Teak Oil vs Tung Oil vs Linseed Oil: Which is the Best Wood Finish?

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Choosing the right type of oil finish can add aesthetic value and protection to your wooden pieces. But it can be tricky if you are unfamiliar with them.

Three of the most popular types of oil wood finish today are teak, tung, and linseed. If you’re unsure which to choose, allow our expert wood craftsmen will help you in this teak oil vs tung oil vs linseed oil comparison guide.

What is Tung Oil?

Tung oil is known for its compatibility with most types of wood because it is 100% natural. It is extracted from the tung tree’s seeds, a native tree from China. Once the extracted oil is exposed to the air, it hardens and gives the wood a translucent wet look finish.

tung oil

Uses of Tung Oil

Tung oil is suitable for finishing wooden kitchen utensils, such as salad bowls, spoons, forks, and cutting boards. Since tung oil is natural and non-toxic, it can be the best finish for dining tables as it will not contaminate the food but protect the wood from being damaged by water or liquid food. 

We also recommend tung oil for woods exposed to harsh climates like rain and sunlight because it is waterproof and shields the wood from cracking. It is effective to finish and paint on wood for outdoor furniture and artwork.

Pros

Tung oil extends the lifespan of the wood because, aside from being waterproof, it is also acid resistant. It brings great benefits to the wood by protecting it from damage caused by water and other liquid.

applying tung oil to wooden frame

Tung oil is not harmful to the body and does not affect the food that may come in contact with it, especially when used to finish wooden utensils.

Another outstanding characteristic of tung oil is that it will not alter the wood’s original color. Even though it may darken woods with lighter shades and enhance the grain when applied, it will not permanently change the wood color. Once you remove it, the wood will retain its original color.

Cons

The downside of using tung oil as a wood finish is it takes a long time to dry. Pure tung oil would take two to three hours to dry. 

person holding tung oil container

Another huge burden is it would need three to five coats applied on the wood to achieve a perfect translucent finish, making the drying process even longer.

Also, you cannot store tung oil for a long time. You should use tung oil immediately because if you leave it in storage, it will thicken and harden after some time.

What is Teak Oil?

Unlike tung oil, teak oil is not a natural extract but a formulated oil, usually a combination of pure linseed and tung oil. Therefore, the wood finish depends on the formula that the brands use. However, the goal is to achieve a strong matte finish. 

teak oil

Uses of Teak Oil

Teak oil is most suitable for all hardwood. Since it gives wood UV protection, it is recommended for garden furniture, windows, doors, and fencing. 

It can also be used for indoor flooring because it does not easily chip and stick to the flooring well. Teak oil is also used for artworks and toys because it enhances the color of the wood and protects it from cracking.

Pros

When the wood is properly soaked in teak oil, it can penetrate the grains. Therefore, the teak oil gives the wood a strong matte finish which works well with dense wood like Oak, Beech, Mahogany, and more.

applying teak oil to wood

Teak oil also stays longer and does not crack or chip easily. Therefore, it protects the wood longer and does not need to reapply often. 

Another outstanding advantage of teak oil, among other oil types, is it gives UV protection to the wood. Therefore, the wood is protected from damage caused by the sun.

Cons

Since teak oil penetrates the deeper grains of the wood, it tends to alter the original color of the wood. It causes the wood to change its color permanently even when you scrape the oil off it.

teak oil finish

Also, because the finish of teak oil is strong, it makes the wood resistant to other elements like glue. Therefore, teak oil is not recommended if you will use glue to attach the wood afterward. 

Another disadvantage of teak oil is it fades easily. The wood will become dull after a few months, so you will need to reapply it if you need to preserve the shiny finish.

What is Linseed Oil?

Linseed oil is a natural oil extracted from flax seeds. It is known as a natural finish for wood, even before the discovery of modern preservatives [1]. 

linseed oil

Uses of Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is typically considered the first primer before applying paint on the wood. It penetrates the deeper grains of the wood and preserves its natural texture longer.

 Linseed oil is suitable for home furniture such as entertainment centers, dressers, nightstands, and other furniture that are not used often and are not prone to scratches. 

Pros

Linseed oil brings a beautiful finish to wood kitchen tables and other wood products because it brings out the depth of color of the wood and enhances the natural grains. It makes the wood look natural and more appealing. 

pouring linseed oil

Another advantage of using linseed oil is that it is easy to apply with the use of a lint-free rag. You only need to pour it on the rag and polish it along the direction of the grain. 

Cons

The main downside of linseed oil is the long drying process. Pure linseed oil may take two to three weeks to harden and dry completely. On the other hand, linseed oil mixed with other drying agents may take a minimum of three days to dry.

applying linseed oil to wood

Also, linseed oil is prone to scratches. Therefore, it is unsuitable for often-used furniture like kitchen tables.  It is also not recommended for flooring because the furniture or people walking on it may easily scratch and damage it. 

Also Read: Beeswax Finish Disadvantages 

FAQ

Can you finish teak using linseed oil?

Yes, you can finish teak using linseed oil because teak works well with a natural finish like linseed oil, which can enhance its color.

Do you need a sealer with tung oil?

No, you do not need a sealer with tung oil because it is capable of sealing naturally and is waterproof. 

How many teak oil coats should you apply?

You should apply two coats of teak oil to protect the wood and achieve the perfect finish look.

What’s the best method to finish teak wood?

The best method to finish teak wood is to use tung oil because it penetrates the grains and gives a deeper and lustrous finish.

Conclusion

Oil wood finish can protect wood from damage. It can also enhance the color and appearance of the wood. Choosing the right oil wood finish depends on the type of wood and the purpose of your project. 

Hopefully, you were able to distinguish their uses in this teak oil vs tung oil vs linseed oil comparison. Their pros and cons will help you determine which is best for your project.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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