How to Seal Wood With Oil

Written by chris rowling
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How to Seal Wood With Oil
Wood needs to be treated with oil to protect the finish. (wood texture image by Mats Tooming from

Any object made out of wood, be it furniture or a garden fence, needs to be treated with an oil to protect the wood from the elements. The oil seals all the grain in the wood, meaning no water can get inside the wood and cause it to rot. Applying an oil finish by yourself at home is not difficult, but the size of the task depends entirely on what object you are treating with the oil.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wood-treating oil
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper
  • Old newspaper
  • Drop sheet or tarpaulin

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  1. 1

    Place the item you want to treat on some old newspaper. Place larger items on a dust sheet or tarpaulin, if possible, to protect your floors.

  2. 2

    Smooth out the wood using finely graded sandpaper. This will improve the finish you get from the oil and remove any splinters or rough edges from the wood. You do not necessarily have to sand the entire object, but it is best to smooth rough areas and remove any previous finish.

  3. 3

    Select the appropriate type of oil. Danish or tung oil is suitable for most objects used inside. Some oils are specific to a type of wood, such as teak, so check labels. Linseed oil is effective but requires a lacquer finish, as the oil leaves a sticky residue on the wood. Outdoor objects require waterproof treatment, which you apply after the oil or as part of the mixture.

  4. 4

    Apply a thin layer of oil to the wood using either the lint-free cloth or the paintbrush. For smaller items, the cloth works the oil in more evenly. Larger items, such as a garden fence, are too large to treat with a cloth and a paintbrush is more suitable.

  5. 5

    Leave the oil to dry as per manufacturer's instructions, and then apply a second coat of oil. Apply additional coats after the second one has dried if you want a more high-gloss finish.

  6. 6

    Apply a new layer of oil when necessary. Items used only indoors require re-treating when they start to look distressed. Outdoor items may require a new layer every year. If the finish begins to crack or peel, it is time to apply a new layer of oil.

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