Tung Oil vs. Linseed Oil: What’s the Difference?

Best Uses for Tung Oil vs. Linseed Oil
  Pure Tung Oil Raw Linseed Oil
Regularly used furniture piecesYesNo
Boat decksYesNo
Musical instrumentsYesNo
Ornamental furniture piecesYesYes
CountertopsYesNo
Butcher blocksYesMaybe
Wooden bowls and spoonsYesMaybe
As a touch-up oilYesYes
Wood flooringYesMaybe

Care and Cleaning

Tung Oil

Tung oil can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth. But, for more intense cleaning, water-vinegar mixtures can be used as well as oil soaps and even some mild household cleaning products. Always ensure the products are non-bleach and test on hidden areas before full application.

Linseed Oil

Linseed oiled surfaces can be wiped with a slightly damp cloth. However, too much water can damage the finish. For more intense cleaning, a mixture of turpentine, vinegar, and linseed oil is recommended. The turpentine and the vinegar will do the heavy-duty dirt lifting while the linseed oil protects and maintains the finish.

Best for Care and Cleaning: Tung Oil

Properly applied tung oil is much easier to clean than linseed oil, as it can be cleaned with readily available commercial cleaning products and is much more forgiving when cleaned with water.

Durability and Maintenance

Tung Oil

Pure tung oil creates a very durable finish for wood when properly applied. The finish soaks into the wood and cures to form a barrier that is highly water-resistant and scratch-resistant. To maintain durability and water resistance, tung oil finished items should be cleaned and recoated regularly if seeing normal use.

Linseed Oil

Wood finished with linseed oil is much more durable than raw wood, but linseed oil as a finish doesn’t rank high on the durability scale. Wood finished in linseed oil is prone to scratching and water damage. This is exaggerated if the finish isn’t maintained and regularly recoated, at least once per year.

Best for Durability and Maintenance: Tung Oil

While both tung oil and linseed oil require maintenance and regular re-coating for peak durability, tung oil is far more water-resistant and scratch-resistant than linseed oil. That said, modern varnishes and top coats will offer more durability than both oils.

Application

Tung Oil

Pure tung oil is easy to apply and nearly impossible to mess up. Simply sand the wood until smooth, remove all dust and debris, then flood the surface with the oil. As you see dry spots occur, add more oil. Once the wood no longer absorbs any oil, wipe the surface clean with a dry cloth. Allow the oil to cure for several days, then lightly sand and re-coat. Five, six, seven, or more coats can be applied.

Tip

If you’re unsure if the oil has cured, check to see if it is tacky. If so, it needs more time. If you can’t tell, buildup on your sandpaper will be a dead giveaway that it needs more time to cure.

Linseed Oil

Applying raw linseed oil is similar to tung oil, with some slight differences. After sanding the wood and removing the dust and debris, liberally wipe the linseed oil on the wood following the grain until the entire surface has been covered. Allow the oil to penetrate the wood for 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess. If the surface has dried considerably over 15 minutes, allow the wood to absorb more oil for another 15 minutes before wiping clean.

Apply a minimum of three coats, allowing several weeks of cure time between coats and buffing with grade 0000 steel wool between coats.

Best for Application: Tung Oil

Not only is tung oil possibly the easiest wood finish to apply, but the several weeks between coats of raw linseed oil also makes it an impractical finish option for many people. Boiled linseed oil and polymerized linseed oil will cut down on the curing time, but keep in mind that these oils have different qualities and safety levels.

Cost

Tung Oil

Pure tung oil costs around $25 to $30 per quart, while impure versions of tung oil with additives can be found for lower prices.

Linseed Oil

A quart of raw linseed oil will run you less than $20, while popular alternatives such as boiled linseed oil can be found for as low as $13 per quart.

Best for Cost: Linseed Oil

Raw linseed oil is almost always less expensive than pure tung oil, while popular alternatives and impure versions are more competitively priced.

Lifespan

Tung Oil

While no tung oil finish will stay in perfect condition forever, the finish on items kept inside away from sun and water exposure will last much longer than those left outside. Pay close attention to the surface’s water beading capabilities as well as the richness of the finish, and reapply once the wood looks dried and lackluster.

Linseed Oil

Linseed oil should be reapplied at least once a year, sometimes multiple times a year depending on the volume of use the surface sees. Because linseed oil isn’t recommended for outdoor use, it should never see regular sun or water exposure.

Best for Lifespan: Tied

Both tung oil and linseed oil (like most oil finishes) need regular reapplication to look their best and offer the most protection. Additionally, both oils will need more regular reapplication depending on the amount of use the finished surface sees.

The Verdict

When it comes to comparing pure tung oil and raw linseed oil, tung oil beats linseed oil on nearly every front. The appearance is generally better and less yellowed, it’s easier to maintain, more durable, and takes drastically less time to apply. However, if cost is a factor, raw linseed oil is cheaper than pure tung oil and still makes for a quality natural finish, especially if you prefer satin over matte.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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