Furniture Finishes And Durability Concerns
There are so many options in finishes, how does one know which is best? The resins that actually form the finish can be one or a combination of these resins: shellac, amber, kauri gum, dammar, copal, rosin (pine resin), sandarac, balsam, nitrocellulose, acrylic, urethane, polyurethane, alkyd, urea, formaldehyde, polymer, epoxy and no doubt others. The mixture of resins and solvents will be different from manufacturer to manufacturer as well as within a manufacturer's own line. Every variation effects the user friendliness of the finish and the durability of the finish. Please view the page linked here for information about the health and safety concerns associated with various finishes. On this current page we will focus, in very simple terms, with durability issues.
Actually, durability cannot be considered without also considering beauty. Under direct sun, almost any paint will hold up longer than almost any clear finish, but paint does not display the natural beauty of the wood at all. Conversely, the substance that does the best job of displaying the natural color, depth and beauty of wood, without adding anything to it, would be water. It is clear that some balance needs to be struck between beauty and durability. A third consideration, since furniture gets used and will wear and receive damage, is repairability. Below we offer a chart that illustrates the relative merits of a variety of finishes, all legal to use, and hopefully shows why we have chosen to use water based finishes.