Compatibility in wood finishes

As so many types of wood finish are now used it is useful to know which finishes will take over each other and which will not. The list below gives the average behaviour:

Oil finish will accept french polish, polyurethane or wax.

French polish will accept cellulose, polyurethane, oil and wax.

Cellulose will accept polyurethane and wax. Polyurethane will accept oil and wax only. Polyester will accept oil, polyurethane and wax.

Wax will accept none.

Discretion must be exercised, for whereas the solvent used in cellulose finishes will soften if not actually dissolve french polish and permit the partial fusion of the two coats, the methylated spirit solvent in french polish will not dissolve cellulose and both coats will remain separate; moreover, any oil used with the french polish will be prevented from soaking down into the wood and will inhibit final hardening. It should be noted that wax is inimical to all other finishes, and must be completely removed by stripping, scraping, sanding and degreasing before attempting any other form of finishing.

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