Using Tung Oil on Teak

When it comes to preserving the natural beauty of teak wood, the choice of oil can make a world of difference. Tung oil, a time-honored favorite among woodworkers, is a top contender. But why is that? What makes it the go-to choice for teak wood finishing and protection?

With its golden hue and exceptional durability, teak wood is a darling of the furniture industry. It’s not just about its aesthetic appeal, though. Teak’s popularity stems from its unique characteristics that make it highly resistant to decay and pests, even in the harshest outdoor conditions.

This hardy nature of teak wood is due to its high oil content, tight grain, and tensile strength. These features not only make it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture but also mean it requires special care and maintenance. And that’s where tung oil comes into play.

What is Tung Oil?

Tung oil, also known as China wood oil, is derived from the seeds of the tung tree. This natural oil has been used for centuries to protect and preserve wood. Its popularity in wood finishing stems from its ability to penetrate deep into the wood, enhancing its natural character and providing a durable, water-resistant finish.

Historically, tung oil was used to waterproof ships, showcasing its impressive protective qualities. Today, it’s prized for its ability to provide a rich, hand-rubbed finish that doesn’t obscure the wood’s natural grain.

Benefits of Tung Oil on Teak

The use of tung oil on teak wood is a match made in woodworking heaven. This natural oil offers many benefits, making it a top choice for teak wood protection.

Firstly, tung oil penetrates deep into the wood, providing a robust barrier against moisture and the elements. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor teak furniture, often exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Secondly, tung oil enhances the natural beauty of teak. It imparts a warm, rich finish that accentuates the wood’s grain and color. Unlike some finishes that form a layer on the wood’s surface, tung oil seeps into the wood, allowing its natural character to shine through.

Lastly, tung oil is easy to maintain. Over time, as the finish begins to wear, a simple reapplication of the oil will restore the wood’s luster. This ease of maintenance makes tung oil a practical choice for teak wood protection.

Related: Tung oil for wood

Tung Oil vs. Other Oils

There are several oils to choose from when it comes to wood finishing. So, how does tung oil stack up against other popular options like teak oil, Danish oil, and linseed oil?

Teak Oil: A Glossy Finish with Frequent Reapplications

Contrary to its name, teak oil is not extracted from the tree. Instead, it’s a concoction of various oils and varnishes specifically designed to form a protective layer on the wood’s surface.

It’s known for providing a glossy finish, enhancing the natural beauty of the wood. However, it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the wood as tung oil does. It may require frequent reapplications to maintain its protective qualities and aesthetic appeal.

Danish Oil: Easy Application with Moderate Protection

Danish oil is a mixture of tung, linseed, and varnish. It’s known for its ease of application, and the satin finishes it imparts to the wood.

However, when it comes to protection, especially in outdoor conditions, it falls short of the robustness provided by pure tung oil. While it’s a good choice for indoor furniture, tung oil might be a better option for outdoor pieces.

Related: Danish Oil vs Tung Oil.

Linseed Oil: Durable but Darkens Over Time

Like tung oil, linseed oil is a natural oil derived from flax seeds. It’s appreciated for its durable finish and ease of application.

However, it has a slower drying time compared to tung oil. Additionally, linseed oil may darken the wood over time, which might not be desirable for all wood or furniture pieces.

Related: Tung oil Vs Linseed oil.

How to Apply Tung Oil to Teak Wood

Applying tung oil to teak wood is a straightforward process that even a novice DIYer can undertake. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through it:

  1. Preparation: Start by cleaning the teak wood. Remove any dust or dirt using a soft cloth. If the wood has a previous finish, you may need to sand it to bare wood.
  2. Application: Shake the tung oil container well before use. Apply a thin layer of tung oil to the wood using a clean, lint-free cloth or a brush. Always follow the grain of the wood when applying the oil.
  3. Absorption: Allow the oil to penetrate the wood. This usually takes 15-30 minutes. If you notice any dry spots during this time, apply more oil.
  4. Wipe Off: After the oil has penetrated, wipe off any excess oil using a clean cloth. Failure to do this can result in a sticky finish.
  5. Curing: Allow the oil to cure. This can take 24 to 48 hours depending on the temperature and humidity.
  6. Additional Coats: For a more durable finish, you can apply additional coats of oil. Just remember to allow each coat to cure before applying the next one.

