Tung Oil vs Linseed Oil (What’s The Main Difference?)

Tung and Linseed oil are two durable and moisture-resistant wood oils. But, what’s the difference between these two?

The main difference is that Tung oil doesn’t penetrate deeply into the wood as Linseed oil does. In terms of finishing, Tung oil gives a honey-like finish, while Linseed oil gives a glossy yellowish finish. 

In terms of additives, Linseed oil has a higher volume of additives, including metallic dryers. They also have different drying times; Tung oil dries fast since it’s gotten from the Tung tree, while Linseed oil dries slower since it’s gotten from the seeds of Flax plant. 

Tung Oil

What is Tung Oil?

Tung oil is a wood finish gotten from the nuts and seeds of the Tung tree. Chinese traditionally use this wood oil because it dries fast and events out on the wood. When dry, it creates a honey-like sheen that protects wood from scratches, dents, and moisture.

Because of its moisture-resistant features, you can use this wood oil in high-moisture areas (or rooms), such as bathrooms. In addition, tung oil is easy to apply, and you don’t need to sand before applying it.

You can use Tung oil:

  • On kitchen slabs, tabletops, and cabinets. 
  • To protect the wood from moisture and spills.
  • To get an even glossy finish on the wood. 
  • On outdoor furniture since it can withstand moisture and is mold-resistant. 
  • To get a quick finish since it dries in less than 48 hours. 

Linseed Oil

What is Linseed Oil?

Linseed oil is a natural wood oil gotten from the ripe seeds of the Flax plant that is known to penetrate wood grain deeply. This wood oil is thick, meaning it is perfect for porous surfaces since it penetrates the wood properly. Due to its thick nature, you can properly cover surfaces with fewer coats.

Linseed oil has a long dry and curing time (several weeks), especially if the wood has a previous finish. Raw linseed oil takes months to fully cure, while boiled Linseed oil can cure in a week. That’s because boiled Linseed oil is formulated with metallic dries that make the wood oil dry faster. 

You can use linseed oil:

  • To protect wood surfaces from scratches and moisture.
  • To give wood a glossy finish. 
  • Over wood to enhance the color. 

Linseed Oil vs Tung Oil

We will use the same features of these wood oils and see which one is better. 

 Linseed OilTung Oil
ColorHoney-likeYellow-like
SourceSeeds of the Flax plantSeeds and nuts of the Tung tree
Consistency and flowThickLight
Dry-TimeQuick (in less than 24 hours)Slow (in about a week)
AdditivesPresentVery low – None
Cleaning and MaintenanceModerateEasy
DurabilityGoodGood

Dry Time

Tung oil dries faster than Linseed oil. On average, Tung oil dries fully in less than 48 hours, while boiled Linseed oil takes 1 week.

Boiled linseed oil is formulated with metallic dryers that make it dry faster. Raw linseed oil that doesn’t have metallic dryers, takes up to 3 months to fully cure. 

Thickness

Linseed oil is thicker than Tung oil. In its raw state, linseed oil is at least twice as thick.

Coverage

Since Linseed oil has a thick flow, it offers better coverage than Tung oil. As a result, you can cover more areas with fewer coats.

On average, you need 2 coats of Linseed oil for busy surfaces and only 1 coat for low-traffic surfaces. In comparison, you need 4 coats of Tung oil on busy surfaces and 2 for low-traffic surfaces.

Color

Tung oil has a honey-like sheen. When this wood oil starts to set in the wood, it reveals a honey or gold-like sheen that deepens most stain colors. 

On the other hand, Linseed oil has a yellowish or amber-like sheen on the wood. The color is lighter and is used to enhance the stain color underneath. 

The Finish

Tung oil gives a deep-colored finish, while Linseed oil gives a brighter finish. Both wood oils are glossy, but Linseed oil finish reflects light better. In addition, tung oil dries harder because it dries through oxidization and not evaporation, while Linseed oil takes longer to dry, so it has a softer finish.

Water-Resistance

Tung oil is more water-resistant than Linseed oil. That’s because it has a harder finish and repels moisture better. This means Tung oil is better for outdoor surfaces than Linseed oil.

Linseed oil also repels moisture, but not for too long. This means you can use it on low-moisture surfaces such as kitchen cabinets but not on bathroom furniture.

Application

Tung oil is easier to apply than Linseed oil. That’s because it has a thinner flow that is easier to control and dries faster, so you can re-coat it quicker. On the other hand, Linseed oil has a thicker flow that is harder to control and takes longer to dry.

Additives

Linseed oil has metallic dryers that speed its drying time, so it has a 75-85% pure formula. On the other hand, Tung oil has no additives and is at least 95% pure. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Tung oil is easier to clean and maintain than Linseed oil. That’s because it has a hard and glossy finish that prevents stains and dust from sticking over it. So, you can easily wipe off stains, grease, and oils. Also, since it has a deeper sheen, it hides stains and dirt better, so you don’t have to clean as much.

On the other hand, Linseed oil has a softer finish that attracts stains more. Also, it has a reflective finish that doesn’t hide stains, so you must clean it more often. 

Final Words

In summary, Linseed oil and Tung oil are both great wood finishes but have different qualities. For instance, Tung oil dries faster and has a hard finish that repels moisture. While, Linseed oil is thicker and covers the surface better, but it takes longer to dry. So, the choice depends on your needs.

Leave a Comment