I purchased a counter top that was pre-treated with one coat of wood treatment oil at the factory. Can it be stained and varnished ?

  • Depending what it was treated with, most good quality bench tops will have documentation telling you what it has been treated with, and some will tell you what type of treatment is ok to use with the pre treatment
    – UNECS
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 2:54
  • 1
    Do you have (or can you get) a small sample to test?
    – ChrisF
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


I'm assuming this was a standard oil finish like a Danish oil or tung oil. They will harden. If the oil finish was a mineral oil, commonly used for butcher block tops for example, that oil will not harden. But even so, one coat of oil finish is not that much of a finish.

You should be able to apply stain to it. In fact, a hardened oil finish will help that stain so it is applied fairly evenly, although it may not soak in as deeply as it might otherwise. There are different kinds of stain, and that will be a factor. Thus there are dye based stains, which get into the wood. With an oil finish, the dye will not penetrate as well. Pigmented stains (essentially thinned paints) have pigment in them. (Ok, maybe that is obvious.) They are designed to sit on the surface of the wood anyway.

As far as a varnish finish, yes, a hardened oil finish that has soaked into the wood will not do anything to stop a varnish from hardening. However, if the oil finish is a non-hardening mineral oil, then varnish will probably not adhere terribly well to the wood. So really it matters what kind of oil finish was applied, and what is the purpose of this top.


Oil penetrates the surface of the wood and helps to prevent other liquids penetrating. Stain needs to penetrate into the surface of the wood. I think for these reasons you'll have some trouble getting satisfactory results with the stain now that it has an oil finish.

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