Last updated on January 25th, 2022
Polishing outdoor wood furniture is essential to maintain and enhance its beauty as well as protect the furniture surface from multiple wear and tear. Polishing wood furniture outdoors is also good for furniture cleaning and dusting purposes. So, how often should you polish wood furniture?
You should polish your wood furniture every six weeks, even in its lustrous gleam. It is equally important to remember that furniture polish consists of water molecules that can raise a wood veneer with time. So, do not polish the furniture too often.
Is it essential to create a schedule for wood furniture polishing? Yes, polishing after every six weeks is necessary, especially if the furniture maintains its gleaming brightness. However, you don’t need a fixed schedule as it will all depend on how the wood furniture looks over time.
Table of Contents
Why Polish Wood Furniture?
Although polishing provides limited protection against different forms of wood damage by making its surface less frictional, other benefits are:
- When you polish your wood furniture, you protect it from normal wear and tear.
- By polishing wood furniture, the furniture becomes stain-resistant because the finish coated on the wood surface prevents liquid from penetrating, protecting wood furniture from swelling and rotting.
- Polishing creates a sheen slipperiness that every wood furniture owner would want. The sheen makes wood furniture have a brand-new look.
- Polishing can remove or reduce uneven textures such as grooves and scratches. The removal or reduction of the rough surface makes the wood furniture maintain its form.
- Polishing produces a slipperiness that reduces surface scratches and repels dust from the wood surface. Repelunce of dust can augur well with those suffering from any type of allergy-like Asthma.
- Polishing will make your wood furniture water-resistant, preventing water spills from penetrating the wood, causing rot. Polish usually adds another thin layer on the surface of the wood furniture avoiding water from seeping in between the wood and finish.
- Polishing protects wood furniture from swelling. In the absence of the polish, moisture would penetrate and cause the swelling of the wood, making it lose its shape.
What Type of Polish Can I Use On Wood Furniture?
You could use any liquid polishers, semisolid polishers, or spray polishers. Each of these types of furniture polish is discussed below;
Liquid Polishers: Liquid polishes are available in two distinct types: Oil polish and Emulsion polish.
Emulsion polish is very easy to use, and its brightness continues till it gets dry. On the other hand, oil polishes are also available in two types: drying oil and non-drying oil. Non-drying oil polish tends to be less harmful than drying oil polish.
Semisolid Polishes: Semisolid polishes are the best category of polishes for wood furniture. They are also called paste waxes. They are very hard to be applied to wood furniture because they require a lot of labor. However, unlike other categories, its damages on the wood furniture are none or very minimum.
Spray Polishers: The spray polish consists of contaminants such as silicone oils which usually damage the wood furniture. Some of its categories can damage varnishes and lacquers.
Note: Using specific identifiers, the spirit, varnish, Melamine, and finish polish will work best for wood furniture as they bring out the color, shape, and natural grain pattern of a wood surface.
How Often Should You Polish Wood Furniture?
You should polish wood furniture every six weeks, especially if the furniture continues in its gleaming brightness. However, you don’t need a fixed schedule. It will all depend on how the wood furniture looks over time.
Factors such as how often we use the wood furniture, frequency of cleaning, and extreme weather conditions determine how soon the wood furniture would look dull. These factors can make the furniture dull even before six weeks elapse. If that is the case, you don’t need to wait for six weeks. Go ahead and polish your wood furniture.
How Do You Polish Furniture Naturally?
To polish wood furniture naturally, you will need to make your polish using vinegar and olive oil. Prepare a recipe for wood furniture polish by mixing white vinegar and olive oil. Adding lemon is optional though highly recommended.
It is a good combination as the three ingredients have natural qualities. The olive oil conditions and polishes the wood furniture. The lemon has stain-lifting acid that protects the wood furniture, while white vinegar is a natural disinfectant.
Recipe for Natural Wood Furniture Polish
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon extract
- Two cleaning cloth/rag
- Combine the two parts vinegar, two parts olive oil, and 1 part lemon juice in the bowl. It is advisable that you only make the quantity you want to use as excess go rancid before using it in your next polishing project.
- Shake the solution obtained in procedure (1) thoroughly.
- Before applying your homemade polish obtained from procedures (1) and (2), make sure the wood surface is clean, dry, and free from dust.
- Dip the clean, dry rag lightly into the prepared polish/mixture obtained in the procedure (1) above.
- Using the lightly dipped cloth, gently rub the mixture on the wood furniture (provided the spot test was successful) until the luster appears.
- Using the second clean, dry cloth which was not dipped into the mixture, wipe the wood furniture to absorb any oil that the wood furniture has not absorbed.
Note: After you have combined the three ingredients and have your polish ready, use it to polish your wood furniture. This recipe could guide and assist you in making your homemade natural furniture polish.
