Is It Okay To Apply Danish Oil Over Stain?

Is It Okay To Apply Danish Oil Over Stain

We use a variety of stains and finishes on our projects, and especially like furniture pieces that have two different stain colors to offer accent to the piece.

Wood stain is a paint we use to color wood. It is composed of colorants dissolved or suspended in a solvent. Like other paints, its purpose is to add color to the wood and accentuate the wood grain. However, unlike paints that will simply provide a film coating on the wood surface, stains actually penetrate the wood and offer protection from UV rays and other environmental concerns.

The wood must be unfinished or stripped down to its natural surface. Otherwise, the stain will not be absorbed into the wood, and if it is not, it can not offer the protection it is designed to offer.

We prepare the wood for staining with sanding, whether by hand or by power sander. The purposes are obvious – to smooth the wood surface, round the edges, maintain an even wood surface, and bring out the wood grain in its natural beauty.

What is The Difference Between Painting and Staining?

As for the comparison between painting your project and staining your project, the differences are pretty easy to figure out:

  • Painting offers a uniform color when applied properly and provides a film coating on the wood surface to offer protection from the elements as well as offer beauty.
  • Staining, on the other hand, is absorbed immediately into the wood and provides color within the grain pattern and joints of the wood. It, too, provides protection against a number of factors, including the elements.
  • Painting your project will last for as many as ten years after application before it will need to be touched up.
  • Staining, however, will last for about 2 years before it will be necessary to add another application in order to achieve the same degree of protection to the wood that paint can.
  • Painting interior walls will require a sealer, something that primes the wood surface to receive the paint. It will hide imperfections such as knots in the wood surface, allowing the paint to provide a uniform color film on the wood.
  • Staining requires no sealant because it is absorbed into the wood rather than forming a film coat. The only preparation needed to stain wood is to sand, file, and smooth the surface.

Does Paint Require a Topcoat?

Painting a Woodworking Project

While paint creates a film coating on the wood that seals it from environmental harm and provides a color of your choosing, it does benefit from a top coat. The paint protects the wood, and a topcoat protects the paint.

A top coat of polyurethane, for instance, will offer a tough and protective coating that will keep the paint from exposure to water, dirt, fungus, and mold. It gives a plastic film coating that itself increases the degree of protection for the wood while also protecting the paint. That protection extends to keeping the paint’s color from fading, also.

While the answer is no, paint does not necessarily need a topcoat, but it certainly benefits from one. If you are intending to add a coat of polyurethane over your paint, allow 7 days from the day of painting for it to cure and fully dry. Polyurethane will lock in any moisture, so a full dry and cure will prevent that from happening.

Both oil-based and water-based polyurethane can be used over latex paint, although you might want to choose water-based. Oil-based polyurethane will tend to yellow over time and harm the color of your paint, while water-based polyurethane will remain clear.

We’ve written of polyurethane, and in particular using it over paint, in the past. You’ll find one of those articles here. One other article, this one a comparison with lacquer, can be found here.

Does Stain Require a Topcoat?

As we have said, stain is a paint of sorts with colorants suspended in a solvent and is absorbed into the wood to offer some degree of protection for the wood.

Stains come in a wide variety of colors and in two types:

  • Oil-Based Stains: tend to be thicker and less runny than water-based stains, making them good for vertical application, for instance. They have an odor, and ventilation is necessary when working with it. They also take much longer than water-based stain to dry. Because they are thicker than water-based stains, they will also tend to pool in corners, so extra care is necessary when working with oil-based stains.
  • Water-Based Stains: tend to be much thinner, runnier, than oil-based stains and have no odor requiring a great deal of ventilation. Water-based stains also dry much more quickly than oil-based and are easier to work with on your projects.

Among the topcoats to consider with wood stains is Danish Oil. We like Danish oil and have written about it in the past. You’ll find one such article here.

What is Danish Oil?

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Watco Danish Oil Finish
  • Ideal for use on a variety of indoor wood surfaces including bare, stripped or sanded; not…
  • Oil-based formula of blended oil & varnish penetrates deeply into wood pores for ultimate protection
  • Dries to the touch in 6 hours and covers up to 170 sq ft
  • Easy application and protects against spills, abrasion, chipping and peeling; many projects can be…

Danish oil is a wood finish that contains both penetrating oil and varnish. That penetrating oil may be linseed oil or tung oil, or both; it may also include mineral spirits and synthetic resins, and it will also contain varnish.

Mineral spirits are a petroleum-sourced clear liquid that is used as a substitute for turpentine ( vegetable-based used to thin paint and wash paint brushes.

It is true that varnish alone would be a very suitable and effective wood finish; it is combined with the oil and mineral spirits to offer the best of both – the protection it offers wood and the beauty of wood oils.

Danish Oil As A Topcoat Over Wood Stain

Tried & True - Danish Oil - Pint

Two coats of Danish oil make a wonderful top coat over stained wood. It should be wiped on with a cloth, and in 8 – 10 hours, the wood surface will be ready for use.

Cloth application does not create brush strokes, so sanding between applications may not be necessary to smooth any strokes out. Nonetheless, a “wet sanding” can be very helpful – a special sandpaper that is dampened with water to act as a lubricant to keep the wood’s surface smooth and clean.

Danish oil will tend to darken slightly over time after use. It’s a good idea to use a sample piece of wood already stained with the color of your choice to determine whether that darkening will work well for your project.

Danish oil also protects against the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays to cause discoloration. At the same time, Danish oil will also offer protection against heat and water resistance. As such, it will work with both your indoor projects and your outdoor projects.

We already know from past articles that varnish is food safe and may be used on projects that will have direct contact with foods. It will serve well on your cutting boards and other surfaces in your kitchen.

It provides a beautiful appearance on your projects and forms a strong topcoat over stain that allows the natural appearance of your chosen wood to show through well. The varnish will offer some protection against dents and scratches in addition to the other protections already mentioned.

Applying most finishes to your woodworking projects is a pretty straightforward process. While we do recommend the use of a clean cloth to apply Danish oil, this is not to say that a brush can not or should not be used. In fact, a video we found on applying Danish oil shows its application by brush.

You can decide after watching whether to follow the video woodworker’s use of a brush or as his son was doing while the video was being shot, with a cloth.

While Danish oil will work well as a topcoat over a stained piece of wood, the other way around is not wise.  Danish oil will penetrate the unfinished wood and will seal the wood; the application of stain over the Danish oil will simply not penetrate the wood.  You’ll end up having to strip the wood and begin refinishing it in the correct order – that is, stain, then Danish oil.  

Among the topcoats, the wood finishes, for a stained piece of furniture or shelving or another project from your shop, Danish oil is a good choice to apply over a stained piece of wood. Easy application, good protection from the elements, food safe, beautiful, and long-lasting, it’s one that will serve you well.

Last update on 2023-06-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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