The effects of time, saltwater, sun and the tides on driftwood endow it with a naturally pleasing appearance, and driftwood is sometimes found used as a decoration. Large pieces might even find their way into furnishings. Even so, it is important to remember that driftwood has already taken serious abuse in becoming what it is, so finishing the driftwood will help ensure it enjoys a much longer lifespan in whatever role you choose to use it for.
Sand the driftwood lightly with fine-grit sandpaper (180- to 240-grit) to prepare it for finishing. If the driftwood has big, flat surfaces, use a handheld rotary tool fitted with a 240-grit sanding disc accessory. However, most pieces of driftwood have rounded or rough surfaces, so sand these using hand sandpaper.
Wipe down the driftwood with a tack cloth.
Apply a wood conditioner by dipping a dishcloth into the conditioner and rubbing it into the wood using small circular motions. Allow the conditioner to cure for 15 to 30 minutes, or as directed by the instructions.
Finish the driftwood using either a drying oil finish, such as tung oil, or a driftwood-colored wood stain. Apply the finish with a paint brush, using smooth strokes. This will deepen the driftwood's natural color without substantially altering it. Allow this to dry overnight. You may need to apply a second coat to achieve the desired effect.
Protect the driftwood and its finish with two coats of polyurethane. Apply the polyurethane with a paint brush, using smooth strokes. Allow the first coat to dry for several hours before applying the second.
Tips & Warnings
- Given that driftwood has an off-white or grey color, flat instead of glossy polyurethane might be a better choice for sealing the wood.
Things You'll Need:
- Handheld rotary tool with 240-grit sanding disc
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Tack cloth
- Wood conditioner
- Drying oil finish or driftwood-colored wood stain
- Paint brush
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