Key Precautions and Disclaimers:
- Do not use this polish on hardwood floors because it makes the floors slippery if they do not absorb the oil completely. Slippery floors are dangerous for your life and the people around you. Again, the pH of vinegar can be too rough on the floor’s finish.
- Do not eat the leftover polish despite its aroma smell because it is contaminated.
- Do not use the leftovers on your salad. It is not pure.
- Do not overuse this homemade polish because it can leave a build-up that will attract dirt.
- We highly advise that you first test the homemade polish on a small section of your wood furniture to confirm it settles appropriately on the wood.
- We would not recommend using homemade polish if you are restoring old wood furniture. If you are working with exotic wood, make sure you liaise with the supplier to confirm whether this method is fit or not.
How Do I remove old polish?
You can remove old polish using two ways.
Method 1: Apply a small amount of vegetable-based enzyme cleaner on the surface of the wood. Let the cleaner rest on the surface of the wood for about 5 minutes to remove the build-up.
Then, wipe up the surface with a clean cotton cloth and buff the surface to dry.
Method 2: Apply some amount of soaked tea on the surface of the wood. Take two tea bags of regular tea and soak them in a container with boiling water. Then, allow the boiled solution of tea to cool to about room temperature.
After that, soak your clean cotton cloth into the tea solution, wring the soaked cloth out and wash the wood with it. Tea contains tannic acid that is so good in maintaining wood. The tannic acid will assist in breaking down that dulled finish to recover beautiful shine.
How to polish wooden furniture
These expert tips on how to polish wooden furniture will help you turn your shabby outdoor space into something spectacular. Your outdoor wood furniture might appear a little lackluster over time, and you can use any of these two ways/methods to polish it:
- Using a commercial wood polish
- Applying your homemade wood polish
Method 1: Using a commercial wood polish
Step #1: Cleaning the surface you are going to polish
The level of cleaning the wood surface will depend on the extent of dust, the kind of foreign particles, and the type of wood the furniture is made from. This leads us to four different scenarios to follow in cleaning the wood surface before applying polish.
Scenario 1: If the wood furniture has light dust on its surface, just dust them up using a dry clean cloth or rag. Then, apply polish straightaway.
Scenario 2: This is for wood furniture with hardcore stains like dirt, mold, moss, lichen, grime, mildew, and other foreign particles. Prepare a mixture of mild soapy water and plenty of elbow grease. Using a brush, vigorously scrub the wood surface.
Hardwoods such as oak can resist scratching, so you do not need to be too careful with scrubbing. But for softwoods such as pine, avoid scrubbing perpendicularly across the grain but along the grains.
Apart from removing foreign particles from the wood surface, the purpose of scrubbing and washing is to enable you to see the wood grains. Using a brush, wipe up all the dust after scrubbing and washing, then dry the wood furniture. Once dry, polish.
Scenario 3: However, if the wood furniture you want to polish has deep stains which cannot be removed by scrubbing using soap and water, then use an oxygen bleach solution. Apply the oxygen bleach solution to the wood surface by using a brush. You should see foams being produced as the bleach reacts with foreign particles such as dirt and grime. Then, let it remain on the wood surface for approximately 15 minutes and wash it with a garden hose. Dry the wood surface before applying the polish.
Scenario 4: If the stains are intense and the oxygen bleach cannot remove them, it is likely because of oil or tannin. Use the oxalic acid to remove them but strictly follow the instructions as indicated by the manufacturer. Do not mix it with other products. The use of oxalic acid is also applicable to furniture made from redwood. After removing the stains using oxalic acid, moisten the surface before applying the polish
Step #2: Application of the polish
Using a clean, dry cloth or brush, moisten it with enough polish but avoid over-saturation as excess polish leaves residue that will smear.
With the moistened cloth or brush, wipe along the wood grains of the furniture you want to polish. Wipe till you see the result you desire to achieve. You can add more polish to your brush or cloth and re-wipe.
Step #3: Treating wood stains and water rings
After polishing, there are tough spots that could remain on the wood surface. You can remove them by applying a small amount of mayonnaise to the blemish. Let the mayonnaise settle on the marks for 1-2 hours, depending on the stickiness of such spots. After the removal of the spots, wipe the wood surface with a clean cloth. And you have your wood furniture polished.
Note: For effective removal of stains and water rings from the wood surface, use a full-fat, traditional mayonnaise and not mayonnaise substitutes or light versions.
Method 2: Using your homemade wood polish
You could prefer making your wood polish with vinegar and olive oil. Polish made from olive oil, white vinegar, mineral oil, and lemon juice can serve as the best product substitutes for commercial furniture polish.
The olive oil nourishes the wood while also protecting it from cracking. The white vinegar, on the other hand, cleans the surface of the wood furniture. Ensure accurate proportions of these ingredients for successful polishing.
