Door Oils

Door oils are by far the most popular choice when it comes to protecting, maintaining, renovating and restoring interior doors. More durable than a wood wax and easier to maintain than a varnish, door oils protect interior doors whilst retaining and enhancing the natural appearance of the wood grain.

Why use a door oil?

Where as in the past, internal doors where often painted or stained, nowadays it’s all about keeping the timber on display to show off the natural beauty of the wood.

The key benefits of using a door oil is that they are incredibly easy to apply and maintain. In addition, if the door does happen to get a nasty scuff, minor scratch or other minor mark or localised damage, the affected area can be easily repaired to leave a seamless, invisible repair. Oiling interior doors also helps to nourish and feed the wood. This helps to prevent the doors from cracking, splitting, and warping as a result of temperature and humidity changes.

Door oil suitability

Door Oils can be used on any bare wood or stripped internal door. They cannot be used on doors that still have a wax, varnish, paint or stain finish on them. Door oils are suitable for almost every type of softwood and hardwood door and most types of engineered and veneered interior doors. With new doors, It is however always recommended that you read the manufacturers guidelines on finishing and care as some doors may not be suitable for oiling.

Types of door oil

There are a range of wood oils that can be used on interior doors including traditional oils such as Danish Oil and Linseed Oil, and the more modern door oils and Hardwax Oils. But, what is the difference?

Traditional wood oils verses door oils

When it comes to traditional wood oils for interior use, the most commonly used are Danish Oil, Tung Oil, and Linseed Oil. Traditional oils generally need a minimum of three thin coats or more depending on the wood type and application usage. They can also take days to dry, especially Linseed Oil. This means that finishing a door could potentially take the best part of a week, if using a traditional wood oil, and allowing each coat to dry before rubbing down (denibbing) between coats, and applying the next coat of oil.

Dedicated door oils are made from a blend of oils, waxes and resins and as a result, are more durable, require just two thin coats, require less maintenance (re-oiling), and dry in-between 6 to 12 hours, depending on the brand of door oil. This means that in most cases, interior doors can be oiled and ready for use in under 24 hours.

Door oils also have the benefit of being available in a range of sheen levels and colour variations from clear, natural (designed to better retain the natural, untreated look of the door, to coloured which are designed to stain and protect the door in one easy application.

What to expect when oiling interior doors

Before oiling a door it is important to understand how the oil will affect the final look of the door. Oils work by penetrating into the wood grain and protecting the wood from within, rather than forming a film like coating or layer over the wood.

In terms of appearance, wood oils tend to give the wood a slightly darker, damp like appearance. They will also enhance the natural character and colour of the timber. This is important because depending on what timber the door is made from, this colour enhancement can range from subtle, to fairly dramatic, but we will cover this a little further on.

A good pre-oiling test is to dampen (not wet) a small section of the door using a clean (preferably new) kitchen sponge, and one that has not been used with washing-up liquid or bleach, and clean water. Gently rub over a small section of the door and how it looks when damp gives an indication of how the door will look once oiled. This test shouldn’t be taken as an absolute guarantee of the final look as although most wood oils are advertised as being clear, the oil itself will usually have some natural colour which may add some additional warmth or tone to the wood.

Top 4 clear door oils

Osmo Door Oil: A unique oil and wax combination designed to nourish and protect interior solid wooden doors, and some selected veneered doors. Provides resistance against day-to-day dust and dirt, scuffs, scratches, and moisture.
Oli Natura Hard Wax Oil: Containing hard carnauba wax, Oli Natura Hard Wax Oil gently highlights the colour of wood doors, giving their surface a silky feel. After applying one to two coats with a roller, it is easily worked into the wood. In stain resistance tests, it has been shown to be highly resistant against household chemicals, dirt, grime, and liquids
Manns Premier Door Oil: A premium grade door oil that enhances and protects solid wood, engineered and most types of veneered interior doors. Dries to a natural matt finish.
Osmo Door Oil Raw Matt 1L: A premium grade door oil that protects solid wood, engineered and most types of veneered interior doors. This oil is designed to better retain the natural, untreated look of the wood rather than enhancing the character and colour of internal doors.

Top 3 coloured Hard Wax Oils suitable for interior doors

Osmo Polyx Oil Tints: A versatile, premium grade, colour tinted hardwax oil. Ideal for use on wooden interior doors and more. This hard-wearing and extremely tough Hardwax oil is scratch and scuff-resistant, whilst protecting against liquid spills
Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints: A coloured, protective hard wax oil for interior wood including internal doors. Scratch and scuff resistant and also protects against moisture and liquid spills
Blanchon Hard Wax Oil Tints: A solvent-based, tinted hard wax oil for interior wood including doors. Colours and protects interior wooden surfaces and is highly resistant to knocks, scuffs, scratches and liquid spillages. Dries to a natural, satin-matt sheen

Applying a door oil

The key to a successful door finish is to always follow the manufacturers preparation and application instructions at all times. Door oils generally only require two thin coats. Although there may be a temptation to apply three or four coats, this can actually make the finish softer and more easily scuffed and scratched. It can also result in a tacky or sticky finish that can’t fully dry.

When applying a door oil, use a clean, uncoloured (white or natural) lint free cloth or microfibre cloth. This will help to prevent any fibres coming away from the cloth and getting into the oil. Using a white or natural cloth will also prevent any colour bleeding from the cloth into the oil or onto the door as a result of the solvent reactivating the colour stain or dye in the cloth.

And the golden rule before starting any project, including the oiling of wooden doors is to always do a test area before going ahead and oiling all your doors. This gives an opportunity for you to access the suitability and final finish of the product being used and to decide if you are happy with the result. It is much easier to sand off a small test area than every door in the house to start again.

Do you need to know how to protect, maintain, restore or rejuvenate a wooden staircase, floor, or kitchen worktop? We cover all these and more under our ‘Interior Wood‘ section.