How to Keep Oak Looking Au Naturale?


Understanding the new trend of allowing oak to retain its natural colour.

Author: Joanne Fisher

natural oak

How do we keep Oak looking Au Naturale?

We’re often asked by customers how they can keep their external oak (on porches, garages, verandahs, and other products) looking as good as it does when it leaves the workshop and arrives on site.

We sand and seal all our oak buildings and structures (tailored to suit each client) with oil prior to sending out. Ready then to face the weather as soon as the installation has taken place.

What Happens To The Oak?

Without any finish being applied to oak, rainwater penetrates the timber, which reacts with the tannins in the wood. This causes the oak to ‘blacken’.

Again, without any finish being applied, the sun’s UV rays will react with the oak leaving it to ‘silver’ over time.  Many clients like this look, especially with the porches.

All weathers – rain, sun and wind, can affect the appearance of the oak over time. The position of the oak structure (i.e. which direction it faces) can also affect this. Both these factors need bearing in mind when considering the oils and maintenance required.

Leaving the oak to take its natural process can have a ‘Marmite’ reaction!

We’ve found, talking to our clients that some people ‘love” the oak silvering off and ageing, and others absolutely ‘loathe’ it!!! This is why there are a number of options regarding the finishing of the oak. From a natural finish, a more traditional finish and a contemporary finish, all tailored to you….

How Can I Prevent The Oak Changing Colour?

We offer 3 options of finishing (4 if you count not having anything applied).

1 –Osmo UV Protection Oil – 420

This protects the oak from the weather, leaving it looking light and more contemporary whilst preventing the oak blackening or silvering, providing there is good maintenance.

2- Osmo UV Protection Oil with Natural tint – 429

This again protects the oak from the weather and leaves it looking more natural. You will see this shade on most of our oak porches and external products. Again, this prevents the oak blackening or silvering, providing there is good maintenance.

They both:

  • Are water and dirt resistant
  • Reduce wood swelling and shrinkage
  • Contain biocides to prevent the growth of algae, mildew and fungal attack
  • Have a microporous, breathable finish which does not peel, flake or blister
  • Don’t require any sanding before future applications

3 – Johnstones Satin Woodstain – Clear – Protects against UV rays

  • Contains biocides
  • Resists cracking, peeling, and blistering
  • Has excellent durability and weather protection
  • This gives a darker rich look, in comparison to the others


429 Tinted Oil 

420 Natural Oil 

Johnstones Oil 

We would always suggest that more frequent care and maintenance is required in the first couple of years of exposure to the elements, to maintain it’s decorative finish. In the first couple of years, we would suggest that frequent maintenance and care are paramount to the longevity of the decorative finish and its exposure to the elements.

If Au Naturale is your thing, we can provide your oak structure without applying any finish.

A recent client, (click for case study) who lives in the Peak District, wanted her new oak porch to ‘settle in’ to her period property as soon as possible. She, therefore, chose to not have any finish when the porch was made, as she wants it to silver off to look like part of the property.

A client from 6 years ago (see photos below) also wanted her porch to fit in with her 650-year old property. She had recently had an extension built on her pretty Cotswold house. She wanted both the stone and the oak to weather in as quickly as possible. By not applying any oil, the look has been created!

‘It looks lovely and as though it’s been here forever!’

Why not get in touch today for a friendly chat?

oak porch

Oak Porch – 6 Years Ago

oak porch

Oak Porch – Current Day


Ultimately, the decision to oil an oak porch or not depends on your opinion on its appearance changing over the years.  Oak does not need oil to preserve it.

Trends change over time and regardless of your decision, you can always revive the colour of the oak at a later stage.  This will be covered in a future blog.

Whatever your preference to finish, we can help you achieve it.

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