Home & Property

Choosing the right carpentry materials for your project

Whether big or small, there are three factors that you need to consider for your carpentry project, the wood, paint and the finish whether it be wooden furniture, interior decoration or wood flooring. Here are some tips about how to make your project succeed by considering these factors.

The wood

The first consideration for your project should be the type of wood that you select. The wood affects the strength and durability of the finished product. Equally important, the wood has characteristics that impact how your project looks. Some types of woods are more expensive than others.

Softwoods – Softwoods have a yellow or red colour. Contrary to the name, softwoods are not weaker than hardwoods. The name instead indicates from what type of tree the wood originates, such as pine, fir, or cedar. Cedar is good for outdoor projects, whereas fir is typically used for building or furniture. Pine wood is easy to shape and takes very well to stain.

Hardwoods – More expensive than softwoods, hardwoods are typically preferred by carpenters. They typically look more elegant. Oak is a solid choice for furniture. Mahogany is typically reserved for furniture or high-end furniture accents on cabinetry. For outdoor furniture, teak is king.

The paint

Taking a moment to think about what type of paint works best with your wood selection is critical. Water-based paints are the most common types of paint to buy. Generally you do not need to pre-treat the wood before you start painting.

Latex-based paint is also easy to use, but the it might be tricky to get a flawless coat on the wood without seeing brush marks. If durability is important to you, then you should select an oil-based paint. If your project is smaller, consider using acrylic craft paint. This type of paint comes in many bright colours and dries quickly.

The finish

The type of finish that you pick should be based off the wood that you are using.

Wax is finish that is easy to apply. A wax finish does not last as long as other types of finish. Waxes tend to look good with almost all types of wood. The end result will keep the wood fresh looking, but the wood will also look unfinished.

An oil finish penetrates the wood and gives it a rich warmth. The most common oils are linseed oil and tung oil. The final result is a glossy sheen that is not too overly bright. The oils enhance the look of the wood. The protection is minimal, since the oil has seeped into the wood and is not on the surface. Use an oil finish for walnut, mahogany, or cherry wood.

Oil-varnish blends are similar to an oil finish. Resins are usually added to help strengthen the finish. More durable than an oil finish, this type of finish is suitable for the same types of wood. Avoid this type of finish if you expect your project to have a lot of wear and tear.

Varnishes are extremely durable and can be used for outdoor projects or flooring. When your priority is the longevity of the project, use this type of finish. This finish sits on top of the wood and can be applied with multiple coats to build up strength. Avoid over-varnishing!

Evaporative finishes such as shellac and lacquer are similar to varnishes in that they can be applied in multiple coats. Evaporative finishes are a little more durable than oils, and suit indoor projects that receive moderate wear. This finish is the best type of finish to use for rosewoods or colourful exotic woods.

Also keep in mind that carpenter paint can be a finish. If you are happy with how your project looks and it will not see heavy use, it’s okay to leave it painted only. If you’re looking to seek out professional help then Eastwoods Carpentry, a team of carpenters based in Leicester are well placed to offer further advice on wood, finishes and paint.

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