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How Often Should I Oil Timber?

If you’re after that natural satin finish, that brings out the grain in your timber, then simply maintaining an oil finish is the way to go.  Oils are easy to apply and are also very safe to use with products such as those in our Food Safe Range that are completely natural and fittingly foodsafe!  Oils have always been a popular route to take, and their use on timber goes back centuries, particularly on intricately carved furniture.  Consumers’ love for real timber furniture, the growing desire to live more sustainably and modern trends such as upcycling have all been contributors to the ongoing popularity of furniture oils, as opposed to synthetic/polyurethane finishes.

The big question we’re here for though.. How often should I oil my timber?

When applying oils, the goal is to get the timber to a fully saturated and nourished state. This brings out its grain, deepens its colour and makes it look fresh.  It may take 3-4 coats to begin with, then a re-application every 1-2 months at the start while the timber is still very absorbent.  Once the timber is fully saturated however, it should be safe to re-apply every 3-6 months.

The basic thing to keep in mind here is; the more your timber has been oiled and saturated, the less frequently you will have to re-apply, as it becomes more a general maintenance task.  This does of course depend on the individual scenario and there a various factors to consider, which are outlined below.

  • Type of Timber
  • Condition of Timber
  • Exposure to Sunlight
  • General Wear and Tear
  • How Often & Vigorously It Is Cleaned

    Type of Timber

    Different timbers have different qualities.  Simply put - some timbers are more porous than others, and will require more oil to nourish.

    Condition of Timber

    Freshly installed timber, or old and neglected timber will require more of a soaking than timber that has been previously maintained.  A freshly installed raw bamboo benchtop for example, will require more coats than a similar benchtop that has previously been oiled and cared for.

    Exposure to Sunlight

    The more exposed your piece of furniture or timber is to sunlight and UV rays, the more it will have to be oiled.  This exposure will contribute to drying the timber out, making it hungrier for another soak. This of course can’t always be avoided, but if you do have a piece of furniture that is much loved, such as an antique piece or sentimental piece - it may be worth keeping them away from windows or at least closing the curtains/blinds when the sun shines directly on the furniture!

    General Wear and Tear

    The more wear, tear and traffic your piece of furniture has to endure, the more it will have to be looked after.  For something such as a side table (which is more for display purposes than everyday use), you will find it won't have to be cared for as often.  For a coffee table that consistently has items being placed on and off including feet, food and everything else - you will find it needs a coat more regularly, as would a kitchen benchtop.

    How Often & Vigorously It Is Cleaned

    The more an item is cleaned and the harder it is cleaned, the more it will wear down the surface and whatever it has been treated with.  This is of course perfectly understandable for something such as a kitchen benchtop which has constant abuse from whoever’s cooking dinner!  All sorts of mess is made and it deservedly needs to be cleaned accordingly. Just be sure to know that it will require re-oiling more often, perhaps even every 1-2 months to keep it looking tip top.

    This article should clear up the basic factors about maintaining an oil finish.  It is one of those things you will learn more from as you go, and you won’t find out for yourself the requirements of your timber without putting it to practice!

    Of course if you want anything further clarified, we are always here to assist, and you can contact us here.

    Happy oiling!

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