When it comes to protecting and enhancing the appearance of timber, coatings are essential. Timber coatings are available in a wide range of options, including oil-based, water-based, and polyurethane coatings. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these types of coatings, their different appearances, durability, and suitable applications.

Sculptform Timber Coatings

Our four types of timber coatings

Timber coatings can generally be separated into four categories – each with its own advantages, colour options and maintenance requirements:

  1. Surface Film
  2. Penetrating Oil
  3. Penetrating Oil/Film Hybrid
  4. Water-based

Comparison Table

Clear Oil Clear Poly Intergrain Rubio
Coating Type Penetrating Oil Coating Film Coating Oil-film Hybrid Coating Water-based
Cost $ $$ $$ $$
Exterior Maintenance Period 12-18 months NA 2-4 years NA
Suitable Applications Interior / Exterior Interior Only  Interior / Exterior  Interior
Finish Matte Satin Matte Matte
Manufacturer Cutek Mirotone Intergrain Rubio Monotone


Below is a representation of each coating on Blackbutt timber. The natural variation of timber means no two trees produce the exact same colour or grain pattern, so it is important to remember that these are examples.

Sculptform timber coatings comparison


Choosing the right coating for your application

When deciding on a timber coating, a few simple rules will help you avoid disaster down the track. Using these rules and further information listed below, you can decide on the best timber coating for your application. For further advice contact us to discuss your best timber coating option.

  • Clear Poly can only be used for interior applications
  • Clear Oil can be used for all applications.
  • Rubio coatings can be used for interior and exterior applications, with some coatings only suitable for interior.
  • A variety of washes and colours are available in each coating. Pigments in Clear Oil and Intergrain coatings can be used to protect the timber from UV exposure and minimise maintenance.
  • All exterior timber requires maintenance and should be checked every 6 months to determine if reapplication is required. Allowing the timber to weather is a low maintenance option for exterior timber – find out more here. 

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Sculptform Timber Coatings

Surface Film Coatings (Clear Poly)

Film coatings create a thin film over the surface of the timber, preventing UV rays from reaching the surface (shown above). These coatings create a thicker layer over the timber than other options, providing a slight sheen finish.

Clear poly is available in a range of washes to change the appearance of the timber, contact us to discuss any options you have in mind.

Only suitable for internal use, Clear Poly can potentially peel, crack or blister when used in exterior applications.

  • Provides a clean finish to the timber
  • Makes timber easier to clean
  • Dries clear, emphasising the natural colour of the timber
  • Minimal maintenance required
Ideal uses
  • Health and hospitality environments which require an easy to clean finish to timber
  • High human traffic areas
  • Interior ceilings, walls and screens

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Sculptform Timber Coatings

Penetrating Oil Coatings (Cutek Clear Oil)

An oil-based coating for both internal and external applications, Clear Oil penetrates the surface of the timber in order to create a protective layer. Penetrating oil coatings are effective at protecting the timber from moisture, but degrade quicker than film coatings.

Colour tone or pigment can be added to penetrating oil coatings to slow the weathering process. Colour tones are not supplied by Sculptform and need to be applied after the installation process.

Penetrating oil coatings are suitable for interior or exterior applications.  

  • Penetrates deeply to assist in hydration and dimensional stability
  • Won’t crack, peel or flake – gradually fades overtime
  • Highlights your timber’s natural grain and beauty
  • Long term protection from moisture reduces cupping, warping and splitting
  • Natural matt finish
  • Water repellent
  • For interior and exterior use
Ideal uses
  • Facades
  • Soffits
  • Exterior walls and screens
  • Interior applications

Sculptform Timber Coatings

Sculptform Timber Coatings

Penetrating Oil-Film Hybrid Coatings (Intergrain)

Oil-film hybrids combine the best features of the other coatings available to provide a penetrating coat which lasts longer and effectively protects the surface of the timber. Highly durable and water-based, this low-VOC product has been specifically designed for harsh climates.

Clear options are available in the Intergrain range, however Sculptform only recommends these for undercover areas such as soffits. There is also a range of colour options available containing pigments which protect from UV exposure, contact us to discuss which option best suits your design intent.

Intergrain exterior coatings are designed for exterior applications. 

  • Weathers naturally without flaking, peeling or blistering
  • Helps prevent mould growth
  • Guards timber against abrasive effects of foot traffic
  • Natural-looking matt finish
  • Maintains appearance of timber grain
  • Minimal maintenance required
Ideal uses
  • Eaves and soffits
  • Exterior walls (when using pigment)
  • Facades (when using pigment)

Sculptform Timber Coatings

Water-based Coatings (Rubio Monocoat)

These water-based coatings provide a sleek, matt finish through a process called molecular bonding, allowing the coating to be worked into the grain of the timber and accentuate the natural grain patterns. Rubio is a water-based cream which makes the timber extremely water repellent.

Rubio Clear protects the timber as the other colours do, without affecting the appearance of the timber. Being a water-based cream, Rubio coatings cannot crack or peel in the way that film based coatings can offering a low maintenance option.

  • Helps prevent mould growth
  • Natural-looking matt finish
  • Accentuates the appearance of the timber grain
  • Minimal maintenance required
Ideal uses
  • Eaves and soffits
  • Interior walls and ceilings
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Have any questions?

Our clients are at the heart of every project. It’s our job to deliver on the big picture and the smallest detail. We’re your proactive design partner – we’ll listen to what you really need and work with you to make sure the job gets done right.

We would love to hear about your next project!