What Kind of Oil is Best for Redwood

There isn’t a lot of wood that is as suitable for outdoor construction as redwood. It is a natural insect and water repelling wood, it also prevents shrinking and warping, making it perfect for outdoor use. However, even wood as durable and resistant as redwood could use a good oil finish to protect it even further. Choosing an oil finish for any lumber requires you to have knowledge about how oil finishes react to different woods. We researched for you so you don’t have to and found out what kind of oil is best for redwood.

The oil that suits redwood the most is natural and pure tung oil. Another great oil that significantly helps in increasing redwood’s durability in the outdoors is Danish oil. Natural and pure tung oil is great for both outdoor and indoor use, but it would be much better to apply it to indoor redwood. For outdoor usage, Danish oil, which contains a blend of tung oil, linseed oil, varnish, and resin amongst other components, helps in keeping the wood protected from water damage.

Redwood is a great wood for decking and outdoor construction due to its natural resistance. However, it is a softwood, so it will fall behind in terms of actual density and durability compared to some other hardwoods. Although, the natural resistances more than makes up for it if you apply a good finish on redwood. This will make it even more durable, and if you apply a clear coat finish over an oil finish, even better. The double protection, from the inside out, will make redwood furniture as good as any other hardwood furniture. Not to mention redwood is beautiful lumber with such a beautiful grain pattern and a reddish colour.

Best Oil to Use on Redwood

Since redwood is mostly used in outdoor furniture and construction, it will be best to choose an oil finish that works well in that setting. Because you don’t need an oil finish that protects wood from extreme moisture for indoor furniture. For an indoor setting, you can go for something pure like natural and pure tung oil. It is not only natural, but it is also non-toxic which makes it safe for your family. 

Outdoor oils, on the other hand, might have some chemical components in the mix along with an oil base. These are added to further bolster the durability of the finish against elements like rain and snow. So there is a distinct difference in oils that are used for indoor furniture and an outdoor setting. One prime example of this is Danish oil.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is made from the nuts of the tung tree that can be found in the Asian region. It was used as a wood finish for boats in China and the surrounding countries. So it has water repellent properties and helps wood resist moisture damage. Tung oil is the best oil finish that has lower drying times than linseed oil, and not to mention, it does not go rancid and does not promote the growth of mildew and mould. This makes it perfect to pair with wood such as redwood which already prevents rot and insect damage. 

Tung oil also does not alter the colour of wood either, so you can preserve the beauty of your redwood. Redwood is already a beautiful wood on its own, it does not require any stains or dyes. Its dark and light reddish colour is very much admired amongst woodworkers. Not to mention tung oil also highlights the beautiful grain pattern of redwood. Many people make instruments out of burly redwood because of how beautiful it looks.

Hope’s 100% Natural Tung oil is one of the best-selling brands online and at local hardware stores. It is easy to apply, helps protect the wood from the outside and also penetrates deep into the fibres making it stronger. It is also non-toxic and all of these qualities make it incredibly suitable for indoor redwood furniture.

Best Alternative Oil for Redwood

Danish Oil

Compared to natural oils, Danish oil has other chemical components as well. These are added to the blend of oils for added protection against the weather elements. We have resins and varnish among other substances present in Danish oil. These dry to a hard film finish, faster than normal oils. Not to mention they are more durable than a hardened oil finish. This makes Danish oil perfectly suitable for outdoor redwood furniture and construction.

While some brands of Danish oil might alter or darken the colour of wood, there are brands that have a natural shade which keeps the natural colour of the lumber intact. Danish oil also highlights the grain pattern along with the beautiful colour of the redwood. It has a longer shelf life and can be stored indefinitely for future use if necessary.

Watco Rust-Oleum’s Danish Oil in Natural Shade is a tried and tested product by woodworkers. This one in particular comes in a natural shade that does not darken or alter the colour of the redwood. 

Best Treatment for Redwood

Redwood is a softwood which makes it slightly less dense and prone to scratches compared to other hardwood furniture. Using an oil finish helps ensure that it stays strong and durable in face of damage from moisture and drying out. However, if you really want your money’s worth out of the redwood furniture or decking, it is often best to use a clear coat finish over your oil finish for added durability.

Using something like a sealer will ensure that your redwood decking or outdoor construction stays strong. These sealers often contain UV inhibitors that prevent sun degradation. Sun degradation will often fade the natural colour of the wood and dry it out. A sealer with UV inhibitors prevents that from happening.

Step by Step Guide on Oiling Redwood

Oiling redwood is no different than oiling any other softwood or hardwood out there. The secret lies in preparation, which is sanding the wood ahead of oiling or applying a finish to it. 

Step 1 – Sanding

Sanding is the most important part of applying any finish including oil to redwood. You need to start from 80-grits and move your way through the grits up to 180. If you find the task of sanding tedious and hard work, you can always use a random orbit sander. However, make sure you thoroughly sand with each grit before moving on to the next one. For the last grit, we would recommend you sand by hand in the direction of the grain for smoother results.

Step 2 – Applying First Coat

When you are done sanding, just clean the surface of the redwood thoroughly. After that pour the oil of your choice onto the wood directly and using a rag spread it all across. Make sure you cover every corner of the redwood without missing any spot. You want the wood to be saturated with oil so use a generous amount. After applying the first coat, wait for 15 minutes and then wipe off any excess that is sitting on the top of the lumber. If you don’t do so, it will not dry fast and take a longer period of time. 

Step 3 – Applying Another Coat

After the first coat waits for at least 12-24 hours and then apply another coat of your oil. This time use just enough oil to cover the whole surface of the redwood. You don’t want to waste any oil since the wood is already saturated with the previous coat. Repeat the same process as before, wait 15 minutes and then wipe off any excess. You can repeat this process as many times as you want and apply more coats as necessary.

Step 4 – Curing

Once the oil has dried off it is safe to move the redwood if you want. However, it is not okay to use it right now as you still need the oil finish to cure properly. You might have to wipe off excess oil that the redwood might expel in the form of droplets due to being overly saturated. If you don’t it will prevent the oil from drying and curing properly. Curing takes usually a week or two depending on what kind of oil you are using.

Benefits of Oiling Redwood

Redwood is often used in decking and outdoor construction like gazebos and such. This leads to it being exposed almost all the time to the sun and elements. If you oil redwood this will prevent it from drying out from the heat of the sun and protect it against rain damage. Not to mention it will help keep the colour of your outdoor redwood from fading. So oiling not only benefits the wood in its protection but also its beauty as it highlights the colour and the grain pattern. Frequently oiling redwood will prolong its life and make sure that it stays strong and beautiful for years to come.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Can you oil redwood?

Yes, you can oil redwood. It will benefit greatly from being finished with an oil finish as it protects the redwood from moisture and accentuates its colour and grain pattern.

How do you restore redwood?

If your redwood needs to be restored, you need to sand it first to remove the previous finish. You want to make sure to sand it thoroughly all through 80 to 180-grits. After that apply an oil finish of your choice and then lastly seal it using a sealer.

How do you protect outdoor redwood furniture?

You can protect your outdoor redwood furniture by using a suitable oil finish and then sealing it with a sealer that contains UV inhibitors that protect it from any sun degradation and moisture.

Final Thoughts

Redwood decking and outdoor construction are very common and sought after due to their beautiful lumber. By applying a suitable oil finish to the wood you help replenish it and prevent it from drying out from direct sun exposure. Not to mention you want the part of your house outdoor to look just as beautiful as the indoor. Oiling redwood can help in that aspect as well as an oil finish accentuates the grain pattern and its beautiful colour.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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