Bringing the best out of restored timber

Bringing the best out of restored timber

Roger Bisby, Products Editor of PBM’s sister publication Professional Builder, discusses a delicate refurbishment project that required careful consideration to bring the best out of the restored timber.

The newel posts and spindles on this staircase were originally coated in a heavy shellac varnish which was, like many Victorian houses, dark and foreboding. Stripping joinery and floorboards back to bare wood is a very popular thing to do and certainly lightens things up a bit — but the wood then needs nourishing and protecting.

You can, of course, use a polyurethane varnish but in this case the Peel-Away paint stripper had drawn all the moisture out of the newel posts leaving large open splits in the grain. It needed feeding and the ideal product for this is Liberon Pure Tung Oil.

Tung oil, from the tung tree, has been around for over 2,500 years and was used on sailing ships to weatherproof the timber. It is perfect indoors and out for treating split wood. The downside is that it takes several days to dry, but Liberon also has a quick drying version which contains driers. However, if you are trying to feed split wood the slow drying version is much better.

By diluting the first three coats with white spirit, the oil was taken deep into the grain and, almost overnight, the splits began to close up. It was like taking a long drink at the desert oasis. If timber could talk it would surely have said a big thank you, though it might also have questioned why we sucked the life out of it in the first place. It had sat for over a hundred years with its moisture locked in and the best thing would have been to feed it immediately after the coating was removed to stop the moisture evaporating out.

No matter, and “all’s well that ends well” as Shakespeare wrote. The good thing about using a natural product such as Tung Oil is that you can carry on feeding it into the wood indefinitely so if you are dealing with hardwood kitchen worktops, it is the ideal solution to keep them looking good.

A very light rub down with a fine steel wool, a good vacuum off and a couple of coats of oil will bring them up like new. Liberon Tung Oil is actually suitable for contact with food — in fact you can coat your bread board in it or even your wooden salad bowl.

Stained Wax

Furniture wax comes in translucent bees wax but Liberon also provides it as a coloured cream that gives protection to the wood and a light colour stain which still allows the grain to show. It can be applied with a lint free cloth and then it needs to be buffed up when it dries.

It is a popular way of giving old furniture a face lift with a more modern appearance. This is just one of a whole range of woodcare and stain products from Liberon, and the company’s website has a number of videos and How To guides for a whole range of projects.

Partnership approach

Dominic McInerney, Marketing Manager of Liberon, shares some insights into why collaboration is key to securing long-term alliances with its stockists.

Fundamental to our partnership with our stockists is the idea that we must help them to grow their business. Of course, this is not simply all about altruistic decency, because with our stockists’ success comes our own. However, real engagement in supporting them means that we get to communicate with our stockists at the right level and thereby understand their needs properly.

With better understanding come opportunities to provide tailored initiatives that are genuinely effective. It all becomes a ‘virtuous circle’ to the benefit of all. A true partnership requires mutual trust and respect, and once forged it can last a very long time.

We have undertaken various initiatives with merchants down the years in order to build on the partnerships that have been created. For example, Liberon plays a key role in trade days organised by merchants and stockists, providing woodcare advice such as how to pair the correct oil with the correct wood.

It is vitally important that sales staff are able to direct customers to the best products for the job. An important part of our partnerships with merchants is offering a passionate and dedicated team of account managers who take the time to work with stockists. Providing product training and advice is an essential part of their role and also feeds back to Liberon’s own product development and merchandising strategies.

Indeed, providing clear, self-explanatory packaging and point of sale support similarly helps ease the navigation of woodcare oils and wax products for busy professionals. Choosing the right woodcare product really depends on the type of wood in question. Therefore, the packaging across the Liberon range has been designed to provide clear usage instructions to help make that decision easier.

In addition, materials such as product brochures include handy guides to aid customers in selecting the right product for the job. Colour charts are also an essential part of this mix.

For further information about Liberon’s range of products and support services for merchants, visit

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