Types of finish

The perfect wood finish looks great, is inexpensive, easy to apply, easy to repair, and protects against all harm that could be done to the wood. The bad news is that the perfect finish does not exist. To help you pick the finish that meets your most important needs we offer the chart below. The links on the left also provide extra commentary on the three types of finishes; oil based, spirit based, and water based.

  fixed oil oil wax oil varnish shellac lacquer spirit varnish water based
price low low mid mid high very high high
water resistant ok good very good poor ok excellent varies
alcohol resistant ok ok good very poor ok good varies
heat resistant ok poor poor to ok poor ok good poor
abrasion resistant poor poor ok good good very good ok
look natural cloudy shine shiny shiny wet look varies
exterior use good ok very good poor limited varies limited