So you have just taken delivery of your new oak ledge and braced doors, and you have to make the decision on what type of finish you want to apply. Oak in its natural state is light in colour but has one big drawback, it can be easily marking especially around the latch area and at the bottom of the door where there is a tendency to kick the door open or closed. The latches and hinges we supply are coated in a thin layer of clear bees wax, this is to maintain the metal but this can cause a problem with the wax transferring from the metalwork and marking the timber. If your choice is to hang the doors in there natural state it would be a good idea to remove the wax prior to installation.
The best way to remove the excess wax is to use a mild solvent such as WD40, Danish Oil or White Spirit, anything stronger could remove both the wax and the black coating below. Simply apply the solvent with a soft cloth, work it into the surface then remove with a soft lint free cloth. When the product is dry buff up for a soft sheen.
As much as I love the look and feel of a natural oak door, I would recommend using some kind of coating. There are essentially three choices available to you.
Danish Oil/Hard Oil: The main advantage of this coating is that it soaks deep into the timber, you will need to apply at least three coats leaving 24 hours between applications. Between each coat you should use a very fine sand paper to knock the finish back in preparation for further application. There are a couple of disadvantages to using this coating. Firstly oil can make the oak look a little dark and in some cases orange, and secondly the wood will never feel smooth to the touch, this is due to the fact that oil will slightly lift the grain.
Wax: We now have a vast range of soft waxes available to us, these come in many different shades and colours. I would strongly recommend sampling a few on scrap timber first to make sure you are happy with the colour, once applied it will prove almost impossible to remove. The secret to success with soft wax is to apply it in thin layers, leave for a short time then buff to a shine. You can apply as many coats as you need but remember it will darken slightly after each application. The one disadvantage of using wax is that it can easily mark if liquid is spilled on it.
Sanding Sealer/Wax combination: For the best result and depending upon the resources and time available to you I would always recommend first sealing the timber with a high build sanding sealer, this is best applied with a spray gun. After the coating has dried sand back with a very fine abrasive, this has the effect sealing the timber and giving an extremely smooth finish. Then finally apply a thin layer of soft wax, Because the timber is sealed it will not darken, only the soft part of the grain will take on the colour of the wax, this is what we call the strike in the trade. The only real disadvantage of this system is that this is only a surface coating and if it gets knocked or scratched the treatment will be removed.
We have over the years used a company called Symphony East for all our coating solutions, the most professional and helpful bunch you could ever hope to meet.