Danish Oil vs Tung Oil: A Comprehensive Guide to Wood Finishing

The kind of oil you choose can significantly affect the final result regarding wood finishing. Two of the most renowned choices are Danish Oil and Tung Oil.

Both these oils have their unique properties, benefits, and application techniques. However, selecting the right oil is crucial, as it can impact your wooden piece’s look, feel, and longevity.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these oils, from their composition to their application, to help you make an informed choice.

Understanding Danish Oil

Danish Oil is a unique blend of oil and varnish, providing the penetrating benefits of natural oils and the protective attributes of varnish. Primarily, it’s a mixture of tung or linseed oil and varnish, balancing aesthetic appeal and durability.

Advantages of Danish Oil

One of the most appealing aspects of Danish Oil is its ease of application. Unlike other finishing oils, it doesn’t require sophisticated tools or techniques. A simple cloth or brush will suffice for applying Danish Oil.

Moreover, Danish Oil finish dries relatively faster than other oils, typically within 12 to 18 hours, which is a significant advantage when working on a time-sensitive project. Furthermore, Danish Oil is a great option for outdoor wooden furniture, as it’s water-resistant and provides UV protection, making it a perfect choice for preserving the natural beauty of wood exposed to the elements.

How to Apply Danish Oil

Applying Danish Oil is a straightforward process. Start by sanding the wood surface to create a smooth base. Once the surface is prepared, apply the first Danish oil coat using a brush or a cloth. Allow it to penetrate the wood for 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess oil. You can apply additional coats for a richer finish, remembering to allow sufficient drying time between coats.

Danish Oil on Different Types of Wood

The effect of Danish Oil can vary depending on the type of wood. For instance, softer woods like pine tend to darken the wood, giving it a rich, warm tone.

It’s important to note that the final result can also be influenced by the number of coats applied, so it’s wise to test on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding with the entire piece.

Danish Oil vs Other Oils

Compared to other oils like linseed, teak, or polyurethane, Danish Oil stands out for its balance between ease of application and durability. While linseed oil and teak oil are great for nourishing the wood, they often require more maintenance. On the other hand, polyurethane provides a hard, durable finish but lacks the natural look and feel that Danish Oil can offer.

Best Danish Oil Products

Among the various Danish Oil products in the market, Watco Danish Oil ranks high for its quality and performance. It offers a blend of superior penetrating oil and varnish, enhancing the natural beauty of the wood while providing a hard, durable finish.

Danish Oil Varnish

One of the unique features of Danish Oil is its use as a varnish. When applied in multiple coats, Danish Oil builds up to form a protective layer on the wood surface, acting like a varnish. This allows it to protect the wood from damage while maintaining its natural look and feel.

Understanding Tung Oil

Tung Oil is an all-natural finishing product derived from the seeds of the tung tree, predominantly found in China. This oil has been a staple in wood finishing for centuries, revered for its ability to penetrate deeply into the wood and create a durable, flexible, and water-resistant surface.

Advantages of Tung Oil

One of the most substantial benefits of Tung Oil is its remarkable resistance to water and moisture, making it an ideal choice for items such as outdoor furniture, countertops, and decks. Moreover, it’s resistant to alcohol and common household chemicals.

Also, Tung Oil cures to a beautiful matte finish that enhances the wood’s grain, providing an appealing, natural look. Its longer cure time, while initially might seem like a disadvantage, allows for a more thorough saturation into the wood, ultimately leading to a more durable finish.

How to Apply Tung Oil

Applying Tung Oil is relatively simple, yet it requires patience. Begin by preparing the surface by sanding it smooth. Then, apply the first coat of Tung Oil using a clean, lint-free cloth, allowing the oil to penetrate the wood.

After approximately 30 minutes (or once the oil has soaked in), wipe off any excess oil using a clean cloth. The surface should not feel wet. Repeat this process for additional coats, allowing 24 hours of drying time between each coat. Depending on the desired look, you may apply several coats – but remember, patience is key!

Tung Oil on Different Types of Wood

Tung Oil works beautifully on various types of wood, including oak. When applied to oak, it deeply penetrates the wood, enhancing its natural grain and providing a warm, rich finish. As with any wood finish, it’s a good idea to apply it to a small, unseen test area first to ensure you’re happy with the result.

Tung Oil vs Other Oils

Tung Oil offers a unique blend of benefits compared to other oils like teak oil or varnish. While teak oil is often favored for dense woods, Tung Oil’s ability to penetrate deeply makes it a versatile choice for many wood types.

Conversely, Varnish provides a hard, protective surface, but lacks the deep, natural finish that Tung Oil can achieve. Tung Oil doesn’t peel or chip over time like varnish can.

Best Tung Oil Products

When it comes to the best Tung Oil products in the market, Pure Tung Oil is a standout choice. It’s made from 100% pure, raw, and uncontaminated tung oil, ensuring a high-quality, durable finish. Its penetrative properties and the beautiful patina it imparts make it a favorite among woodworkers.

Tung Oil Sealant

In addition to being a fantastic finish, Tung Oil doubles as an effective sealant. Its water-resistant properties make it a powerful protector against moisture damage. When cured, it forms a solid, flexible layer that seals the wood, protecting it from the inside out. It’s this dual functionality that truly sets Tung Oil apart in the world of wood finishing.

Danish Oil vs Tung Oil: Which is Better?

Choosing between Danish Oil and Tung Oil boils down to your specific needs and the demands of your woodworking project. Danish Oil is favored for its fast drying time and enhanced UV protection, making it a splendid choice for outdoor projects. Tung Oil, on the other hand, is lauded for its water-resistant properties and its ability to produce a natural, matte finish that deepens over time. So, is Danish Oil better than Tung Oil? It all depends on your project requirements and personal preference.

Can You Put Danish Oil Over Tung Oil and Vice Versa?

Layering these oils might seem like a brilliant way to enjoy the best of both worlds. However, it’s essential to understand that Danish Oil and Tung Oil have distinct properties, and mixing them may not always yield the desired result.

Applying Danish Oil over Tung Oil is generally not recommended. The varnish component in Danish Oil may not adhere well to the already saturated surface, resulting in a patchy and inconsistent finish. Conversely, applying Tung Oil over Danish Oil may not significantly improve the finish as the Tung Oil could have difficulty penetrating the varnish layer of the Danish Oil.

Does Tung Oil Darken Wood More Than Danish Oil?

Another aspect to consider when choosing between Danish Oil and Tung Oil is their impact on wood color. Both oils tend to darken the wood slightly, enhancing the grain and giving the wood a rich, warm tone. However, Tung Oil often has a slightly darker finish than Danish Oil. The effect can vary depending on the type of wood, the number of coats applied, and the specific product used.


Danish Oil and Tung Oil bring unique advantages in the grand scheme of wood finishing. Danish Oil stands out with its fast-drying time and UV protection, while Tung Oil shines with its water resistance and natural finish.

Layering these oils isn’t typically recommended due to potential adhesion issues. As for the impact on wood color, Tung Oil darkens wood slightly more than Danish Oil.

Ultimately, your choice between Danish Oil and Tung Oil should be guided by your project’s needs, the type of wood you’re working with, and your desired finish. Whether you choose Danish Oil or Tung Oil, both can bring out the natural beauty of wood, ensuring your project stands the test of time. Happy woodworking!