Linseed Oil Finish

By Karl

Linseed Oil can be used as a Wood Finish that Provides a Protective and Water-Resistant Coating

A linseed oil finish provides a piece of wood furniture with a protective coating that offers a water-resistant layer of protection. Linseed oil is a natural substance that is derived from the flax seed. It can be used as a finish on furniture and it is also commonly used an ingredient mixed with paint, varnish and stain.

When used as a wood furniture finish, linseed oil is rubbed onto the wood. The oil soaks into the surface of the wood through the wood’s pores. The result is a shiny appearance that is clear so the grain of the wood shows.

Characteristics of Linseed Oil When Used as a Wood Finish:

  • It is easy to repair if it becomes scratched.
  • It provides a water-resistant finish.
  • It dries slowly.
  • It does not sit on the surface of the wood. Instead, it soaks into the wood.
  • Produces a shine but not a gloss.
  • May turn some light woods a yellowish color.
  • Becomes darker as it gets older.
  • It will not protect wood furniture from scratching.
  • It dries slowly.

Raw vs. Boiled Linseed Oil

Linseed comes in two forms: raw and boiled. The correct type of linseed oil must be used for specific projects to ensure success.

Raw Linseed Oil: When we talk about “Raw” linseed oil, we are talking about the type that is pure and not mixed with any other ingredients. This type of oil takes a very long time to dry. While raw linseed oil can be very effective at preserving some wood items – such as those that are kept outdoors and in harsh natural environments – it is not a product that should be used on indoor furniture because it simply takes too long to dry.

Boiled Linseed Oil: The term “Boiled” is deceptive when it comes to describing this variation of linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil is not, in fact, boiled. Instead it is a substance that is mixed with other ingredients that speed up the oil’s drying time. It is called “Boiled” because it mimics the characteristics of some types of boiled oils. The ingredients that are added are solvents. The solvents create a type of wood finishing agent that makes it a top choice for finishing wood furniture.

Pros and Cons of Linseed Oil as a Wood Finish

There are many reasons that people choose linseed oil as their top choice for a wood furniture finish:

  • It is a natural product.
  • It is inexpensive.


But, there are negatives associated with this type of finish that should also be taken into consideration:

  • It does not protect wood furniture from harmful sun rays.
  • It promotes the growth of certain types of mildew.
  • If a new type of finish is desired for a piece of furniture, linseed oil can be difficult to remove.
  • The finish that linseed oil produces is not rock solid and does not resist scratching.

Linseed Oil is Flammable

If you select a linseed oil finish for your wood furniture, it is important to keep in mind that this product is extremely flammable while it is wet and drying. Because rags or cloths must be used to apply linseed oil to the wood, it is important to follow proper safety protocol during the clean-up phase. Never leave a pile of rags or cloths that are covered in linseed oil in a pile. They can catch on fire. Instead, they should be hung on a clothes line or placed on a flat surface until they are completely dry. Once dry, they can be thrown away.

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