To understate things, there are a lot of furniture finishes out there. Some of them have been around for centuries, and some of them have been developed in the last ten years. The differences, particularly in appearance, are often subtle, and it’s easy to get lost among all the choices. Here at Cannon Hill, we make things simple: we offer two standard finishes, each top-of-the-line in its category. We can do other finishes if a project really calls for them, but we strongly recommend the ones we use. They’re both incredibly durable, stain- and wear-resistant, and easy to maintain. To our way of thinking, there isn’t much to be gained from using anything else.
Our oil finish is called Rubio Monocoat 2C. This linseed-oil-derived product was developed for flooring, which means that it will stand up to wear and tear that most other oils simply cannot. Rubio comes in a wide range of color options, and we can mix them together to create a completely custom finish. One of the great advantages of this oil is that it can be touched up and refinished easily in place. It stands up well to food stains and water rings — in our testing we don’t se noticeable effects from highly-acidic foods for 8-10 hours — but spot-refinishing requires only a scuff and application of oil. A full refinish, a down-to-wood restart, can be done in an afternoon with nothing more than a vacuum cleaner (to control dust) and an orbital sander.
Our spray urethane finish offers even more protection against stains and wear. We use a product from Milesi, an Italian company that makes finishing products of all kinds. In addition to the incredibly strong protection that Milesi offers, it creates an extraordinarily clear finish, which our clients often value on wood species like maple and cherry. The two-part urethane doesn’t have the same “warming” effect that any oil finish will, which allows us to preserve the pale, milk-white tones of maple to a much greater extent. We’ve found that this finish is so resistant to staining that, even after sitting for 24 hours, highly acidic foods, like mustard, vinegar, and red wine, usually won’t leave any mark at all. Of course, it’s best to wipe up spills promptly, but it’s also good to know that you won’t need to baby the table.
In addition to their aesthetic qualities, we use these particular products because they’re reliable and consistent in their application as well. Repeatability is key, and we know that these will go on the same way every time. Particularly when we’re working on a large dining table, it’s important that the finish is predictable and that it can go on in a single go, with no lap marks or streaks. Both of these products fit the bill here, and we know exactly how to get the most out of them. In the case of the oil, the ease of use is also important so that our clients can refinish or touch up the table themselves in years to come. The Milesi can’t be worked in the future, as it requires that the furniture go to a refinishing shop and be sanded down to bare wood before a new coat gets applied. The tradeoff here is that the greater durability means a more involved refinish.
When it comes down to it, there’s no right or wrong answer between these two. It’s all just a matter of personal preference, because we only use products that we know will perform well and last long. We intend our furniture to last generations, and the finishes we use are up to that task.