Tung oil is a natural and popular wood oil that enhances the appearance and durability of the wood.
Tung oil takes around 24 hours to dry between coats and 3 days to cure (fully dry).
The exact dry time is determined by room temperature, humidity levels, and coat viscosity or thickness.
How Long Does Tung Oil Take to Dry Between Coats?
Tung oil takes around 24 hours to dry between coats while pure Tung oil takes around 48 hours. The exact dry time is determined by room temperature, humidity levels, and coat viscosity.
Pure Tung oil takes longer to dry because it has a higher viscosity and isn’t formulated with drying additives.
Tung oil solvent must evaporate and the coating must become rigid (hard) for the coating to dry. The thicker the coating, the more solvent must evaporate, and the longer the coating takes to dry.
The finish turns sticky, tacky, or may peel off if you re-coat Tung oil too soon. Ensure to wipe the Tung oil excess before re-coating it.
Factors That Influence The Drying Time:
Factors that influence Tung oil drying time are listed below.
- Room Temperature.
- Humidity Levels.
- Wood Oil Viscosity.
- The Number of Coats.
- Air Circulation.
1. Room Temperature
Tung oil drying time is influenced by room temperature because the temperature determines the solvent evaporation rate.
The coating will dry faster if the temperature is higher as the solvent (oil) evaporates faster from the surface.
The ideal drying conditions of Tung oil are if the temperature is higher than 50°F (10°C) and the humidity is lower than 50%.
2. Humidity Levels
Tung oil takes longer to dry if the humidity levels are higher than 50% because the moisture content in the atmosphere is higher and prevents the solvent (oil) from evaporating fast.
The wood oil coating takes twice as much time to dry if the humidity levels are higher than 70%.
Humidity levels are higher during cold winter months or during rainy days. To lower room humidity levels, use a dehumidifier.
3. Wood Oil Viscosity
Wood oil viscosity or thickness determines the drying time because if the coating is thicker there’s more solvent (oil) to evaporate.
Thin Tung oil coatings dry and cure faster as there’s less solvent (oil) to evaporate and the coating hardens faster.
4. The Number of Coats
Tung oil takes longer to dry if you apply more coats than necessary.
5. Air Circulation
Proper air circulation helps the wood oil coating dry faster as it increases the solvent evaporation rate.
How Long Does Tung Oil Take to Cure (Fully Dry)?
Tung oil takes around 3 days to cure (fully dry). The curing time refers to the time it takes the coating to dry, fully harden, and reach its maximum durability, strength, and adhesion.
Once the Tung oil coating cures, it becomes resistant to water, moisture, and handling. If you expose the coating to water before it cures (fully dries), the coating can get removed or damaged.
How to Make Tung Oil Dry Faster?
To make Tung oil dry faster, do the following things.
- Apply Thin Coats.
- Improve Air Circulation.
- Use a Hair dryer.
- Use a Dehumidifier.
1. Apply Thin Coats
Thin coats dry faster as there’s less solvent (oil) to evaporate from the surface.
To make Tung oil dry faster, thin it with mineral spirits in a ratio of 2:1 (2 parts Tung oil to 1 part mineral spirits).
To thin tung oil, do the following things.
- Pour Tung oil into a clean bucket.
- Pour the needed Mineral spirits into the bucket.
- Stir the mixture for 10 minutes.
- Test the thinned wood oil before applying it.
2. Improve Air Circulation
Improve the air circulation around the Tung oil coating to increase the solvent evaporation rate. The coating dries faster if the solvent evaporates fast.
To improve the air circulation around the coating, do the following things.
- Opening all windows and doors.
- Open the air vents.
- Turning on the fans.
- Applying the Tung oil outside.
- Setting the air conditioner on ‘blow’ or ‘fan’ mode.
3. Use a Hair dryer
Use a hair dryer to increase the temperature around the wood oil coating so the solvent can evaporate faster. The faster the solvent evaporates, the faster the finish dries.
Here’s how to do it.
- Use a hair dryer at medium temperature.
- Move the hairdryer over the coating for 5 minutes.
- Pause for 5 minutes.
- Move the hair dryer over the coating for 5 more minutes.
- Turn off the hair dryer and allow the finish to dry naturally.
Don’t use a hair dryer to fully dry a Tung oil coating as it can create finish cracks. If a coating dries too fast, the particles won’t harden naturally or bond properly, creating a weak finish.
4. Use a Dehumidifier
Use a dehumidifier to decrease the room humidity levels and help Tung oil dry faster.
If the room humidity levels are low, the solvent (oil) evaporates faster from the surface or coating. The humidity levels must be lower than 50% for optimal drying.
Simply turn on the dehumidifier and keep it running until the coating fully dries.
How To Know if Tung Oil is Fully Dry?
To know if Tung oil is fully dry, do the following.
- Use a Sandpaper. Use extra fine-grit sandpaper (440-grit or higher) to sand the Tung oil coating. If the sandpaper moves freely over the coating, the wood oil finish is dry. If the sandpaper gets clogged, the wood oil finish hasn’t dried yet.
- Pour Water Over the Finish. Pour water over the Tung oil finish and wait a few minutes. If the water penetrates the coating, the finish hasn’t dried yet. If the water doesn’t penetrate the coating, the finish has dried.
- Inspect the Finish. The finish will have a glossy appearance once it’s dry.