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How to Properly Treat and Finish Idigbo Wood for Lasting Beauty

Tips & Guides Timber Knowledge
09 July 2023 min read

How to Properly Treat and Finish Idigbo Wood for Lasting Beauty

Idigbo wood is an exquisite material with unique beauty and impressive durability. 

However, ensuring you properly treat and finish this remarkable timber is crucial to enhancing its longevity.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of working with idigbo wood, exploring the best techniques for treating and finishing it to achieve a lasting and stunning final result.


Understanding Idigbo Wood

Idigbo wood, scientifically known as Terminalia ivorensis, is a tropical hardwood native to West Africa, particularly the Ivory Coast and Ghana. It’s highly valued for its striking yellow to medium golden brown hue, which darkens with age and exposure to sunlight. And its attractive interlocking grain pattern adds depth and character to any woodwork project.

Idigbo is versatile timber suitable for both interior and exterior applications, making it a popular choice for furniture, joinery, flooring, doors, and cladding. However, proper treatment and finishing are essential to preserve its natural beauty, protect it from the elements, and ensure its longevity.


Treating Idigbo Wood

Before beginning any woodwork project using idigbo wood, it’s crucial to treat the timber to enhance its durability and protect it from moisture and fungal decay. 

The following steps will guide you through the process:

  1. Apply a Wood Preserver: When exposed to moisture, idigbo wood is susceptible to rot and decay. Begin by applying a high-quality wood preserver to protect it. Ensure the wood preserver conforms to British Standard BS EN 599-1:2016 to guarantee optimal protection.

  2. Allow Time for Drying: After applying the wood preserver, allow sufficient drying time. This is crucial to ensure that the wood absorbs the preservative and forms an effective barrier against moisture.

  3. Sand the Surface: Once the wood is dry, sand the surface to a smooth finish. Use medium to fine-grit sandpaper, following the direction of the wood grain. This step removes rough patches, blemishes, or splinters on the surface.

  4. Apply a Wood Primer: To prevent the wood from absorbing excessive moisture, apply a wood primer. Choose a primer suitable for exterior use if your project involves outdoor applications. This step forms a protective barrier between the wood and any finishing products applied later.


Finishing Techniques for Idigbo Wood

Properly finishing idigbo wood enhances its aesthetic appeal and protects it from wear, UV radiation, and moisture damage. 

Below are some recommended techniques for achieving a stunning and durable finish:

  1. Stain for Depth and Colour: Consider using a wood stain if you desire a darker tone or want to enrich the wood's natural colour. Ensure the stain is formulated explicitly for hardwoods and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying times. Test the stain on a small inconspicuous area of the wood to ensure it achieves the desired effect.

  2. Apply a Clear Wood Finish: Once the stain has dried, apply a clear wood finish to protect the wood and highlight its grain pattern. Various options are available, including polyurethane, varnish, and oil finishes.

    1. Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a popular choice for its durability and versatility. It forms a hard protective coat that resists wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas. Apply multiple coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

    2. Varnish: Varnish provides a glossy finish and excellent protection against UV radiation. Like polyurethane, varnish requires multiple coats and thorough drying time between applications.

    3. Oil Finish: An oil finish, such as Danish oil or linseed oil, penetrates the wood to enhance its natural beauty. It offers a more natural-looking finish and is relatively easy to maintain. Apply the oil in thin layers, allowing each coat to penetrate the wood before removing any excess.

  3. Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure idigbo wood's ongoing beauty and durability. Clean the wood periodically using a soft cloth or brush to remove dust and dirt. When necessary, reapply a clear wood finish to restore its lustre and protect it from environmental factors.


Creating the Perfect Finish with Different Styles

While the steps provided are a comprehensive guide to finishing your idigbo wood, you can create different finishes for diverse visual appeals. 

Depending on your project, you might want to showcase various aspects of the wood’s character. Here are some additional techniques to create finishes that can make your idigbo woodwork more distinctive:


1. Waxed Finish

Wax is an excellent choice for finishing idigbo wood if you're looking to emphasise the wood's warmth and texture. 

Wood wax penetrates deep into the wood, enhancing the richness of the grain. Apply the wax liberally using a cloth or brush, allowing it to soak in before buffing the wood to a high sheen. While a wax finish might not provide the same level of protection as a polyurethane or varnish finish, it offers a more natural appearance. 


2. White Wash Finish

Consider a white wash finish for a more contemporary look. This style, often used in rustic or coastal decor, gives the wood a muted, weathered look while allowing the grain to shine. This finish involves a diluted white paint application and a clear protective finish to preserve the whitewashed look. 


3. Distressed Finish

If you're interested in an antique, vintage, or rustic aesthetic, a distressed finish could be the perfect choice. This technique involves purposely applying wear and tear to give the wood an aged appearance. Techniques such as sanding, denting, or using a wire brush can create a convincing distressed finish. After distressing the wood, apply a clear protective finish to preserve the distressed look.


4. Natural Oil Blend Finish

Some woodworkers blend natural oils, like tung and linseed oil, to finish idigbo wood. These mixtures penetrate the wood deeply and provide a strong protection layer. Experimenting with different oil ratios can result in unique finishes highlighting idigbo wood's beauty and character in novel ways.


Idigbo Wood Hardwood at Woodshop Direct

Working with idigbo wood presents an exciting opportunity to create timeless and visually stunning woodwork projects. By following the proper treatment and finishing techniques outlined in this article, you can ensure that your creations showcase the wood's natural beauty while maximising its longevity.

At Woodshop Direct, we understand the importance of proper wood treatment and finishing. Explore our range of high-quality idigbo wood products to embark on your next woodworking masterpiece.