Maintaining Tung Oil Finish on Teak

Maintaining a tung oil finish on teak is relatively simple. Here are some tips to help you prolong the life of your teak furniture:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Dust and clean your teak furniture regularly. Use a soft cloth to avoid scratching the finish.
  2. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid harsh cleaning agents on your teak furniture. These can damage the finish and the wood.
  3. Reapply as Needed: The tung oil finish may wear off over time. When this happens, simply clean the wood and reapply a coat of tung oil.
  4. Cover or Store: Cover or store your teak furniture indoors during harsh weather. This can help prolong the life of the tung oil finish.

Following these steps and tips, you can keep your teak furniture looking beautiful and well-protected for years. Tung oil and teak wood are a winning combination, offering aesthetic appeal and robust protection.

Tung Oil for Outdoor Teak Furniture

With its exposure to the elements, outdoor teak furniture requires a finish that can withstand time and weather. With its deep-penetrating and water-resistant properties, Tung oil is an excellent choice for this task.

Tung oil forms a tough, flexible layer that moves with the wood, preventing cracking and peeling. It also provides a barrier against moisture, reducing the risk of water damage and decay. Moreover, it enhances the wood’s resistance to mold and mildew, common issues with outdoor furniture.

Unlike finishes that can flake or peel under the harsh sun, tung oil holds up well under UV exposure. It doesn’t break down or become brittle, protecting your outdoor teak furniture year-round.

Related: Tung oil for outdoor furniture.

Common Questions About Tung Oil and Teak

When using tung oil on teak, several questions often crop up. Let’s address some of these:

Is tung oil good for teak?
Absolutely! Tung oil penetrates deep into the wood, providing a durable, water-resistant finish. It enhances the natural beauty of teak, highlighting its grain and color. Plus, it’s easy to maintain, making it a practical choice for teak wood protection.

Can you use tung oil on teak furniture?
Yes, you can. Tung oil is suitable for both indoor and outdoor teak furniture. It offers robust protection against the elements, making it an excellent choice for outdoor pieces. It provides a warm, rich finish for indoor furniture, enhancing the wood’s natural character.

Does tung oil darken teak wood?
Tung oil can slightly darken teak wood, giving it a richer, warmer tone. However, it doesn’t obscure the wood’s natural grain. Instead, it accentuates it, adding depth and character to the wood.

Related: Does tung oil darken wood?

Product Recommendations

If you’re ready to start using tung oil on your teak furniture, here are some top-quality products to consider:

  1. Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil: This product offers a waterproof natural wood finish and sealer, perfect for both indoor and outdoor teak furniture.
  2. Pure Tung Oil (Chinawood Oil): A versatile option that can be used on a variety of wood types, including teak.
  3. 100% Pure Tung Oil: This product is known for its deep penetration and durable finish.
  4. Pure Tung Oil – Organoil: A high-quality tung oil that’s easy to apply and maintain.

Safety Precautions When Using Tung Oil

While tung oil is a natural product, taking certain safety precautions is important. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Ventilation: Always work in a well-ventilated area when applying tung oil. This helps to disperse any fumes and reduces the risk of inhalation.
  2. Rag Disposal: Rags used to apply tung oil can pose a fire risk if not disposed of properly. Always place used rags in a sealed, water-filled container before disposing of them.
  3. Skin Protection: While tung oil is generally safe, it can cause skin irritation in some people. Consider wearing gloves when applying the oil.
  4. Storage: Store tung oil in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets.


Tung oil and teak wood are a winning combination. This natural oil not only enhances the beauty of teak but also provides robust protection, making it an excellent choice for indoor and outdoor furniture.

Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or a DIY enthusiast, using tung oil on your teak furniture can yield impressive results. So why not give it a try? Your teak furniture will thank you for it.