Wood furniture finishes – pros and cons

Thank you for visiting Satoshi Yamauchi’s website today. In this volume of post, we will explain the pros and cons of three types of wood finishes – oil, soap and lacquer.

Caring tips are also included for your consideration for when purchashing wooden furniture.


Oil finish

Wood furniture – oil finish

Hand-rubbed oil finish involves many coats of natural oils such as linseed oil that condition the wood, in order to gain moisture resistance and enhance the natural color and beauty of the wood. Oil finish produces a beautiful rich patina. The disadvantage of oil finish is that it does not seal the wood like other finishes such as lacquer. It is necessary to re-apply the oil periodically in order to maintain moisture resistance and its  supple feel. Dusting is reccommended on a regular basis, and we highly reccommend applying a coat of oil once a month for the first year and once a year thereafter. Do not use furniture polish or dusting sprays that include a polish or any wax.

Wood furniture soap finish

Wood furniture – soap finish

You’ve probably heard of a range of finishes used on wooden furniture, but have you ever heard of soap finish?  Soap finish is a popular finish in northern European countries, especially Denmark. Unlike wax and oil, soap finish has no shine so it has a flat feel. The great thing about soap is that it is environmentally friendly and no finish is as “green” as soap! The downside of a soap finish is, as with oil and wax finishes, it requires a lot of upkeep and care, meaning never spill anything on the surface! Dusting is reccommended like any other finishes, but soap finished wooden furniture should be dusted with a damp cloth and again, never use furniture polish products that contain polish or wax. For the first few months, soap should be reapplied every few weeks.

Non-toxic lacquer
Some of our furniture are finished with a clear non-toxic lacquer. This is a relatively matte finish which is very durable and easily maintained. It is damage resistant from common household liquids. The lacquer finish does not require re-oiling or maintenance. It’s very resistant to moisture and spills, so it is a perfect choice for families with young children. It has a clear non-toxic finish that is smooth to the touch but not shiny like many other lacquered furniture. Whilst it is very durable, this finish still showcases the beauty of the wood.

So to summarize….

Finish Look Advantage Disadvantage Maintenance
Oil finish Natural, supple, warm feel Can enjoy the natural color and beauty of the wood. The pleasure of oiling the furniture. Temperature/humidity prone, liquid spill prone. High maintenance (Regular dusting, use of coasters, mats etc, and periodical oil coating)
Soap finish Natural, flat, warm feel Environmentally friendly. The pleasure of applying soap to the furniture. Temperature/humidity prone, liquid spill prone. High maintenance (Regular dusting, use of coasters, mats etc, and periodical soap coating)
Non-toxic lacquer Clear, matte finish Durable, almost no maintenance required. Lack of natural wooden feel. Low maintenance (Regular dusting)