How To Oil Your Wooden Furniture and Countertops

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It’s a fact of life that things tend to get dry and crackly in the winter: your skin, your lips, even your wooden furniture. And if you think your apartment feels like a dry, cold, relatively inhospitable place at this time of year, chances are your furniture agrees. While painted and lacquered pieces are generally safe, those with oil and wax finishes could benefit from a moisturizing treatment to prevent them from drying out and cracking—consider this your coffee table’s version of a winter spa service.

How can you tell when it’s time for an oil change?

As a general rule, furniture that has oil-and-wax finishes or stain-and-wax finishes should be oiled once or twice a year, or whenever the wood looks particularly dry. Pieces that have finishes that sit on top of the surface, such as paints and glossy lacquers, can’t be oiled, because the oil won’t be able to penetrate through to the wood. Inspect your wooden furniture, countertops and cutting boards for dryness or any signs of cracking. Dull, thirsty-looking wood is a prime candidate for the treatment that follows.

Will oiling my furniture change the look of it?

For unfinished or oil-and-wax finished wood, oil may make the surface look temporarily glossier and slightly darker. If you’re oiling very light wood, like beech or pine, it may take on a golden tinge that will neutralize as the wood dries out again. If you want to maintain either a very light or dark finish, consider staining the wood before oiling it.

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