Using Tung Oil for Outdoor Furniture: A Comprehensive Guide

Tung oil, also known as China wood oil, has a rich history dating back to ancient times and has been used for centuries in various applications, from waterproofing ships to preserving wood.

It offers many benefits when used on outdoor furniture, such as creating a hard, durable finish that can withstand the elements, water-resistant, and beautifying.

Applying Tung oil is easy and requires no fancy tools or techniques, just a clean cloth, and a little elbow grease. When it comes to maintenance, a fresh coat now and then will keep your furniture looking its best.

Why Choose Tung Oil for Outdoor Furniture: A Deep Dive

So, why should you choose Tung oil for your outdoor furniture? The answer lies in its unique properties and benefits that make it a standout choice for preserving and enhancing the beauty of your outdoor pieces.

Firstly, Tung oil penetrates deep into the wood, creating a robust, flexible layer that doesn’t chip or peel off. This makes it an excellent choice for furniture exposed to the elements. It’s like giving your furniture a protective shield that guards against the harsh sun, rain, and occasional spills.

Secondly, Tung oil enhances the natural beauty of the wood. It brings out the grain and color of the wood, giving your furniture a warm, rich glow. It’s like a beauty treatment for your furniture, making it look even better than the day you bought it.

Lastly, Tung oil is easy to apply and maintain. You don’t need special tools or skills to apply it – just a clean cloth and a little patience. And when it comes to maintenance, a fresh coat now and then will keep your furniture looking its best.

Tung Oil vs. Other Finishes: A Comparative Analysis

When it comes to wood finishes, there are several options available. Linseed oil and teak oil are two popular choices. But how do they stack up against Tung oil?

Tung Oil vs. Linseed Oil

Linseed oil, derived from the seeds of the flax plant, is a common choice for wood finishes. However, it doesn’t quite match up to Tung oil regarding durability and water resistance.

Linseed oil darkens over time and doesn’t offer the same protection against moisture. On the other hand, Tung oil retains its color and provides superior water resistance, making it a better choice for outdoor furniture.

Tung Oil vs. Teak Oil

Teak oil, despite its name, is not extracted from teak wood. It blends oils and solvents designed to penetrate dense woods like teak. While teak oil can enhance the look of the wood and provide some protection, it doesn’t harden as Tung oil does.

This means it doesn’t offer the same level of protection against the elements. Tung oil’s hardening properties provide a more durable and long-lasting finish.

Applying and Maintaining Tung Oil on Outdoor Furniture

So, you’ve decided to use Tung oil on your outdoor furniture. Great choice! Now, let’s walk through how to apply Tung oil to your outdoor furniture.

Step 1: Preparation

Start by cleaning your furniture. Remove any dust or dirt with a damp cloth and let it dry. If the furniture has a previous finish, you may need to sand it to bare wood.

Step 2: Application

Pour a small amount of Tung oil onto a clean, lint-free cloth. Apply the oil to the wood circularly, working it into the grain. Don’t rush this step – the goal is to allow the oil to penetrate deeply into the wood.

Step 3: Absorption

Let the oil absorb into the wood for about 15-30 minutes. If you notice any areas where the oil has not been absorbed, rub in more.

Step 4: Wipe Off Excess

After the oil has had time to absorb, wipe off any excess with a clean cloth. The wood should not feel wet or sticky. If it does, keep wiping.

Step 5: Repeat

For the best results, apply several coats of Tung oil. Allow the furniture to dry for 24-48 hours between coats.

Maintaining the Tung Oil Finish on Outdoor Furniture

Now that you’ve applied Tung oil to your outdoor furniture, let’s discuss how to maintain it. The durability of Tung oil is one of its key benefits, but like any finish, it needs some care to keep it looking its best.

Regular Cleaning

Regularly clean your furniture with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the finish.


Over time, the Tung oil finish may wear or fade, especially in areas exposed to heavy use or harsh weather. When this happens, clean the furniture and apply a fresh coat of Tung oil.

Protect from Extreme Weather

While Tung oil protects against the elements, extreme weather can still take a toll on your furniture. Bring your furniture indoors during harsh winter months or cover it with a waterproof cover.

Tung Oil for Different Types of Outdoor Furniture

Tung oil isn’t just for one type of outdoor furniture. Its versatility is one of its greatest strengths, making it suitable for various outdoor pieces, from tables and benches to decks.

Outdoor Tables

Outdoor tables often bear the brunt of the elements, from scorching sun to freezing snow. Tung oil can provide a durable, water-resistant finish that protects the wood while enhancing its natural beauty. Plus, it’s food-safe, making it a great choice for picnic or dining tables.

Outdoor Benches

Benches, whether on your porch or in your garden, can greatly benefit from a Tung oil finish. It protects the wood from weather and wear and gives it a warm, inviting glow that makes your outdoor space even more welcoming.

Outdoor Decks

Decks are exposed to heavy foot traffic and weather, making them prone to wear and tear. Tung oil penetrates deep into the wood, providing a protective barrier that can withstand the rigors of outdoor living. Plus, it’s easy to reapply, making maintenance a breeze.

