Can You Refinish or Polish a Petrified Wood – Tips and Strategies

usage of petrified wood

Petrified wood, in my opinion, is one of the unique minerals on our planet. And despite its name – petrified wood – it’s not wood but stone.

While smaller, flawed, or low-quality petrified wood pieces may be worthless, a high-quality petrified wood log might sell for several hundred to thousands of dollars.

If you own such a high-quality piece or have found it somewhere, you are in luck.

Maybe you are now considering refinishing or polishing your petrified wood to increase its value.

Unfortunately, that would be a big mistake – the value of petrified wood is in its natural state – it is the process of fossilization that makes it so unique and exciting.

So don’t try to refinish or polish your petrified wood – just enjoy it as it is!

Still, if you are not convinced, you can try cleaning and polishing it without using any paint, stain, or other chemicals.

Below in this detailed (but interesting) article, I will discuss more on how to clean and polish petrified wood without damaging its properties and value. Let’s start with some basics, such as…

What is Petrified Wood & Why Its Valuable?

Petrified wood is a type of fossilized wood where all the organic matter has been replaced with minerals (usually quartz) while retaining the original wood’s external form.

Petrified wood can be dated back millions of years and is found in various parts of the globe, including the US, UK, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, etc.

The most famous petrified wood deposits are in the southwestern United States, particularly in Arizona (Petrified Forest National Park) and New Mexico.

Petrified wood is valuable for two reasons – its rarity and its beauty.

First, petrified wood is quite rare. It’s not something you can find anywhere, and even if you find it, it’s not likely to be of good quality.

Second, raw petrified wood is beautiful. The colors and patterns created by the mineral replacement process are simply stunning, and no two pieces are exactly alike.

Petrified wood is used in jewelry, sculptures, and as a decorative element in homes and offices.

Now that you know what petrified wood is and why it’s valuable, let’s move on to the next question…

Where to Use Large Petrified Wood in My Home?

Ever wonder what to do with that big, ugly rock you found in your backyard? Petrified wood makes a great conversation starter and can add a touch of class to any room.

Here are a few creative ideas for ways to use petrified wood in your home:

  • On a side table in the living room – next to the lamp.
  • On the windowsill in the kitchen – to add a splash of color.
  • In the bathroom – on a shelf above the toilet.
  • In the reading nook, tucked into a corner with some plants.
  • In the entryway, on a small table to catch keys and mail.
  • As a doorstop to keep your doors from slamming shut.
  • As a paperweight to keep your magazines from sliding off the coffee table.

Wherever you put it, a piece of petrified wood is sure to add beauty and interest to your home.

Just make sure you clean and polish it using the right methods and techniques.

How Can You Clean and Polish Your Petrified Wood?

Beautifying and refinishing the piece of petrified wood is often a two-step process, i.e., cleaning and polishing.

But you may sometimes need to cut or carve the stone, which will require some skills and proper tools.

So, I will generally not recommend cutting, shaping, or carving the piece unless you are very confident about your skills.

Now let’s see how you can clean and polish your petrified wood…

Cleaning Petrified Wood

The first step is to clean the petrified wood to remove any dirt, grime, or debris that might be on its surface.

Since this type of wood comes from nature, it’s likely to be quite dirty, and you will need to remove it to make it look shiny and attractive.

The best way to clean petrified wood is to soak it in a bucket of warm water and then scrub it with a soft brush.

You can also use mild soap if you want, but make sure to rinse the piece thoroughly to remove all the soap residue. After rinsing, dry the piece using a soft, lint-free cotton cloth.

Can products such as vinegar be used for cleaning?

Yes, you can use household products such as apple cider vinegar for cleaning petrified wood, but it could dissolve minerals such as calcite.

If you are pretty sure that your wood piece does not have any such minerals, you can proceed, especially if the dirt or stains are too stubborn to remove from the wood.

Add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to a bucket. Soak the piece for a few hours before rinsing and drying.