Using the four ingredients mentioned above, you can come up with two recipes for your homemade furniture polish, as presented below:
1st Recipe: Mixture of Olive Oil and White Vinegar
- ¼ of Olive oil
- ¼ of White vinegar
- Small cup
- A clean, dry cloth
- Combine a quarter of an equal cup capacity for the olive oil and white vinegar.
- Spray some of the solution obtained in step (1) above on a soft rag or cloth.
- Wipe the wood furniture properly, and the luster will return.
Mode of storage:
You should store this homemade polish in a spray bottle.
- The mixture should not be splashed directly onto the wood because it has reactive compounds that can fade the furniture.
- Any water stains on the wood should be removed before buffing.
- Using pure, undiluted vinegar on wood furniture should be avoided as it leaves water stains. These water stains react with the acid component and can interfere with the surface of the wood furniture.
2nd Recipe: Mixture of Mineral oil and Lemon extract
- 1 cup mineral oil
- 3 drops lemon oil or extract
- Small cup
- A clean, dry cloth
- Place one cup of mineral oil.
- Add three drops of lemon extract
- Pour some of the solution obtained in step (2) above on a soft rag or cloth.
- Wipe well until you see the luster.
Mode of Storage:
- It would be best if you store this homemade polish in glass or plastic
Basic Care and Maintenance for Outdoor Furniture
Regular dusting of the wood furniture: experts warn against frequent polishing of the wood furniture as it can destroy the wood grains and build up residue from the polish. Therefore, you can dust regularly using a clean, soft cloth to remove dust and debris that stick on the wood surface every time. Regular dusting will prevent them from creating a layer of dirt on your wood furniture.
Using coasters to prevent water and other stains: Coasters prevent liquid spills from reaching the wood furniture surface. Also, they prevent hot drinks and plates from burning the wood surface.
Responsive cleaning of stains and spills: It is impossible to be perfect, so accidental spills of liquid on the surface of wood furniture are expected. When liquid spills on the surface of your furniture, it leaves undesirable sticky marks or spots, which you can remove using the mayonnaise method.
You can also use a soapy solution and a clean cloth. You wipe the surface using the clean cloth dipped in the solution. After the first round of wiping, remove the cloth, then wring it to dry.
Using the dry clean cloth, re-wipe the surface while focusing on the remaining spots. After re-wiping, clean the cloth and dry it. Wipe the surface again for the last time to remove moisture from the wood surface.
How to Polish Wood with Beeswax?
Instead of using vinegar, olive oil, and mineral oil to make wood polish, you can also use beeswax to polish your wood furniture as needed.
The ingredients include:
- ¼ cup beeswax (You can use either clear beeswax or yellow beeswax. However, clear beeswax is a better option than yellow beeswax. The yellow beeswax usually leaves a tint.)
- ¾ cup mineral oil or olive oil.
- Mix ¼ cup beeswax and ¾ cup olive oil and melt the mixture in a double boiler or bain-marie.
- Pour the melted mixture into a heat-proof container, then let it solidify for about 2-3 hours till it forms a balm-like texture.
- Before you apply it on the surface of the wood furniture, clean the furniture with a clean, soft cloth to ensure it is free from dust and other foreign particles.
- Apply the beeswax polish to the clean, dry cloth in circular motions till the whole surface of the cloth is covered with the beeswax.
- Wipe the surface of the wood furniture using the clean, dry cloth (with beeswax) along the wood grains while removing excess polish as you move along.
- Let the applied beeswax sit on the surface of the wood furniture for about 15-20 minutes.
vii. Using a new clean, dry cloth, wipe the surface along the direction of the wood grain to remove any beeswax remaining on the surface.
viii. Let the polished wood furniture cure for about 12-24 hours in a warm environment and should not directly relate to heat and sunlight. After that, use your furniture as usual.
What Can I Use in Place of Furniture Polish?
Apart from the commercial wood polish, you can use white vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. Polish made from olive oil, white vinegar, and lemon juice can serve as the best product substitutes for commercial furniture polish.
For olive oil, you can use mineral oil as your substitute. Also, you can use apple cider vinegar as the white vinegar substitute though it consists of pest-attracting pectin.
The olive oil nourishes the wood while also protecting it from cracking. The white vinegar, on the other hand, cleans the surface of the wood furniture. The lemon has stain-lifting citric acid that protects the wood furniture. Use accurate proportions of these ingredients for successful polishing.
Do not use undiluted vinegar because it will leave watermarks on the wood surface. Also, the vinegar contains acid components and can interfere with the wood finishes when applied purely in its liquid form. It is safe for buffing, but it has to be mixed with olive oil first.
How Do You Clean Wood Furniture Without Polish?
After polishing your wood furniture, regular dusting with a clean, dry soft cloth is necessary. Below is how to how to clean wood furniture without pledge or polish.
