Teak Oil vs Tung Oil: Which is Better

Teak Oil

When it comes to products designed for finishing and protecting wood, teak oil and tung oil rank as two of the most common kinds. Some people use them interchangeably, but while both oils are similar in terms of their purpose, their results can be very different. If you’re struggling to figure out which of the two to use, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about teak oil vs tung oil so you know how to protect the wood you use in your home.

What Is Tung Oil?

As SawsHub explains, tung oil is a 100 percent natural oil made by compressing the seeds of the tung tree, a species common to China that’s been harvested for its oil for thousands of years. In terms of its characteristics, tung oil is a pungent, transparent oil with a yellow tint. When applied to wood in thin layers, it forms an elastic, impermeable barrier that allows wood to expand and contract when exposed to changes in temperature and humidity, while still remaining protected. As the oil is waterproof, it’s often used to protect outdoor furniture that’s regularly exposed to the elements.

How to Apply Tung Oil

Applying tung oil is a straightforward process. As per Hunker, start by thinning the oil using 1 part oil to 3 parts mineral spirits or turpentine. Apply a small amount of oil to a clean, lint-free rag, then work it into sanded, bare wood, one section at a time. Don’t flood the wood with more oil than it can absorb – several thin layers will be more effective than one thick one. Be sure to rub along the grain rather than against it. Wipe any excess oil away, wait 20 minutes, and then wipe again. Allow two to three days for the finish to dry. Once it’s completely dry, use 320 fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the wood. Wipe away any dust with a clean cloth, then apply a 2nd coat of tung oil mixed with equal parts mineral oil or turpentine. Wipe away the excess oil and allow it to dry. Repeat the process until you have applied between 5-7 coats to the wood. With each new layer, increase the tung oil proportion in the oil and thinner mixture.

Pros and Cons of Tung Oil

To understand whether tung oil is the right choice for your project, it’s worth taking a look at some of its main pros and cons. According to elegantoutdoorspace.com, these include:


  • It’s easy to apply.
  • It’s 100 percent natural and environmentally friendly, with no toxins and no safety concerns.
  • The oil enhances the original wood color but doesn’t conceal it.
  • It forms a protective barrier that protects wood from water, oxygen, alcohol, and certain acids.
  • It forms an elastic, flexible film that allows wood to expand and contract with temperature changes and humidity, while still protecting it from mold, rot, and stains.


  • The drying time between layers is long.
  • Around 5 layers of oil is needed, increasing overall application time.
  • Once opened, tung oil does not store well.

What Is Teak Oil?

Teak oil, despite what its name implies, doesn’t come from teak trees. It’s actually simply a marketing name for a product that combines a refined drying oil like linseed or tung with additives to speed up drying time and improve ease of application. While it can be applied to a variety of wood products, it’s usually used to help restore the natural golden color of teak wood that’s faded with age or wood that’s unsealed.

How to Apply Teak Oil

Teak oil is remarkably easy to apply. Depending on the formula, it can be sprayed, brushed, or wiped onto the wood. Drying time between layers is just 2 – 8 hours. For most purposes, 2 to 4 layers of teak oil will be sufficient to protect the wood from mold, stains, and damp.

Pros and Cons of Teak Oil

According to woodworkingtoolkit.com, the pros and cons to be aware of when it comes to teak oil are as follows:


  • Teak oil penetrates into wood easily and dries quickly, usually within just 2- 8hours.
  • Most teak oils include UV filters that protect furniture from harmful rays and prevent fading.
  • Teak oil can prevent cracking, peeling, and chipping by protecting wood from the inside out.
  • Because of the ease with which it penetrates wood, it’s ideal for dense woods like mahogany, snakewood, and rosewood.
  • As teak oil consists of a blend of different oils, it can be custom-designed for a particular type of wood, a particular purpose, or even to create a specific effect like a high gloss or matte finish.


  • When teak oil is applied to wood, the hard barrier it forms makes it difficult to glue that wood with anything else.
  • Depending on the composition of the teak oil, it may cause the wood to change color over time.
  • Not all teak oils extent the lifespan of wood.
  • Key Differences between Tung Oil and Teak Oil

Both tung oil and teak oil are penetrating oils (i.e. they both sink into the wood to form an impenetrable barrier, rather than sitting on its surface in the way that finishes such as lacquer and varnish do) with similar contents and similar functions. They both condition and protect wood and they both enhance its natural appearance. Despite their similarities, they also have certain key differences. For example, as tung oil is a natural product with no additional additives, it does not offer the same level of UV protection as teak oil, which usually has UV blocking ingredients added to its formula. As there is no standard definition or formula for teak oil, its composition varies widely, with the result that any environmental hazards or toxins will need to be assessed on a product-by-product basis. Tung oil, on the other hand, consists solely of natural tung oil and carries no safety concerns. In terms of the finish, teak oil tends to lend more of a sheen to wood, whereas tung oil has a matte finish. The most significant difference can be found in drying time: whereas tung can take two to three days to fully cure, teak oil can take as little as a few hours, depending on the manufacturer.

Teak Oil vs Tung Oil: Which is Better

Both teak oil and tung oil have their advantages and disadvantages. If you’re looking for an environmentally safe oil that will offer long-lasting protection without affecting the natural color of wood, tung oil is your best option. If, however, you’re looking for a high sheen finish and only have a limited amount of time to spend on the project, you’ll probably find teak oil preferable.

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