant for use on furniture that’s used a lot, and since it sits atop the wood rather than absorbing into the surface, it keeps the look of your piece natural and highlights interesting wood grain features.

Disadvantages of Wax for Wood

Some woodworkers find wax to be a brittle finish for their wood projects, though the Real Milk Paint Co. mitigates this disadvantage with proprietary formulations that aid in conditioning wooden surfaces like wood flooring. The ease in which soft wax for wood melts, however, does make it unsuitable for furnishings used in hotter spaces or direct sunlight. Also, because wood wax sits on the surface of the wood, a wax finish often doesn’t protect well against moisture and requires frequent application compared to other wood finishes such as oil due to dulling over time.

Advantages of Oil for Wood

Many wood oils derive from natural sources for an eco-friendly and often nontoxic way to finish a wooden surface. Also, many, like Half & Half Oil by the Real Milk Paint Co., have food-safe formulations that make them especially well suited to finishing wood bowls and butcher block. Easy absorption into wood pores provides excellent protection against everything from rot and moisture to UV rays and oxidation. Additionally, these natural oils enhance the look of wood grain, work beautifully with dense hardwoods and enable fuss-free maintenance via sanding out scratches and quick reapplication.

Disadvantages of Oil for Wood

Less durable than many types of finishes, wood oils sometimes prove vulnerable to scratches and dents, though products from the Real Milk Paint Co. like Pure Tung Oil mitigate this disadvantage with non-marring formulations. Also, lower-quality wood oils may change the color or darken the coloration of wood and require reapplication in as little as six months. Additionally, many oil finishes dry slowly, though most from the Real Milk Paint Co. cure by evaporation rather than drying, providing cure times of as little as 7 days for light use and 30 days for full use. Keep in mind also that an oil finish typically doesn’t add as much shine to porous soft woods as it does to dense hardwoods and plan accordingly. Also all oil finishes will deepen the color of the wood compared to water base finishes 

Wax and oil products


The Right Wax or Oil

Finding the right wax or oil for your wood project is just as important as deciding between wax vs oil for wood. With myriad oil and wax finishes on the market, figuring out which is best for you may seem like a daunting task, but the Real Milk Paint Co. takes the hassle out of choosing high-quality wood wax and wood oil products to suit most any DIY project.

Types of Wax for Wood

When you want a wood wax that’s safe for food contact, consider our Wood Wax for items you wish to retain a natural look and Zero VOC Wax when you want to add Chestnut Brown or Warm Black color to your piece. Good Ol’ Brown Wax excels in removing minor scratches and abrasions from furnishings, while Clear Carnauba Wax works great for sealing surfaces coated with Real Milk Paint. Designed for furniture refinishing rather than raw wood, our Soft Wax comes in clear, white, black, dark brown and gray for versatile options for upcycled and handmade furnishings.

Types of Oil for Wood

For an oil wood finish that also works well for food-contact surfaces, consider Pure Tung Oil and Half & Half Oil. If you want a darker look than the lustrous surface these wood oils leave behind, however, the Real Milk Paint Co. also offers Dark Tung Oil and Dark Half to deepen your wood finish. Hemp Oil boasts a thin viscosity that doesn’t require mixing with Citrus Solvent for easy absorption, while our Outdoor Defense Oil provides excellent elemental protection for pieces you wish to use and display on your porch, patio or deck or in your lawn or garden.

Understanding which products you need for your project aids you in deciding between wax vs oil for wood pieces. No matter which type of wood finishing product you ultimately choose, the Real Milk Paint Co. has options that fit the look and special needs of most any piece of furniture or home decor you wish to seal, protect and maintain.

Call us here: (800) 339-9748 to help you get started with your wood project.