- Use a soft clean, dry cloth to dust the wood furniture.
- Use the mildest cleaner, such as a soapy solution to eliminate light soiling.
- Dip a soft clean cloth into a soapy solution, wring it out, and then wipe the surface.
- After the first round of wiping, remove the cloth, wring it well to dry. Using the almost dry clean cloth, wipe again, focusing on the remaining spots. Clean the cloth again, let it almost dry and wipe again to remove moisture from the wood surface.
Can Olive Oil Be Used as Furniture Polish?
Yes, you can use olive oil as furniture polish. It is an excellent substitute for commercial furniture polish because it nourishes the wood and restores its natural shine. Olive oil treats different types of wood surfaces. It also creates a protective layer on the surface of the wood that protects the wood from mild dents and scratches.
Does Coconut Oil Make a Good Wood Furniture Polish?
Yes, coconut oil makes a good wood furniture polish. It is both a natural wood polisher and a non-toxic cleaner. And crude coconut oil can be used to refinish outdoor wood furniture because of its moisturizing quality.
How Often Should I Oil Wood Furniture?
You should oil wood furniture with oil-and-wax finishes at least once or twice annually, even if it maintains its glossy look. However, if the surface of wood furniture looks very dry, you can oil it without necessarily restricting yourself to once or twice per year. Oiling is an excellent alternative for people who do not like shiny surfaces on their wood furniture. Oiling makes wood furniture regain its noble expression and determined character.
What Is the Best Oil For Wood Furniture?
The five most commonly used oil finishes include linseed oil, tung oil, mineral oil, walnut oil, and danish oil.
Linseed oil/flaxseed oil: Of all the hand-rubbed oil finishes, only linseed oil saturates deep into the wood. It protects the wood furniture against scratches and changes in humidity. Linseed oil is in three different types: raw, polymerized, and boiled linseed oil. The purest form is the raw linseed oil though it takes a very long time to dry, making it unfit for wood furniture polish. The second category is the boiled linseed oil which is the most common wood finish though it contains some poisonous drying compounds. The last category is the polymerized linseed oil which is the best for use as a wood finish because it is pure, non-toxic, and dries quickly.
Danish Oil: It is widespread among woodworkers. It is a unique wood finish because it contains either tung oil or linseed oil and several other ingredients, namely, thinners, drying agents, binding compounds, and more. This multi-component quality makes it perfect for polishing wood surfaces.
Mineral Oil: Mineral oil is a general term to describe a clear and odorless oil. It is non-toxic and food-safe. Other wood finishes in our list of “the five commonly used wood finishes” offer more desirable qualities than the mineral oil, making it not frequently used as a finish for wood furniture.
Walnut Oil: Both walnut and mineral oil are primarily used on cutting boards and kitchen utensils. For walnut oil, it is because of its food-safe trait. It takes a long drying time. It is rarely boiled or polymerized to improve its drying time.
Tung Oil: It is a plant-based wood finish that is clear and quick-drying. It also saturates deep into the wood grain. It improves the texture of the wood furniture and also protects it. It sometimes comes raw, but its polymerized or boiled oil forms are the most preferred among artists. Unlike linseed oil, it does not turn yellow over time.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
Which is good for furniture, paint or polish?
It all depends on what kind of state of furniture you want to finish. The application of paint is much easier and more time-saving compared to the application of wood polish. Furniture which is finished with paint tends to be more washable, making them safe for frequent cleaning. On the other hand, furniture finished with polish is more durable, tough, and stain-resistant. Paint can be used on both wood furniture outdoors and indoors.
How do I polish my old Rosewood furniture?
Apply wood furniture polish (containing linseed oil) to a clean, dry soft cloth. Rub the soft cloth with the polish on the surface of rosewood furniture, polishing the wood uniformly. Then, let the applied polish settle on the surface of rosewood furniture for the time recommended by the manufacturer as labeled on the polish product.
Which polish is best for veneer furniture?
The most basic and more preferred polish for veneer furniture is Melamine. Like other polishes on wood, it gives the wood furniture a matt finish look. It is not glossy, and most homeowners do not prefer a glossy look as it interferes with the natural look and charm of a home.
How Do You Shine Natural Wood Furniture?
Shining natural wood furniture is very simple because you only need to use lemon oil or orange cleaner. You can either wipe or spray the lemon oil solution on the wood furniture surface and allow the solution to be on the surface for 10-15 minutes. Then, wipe off the surface with a clean, dry cloth, and you are done.
Prevention is better than cure, so as you keep regular maintenance such as dusting and use of coasters, do not forget to polish your wood furniture after every six weeks as long as it maintains its shiny look. Unless the wood furniture becomes dull before the six-week window elapses, polish it to ensure the shine is always intact.