Danish Oil vs Tung Oil (What’s The Difference?)

Danish and Tung oil are two of the most used wood oils. But, what’s the difference between these two wood oils?

Danish oil is a synthetic wood oil gotten by combining different types of wood oils with a solvent, usually varnish. On the other hand, Tung oil is a natural wood oil gotten from the Chinese Tung tree. 

Raw Tung oil can’t penetrate wood, so the wood oil is mixed with thinning agents, such as mineral spirits, to improve the absorption in the wood. 

Tung oil vs Danish Oil

Danish Oil

What is Danish Oil?

Danish oil is a synthetic wood oil made by mixing other types of wood oils with a solvent (or varnish). Its formula contains linseed oil, Tung oil, varnish, synthetic resins, mineral spirits, and other additives. 

Danish oil forms a water-resistant layer that protects wood from scratches, dents, and water when dry. It has a hard satin or semi-gloss finish.

Danish oil has extra additives and solvents in the paint formula, making the wood oil dry faster. So, you can apply multiple coats quickly.

You can use Danish oil:

  1. On bare wood since it penetrates wood well.
  2. To protect wood floors from scratches and other damage. 
  3. To protect surfaces from moisture. 
  4. You can tint it to produce a colorful finish. 
  5. As a primer, finish, or top coat on the wood.
  6. On bare wood since the wood oil has impressive wood penetration. 
  7. If you need a fast-drying wood finish.
  8. If you want a semi-gloss or satin finish. 
  9. For indoor and low-traffic surfaces.

Tung Oil

What is Tung Oil?

Tung oil is a natural wood oil that originates from China. The wood oil is gotten by mechanically pressing the nuts of the Chinese Tung Tree. The nuts of the Chinese Tung Tree release the wood oil, then the manufacturers thin the wood oil with mineral spirits. The thinned wood oil is known as Tung oil. 

When dry, it offers a water-resistant layer with a gold-tinted finish that protects wood from scratches, moisture, and other damage. However, Tung oil has a slow dry time; it takes 3 days to fully cure.

You can use Tung Oil:

  1. To protect the wood from water. 
  2. To give wood a gold-tinted and glossy finish. 
  3. If you want to highlight detail work, carvings, and the natural wood grain. 
  4. To enhance the color of the wood. 
  5. For moisture-prone surfaces, because it has a super resistant finish. 
  6. For busy and high-traffic surfaces. 

To compare both wood oil finishes, we’ll use their features and see which comes out on top. Here is a table that identifies the major differences between these two finishes:

 Danish OilTung Oil
The formulaDanish oil is syntheticTung oil is natural
Dry TimeEach coat dries in 4 hoursEach coat dries in 24 hours
WaterproofingDanish oil is water-resistantTung oil is almost waterproof
Number of coats3 coats or lessAt least 5 coats
DurabilityGoodBetter than Danish oil
The finishOffers an amber-tinted finishOffers a gold-tinted finish

Wood Protection

How well does the wood oil protect wood?

Danish Oil

Danish oil is water-resistant, meaning it will withstand water for a short period. However, if the finish is exposed to constant water, the wood oil will get washed off. That’s because the particles of Danish oil aren’t closely packed, meaning the finish will allow water to penetrate its coating.

Tung Oil

Tung oil protects wood from scratches, dents, and other damage. Since it takes longer to dry, the paint particles have more time to harden and compact, so the finish is more durable. Also, Tung oil is flexible, meaning the finish will expand and contract based on temperature changes. 

Best For Wood Protection: Tung Oil

Tung oil offers better protection to wood than Danish oil. That’s because its particles dry harder and stronger. 

Water Resistance

How well does the finish protect against wood?

Danish Oil

Danish oil is water-resistant, meaning it will withstand water for a short period of time. However, if the finish is exposed to constant water, the wood oil will get washed off. That’s because the particles of Danish oil aren’t closely packed, meaning the finish will allow water to penetrate its coating. 

Tung Oil

Tung oil has impressive water-resistant qualities; this wood oil is almost waterproof. Since it takes longer to dry, the particles have more time to harden and compact; this helps the finish withstand more water.

Best For Water Resistance: Tung Oil

Tung oil offers better water resistance than Danish oil. 

Wood Penetration

How well does the wood oil penetrate wood?

Danish Oil

Danish oil penetrates and fills wood fibers easily. That’s because Danish oil is pre-thinned to make the oil soak and penetrate wood easily. Therefore, you can apply it directly from the container without thinning.

Tung Oil

Tung oil has poor wood penetration. In its natural state, 100% or Raw Tung oil can’t penetrate the wood because its flow is too thick to penetrate the wood fibers. So, you must thin it with mineral spirits before applying it to wood.

Applying thick Tung oil over wood will make the finish blotchy, sticky, and tacky.

Best For Wood Penetration: Danish Oil

Danish oil penetrates wood oil better than Tung oil. That’s because Danish oil is thinner and has a higher solvents ratio.

The Number of Required Coats

How many coats of wood oil are needed on the wood?

Danish Oil

You don’t need many coats of Danish oil on wood because the wood oil finish penetrates wood easily. So, you can get even coats and proper coverage with fewer coats. On average, you need 3 coats of Danish oil; 4 coats for improved durability.

Tung Oil

You need more coats of Tung oil on the wood. That’s because it penetrates the wood slowly, so you need more coats to properly fill and cover the wood surface. On average, you need 5 coats of Tung oil to get proper coverage. 

Best For Less Number of Coats: Danish Oil

You need more coats of Tung oil than Danish oil. That’s because Tung oil has poor wood penetration, and more coats are needed for proper coverage.

The Dry Time

How long does the wood oil take to dry?

Danish Oil

Danish oil is the fastest-drying wood oil finish because it has a quick-drying solvent in its formula. On average, Danish oil will dry within 2 hours. 

Tung Oil

Tung oil takes longer to dry because it has a slow wood penetration, doesn’t have quick-drying solvent, and it has a thick flow. So, tung oil has a slow dry time; on average, it takes 24 hours to dry. 

However, it takes one week to seal a surface with Tung oil. That’s because you must wait until one coat dries before applying the next coat. Since you need 5 coats, the application process will take longer.

Best For Dry Time: Danish Oil

Danish oil dries faster than Tung oil. That’s because it has a thinner flow and a drying solvent in its formula.

The Finish

What type of finish does the wood oil give?

Danish Oil

Danish oil gives a satin and transparent finish that can be tinted to show any color. You can even purchase tinted Danish wood oil to give a colorful finish to your woodwork.

However, Danish oil turns yellow or develops an amber-like color after a few weeks on the wood. The amber tone is caused by the drying and oxidization of the oil solvents in the wood oil.

Tung Oil

Tung oil has a hard gold-like finish that is glossy and reflective. The finish of Tung oil appears wet even when it has dried, showing you how glossy the finish is. The gold-like tint that develops is due to the rich texture of the wood oil.

Best For Better Finish: Tie

Tung oil finish is glossy and has a gold-like appearance. On the other hand, Danish oil finish has a satin and an amber-like finish.

Final Words

Danish and Tung oil are both great finishes. Danish oil is a synthetic wood oil that dries fast, while Tung oil is a natural wood oil that has a slow dry time.

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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