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Surface coatings provide protection to wood products against weathering and other deteriorating factors, such as moisture uptake and microbial invasion. The effectiveness of coatings depends on many factors, including how well the applied coatings adhere to the wood surface. Coating adhesion to wood involves both chemical and physical interactions between the coating and wood tissues in contact, and the particular focus of this mini-review will be on the advances being made in understanding the physical aspects of the interaction by probing wood-coating interface using novel and high resolution imaging techniques, including confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), SEM-backscattered electron imaging and correlative microscopy employing light, confocal and scanning electron microscopy.