My Favorite Wood Finish: Tung Oil

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See why tung oil is my favorite wood finish plus tips when applying the wood finish.

Today I want to share my favorite wood finish. You have probably heard of Polycrylic or Polyurethane but have you heard of Tung Oil? Tung oil is my favorite way to finish my wood projects and I want to share why plus some applying tips.

tung oil on cedar panels


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First I am going to break down why Tung Oil is my favorite wood finish:
  • The oil penetrates into the wood to provide a relatively hard surface. Most finishes only sit on top of the wood.
  • It repels water, giving the wood a waterproof finish.
  • It makes the wood color pop!
  • It’s non-toxic, if 100% tung oil (not thinned), which is ideal for wood that comes in contact with food.
  • It’s easy to apply (it is very similar to staining).
  • Can be reapplied without removing the old coats of finish. So if there is a new scratch, you do not need to sand all the wood, just the area that is affected then apply tung oil or just apply tung oil without sanding.
  • It’s not a glossy finish. Some of you might like a shiny finish but I do not.


wood Tung Oil finish

There are many different ways to apply tung oil and I do share one way in my post about how to apply tung oil. What I want to share in this post are tips!

TIP 1:

Tung oil can be thinned to help it seep into the wood deeper. There are different ways to do this, one way is half tung oil and half mineral spirits. Just know that this one should not be used for wood that comes in contact with food.

SIDE NOTE: Milk Co. does make an option for this, see their Half & Half tung oil here.

I personally have only used 100% tung oil which does a fantastic job! But I plan on trying a half and half mix on my stair treads.

TIP 2:

When applying you do not want to stave the wood. You want enough oil that it can seep into the wood but you do not want it pooling on the wood.

TIP 3:

You can use a rag, brush, or roller to apply this finish.

TIP 4:

You want the oil to sit on the wood for a least 30 minutes to an hour before wiping with a cloth to remove the extra.

TIP 5:

Ideally, you want at least 2 coats of 100% tung oil (4 coats if 50% tung oil) but you can apply more. The ideal finish will not allow you to add any more oil.

TIP 6:

You will want to let the wood sit between coats, ideally 24 hours but I have reapplied after 2 hours.

TIP 7:

Tung oil hardens more over time, so your finish will only get better.

I have personally used tung oil on many projects, even ones that I have applied stain to first. Here are some of the projects:

And so many more projects. I hope that you will take a chance and give tung oil a try for your next woodworking finish. You could be like me and its the only thing I use to finish raw wood (not painted).

SIDE NOTE: For painted wood, I recommend using Polycrylic.

If anything I hope you realize that any type of finish is better than none. It will only protect your wood for years to come. Happy building!!

tips on applying tung oil

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