Suggestions for Finishing Bed Wood
MAR-K bed wood is made of hard, durable wood, with a thickness of 3/4". Wood is guaranteed
14 days from ship date. You can order bed wood and bed wood kits online through our
Our experienced wood cutters follow strict guidelines for selecting, checking, sorting and machining the
boards to manufacture an excellent product. We select and machine oak bed wood from the finest
quality Appalacian red oak lumber. We sand, groove and cut the oak boards to size. Our pine
is planed to thickness, grooved and cut to size and should be sanded before finishing. We recommend
you finish your wood as soon as possible after you receive it in order to achieve the best results.
The finish is very important for long-term enjoyment of your bed wood floor. A quality finish
maintained over time will protect the wood for years. Applying a durable and attractive finish for
your project will require time and effort but the steps are not difficult and do not require expensive
There is not a single best finish to use since each person's preferences and resources are
different. Local professionals who work with wood products used or installed outdoors may recommend
a product suited for your climate. Always select a top quality product and be sure it is designed
for outdoor use and provides UV (ultraviolet) protection. Exterior urethane varnish may be applied
directly to the bare wood and will provide a natural wood finish with great appearance. Minwax
Helmsman or McCluskey's Man-O-War are two such products. They are easy to apply and dry overnight,
although multiple coats are needed. These will generally be suitable for bed wood applications that
will rarely see severe weather extremes or direct sun exposure.
A more durable finish may be obtained by using a two stage coating system. The primer or seal
coat is a product such as epoxy whose function is to seal the wood and provide great adhesion to the wood
surface. The topcoat product will adhere to the first coat and provide strength and damage protection
as well as UV protection from deterioration due to sunlight exposure. All clear coatings that provide
UV protection need to be recoated periodically, depending on the amount of sunlight exposure. Their
UV protection is gradually degraded by exposure to sunlight. Be sure to inspect the finished surface
regularly and repair the topcoat material at the first sign of damage or failure.
Penetrating oil finishes that are intended for outdoor or marine use are available and will protect the
bed wood. When used by themselves, they will not generally have a shiny appearance, but will provide
some protection from deterioration and can be renewed easily, just by cleaning and applying additional
coats. Be sure to follow the supplier's instructions for proper application. Oil furniture
finishes are not recommended for bed wood applications as they provide very little protection from damage
and may not have good UV absorption to protect the wood.
Here are a few guidelines and suggestions that will help you achieve excellent results.
- The boards must be kept clean. Keep your hands clean and be sure tools and work benches are
free of grease and dirt.
- Be sure the bed to frame bolt holes and bedside to bed wood bolt holes are drilled before finishing
the wood. Finish the wood before it is installed so that all surfaces are coated.
- Sand the surface with 120 grit and again with 180 or 220 grit sandpaper. Pine should be sanded
enough to remove any planers marks. Always use a flat sanding block when sanding oak or pine to
prevent cutting away the softer parts of the wood grains. Remove all sanding dust before applying
- Failure of the finish usually occurs first at a sharp edge of the board or at the ends.
- Round over all the sharp edges of the wood to at least 1/16" radius and more if you can.
This will keep the coating from becoming thin on these areas.
- Be sure to saturate the ends of the boards with the coating until they will not absorb any
more. We try to put twice as many coats of finish on the ends of the boards as on the
- Do not use the paint or varnish right out of the can. Always strain the amount you will need
into a clean container and put the lid tightly on the original can. Do not return thinned paint
or varnish to the original can.
- Apply a thin coat using a high quality brush or paint spray gun. Be sure to coat all edges
and ends of the boards, inside of all drilled holes, as well as the top and bottom surfaces.
- When using a brush, be sure to clean the brush thoroughly between coats. If a small amount of
varnish remains in the brush, it will dry and flow into the next coat of varnish leaving the finished
- After allowing plenty of time for each coat to dry, sand the surface to be re-coated with 220 grit
sandpaper and a sanding block. Sand just enough to remove brush marks or "orange peel". Be sure
to remove all sanding dust before applying the next coat. It is best to do sanding in a separate
room to keep the paint room clean and free of sanding particles.
- Re-coat the boards on all surfaces following steps 4 through 7 above to obtain at least 3 full coats
covering the boards. Do not sand the boards after the final coat.
- Inspect the wood regularly after installation and repair or refinish any damages that appear over
time. The wood will provide a long life if the finish is maintained and repaired as needed.
If you are not certain how to finish your boards and would like to experiment, ask the sales person for
some samples of the type of wood you are planning to purchase. For a nominal shipping/handling charge
you can receive several short lengths of wood which may be used to check your finishing material and
techniques. You may also want to look at our Wood Finish Tests
for more information.