Danish Oil Advantages and Disadvantages (Explained!)

Danish oil is a waterproof wood oil that dries fast. But, what are the advantages and disadvantages of danish oil?

Danish oil is a flexible waterproof wood oil that dries fast and doesn’t yellow over time. However, you can only apply it over bare wood, and the finish isn’t durable. You can also use it as a primer as it accepts top coats.

But, applying danish oil is harder than applying other wood oils. 

Here is a chart that identifies the major pros and cons of using it:

Advantages of Danish oil Disadvantages of Danish oil
WaterproofIts application is time-consuming
Dries FastIt can be used only on bare wood.
Can be used as a base coat (or primer)Offers poor wood protection.
Doesn't yellow. Cleaning and maintenance can be hectic
The wood oil finish doesn’t yellowNot durable and will require regular touch-ups

What is Danish Oil?

Danish oil is a hybrid wood oil finish made by combining natural wood oils and a solvent. There is no specific formula or make up for it as the ingredients in the wood oil ranges from brand to manufacturer. However, most Danish oil wood finishes contain Linseed oil, Tung oil, and mineral spirits.

Danish oil is applied using rags and clothes due to the thick nature of the wood oil. The finish is usually wiped on wood and can only be used on bare wood. The wood oil finish soaks in the wood fibers and forms a shiny layer on the wood that gives a glossy and bright finish.

You can use it:

  1. To protect kitchen wood from moisture damage.
  2. It improves the sheen and looks of household furniture.
  3. To highlight and reveal the texture of the wood grain. 
  4. Danish wood oil can be used to coat and protect wood tool handles.

Danish Oil Advantages

Danish Oil Advantages

1. Dries Fast

Danish oil has a thick flow, but the finish dries fast. On average, Danish oil dries fully within 8 hours. In comparison, tung oil needs 24 hours to dry. So, Danish oil dries 3 times faster than tung oil. 

However, its dry time depends on room temperature, the thickness of the coat, and humidity levels. 

2. Waterproof

The Danish oil coating is waterproof. When dry, it forms a waterproof layer that protects wood from damage, rotting, and decaying. However, the wood oil must dry fully (cure) and solidify (harden) for the coating to be waterproof. 

4. Flexible

Its coating is flexible or elastic. Its elasticity allows the finish to cope better with temperature changes. This means the coating will contract and expand based on temperature changes. This reduces the cracks and lines on your finish. 

4. You Can Use it as a Primer

Unlike other wood oil finishes that don’t accept a top coat, Danish oil does. Therefore, you can use it as a waterproof primer coating before covering it with a top coat or sealant.

However, you must sand it lightly before applying a top coat over it. Also, you must only use an oil-based finish, as only oil-based finishes can stick (stay) over the Danish oil coating. 

6. Doesn’t Yellow

It doesn’t yellow and will retain its clear coat finish for years and enhance the wood’s sheen.

8. Sticks Well to Wood

It has good bonding qualities. When applied, the Danish oil will penetrate the wood pores and bond to the wood fibers, improving the adhesion between the wood and wood oil. This helps the wood oil to last longer.

9. Affordable

It’s an affordable wood oil.

Danish Oil Disadvantages

Danish Oil Disadvantages

1. Time-consuming Application

Its application is hard and time-consuming. The texture of Danish oil means that you must add more coats to the wood oil for proper coverage. You must wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. Since you will be applying too many coats, the whole process will take a lot of time.

You must allow Danish oil to dry for 8 hours before re-coating it. Though this is a quick dry time for a wood oil finish (compared to others), it still means you must wait 8 hours to apply one coat. So, it will take 24 hours to apply 4 coats.

2. Not Durable

Danish oil isn’t durable. Due to its texture, the finish will wear off fast on busy wood surfaces. On average, it will last 2 years before you need to re-apply (re-touch) the finish. 

However, you can seal it with a sealant to increase its durability. But, this increases the application time. 

3. Poor Wood Protection

A similar advantage to the low durability of Danish oil is its poor wood protection. The finish can’t withstand scratches, dents, wear and tear – this means that the finish can’t protect your wood from these factors either.

The poor level of wood protection is why Danish oil is not used on busy surfaces like floors and countertops. If wood protection is what you want, choose a stronger finish.

4. Sticks To Bare Wood Only

Danish oil must penetrate the wood fibers to stick. So, you can only apply it on bare wood. If the wood is painted or sealed, it won’t stick unless you remove the paint. That’s because the wood pores would be filled with paint, and Danish oil can’t penetrate them, so it can’t stick. 

So, to apply it on already painted wood you must remove the paint or sealer first.

5. Tough to Clean and Maintain

Danish oil is hard to maintain. Since it isn’t durable, you must regularly wipe, clean, and maintain the finish. Also, you must touch up the finish often by sanding and applying new coats. This is extra work that other wood oils don’t require. 

Tips To Apply Danish Oil:

  1. Always sand the wood with fine-grit sandpaper before applying it. But, if the wood is rough or patchy, sand medium-grit sandpaper and finish off with 220-grit
  2. Strip or remove existing finishes on the wood before applying it.
  3. Wait 8 hours before re-coating it.
  4. Sand each coat (except for the final one) with 400-grit sandpaper before re-coating it. 
  5. Remove the sand dust before re-coating it. If you don’t, the finish will be riddled with bumps. 
  6. Allow the Danish oil to cure (dry fully) before using the surface. 
  7. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or user’s guide while applying it.

Things To Know

How Long Does it Last?

On average, Danish oil lasts between 1-2 before needing to touch up the coating. However, if the surface isn’t used frequently, it can last up to 3 years before you need a touch-up. 

But, if you seal it with polyurethane or spar varnish, the wood oil will last longer. 

Number of Coats

You need 2-3 coats of Danish oil for proper coverage on wood. The first and second coats will penetrate the wood pores, so you must another extra coat for the top layer of wood.  On busy surfaces, you must add 3-4 coats.


Sealing Danish oil isn’t mandatory but helps the finish last longer. For indoor and decorative surfaces, sealing won’t help as much. But, for outdoor or busy surfaces, sealing will allow the Danish oil to last 1-2 more years.

However, you must only use oil-based sealant over it and you should sand it with ultrafine-grit sandpaper before applying a sealant.


Danish oil will reveal surface bumps, so you must sand those bumps before applying the next coat. Also, its 8-hour dry time allows dust and filth to settle over the coating. So, before applying the next coat, you must sand and clean the existing coating. 

Final Words

Danish oil is a waterproof finish that enhances the wood color. But, this wood oil is hard to apply and doesn’t protect the wood as well as other wood oils. Also, maintaining it is hard because you must touch up the finish often. 

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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