I’m showing my fiberglass canoe some love. The hull is painted, to cover the repairs from unexpected tree damage and general wear and tear, so that’s getting a new coat of paint. It has wood gunwales and thwarts, and they also look dingy, so are getting a light sanding, and oiling. The thwarts are easy to remove so no problem there, the gunwales aren’t coming off any time soon. So the question is which would you do first, oil the gunwales or paint the hull?
I wouldn’t oil the gunwales; I would finish with Varathane outdoor water-based polyurethane (gloss). This stuff is the easiest and best wood finish I’ve ever used. It dries to the touch in five minutes. It takes about six coats to do a very nice rich finish, which takes maybe two, or three days, because even though it dries to the touch in five minutes, it should have some time between coats for it to cure properly.
I even use this same finish to spiffy up polyethylene boats. You just have to be sure to remove all wax and smooth up scuffs before applying the finish. Always use a very high quality, fine bristle brush with this finish.