Finishing both sides????

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That's an interesting article. I have to finish both sides of my "trivets" because they tend to become window decorations with both sides being seen. But for most wwing, this makes sense.


New User
I think I would argue against that point on furniture that is not subject to "applied" moisture, such as wiping with a damp cloth or rain, as in his examples, but I need to think about it first!:eusa_thin


New User
Most furniture and cabinets made to day made from manufactured wood or derivative wood products. This avoids problems with expansion & contraction, and warping. Even fair quality stuff is finished on both sides for appearance.

You really have to pay a lot more for actual solid wood furniture & cabinets, or make them yourself today. I would not buy any thing with out a finish on both sides.

Flexner is not saying don’t finish both sides. Merely that no finish will stop water-vapor exchange, which causes the problems with solid wood. If you read his book, clearly explains a good finish reduces the extreme variations that occur during seasonal humidity changes.

Don't know of too many deck boards that are finished on both sides, eventually weather will get to them regardless on what you finish the tops with.

Travis Porter

Corporate Member
Interesting article. It contradicts what I have thought for years, but does make some sense. As much as I hate to finish the inside of pieces I may try it for kicks.

Still, like DavidF I have to think about it some. Who knows, maybe an experiment is in order. take a wide board, cut it into two pieces and on one board finish one side and not the other. On the other board do nothing to have something to compare. Wait six months and see what happens.


New User
If that is true. Wow!!! Talk about shattering long held beliefs! I have read Mr. Flexner's book. It really helped me to understand finishing and refine techniques I use. In the book he takes a very scientific approach. This is what makes it so helpful. There are so many references in wood finishing to secret recipes and lost techniques that one might think it involved the practice of Voodoo. What I find disappointing in the article is that Bob seems to really solely on anecdotal information. Without a more definitive explanation I don't think I'll change anything for now.


New User
Went back and read the article again. Not sure Flexner is telling us anything we don’t already know.

Wood for decks, species & lumber grade equal longevity (15 to 30 years). Treated pine may have less than 7 years if not sealed. Heartwood definitely better than Sapwood. The denser the wood used the better so Cedar, Redwood, Ipe, Teak, and Mahogany are the best choices. Only surface treatment needed maybe sealing the ends of the boards. Of course can seal tops of boards if you want too. Also where you live and relative humidity will affect longevity. The cost of an installed Teak or IPE deck, might be more expensive than a composite installed deck.

How about wood flooring which was installed 50 to 100 years ago inside homes? Not sure anyone took time to finish both sides. Condition of such flooring may run poor to great. Quarter sawn boards still make the best for flooring. Even manufactured flooring boards will cup or rise if not installed properly.

Cupping of an old drop leaf table? When was it built? Are you dealing with wood veneer covered tops, or actual wide boards? Plenty of old growth timber (wide boards) used to make furniture around without much cupping and warping. The finish of choice for this really old stuff could be wax, oil, or shellac. Due to age maybe hard to tell if both sides of the board were finished on both sides. Veneer covered table tops may suffer from glue separation of boards below the veneer.

Of course can always argue laying out and gluing up narrow boards by alternating the grow rings. Or not alternating growth rings. Guess that works both ways too!

The article is what it is! Bob, was paid to talk story in a small article which by no means solves all of life’s little problems.
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