How to Seal Raw Wood Without Changing The Color

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 06/19/23 • 

Once you’ve properly sanded your piece of wood, it is time to apply your desired finish. There are different finishes you can use on wood after sanding. You can choose to stain and seal, paint it, or apply a protective top coat. You can apply different finishes without changing the wood’s color.

If you’re looking for a natural-looking finish that will not impart any color to the wood, you can use polyurethane or a wax finish. In this post, we’ll discuss these two methods of finishing wood and why to use each.

1. Use Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane finishes use water as the base for carrying the polyurethane resin rather than solvents. If you’re looking for a good protective finish without changing the color of the wood, this is it.

Water-based poly has a milky appearance in the can, but it remains clear once applied to a surface. Although a water-based poly can slightly enhance the character of wood, it does not change color once it cures, even with age.

Tabletop Satin Finish Water-Based Polyurethane

Tabletop Satin Finish Water-Based Polyurethane

Apart from its crystal-clear finish appearance, water-based polyurethane also comes with other advantages. It is a fast-drying finish, so you can apply more coats in a day and finish up your project. It is also low in odor and volatile organic compounds compared to oil-based polyurethane.

Why we’re not using oil-based poly?

Oil-based polyurethane is also a great finish to use over wood. However, unlike water-based polyurethane, it leaves a slightly yellow sheen or amber glow. As the finish ages, it will also become yellow, which is sometimes not desired, especially when finishing lighter woods such as maple. Avoid any oil-based finish because it will impart an amber/yellowish color to the wood. Check out our guide on water-based vs. oil-based polyurethane.

2. Use a Wax Finish on the Wood

Wax has been used for centuries as a primary wood finish and a polisher for other wood finishes. As a wood finish, wax has been replaced by oil and other durable film-building finishes like shellac, lacquer, and polyurethane.

However, if you’re looking for a finish that will keep the color of the wood as close to its natural color as possible, wax is a good finish to try. Wax doesn’t color wood unless you use a wax finish that has colorant added to it.

Oak Table Top With 3 Coats of Briwax Clear Wax

Oak Table Top With 3 Coats of Briwax Clear Wax

Because it lacks better protection compared to other types of finishes, a wax finish is best used for decorative, carved, or turned objects that would receive less handling. A wax finish’s best protection is to reduce abrasive damage, such as scrapes and scuffs. Check out our carnauba vs. beeswax or our guide on beeswax wood finish and polish.

How to Apply Wax Wood Finish

To maintain the waxed wood surface, dust it regularly with a soft cloth. If it appears dull, rub it with a dry cloth to bring back the shine.


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