Today’s finishes? no matter how effective they might be as a long term protector of timber they inherently have negative environmental side affects. Paints that have good protection tend to contain toxins and often carbon based. We are told again and again how bad carbon based toxins are. Good old fashioned oil based paints obviously contain oil hence carbon and more modern finishes such as water based acrylics contain plastics such as resins.

Although we don’t blame anyone for using brico available paint finishes it would be nice to find alternative products that have a more environmental direction, call it mission “tree hugger”!!

There are many ways you can protect your wooden external projects using natural ingredients. Modern finishes set or harden relatively quickly due to hardeners or activators. Some water based products naturally air dry but many natural non chemical hardeners but many natural home made products can take weeks to harden and longer in damp environments. In France Volets otherwise know as Shutters to the Brits living in France and elsewhere are very wellknown for their beautiful colours. France is a beautiful country well deserving the miriad of colour that adorns the window dressings. 

Tung Oil / Danish Oil

The Tung tree is a gift with a very useful seed that gives us the Danish oil or natively known as Tung Oil. It coats the wood, this Oil soaks into the wood and hardens fairly quickly when exposed to air. This Oil is widely available and recognised by fellow joiners.

Beeswax (internal use)

Bees wax is obviously natural and has been used for centuries. It can be heated to a fluid to aid application or diluted with tung oil . Once hardened it can be buffed to a sheen, sadly this finished is affected by water and can leave stains and zero preservative qualities.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is another penetrating oil that can help protect your wood projects. This old is a very well used oil product that is made from the seed of Lin. This oil can be used in it’s boiled or raw state. Boiled linseed oil that is available commercially tends to contain solvents to aid the hardening but traditionally it is placed over a flame and roll boiled until it is still. The boiling process removes any water which is the element that inhibits the drying process.


Shellac as found in French polish is made from the Lac bug. Shellac is the key ingredient that is widely used for the famous high gloss ‘French Polish’ finish. Shellac in this form has no a beneficial for your exterior woodwork.

Walnut oil (allergen)

A good oil for internal woodwork and fairly hardwearing

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil contains waxes that help keep it from degrading, therefore protecting the wood it is applied to.

Sunflower oil

Yes it is only 1e50c and can fry your chips but also protect your wood with some preservative quality because of the high level of vit E

Carnauba wax

Carnauba wax is a wax is extracted from from the leaves of a palm tree that grows in Brazil. This wax is very durable and well known amongst surfer types. I cannot recommend this wax because it is another palm product and we known how controversial that is!!!

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is not natural and should not be chosen but I will forgive you if it is recycled such as old engine oil but it won’t dry for ages and can leave deposits or staining on your clothes.

Some Natural Oils are not Suited for timber

Vegetable based oils are no good as a wood preservative and some are known Allergens.

  • Almond Oil (allergen)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Hemp Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil (except as linseed oil)
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Corn Oil

Any oils that never really dry out and will always be oily, sticky which attracts dust, dirt, and animal hair.

Lime Wash
Lime wash was a common wood finish for inside and out side timber and is a naturally mold & mildew resistant paint finish and it has been used for centuries. Lime wash finishes are making a comeback not just for the fact they are considered natural but for their soft beauty. Some propriety brands such as ‘Sloan’ Paints are available pigmented or you can make your own using recipes available online.