Wood Finishes Explained

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Written By: Jeremy Finison, William Shade & Mike Toth


With all the finishing or topcoat options for wood projects, I’ve always been very confused and even intimidated to learn them or tackle the right coating for the right project. So, being a formulation chemist and hobbyist woodworker, I had to set out and learn this stuff / sort it all out. To help me better understand what I’ve read and seen in videos I decided to put it in a bullet point format to help me quickly visualize the differences, benefits, and tradeoffs of each type of topcoat/finish. I’m sure there are many great books on this topic but I figured I would share what I’ve learned recently in hopes this can be a “quick reference” and learning tool for you as well.


This is just from my recent and brief research into the finishing realm that I’ve never known before. I reviewed Youtube folks I’ve watched make great projects / tutorials as well as pulled opinions from forums such as Lumberjocks & NCWoodworker.net. Also note that the inputs from my contacts at BYK - Wood Coatings Division merely refle