choosing the right wood finish

Wood is more than simply a building material, or something to form the frame for your furniture – it is a living thing, responding to its environment, expanding and contracting with the weather, absorbing and preserving the experiences around it. Wood isn’t just something that looks nice, it’s a material that carries intrinsic uniqueness – every individual piece of a dining room set will be different to all the rest, thanks to the grain, the lines, the knots in the blocks of wood used to make them.

Artesa Solid Wood Bedroom collection

Artesa Bed

The beauty of wood lies in itself, in its patterns, colors and textures, and that beauty can be enhanced and preserved by choosing just the right stain or finish for your furniture. But how do you choose the perfect finish for your wood furniture? This guide will take you through the steps you should take.

1 – The Wood

We’ve discussed choosing the perfect wood for your furniture before, and recommend having a look at our various guides to help you find the right wood to suit your styles, tastes and needs. Your choice in wood shouldn’t be based purely on what’s trendy, though, because quality Amish furniture will last several generations, outlasting all current fashions.

Old Classic Sleigh Bedroom set

Old Classic Sleigh 7 Drawer Dresser 

2 – Stain vs Finish

At Amish Tables, we give customers the choice between stains and finishes, but what’s the difference between them? Stains are similar to varnishes, in that they are a layer of protective coating in various natural shades from completely clear to quite dark – you choose these according to the final color you want your table to be. Finishes are a little more complex, as they involve spending time to create a very specific look. Finishes include paints in a range of colors, or specialty finishes that give each piece of furniture a unique look – these could be a distressed look, a weathered effect, or glazing.

Carolina Hall Seat

Carolina Hall Seat 

Whether you choose a stain or finish, also remember that as wood ages and matures, and as it is exposed to sunlight, heat and cold, humidity or dry air, its color will develop. Some woods darker significantly over the years, while others slowly mellow into a richer color. Either way, after several years your furniture is going to look anywhere from somewhat to very different to the furniture you take delivery of. This can be especially important if you order additional pieces a few years later – you could order a new sofa, or buffet. It’s often best to order the same wood and stain as the original pieces, even if they don’t match exactly, as the new pieces will mature and eventually catch up with and match the first pieces. 

3 – The Final Product

It’s worth remembering that what you see online is rarely exactly what you get. For example, we take high-resolution photographs of every set of furniture, piece of wood and stain sample that we put on our website, to try and give you the closest possible idea of the final product. However, a difference in graphic cards, screen quality and brand, brightness and contrast settings can all impact what that image looks like.

Kaitlyn Media Center

Kaitlyn Media Center 

That means what you see pictured during your searches may not look like what you expected once you take delivery. Take the time to order some samples of various woods, along with their accompanying stains and finishes, to help you choose, and to make sure you know exactly what to expect.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published