The next in our series about Rubio Monocoat has to do with dry and cure times. In the event this is your first article here on Obsessed Woodworking about Rubio Monocoat, we’ll take just a moment to bring you up to speed.
What is Rubio Monocoat Oil?
It’s a hard-wax oil (linseed oil) wood finish that colors and protects wood in a single application. It does so as a result of bonding with wood fibers at the molecular level, penetrating deeply into the wood to protect it from heat, water, and use.
We’ve written of this in earlier articles, and you will find them here and here.
It is also VOC-free. VOCs are volatile organic compounds found in many products we use to build and maintain homes that release into the air we breathe.
Produced in Belgium, Rubio Monocoat is a very different alternative wood finish to the more common polyurethane. Rubio Monocoat penetrates deep into the wood, whereas polyurethane simply forms a protective film on the surface of wood.
Rubio Monocoat offers its protection in a single application, and no topcoat is necessary. Rubio does offer a topcoat product, though, that will intensify the color and, if brushed before it dries, will enhance the sheen.
It offers its full degree of protection in that single coat, and because it does not adhere to itself, a second coat would be ineffective anyway. The one exception is when finishing a softwood that is more porous than a hardwood. To ensure an even application, a second coat might be advisable in these circumstances, making sure you remove any excess after the wood has absorbed its limit.
Applying Rubio Monocoat
It’s an easy and fast application process. Before applying, though, it is especially important to give a thorough cleaning. Since Rubio Monocoat bonds with wood molecules, all sawdust must be removed from the surface being treated.
A thorough sanding down with 150-grit sandpaper is adequate. A water-blooming is also helpful – spraying water on the surface to raise the grain, followed by another sanding to create the smooth surface you want.
While Rubio does offer a cleaning product after sanding, mineral spirits will also work well. The Rubio cleaning product is much more expensive than mineral spirits, and you can save money.
The mix ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part accelerator. You should make only enough for your project’s needs, as the mixture does not have a long shelf life. A foam brush, a Scotch Brite white pad, or a plastic paddle will be suitable to apply the mixture, and don’t apply to any more surfaces than you can finish within 15 minutes because, after that, any excess is difficult to remove.
Once you’ve finished applying the coat, buff with a white pad on a sander to:
- Spread it evenly over the entire surface; and,
- Driving it deeper into the wood.
Here is one of Rubio’s own video demonstrations for applying Rubio Monocoat on a piece of furniture.
After the wood has absorbed its limit of oil, the excess will simply sit on the surface and, after a while, will become gummy and tacky. Use a small buffer to remove the excess, and a clean cloth will take care of anything the buffer misses.
After this, do not touch the workpiece for at least 24 hours, but to be safe, 36 hours would be better. This assumes you have used the accelerator with the oil; otherwise, triple that time if you have not used the accelerator.
What is Rubio Monocoat Dry Time?
Rubio Monocoat comes in a two-can set. One contains the hard-wax oil, and the other contains an accelerator that will speed up drying and curing time.
Rubio claims an 80% dry time of 2 days if the accelerator is used vs. a 20% dry time of 2 days without the accelerator. Dry time determines a number of factors for the workpiece finished:
For Furniture (with accelerator)
- Can be handled gently within 24 hours
- Can be handled otherwise within 48 hours
- Can be used normally in 7 days of cure time
For Hardwood Floors (with accelerator)
- Can be walked on with dry socks in 24 hours
- Furniture can be reintroduced in 48 hours, but no mats or carpet
- A full cure with liquid resistance in one week
The handling and use times will be much longer if the accelerator is not used. A 7-day cure with it becomes a 21-day cure without it on wood floors; the same holds true for furniture. All other handling and use times for furniture increases in the same way.
Rubio admits that wood floors can be walked on with dry socks in as little as 8 hours but also cautions it is best to wait 24 – 36 hours before doing so. Again, this assumes you have used the accelerator. If you have not, triple the time.
Is Rubio Monocoat Food Safe?
For ingestion, no. But, it can be used safely on food contact surfaces. Independent testing has shown food contact compliance. So, countertops (with a caveat), serving trays, and charcuterie boards, may be finished with Rubio Monocoat safely.
Cutting boards and countertops, if you chop or cut foods on them, though, would not be safe, but not because of the oil. Since Rubio Monocoat bonds with the topmost wood fibers, and knives can cut deeper than it can penetrate, raw wood can be exposed and susceptible to the development of mold or bacterial growth. It protects against heat and water, as well as foot traffic on wood floors, but not against a cut or a chip.
However, in the event of a cut or chip, or dent that exposes raw wood, it is easy to fix. Simply sand down the area damaged and apply a new coat of Rubio Monocoat only to the affected area. A little buff and the piece of furniture or wood floor is as good as it was before the damage. Buffing to the same sheen blends the affected area to its surroundings, and the piece will show no signs of having been damaged.
The Rubio Universal Maintenance Oil is also a product that will increase and prolong the appearance and sheen of the furniture or floor surface and keep it looking freshly finished. If you have repaired a ding, a quick application of the UMO will give the entire piece a fresh finish appearance.
When making these types of repairs, the same dry and cure times will apply. However, if the ding is small and the area repaired is also small, it likely will not interfere with the use of the piece of furniture or the wood floor.
As we’ve said, we like Rubio Monocoat for finishing our projects. Yes, it’s expensive as compared to other oil wood finishes, but with a single coat easily and quickly applied and a long lifespan that can be enhanced with periodic maintenance and buffing, there are cost offsets.
Additionally, a little goes a long way, and if you are frugal in its mixing and use, preparing only enough for the workpiece or wood floor to be finished, a single purchase will last for a number of projects.