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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just replaced all doors and stairs (handrail and spindles) with untreated oak and was looking for advise on best way to treat the oak to get a natural matt finish. What are the advantages of one finish to another (ease of application to life). Also is there a difference with varnish and lacquar or is this two words for the same thing? Look forward to your opinions

JRM
 

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Welcome jrm.

Your posts asks more questions than you realize. There is certainly a difference between lacquer and varnish. I won't go into it you can find that in any finish book.

But your main question about getting a "natural matte" finish needs a little clarification. Are you saying you do not want to stain the wood, but want a clear coat that is not glossy?

If that is the case you can apply any clear coat you want. The "finish" that some people refer to is the "sheen". Most all clear coats will come in eggshell also called satin, then semi gloss, gloss, and high gloss.

Sounds like you are wanting a satin or eggshell finish when you say matte. You can use polyurethane on the oak it is easy to apply. You could also use lacquer but it sprays on with best results.

There are 5 types of finishes commonly available:
  • Oil (there are oils that "cure" and oils that don't)
  • Lacquer
  • Shellac
  • Water-Based
  • Varnish and Polyurethanes
For your application it depends on what you are most interested in. If protection is it you don't want oils (Tung, linseed etc). If ease of application is most important you might want to consider oils for example.

Off the top of my head I would say varnish is a good choice. Fairly easy to apply (you do have to have good dust control but that goes with everything except some oils) and a good amount of protection too.

Maybe if you elaborate some more one of the finish pros will respond. My point was to get you thiking a little more and refine your paramateres a little so someone esle can get more technical.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for all the good points. I'm off oils and will do some more investigation into satin finishes. I've got a few off cuts so will try out a few different finishes

JRM2
 

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I have limited my seal coats to two.

My most frequently used is Lacquer. It dries fast, apples well and is very forgiving. I use this on all surfaces except table and dresser tops. It does not do well with regard to hot platters etc (table tops) even with hot mats. It also does not stand up to solvents like alcohol (dresser tops) found in colognes and after shaves. For those locations, I switch to polyurethane. Doesn't dry very fast but it is very durable.

With regard to gloss levels, all sealers and paints are available in a wide range of gloss levels. Keep in mind that all finishes start out as full gloss. The various levels of gloss reduction are accomplished by additives. So, any clear sealers that are less than full gloss will need to be stirred and not shaken. Polyurethane especially does not respond well to shaking. You entrap small bubbles of atmosphere in the material and the accompanying moisture causes little pockets to cure causing lumps for your finish coat. In all cases where stirring is required, do it slowly but thoroughly.

Ed

ps, once you attempt to spray your seal coat, you'll never turn to brushing again.
 

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Of the three types of finish, lacquer & the two polys, which is most durable? Which is the most diificult to work with?
 

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johnep
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We moved house on a hot day (well hot for UK) and the removal men stood various items on top of dining room table, even though was covered by blanket table marked.

We eventually contacted a french polisher who charged $250. However, table still marks and I wondered if should try to find someone to strip finish off and apply what?

Looking for semi matt finish. Top is rosewood veneer on sapele.

My wife is muttering about a new table. Good quality could cost upto
$4k.
I would try it myself but am very nervous.
johnep
 

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Of the three types of finish, lacquer & the two polys, which is most durable? Which is the most diificult to work with?

IMO, in the order of durability, I would vote for oil base poly first. waterbased poly second, and lacquer third.

For the best results lacquer should be sprayed, but can be brushed, I vote the most difficult to apply just because of the whole fire drill involved with spraying.

Oil base poly takes longer to dry than water based, so I vote it easier than lacquer, but not as convenient as waterbased.

I'm including oil base varnishes in the "oil base poly" group.
 

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Johnep,

You said a 'french polisher'. I don't know if it means the same in the UK as it means on this side of the pond, but I am reading it to mean that your table actually has a true french polish and you want it repaired. If you found someone to fix a true french polish for $250, he either is a scammer, is not very good or has no idea that he can charge more. The great thing about french polishes are that they are infinitely repairable, but there is alot of elbow grease in them. I was wondering if you could tell me what you mean when you write, "However, table still marks...". Do you mean you can still see the imprints from the stuff the movers set on top? Is it a color variation or did the weight of the stuff cause depressions? I would love to help, but I would appreciate more info. A picture is worth a thousand words, depending on exchange rate.

JRM2,

To get a really nice hand applied finish that screams hand crafted, use a padding lacquer. It goes on with a rag just as its name implies and it is rewetting. What I mean by that is, it can be fixed very easily without have to strip anything, unlike polys and varnishes. Shellac is also an option, but is a little more work to apply and not as durable. With the padding lacquer, you can go shiny, matte or anything in between.
 

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I've had some success in using Minwax's Helmsman SparVar in outdoor applications. I used it when I refinished some outdoor furniture some years back. The finish still looks good even with me leaving it fully exposed to the desert summer sun and freezing winter. So the temperature range was low 30s to high 110.
 
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