[Maker’s Note] Wood Paint Comparison

by Yun-Han Lin


As we are trying more woodworks at our studio, the following are some wood paints that we use often (from left to right).

  • Topcoat/Undercoat (primer): There are two standardized interior paints for woodworks- topcoat and undercoat. Both features excellent protective effects.
  • VATON wood wax oil: A Japanese brand recommended by Woodmall, a material store. Famous for its hydrophobicity, but the price is rather high.
  • Shellac: A widely-used paint that can serve as a waterproofing coating, and the cost is low.
  • Looben wood wax oil/natural wax oil: The paints we use most often, and both are produced by Looben. In addition to the brand’s reputation and the great visual effect after use, customers have easy access to buying them.

Surface texture

Whether it be wood log pieces or laser-cut parts, it is likely to look cheap if too much paint is used. After some tests, we found that topcoat and undercoat diminish the entire surface texture of the wood, while other paints retain certain texture when the products are finished.


We would like our work water-proof because materials such as medium density fiberboards (MDF) discolor and go soft as they absorb moisture when they are stored for a long time. It was hard to conduct tests on moisture absorption in a short time, let along prevention. Therefore, different paints were tested based on their water repellent level. When it comes to water-resistance, VATON is known for its amazing hydrophobic and water-repellant paint. The result turned out to be as great as topcoat and undercoat.


Whether a piece of work is stain-resistant is actually not that big of a deal as the work is unlikely to come into contact with a large amount of oil. Even if it does, it is not much trouble to remove the stain. In our tests, we deliberately used dark oil mixed with lubricating oil to see how effective the paints are. The test results showed that there is a reason why topcoat and undercoat have been second to none when it comes to woodwork painting, for their exceptional stain-resistance.


We consider dust-proof testing the most basic criteria for a paint because all paints, by default, should able to resist dust. That being said, I thought it was still worth a trial because the oil with which I tested for stain-resistance was also mixed with a bit of cement. Some dusts and particles were stuck on the wooden pieces because of that. However, the test result turned out great, which showed that topcoat and undercoat really resist stains and dusts of any kind.


The use of paints can be categorized based on different purposes as the following:

  • Topcoat & Undercoat: Works that require a protective coat regardless of the surface texture.
  • Wood wax oil: Any works for no specific purpose.
  • Shellac: Works with large area paintings

The paints mentioned above are actually the tip of the iceberg. Should there be a need for colorants, exterior paints, or protecting agents of any kind some time, I will sure list them out for your reference!

Tags Wood Paint