Traditional timber window finishes

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Different timber finishes

The high performance and beautiful aesthetics that we associate with traditional timber windows are created in part by the type of finish that they utilise. A finish is a protective layer that is applied to timber to protect, and enhance the performance and aesthetics of a window.

Common traditional timber window finishes include wax, shellac, drying oil, lacquer, varnish and paint. We offer a variety of finishes here at Wessex Restoration.

The timber finishing process

There are three steps generally used in the traditional timber window finishing process:


First of all the timber window is sanded down either by hand or using a power sander. This ensures that the finish penetrates into the wood more effectively. The timber is then stained if required.


After sanding and staining, the timber is ready have a finish applied. A coat of finish is applied, left to dry and then sanded down, and more finish is then applied.


Finally, once the finish has dried, the surface can be polished or buffed if required. After this, a coat of wax is then applied to protect the timber window further.

Popular traditional timber window finishes

Two of the most popular types of timber finishes are varnishing and ammonia fuming. These are traditional finishing techniques, used to enhance the aesthetics and performance of timber windows.


Perhaps one of the most widely used methods to finish timber windows, varnishing is used to improve the weatherproofing and aesthetics of window frames. Traditionally, varnish has no colour, but there are many types of available on the market that combine staining and varnishing to add colour and gloss to the timber.

Ammonia fuming

Ammonia fuming is used to darken and enrich the colour of wood, emphasising the grain pattern. It works best on white oak because of the wood’s high tannin content, and as a result, the process is often known as ‘Oak fuming’.

In the finishing process, the wood is placed inside a sealed chamber along with a shallow container of ammonium hydroxide. The fumes from the ammonium gradually darken the wood, bringing out the beautiful appearance of the wood grain.

Wessex Restoration: traditional timber window finish specialists

Here at Wessex, we are specialists when it comes to helping you choosing the perfect traditional finish for your timber windows. Offering a range of options, we’re sure to have something to suit your needs. Give us a call on 01275 810322 or contact us to find out what we can do for you.