What finish is the best for my furniture.

The last coat what is applied to the furniture is the one what is giving its outlook. It can be a varnish, a paint, a wax or oil. These are the most common coats what the furniture is offered when its ready for selling.
Let me explain the pros and cons for each one of them.


The varnishes are made from resins in different kind of solvent. The most common solvents are polyurethane, alkyd and acrylic. They are also solvent based and water-bourne. In all of them the resin is the binding compound and they have some additives too mainly silicate dispersions what are giving the coat toughness and shine ( it can be glossy, satin or matte ). Water-bourne varnishes are more resilient to UV light but not so tough as the solvent based ones. The varnishes are usually combined with stains, they are applied before the varnish and are used for enhancing the color of the wood and giving it better look. 
The pros of the varnishes is that the surface is very smooth and easy to clean. They are tough and very resilient to solvents and staining agents like coffee or wine. The care of it is minimal, just need to wipe them with damp cloth and they  are as good as new. Once the varnish is completely cured it doesn’t release any harm components ( The water-bourne varnishes and paints are considered suitable for children toys )

The cons are that they are not very resilient to UV light and if exposed for long period on sunlight they tend to deteriorate which is leaving the furniture with some discolored spots what are impossible to correct without professional care. They need to be applied with a spray gun for best outlook and need some curing time. In case of scratches or dents the fixing is also due to be performed by a professional.
Despite of all cons they have the varnishes are the best cover for furniture invented so far. With proper maintenance they can last intact for more than 15 years.


Paints for furniture are similar to the varnishes. The only difference is that they have a pigment added to the base of the solvent and they giving an opaque look of the wood with the color of the pigment combination used for it. They are also solvent and water based and also resilient to UV light, so they can be used for outdoor furniture and the film is going to last for more of a decade.


Waxes are made from different kind of natural wax ( mostly carnauba and bees wax                                       ) and pigments in a mixture with a solvent, usually turpentine and lately water based solvents. 
The pros are that they are easy to apply, the finish is matte very natural looking in a variety of colors. In case of some damage you can just reapply wax and the surface is going to be as good as new. 

The cons are that the cover is not resilient to UV light, solvents and staining agents. Wine, coffee and alcohol can easily damage the surface leaving some deep stain very difficult or impossible to fix. They need reapplying in few years. The natural ingredients claim is somehow overrated ( turpentine is one of the main ingredients ), they have residual smell for months and the water based ones what don’t smell have a film what is beyond easy to get dirty. 


The oils for wood are based on natural drying oils like linseed and walnut oil in solvents and pigments.
The pros are that they are very easy to apply and have outstanding natural look of the finished surface.
The cons are the same like with the waxes.

In conclusion let me share, for thousands of years people were advancing the wood finishes, for the last decades they invented the varnishes which are not the ultimate protection of wood ( it still don’t exist ) but the best one and now for some years I noticed the uprising of waxes and oils as a trend. It’s going backwards in a way, even with all natural and green claims it’s not clean and healthy, just supporting some consumers trend. 

Thank you for the spent time.