Yes, you can use mineral oil on stained wood. Mainly it works better if it’s a water-based stain that you plan to oil over.
Mineral oil on wood is easy to apply but will require some preparation and buffing depending on the condition of the finished wood you are using it on.
As long as you follow the right strategies and steps, you can achieve an attractive clear finish effect that’s relatively stable. And the best thing is the finish won’t spoil even when the stained and oiled wood surface is exposed to warm temperatures.
That said, keep in mind that mineral oil does not provide the same level of protection as varnish.
The oil is a good choice if you are looking for a natural clean look with a shiny finish on the stained wood. But varnish would be a better option for long-term protection and durability.
IMO, if you want to protect the wood surface placed outdoors, you should undoubtedly choose a premium varnish-like polyurethane.
Mineral oil is a liquid petroleum product widely used in various cosmetic and industrial applications. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it an ideal ingredient for many products.
In cosmetics, mineral oil is used as a lubricant and moisturizer in various skin care products. It can also be found in shampoos, conditioners, and makeup removers.
Mineral oil is also commonly used as a machine lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and heat-transfer medium.
Additionally, it is often used as a preservative for wood and metal objects. Thanks to its versatility and low cost, it is an essential component in many industries, including woodworking.
Pros and Cons of Using Mineral Oil On Wood
There are several benefits to using mineral oil on wood. However, despite those advantages, there are also some drawbacks to consider:
|Cheap and easy to apply
|It doesn’t provide as much protection as varnish
|Fills tiny pores in wooden surfaces
|It can be difficult to remove if you change your mind later
|It brings out the natural look of wood better than varnish
|It can be slippery when wet
|It doesn’t require as much preparation as other finishes
|Can darken over time
|Relatively stable, meaning it won’t get spoiled when the wood is exposed to warm temperatures.
|Can attract dirt and dust
Can You Stain Over the Mineral Oil Finish?
You can stain over a mineral oil finish, provided you use an oil-based staining product. An oil-based stain would be able to penetrate the wood to some extent, even if there’s a mineral oil coating.
But if you need to use a water-based stain, avoid mineral oil because the stain will struggle to adhere to the oil coat.
How to Apply Mineral Oil On Stained Wood – Step-by-Step
Applying mineral oil to newly stained wood is relatively straightforward – simply brush it on and leave it to dry.
However, the process might seem complex if you’ve never done this before. So, here’s how to apply mineral oil to wood surfaces in the easiest way possible (for beginners)…
1. Start with a clean surface
The first step is ensuring the finished wood surface is clean and free of dirt, dust, or debris.
Since you have already stained the timber and it’s finished, this step won’t take long. Simply wipe the surface with a damp cloth or use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment.
TIP: If you use mineral oil on unfinished wood, it needs to be cleaned and sanded using fine-grit sandpaper.
2. Apply the oil and let it soak
Mineral oil is easy to apply with a rag or a clean cloth. But you can use a paintbrush or even a spray bottle.
If using a cloth – simply saturate it with the oil and rub it onto the wood in a circular motion.
If using a brush – dip it into the oil and then brush it onto the wood in long, even strokes.
Once you’ve covered the entire surface, let the oil sit for at least an hour to soak in.
3. Wipe off any excess oil and allow it to cure
After an hour has passed, wipe off any excess oil that has not been absorbed by the wood. This can be done with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Be sure to dispose of the cloth or paper towel afterward, as it will be covered in oil.
Once all the excess oil has been removed, allow the surface to cure for 24 hours. After this time, your wood surface will be protected and ready to use with well-soaked oil.
4. Add beeswax (optional)
After the surface has been well soaked with oil and allowed to cure, you can add a layer of beeswax for extra protection – although this step isn’t necessary, and it depends on your personal preference.
To do this, simply melt a small amount of beeswax and then brush it onto the surface. Allow it to cool and harden before using the surface.
Beeswax will add extra protection to the wood and help keep the oil from drying out while giving the wood a nice shine.
TIP: Depending on the type of wood and the level of protection you need, you may need to repeat the above process every few months.
Mineral oil is non-toxic and is pretty safe to use on all types of wood, regardless of whether it’s finished or bare.
If you ask me what are the good candidates in the home for using mineral oil – I would say it’s suitable for:
- Cutting boards
- Tables & chairs
- Wooden toys
- Desks & dressers
- Cracked hardwood floors
- Tools made of wood and metal
- As a polish on linoleum floors, metals, and stainless steel
Since mineral oil is non-toxic, odorless, and hypoallergenic, you can even use it as a clear finish for homemade wooden baby toys often put into their mouths.
Additionally, using mineral oil on food surfaces such as cutting boards, wood utensils, salad bowls, wooden spoons, or countertops is safe because it will not go rancid as your regular cooking oils may.
But with that said, remember that mineral oil is safe to use on wood surfaces as long as it is used in moderation. When used in excess, it can cause the surface to become oily and slippery – which is why wiping off the excess oil after applying it is essential.
Also, be sure to clean the surface on a regular basis, as it can cause food poisoning if contaminated with dirt and grime.
Will Mineral Oil Change the Color of Wood?
If you plan to use a mineral oil finish on a bare wood surface like a cutting board or a piece of furniture, it won’t change the color of the wood. Instead, it enhances the volume of the grain and brings out the natural color of the wood, thereby improving its visual appeal.
However, using mineral oil on finished wood, such as furniture or cabinets, can darken the color slightly. To avoid this, use a light-colored mineral oil or one specially designed for finished wood surfaces.
Alternatively, you can opt for a different finish, like beeswax, or remove the existing finish before applying the mineral oil.
But no matter which option you choose, always remember to test it on a small area first to ensure that it won’t make any significant changes to the color of the wood surface you are working on.
The frequency at which you need to apply mineral oil to your wood surface will depend on a few factors, including:
- The type of wood
- The level of protection you need
- How often is the surface used
For example, if you have a cutting board that is made from softwood and is used on a daily basis, you will need to apply mineral oil to it more often than a dresser that is made from hardwood and used infrequently.
As a general rule of thumb, applying a new layer of oil every few months is best – although this can vary depending on your specific needs.
If you’re uncertain about how often to do it, applying oil more frequently than less is better to keep your wood surface protected and avoid any damage or dryness.
The bottom line
Using mineral oil on stained wood is an inexpensive way to protect the color on the surface and keep it looking its best. Not only can you use it for wood protection but also for giving it a nice shine.
Make sure to use the oil in moderation and always wipe off any excess after applying it to avoid making the surface too oily and slippery.
Also, the finish can fade and become less effective with time. So reapply a new layer of oil every few months as part of your maintenance routine.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.