Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil: Guide to Differences & Applications

A brush being used to apply a finishing oil to a tabletop.

Looking for the perfect kind of finishing oil to bring out all the unique colors and patterns on your woodworking project?

For a beginner, it might be a bit tricky to determine whether teak oil or tung oil is better for their project.

Is tung oil or teak oil better? Generally speaking, teak oil outshines tung oil in having a shorter drying time, providing more protection, and requiring less effort to apply. On the other hand, tung oil can be a better choice if you’re looking for more versatility, nontoxic ingredients, and better water resistance.

Now that you know what to expect when using teak oil and tung oil on wood, why don’t you join me while we dive a little deeper into their properties and uses?

Key Differences Between Teak Oil and Tung Oil

Here’s a quick comparison between both types of oils if you’re in a hurry!

  Teak Oil Tung Oil
Ingredients Tung oil, linseed oil, varnish, and mineral spirits (petroleum naphtha) Only natural oil from nuts of the tung tree
Toxicity May be toxic because it includes chemicals Nontoxic because it doesn’t include any additives
Water Resistance Not as water-resistant as tung oil but can still prevent mold Better water resistance because it’s a natural oil
Drying Time Takes approximately 10 hours to dry May take up to 3+ days to dry
Durability Dries harder to form a stronger protective layer on wood The protective layer isn’t as hard as that of teak oil
Finished Appearance Tends to discolor wood and gives wood a hand-rubbed appearance Only enhances the original color of the wood
Recommended Number of Coats 2 coats on normal wood

4-6 coats on overly dry wood

3-4 coats on normal wood

5-8 coats on overly dry wood

Best Used for Dense wood

Boat decking

Interior and exterior applications 

Expanding wood (because it’s flexible)

Salad bowls and cutting boards

Interior and exterior applications

Price Affordable (up to $20 for 16 ounces) Affordable (up to $20 for 16 ounces)

Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil

The debate on which oil is best for your needs is just starting. In this section, we’ll explore the properties of both finishing oils in more detail to give you the whole picture.

Are you ready to dive right in?

Teak Oil

A lot of people associate this oil with teakwood just because there’s the word “teak” in it, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Here’s everything you need to know about teak oil.

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Teak Oil Characteristics and Ingredients

To put it simply, teak oil isn’t extracted from teakwood. Rather, it’s made from a blend of ingredients that might vary from one brand to another.

In most cases, teak oil consists of a mixture of linseed oil, a little bit of tung oil, and varnish.

Besides these contents, you’ll always find mineral spirits in there, which translates to petroleum naphtha.

One of the coolest things about teak oil is that it offers a solid protective layer when it dries on the wood’s surface.

However, that feature could be a disadvantage too because it makes it more challenging to glue pieces of wood after you apply teak oil to them.

Even though this finishing oil is water resistant to an extent, it isn’t entirely waterproof. This is why we don’t recommend using it in overly humid climates because it could lead to mold growth on wood.

Teak Oil Uses

Because of its extra durability and hard protective layer, teak oil is perfect for use on dense woods such as mahogany, rosewood, etc.

You can use this oil for a huge selection of applications including outdoor decking, the wooden parts of boats, and indoor and outdoor furniture.

Teak Oil Application and Drying Time

Teak oil has several advantages over tung oil, but its ease of use and fast drying time are probably its two major selling points.

To coat your wooden furniture with teak oil, you can simply do it using a brush, a rag, or even a reliable spray bottle.

Better yet, you’ll only need two to three coats max to give the wood a desirable finish, and the oil will likely dry in a matter of 10 hours or less.

Therefore, you can have a finished product by the end of the day, which we can’t say for our tung oil fellow!

For a mistake-free experience with teak oil, here are a few guidelines to take into account:

  • Make sure that the cloth you’re using is lint free.
  • Use more than three coats if the wood is too dry or if it’s bleached.
  • Ensure that your furniture is clean from dust or debris before applying teak oil.
  • If there are any wet areas on the wood, wait until they’ve dried completely before using the oil.

Teak Oil Finished Appearance

After coating your wooden furniture with teak oil, you should end up with a warm finish that leans toward a golden color.

However, as natural elements work their way into the coating, the color of the wood might change slightly into a faded gray hue.

Tung Oil

Also known as China wood oil, tung oil has been used for centuries to protect Chinese wooden boats from the outdoor elements.

It’s still quite popular to this day because of its versatility, natural appearance, and awesome waterproofing qualities.

With that in mind, let’s get to know tung oil better!

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Tung Oil Characteristics and Ingredients

Unlike teak oil, tung oil doesn’t need any chemicals or additives to work its charm. On the contrary, it’s just a natural extract from the nuts of the tung tree.

This can make it the perfect choice for people who don’t want any chemicals in their woodworking projects.

Even better, tung oil is quite flexible, moving with the wood as it expands or shrinks due to the changing temperature.

Plus, it doesn’t create an exceptionally hard protective layer, enabling you to work the wood again even after application. That’s not the case with teak oil.

Ultimately, one of the best characteristics of tung oil is that it’s waterproof, but that’s not all.

After it completely dries on a wooden surface, it can keep dust, alcohol, and a good number of acids from getting to the wood. Pretty fantastic, right?

Tung Oil Uses

Because of the lack of chemicals in its composition, tung oil is a favorite for use in food-related applications. It’s safe to coat wooden cutting boards, large bowls, knife handles, and more.

In addition to these uses, tung oil is just the right candidate for interior and exterior applications, wooden boat sections, and more.

Tung Oil Application and Drying Time

Even though tung oil is a piece of cake to apply using a brush or a cotton cloth, pure tung oil can take up to three days to dry.

Of course, that can hinder your progress if you need to work the wood after application.

Plus, you’ll also have to sand the wood after every layer you add of the finishing oil, which equals more time and effort.

Usually, when you’re using tung oil, you’ll need to apply five to seven coats to get that lovely finish you have in mind.

It might take a while until you’re done, but the impressive result should be definitely worth it!

Tung Oil Finished Appearance

Luckily, there are no concerns about discoloring the wood when you coat it with tung oil.

On the contrary, the finishing oil should give your project an attractive look, enhancing the wood’s original colors and adding a glossy effect to it.

In addition to that, the lovely color won’t fade in a matter of years.

How Long Does Teak Oil Finish Last?

Generally, it depends on how exposed the piece of furniture is to the elements. If we’re talking outdoor furniture, the teak oil finish might fade away in one or two years.

In this case, you can always sand off the dulled areas of the coating and give the entire thing a fresh coat.

Can I Put Tung Oil Over Teak Oil?

You can apply tung oil on top of an existing coat of teak oil, but it will probably be a waste of tung oil because it won’t penetrate the wood.

See, the teak oil layer will already be solid enough to give you the protection that you want, and adding tung oil on top of it won’t achieve any goals.

Furthermore, the tung oil layer might be wiped off quite easily. Your best shot is to use either teak oil or tung oil alone on wood.

Or, if you want some extra strength, there’s always the option to add teak oil on top of tung oil since the former creates a harder shell.

Final Thoughts

In this teak oil vs. tung oil comparison, the winner is only what suits your needs most.

For example, if you want a more durable surface, quick drying time, and an elegant hand-rubbed effect, teak oil can do the job beautifully.

However, those looking for a more natural finish, waterproof coats, and a food-safe alternative may be better off with tung oil.

No matter which type of finishing oil you go for, remember to make sure the wood is always clean and dry before you apply it for the best results!

Last update on 2024-05-28 at 04:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!