Safety Measures When Using Tung Oil

While Tung oil is a fantastic choice for outdoor furniture, it’s important to remember safety when using it. Here are a few key safety measures to consider:


Always work in a well-ventilated area when applying Tung oil. The fumes can be harmful if inhaled in large amounts, so ensure plenty of fresh air.

Protective Gear

Wear protective gloves when handling Tung oil, and consider wearing safety glasses if there’s a risk of splashing.


Dispose of any rags used to apply Tung oil properly. They can spontaneously combust if not handled correctly. The best method is to lay them flat to dry in a non-combustible area, or soak them in water before disposing them in a sealed metal container.

Buying Tung Oil and Top Brands to Consider

Where to Buy Tung Oil

Tung oil is widely available and can be purchased from various sources. Many home improvement stores and woodworking supply shops carry it, and it’s also readily available online. Here are a few places where you can find Tung oil:

  1. Fusion Mineral Paint – Price: $35.99
  2. Craftsman Supply Co – Price: $6.50
  3. Jami Ray Vintage – Price: $9.95
  4. Walrus Oil – Price: $29.99
  5. Rusty Design – Price: $21.00

When buying Tung oil, look for products labeled as “pure” or “100%” Tung oil. These products are free from additives and provide the best protection for your outdoor furniture.

Top Tung Oil Brands for Outdoor Furniture

Regarding Tung oil brands for outdoor furniture, there are several options. Here are a few popular ones:

  1. Fusion Mineral Paint Tung Oil: This brand offers high-quality Tung oil for outdoor furniture. It penetrates deeply into the wood, providing a durable, water-resistant finish.
  2. Walrus Oil Pure Tung Oil: Walrus Oil is known for its premium wood finishes, and their Tung oil is no exception. It’s easy to apply and provides excellent protection against the elements.
  3. Sweet Pickins Milk Paint Tung Oil: This Tung oil is a favorite among DIY enthusiasts. It’s easy to use and gives outdoor furniture a natural finish.

Remember, the best Tung oil for your outdoor furniture is the one that meets your specific needs and preferences. So, consider factors like ease of application, drying time, and the look you want to achieve when choosing a brand.

Reviews of Tung Oil for Outdoor Furniture

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive regarding the real-world application of tung oil on outdoor furniture. Users often highlight the rich, warm glow it imparts to the wood, enhancing the natural grain patterns and adding a layer of rustic charm.

They also appreciate its water-resistant properties, which protect their furniture from the elements, extending its lifespan.

One user, a proud owner of an outdoor teak table, shared how the tung oil made the wood’s beautiful grain look brand new. Another user, who applied tung oil on their cedar deck, was thrilled with the results, noting how it repelled water and prevented the wood from greying.

It’s important to note that results can vary based on the type of wood and the specific brand of tung oil used. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to test a small area before applying it to the entire piece of furniture.

Alternatives to Tung Oil

While tung oil is a fantastic choice for outdoor furniture, other options are available for those who might want to explore alternatives.

One such alternative is Danish oil. Danish oil penetrates the wood like tung oil, providing a strong, durable finish. It’s easy to apply and leaves a beautiful satin finish that enhances the wood’s natural grain.

Another alternative is teak oil. Despite its name, teak oil can be used on various woods, not just teak. It’s particularly well-suited for dense woods used in outdoor furniture and provides excellent protection against the elements.

Lastly, linseed oil is another popular choice. Like tung oil, it’s a natural oil penetrating deeply into the wood, providing a durable, protective finish. However, it does take longer to dry than tung oil and may require more frequent reapplications.

Ultimately, the choice between tung oil and its alternatives depends on your needs, the type of wood you’re working with, and the look you aim to achieve.

Tung Oil and Weatherproofing Outdoor Furniture

One of the main reasons why tung oil is a popular choice for outdoor furniture is its ability to weatherproof wood.

Tung oil penetrates deep into the wood when applied, filling the pores and forming a protective barrier. This water-resistant barrier makes it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture exposed to rain, snow, or high humidity.

Moreover, tung oil doesn’t just repel water; it also protects the wood from the damaging effects of the sun. It prevents the wood from drying out and cracking, which can occur with prolonged exposure to UV rays. So, tung oil is a solid choice to protect your outdoor furniture from the elements.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tung Oil for Outdoor Furniture

Is tung oil good for outdoor furniture?

Absolutely! Tung oil is a fantastic choice for outdoor furniture. It penetrates deeply into the wood, providing a durable, water-resistant finish. It also enhances the natural beauty of the wood, bringing out its grain and giving it a warm, rich glow.

Can tung oil be used on all types of outdoor furniture?

Tung oil can be used in various woods, making it suitable for outdoor furniture. Whether you have a teak table, a cedar deck, or a pine bench, you can use tung oil to protect and beautify your furniture.

How often should I reapply tung oil to my outdoor furniture?

The frequency of reapplication depends on the weather conditions and the wear and tear your furniture experiences. Generally, it’s a good idea to reapply tung oil once a year to maintain its protective properties and keep your furniture looking its best.


Tung oil is an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Its protective properties make it ideal for weatherproofing your pieces against the elements.

It’s easy to apply, enhances the natural beauty of the wood, and is suitable for various furniture types.

Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or a DIY enthusiast, using tung oil can help you maintain the beauty and longevity of your outdoor furniture. So, why not give it a try? Your furniture will thank you for it!