Menu Close

Improve the Look of Woodwork


I am looking for a product to make our woodwork look better. This includes trim boards, cabinetry (bathroom and kitchen), and the log walls. All I really know about is Scott’s Gold; it looks good short-term, but not long-term. Is there anything better, or maybe different products for different places? Just thinking that I should begin to perk the place up for a spring graduation and a summer wedding.


Scott’s Gold is basically a solvent with a nice smell. It is a wood cleaner. It does not really improve the clear wood finish.

If you really want improve a wood finish, I would consider adding a very light coating of a wipe-on oil finish. I like General Finishes, Royal Finish the best because it sticks to all other finishes, comes in gloss and satin, and goes on with a rag. It is also low odor, dries quickly, and easy to control. Extra coats give you extra depth and shine.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 5.44.45 PMOther options would be a wipe-on Tung Oil or Minwax Antique Oil Finish. The key here is to select a finish that is compatible with the existing finish, and one that will stick with minimal preparation.

For preparation, you need to make sure the existing finish is clean and free of any sticky or worn finish. You can often clean by scrubbing with a sanding eliminator solvent. Unfortunately these solvents are flammable and have a strong odor. You will need ventilation, and you have to follow all label safety precautions. This type of cleaner will also dull the existing finish – good to make the new top-coat stick.

Light sanding may also be required if the finish is chipped or flaking. Sanding with fine sandpaper will dull the surface and remove damaged finish.

When working with cabinetry, you will need to remove the hardware and carefully clean around all handles. The areas around the handles tend to become sticky and dark as the oil in our skin breaks down the finish overtime. For really sticky, dark areas you may need to use a refinisher chemical like Homer Formby – furniture refinisher. This introduces a new level of preparation work as you scrub with steel wool and basically strip the surface of the damaged finish.

Sorry – no easy fix here. On my website, you will find a complete article about refinishing kitchen cabinets in the Free Articles section. This addresses refinishing without stripping.

Kitchen Cabinets – Replace, Re-Face, Refinish or Paint