Applying Tung Oil with a brush.

Applying Tung Oil to Furniture


Tung Oil is an Age-Old Finishing Product that Provides a Durable Surface

Applying tung oil is accomplished by rubbing the oil on a wood surface with a paint brush, a clean cotton cloth, or a cheesecloth pad. This type of oil is easy to apply and with after a few coats it provides a durable finish. Tung oil has been used as a finish on wood for hundreds of years. Not only does it contain natural ingredients, but it is also easy to repair if it becomes damaged or stained.


As with all wood finishes, it is important to prepare the wood surface before applying the oil. Getting the surface ready involves evaluating the furniture’s current condition. If it contains layers of old paint or old finish, those coatings should be stripped from the wood. After the stripping process is complete, the wood should be lightly sanded and wiped clean before applying the oil.


Before applying tung oil, most people choose to add stain to the surface of the wood. Staining the wood provides an even-looking appearance in the color and prevents the appearance of a blotchy look on the wood after the oil is applied.

Applying the Oil

Wood finishing experts agree that applying this type of oil finish is extremely easy and fool-proof. Using a brush, a clean cotton cloth or a cheesecloth pad, you will apply a generous amount of oil directly on the wood. The oil must be brushed on or spread around the wood using circular motions so the wood is completely covered. After application, it is necessary to let the oil absorb into the wood – – a process that takes about 10 minutes.

  • Keep an eye on the oil during your 10 minute waiting period. If the oil appears to completely soak into the wood, add more.
  • After 10 minutes, use a separate clean cloth to wipe off the excess oil.
  • Don’t wait more than 10 minutes before wiping off the extra oil that did not absorb into the wood. You do not want the leftover oil that did not get absorbed to dry on the wood.


Once the original coating of oil has been allowed to dry for a full day, additional coatings can be applied. Make sure each layer has a day to dry before adding more. Don’t be surprised if you need less oil on each subsequent application layer.

How Many Layers?

It is perfectly acceptable to apply up to 10 coatings of oil to the wood surfaces that need the most protection. For example, the tops of book cases and tables usually used need more protection than areas that are rarely touched.

Fixing Damaged Areas

One of the greatest aspects of finishing with tung oil is that it is easy to repair if it becomes damaged. To fix a scratched area, simply rub the surface of the wood with very fine steel wool and then reapply a few layers of the oil. The repaired area should blend very well with the original surface and detecting the repair work should be next to impossible.

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