Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil – Comparison & Differences

Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil

As the name suggests, tung oil comes from the tung oil tree and it is extracted by crushing the tree’s seeds.

However, teak oil is not produced from the teak tree. Instead, it is an oil blend that contains a mix of tung oil, soy oil, linseed oil and polymers such as varnish.

Both oil types are very popular in wood finishing but have different properties.

To determine which is the best one for your project, we first need to look at the properties of each for comparison purposes. Let’s get started.

Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil Comparison

Let’s take a look at detailed comparison of both oils:

1. Application

Teak oil should be used to coat outdoor furniture due to its UV protection property, or when you don’t have a lot of time to hand over your wooden project.

Tung oil should only be used for indoor projects but can be applied on almost any wooden surface because it is waterproof and gives a natural aesthetic finish.

2. Composition: Pure vs. Blended Oil

Tung oil is 100% pure and its quality is standard among the different manufacturers. This is because it is extracted from the seeds of a tung tree and no additives are added. The result is a thick oil that leaves a plastic or wet-like finish on the wood’s surface when dry.

Teak oil contains various ingredients such as soy oil, linseed oil, and tung oil, as well as polymers. The exact mix of this blend is not standardized and therefore, each manufacturer offers a unique blend.

3. UV Protection: Teak Oil is Better for Outdoor Use

Since it is blended, teak oil contains additives and filters that help block out the sun’s harmful UV rays. Therefore, it is ideal for coating outdoor furniture because it prolongs their lifespan.

The oil can also be used for indoor furniture and this gives it an edge over tung oil, which does not offer UV protection.

4. Water Resistance: Tung Oil is Ideal for Flooring Panels

On the flip side, while tung oil does not offer UV protection, it waterproofs the wood by creating a very thick coat. Additionally, the oil penetrates deep into the wood to form an impervious layer that prevents water from coming into contact with the underlying surface.

Apart from that, tung oil is impervious to alcohol, acetone and fruit acids, which makes it ideal for coating flooring panels.

Teak oil also offers some water resistance but is not as effective as tung oil. Therefore, when applied to outdoor furniture as described above, ensure that the wooden pieces have drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating above and soaking in.

5. Drying Time: Teak Oil is Better for Commercial Woodworking Projects

A single coat of teak oil takes about 2-8 hours to dry, and you need about 3 coats. In total, this means up to 24 hours maximum to complete the coating process. This may seem like a long time but with tung oil, you need more patience.

A single coat of tung oil needs about 24 hours to dry and you need about 6 coats to complete the project. Therefore, this process could take up to a week, which is a very long time.

Therefore, if you are working on a client project and you don’t have much time to deliver the finished product, it is recommended to use teak oil.

6. Toxicity: Tung Oil is Better for Kitchen Use

One major advantage that tung oil has is that it is non-toxic, which is partly because it is 100% natural. This makes it food safe and it can be used to coat kitchen items such as cutting boards and wooden serving spoons. However, there is a condition. The oil must be 100% pure.

Most teak oils are toxic because of the different ingredients that make up the blended formulation. However, you may find some non-toxic teak oil blends, but these are usually very expensive.

7. Finishing: Tung Oil is Ideal for Detailed Finishing

Tung oil highlight the wood grain patterns to give a natural finish that is very aesthetic. On the other hand, teak oil might change the color of the wood over time, depending on its composition.

Therefore, where the quality of the finish is a high priority (such as in wooden flooring), tung oil is the best option.

8. Other Features: Flexibility, Gluing and Storage

Because it forms a thick, plastic-like coat, tung oil retains more flexibility as compared to teak oil when dry. This creates a reliable cover that protects the wood even as it expands and contracts.

Additionally, this flexible coat sticks better to glue while the hard coat created by teak oil might give you gluing problems.

Lastly, if you have some leftover oil, storing it would not be a problem if it is teak oil. However, with 100% pure tung oil, it can easily solidify to create a gummy deposit.

As such, you must store it at the recommended temperature (this should be indicated on the can/bottle) with the lid tightly sealed and do not expose it to light.

Comparison Table

Teak Oil

Tung Oil

  • Oil blend
  • Offers UV protection
  • Not highly water-resistant
  • Short drying time (2-8 hours per coat)
  • Can be toxic
  • Penetrates wood easily
  • Might affect wood color
  • Creates a hard coat
  • Easy to store
  • 100% pure oil
  • No UV protection
  • Highly water-resistant
  • Long drying time (up to 24 hours per coat)
  • Non-toxic
  • Requires thinning for easy penetration
  • Gives a rich, natural appearance
  • Creates a flexible coat
  • Difficult to store

Applying Teak Oil vs Applying Tung Oil

How to Apply Teak Oil vs Tung Oil
Photo: pineca.com

Teak oils usually penetrate easily in wood because they are thinned. As such, they are ideal for dense hardwoods such as snakewood, rosewood, and mahogany, and can be applied using any method, be it by paintbrush, sprayer or roller.

However, with 100% pure tung oil, penetration is slow because of its thickness. As such, thinning is recommended, but this may introduce some toxicity. Therefore, thinning should only be done when coating furniture and other non-kitchen items.

With kitchen items, use a lint-free cloth to apply very thin coats of the pure oil then allow them to dry after each application. This way, the thick oil will get deep into the wood.