While it’s safe to use for removing paints and other finishes from wood, when applied directly to wood surfaces or left on for an extended time, turpentine will damage your furniture.
This is because turpentine comes with caustic properties, which, when used directly on wood, harms the natural oils present in it, thereby dulling its color and shine.
You can only apply undiluted turpentine to unfinished wood if you need to create a bleached and weathered look. However, using petroleum-based solvents designed explicitly for weathering look of the wood will allow you to achieve the same results without risking damage to the material.
So, it’s good to avoid using pure un-mixed turpentine oil altogether OR mix it with linseed oil before using it on your wood surfaces.
Below in this guide, I will provide you with some incredible tips and bits of advice on how to use turpentine to clean wood and as a finishing agent by mixing it with linseed oil.
So, if you are looking forward to doing something similar, please stay with me till the end of the guide. I am sure you will find this guide helpful.
Turpentine, a paint and finish stripping product, is a harsh solvent derived from pine wood chips or the resin of certain pine trees (from various species of Pinus).
To make turpentine oil, the chips or the resin obtained by tapping pine trees are heated. The derived chemical is then distilled.
While still available, it’s not as commonly used due to human health concerns of negative impacts from inhaling toxic Turpentine fumes.
But under all the safety warnings and careful usage, turpentine oil is a powerful paint solvent that still finds use in industrial and craft applications.
Uses of Turpentine Oil
Though frequently used in the art industry, turpentine can also be mixed with house paints and stains to thin it out. Many times it’s also used to soften painted or shellacked wood finishes and make them somewhat more manageable.
If you want to remove shellac, paint, or other varnishes from a wooden surface, turpentine is an ideal solution – it softens the paint and allows you to wipe it away easily. Additionally, because the paint acts as a barrier between the wood and turpentine, using this oil has minimal impact on your surfaces.
Mixing and Using Linseed Oil and Turpentine
Due to humans’ health hazards of repeatedly coming into contact with turpentine fumes, mineral spirits are now essentially replacing turpentine as a thinner for paint applications.
But if you’re looking for a finish with an old-world look, a linseed oil + turpentine wood finish can’t be beaten.
Here’s how to mix and use linseed oil and turpentine on wood…
Step 1- Prepare the wood surface
Before beginning the project, you must clean the wood of dirt, mold, and algae. If you plan to finish your blonde wood furniture surface with this finish, for example, simply a dish soap cleaner should do the trick.
But remember, you must use this treatment on untreated or unfinished wood. This means removing any paint or wax before applying the treatment. The oil can’t penetrate the wood deeply if you don’t do so.
You may remove the paint or varnish with pressure washing or can use a proper stripping chemical to get the job done. After cleanup, the wood must be dry before moving on so that treatment can penetrate deeply.
Step 2- Mix linseed oil and turpentine
Adding solvents like turpentine to linseed oil will make it dry more quickly, making the product more useful. But the key to getting the right finish here is properly mixing linseed oil with turpentine.
- 50% linseed oil mixed with 50% turpentine oil should give you the desired results in most cases.
- But you can add a bit of extra turpentine if you want the mixture to dry more quickly when applied as a wood finish.
- For example, a mix of 40% linseed oil and 60% turpentine should work well if you’re looking for a quicker drying time.
Step 3- Apply the mixture with a brush or a rag
After mixing linseed oil and turpentine in a proper ratio, apply the mixture to the wood surface with a brush or a clean rag.
Use a disposable foam brush applicator tool if you have a large area to cover. But avoid using a paint roller as this may result in an uneven finish if not done correctly.
Step 4- Let the turpentine oil wood finish dry completely
Once you’ve applied the mixture, let it dry for at least 12-24 hours.
I think you should give it 24 hours to dry completely for a more durable finish. Then, apply a second coat if you need to get an even more long-lasting finish.
Curing the finish might take a few extra hours, so ensure that the area is well-ventilated and you do not allow heavy foot traffic on the finished product for about 36 to 48 hours.
How often should you treat your wood with linseed oil and turpentine?
It is determined by the type of wood you have. Generally, a good sign is to look at the wood’s condition. If the natural beauty of your wood begins to fade, you may reapply it.
In most situations, you’ll need to apply it twice a year. If it’s not possible, simply do it every year.
Where to Use Wood Treatment with Turpentine and Linseed Oil?
As I mentioned before, it’s best to avoid using pure turpentine oil directly on the wood surface. That said, linseed oil + turpentine mixed in the proper ratio can help keep any wood surface in good shape. Plus, the natural beauty of the wood isn’t hidden by this method, whether you use it on softwood or hardwood.
You can use this wood treatment finish on smaller objects like birdhouses, garden sheds, windowsills, furniture, wooden toys, knives, tools, turned objects, etc.
Or against weathering, UV damage splitting, warping, fungi, and mold growth for surfaces like a deck, porches, stairs, and fences you need to protect and preserve.
Just let the finish dry for at least 12 hours before using the treated area. With proper care, your treated wood surfaces can last for years.
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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.