TIP: Do not use any scourers such as steel wool or harsh chemicals such as bleach or harsh detergents, as they can damage your valuable piece of colored petrified wood.

Polishing Petrified Wood by Hand

Once you have cleaned the raw petrified wood, you can move on to the next step – polishing it by hand.

If you do this right, it will make the piece shine and bring out its natural beauty while also increasing its overall resale value.

For polishing petrified wood, you can use the tools such as a tumbler, Dremel, or a handheld wet polisher.

While tumbler is for advanced-level polishers, Dremel and handheld wet polishers can also be used by starters.

For a complete novice who is not skilled in using these polishing tools, don’t despair!

The best way for them, I think, is to use fine-grit sandpaper because it will not damage the wood like power tools can.

Start with a lower grit, such as 220 (fine), and work your way up to a higher grit, such as 400 (extra fine).

You can use a few drops of water to lubricate the sandpaper and to avoid the wood surface getting overheated.

Polishing Petrified Wood By Handheld Wet Polisher and Dremel

If you know how to use an electrical handheld wet polisher (or with some practice), you can use it to polish your petrified wood.

Make sure to go slowly at first and increase the speed only when you are comfortable.

Use a diamond polishing pad kit with different grits such as 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800. Start with the lower grits and work your way up to the higher ones.

The tool comes with a water-feed attachment that is used as you work to prevent the stone from overheating.

After you are done with polishing and grinding, rinse the wood piece thoroughly in water and dry it using a soft, lint-free cotton cloth.

Once the piece is smooth and dry, it’s time to use a Dremel to polish your petrified wood.

Buffing the piece with this tool will bring a nice shine to your petrified wood.

You can use a Dremel with either a soft brush attachment or a felt polishing wheel.

Start with the brush attachment to remove debris, then switch to the polishing wheel for a final shine.

TIP: Use a bit of polishing compound or powder during the polishing process to get a nice shine.

This will also help remove any minor scratches and stains from the stone’s surface if they remain.

how to clean petrified wood?

What to Use to Cut My Rough Petrified Wood if I Need To?

Working with petrified wood can be tricky. The material is hard but also brittle, so it can easily break if you’re not careful.

But if you take your time and handle it with care, you can create some beautiful and unique pieces by cutting the challenging piece.

For cutting petrified wood, it is best to use a wet saw (tile saw) or a high-powered Dremel with proper bits.

Cutting with a tile saw is relatively easy.

And it’s even relaxing when you watch your wood cutting into slices – because this particular tool has been designed with special features that keep everything in place while still being able to provide enough pressure for tough jobs!

Working on this tool will also help prevent the valuable piece of raw petrified wood from cracking or breaking before you plan to polish it.

How Much is My Piece of Petrified Wood Worth – How Can I Find Out?

Petrified wood is quite valuable, and the value will depend on the piece’s size, weight, color, and condition. This may range from a few dollars to a couple hundred or even thousands.

To find out how much your piece is worth, you can take it to a local jeweler, appraiser, or gemologist.

But before you do it, it’s crucial to know if it’s a genuinely rare piece of petrified wood.

Since many rocks look like expensive petrified wood, you should be able to tell if your piece is authentic.

Well, one way to test a real petrified wood is by using a hammer.

Genuine petrified wood is extremely tough and will not chip or break when hit with a hammer.

You can also try to scratch the surface of your piece with a knife. If it’s real petrified wood, the knife will not make a mark.

Another easiest way to test your piece is simply by running your hands across the piece.

Unlike rocks, the real petrified wood is smooth and will most likely have curvy sections that are often a brownish bark color.

Some pieces might also have unique circular, grainy, and bark-like patterns with unique colors.

For example, some of the rarest colors of petrified wood are charcoal black, Green Chromium, and rainbow color patterns.

The Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s possible to refinish petrified wood, the answer is yes! However, it takes a lot of work and isn’t a project for beginners.

With the right tools and supplies, though, you can give your petrified wood furniture or decor a beautiful new finish.

So get creative and put that petrified wood to good use!

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