February 23, 2023

Tung Oil for Hardwood floors

Tung oil is suitable for finishing hardwood floors due to its natural, durable, and low-maintenance properties. It has multiple advantages that may work better for your project. Consider your needs and the type of wood you are working on before you apply the oil. This article will explain further what tung oil is, what it does, and how it is maintained. 

What is tung oil

Tung oil is from the Aleurites fordii and Aleurites Montana. Also known as China wood oil, it is more viscous than other vegetable oils. Amongst its characteristics are excellent drying speed and water resistance. 

It has great alkali and chemical resistance. Using raw tung oil in paints is limited as it tends to wrinkle on drying. This gave rise to its alternatives, such as linseed, soybean, perilla, and dehydrated castor oil.

Easy application and penetration make tung oils user-friendly in DIY projects. Tung oils have a natural scent that does not irritate when used in areas with lower ventilation. Curing times for objects finished with tung oils take up to 30 days but may be used lightly within 7 to 15 days.

Tung oil works as a wood finish. It is clear, quick-drying, penetrating the grain to enhance and protect the wood. It is from the seeds of the tung tree in Eastern Asia. It is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and food-safe.

It is natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly. It does not yellow much over time as finishes like linseed oil, nitrocellulose lacquer, or varnishes like polyurethane (Springeropen.com). When exposed to air, tung oil will harden, producing a transparent, wet look. It resists water and does not darken with age.  Tung oil contains no metals, additives, or distillates. It makes a water-resistant finish for boats and other wood objects.

It creates a non-oily finish. As a finish for wood furniture, it slowly cures and gives a golden honey-coloured tint. Tung oil will not discolour over time. Tung oil is for wood furniture that will see heavy use. It will bring out the texture of the wood grain. It does not need a sealer on top, as tung oil seals and protects it from water.

Factors to consider when using tung oil for hardwood floors

Tung oil works on numerous surfaces besides finished, painted, and bare wood. It gives a versatile top coat for multiple DIY projects. It works on wood furniture, boat decks, flooring, unfinished wood, weathered wood, concrete floors, countertops, stone, bamboo, brick, cabinetry, musical instruments, and wood toys.

Tung oil finish gives a deep rich colour to wood floors. It does not provide a gloss or semi-gloss finish. For a semi-gloss surface, wax the surface or buff it when the wood floor is dry. Any finishing oil can go over Tung Oil at a later date.

Steps for applying tung oil to hardwood floors

  1. Clean the surface and remove grease, dust, dirt, and debris. Start by sanding or stripping the surface to remove any coating or finish that is already there. Tung oil can be applied to bare surfaces or over another coat. Clean the surface with trisodium phosphate. Sand the surface again with 150-grit sandpaper, and vacuum well to remove all dust.
  2. Remove any finish to a clean surface or over another coat of tung oil.
  3. Thin the oil for easier application and quicker drying time. Follow all product package instructions for thinning (Soniareederjones.com). Use a citrus solvent or odourless mineral spirits for thinning since they are eco-friendly. Absorbent surfaces like weathered wood do not need thinning. A thinner will make the tung oil easier to apply, faster to dry, and improve penetration. Do not thin the oil first if you are applying it to weathered wood, concrete, old and unfinished wood floors, or highly absorbent surfaces. Do not use a mineral spirit or odourless mineral spirit marketed as green or eco-friendly since they do not mix with the tung oil. Choose pre-thinned options for convenience.
  4. Apply the first layer of oil using a foam brush or soft lint-free rag. The oil has to saturate and absorb. Apply evenly.
  5. Once the first coat is absorbed, apply a second coat.
  6. Wait 40 minutes between oil applications and continue with coats until the surface looks glossy for at least 40 minutes. That shows the wood has been saturated. The number of coats needed can vary.
  7. Once the wood cannot absorb more oil, take a rag to wipe off any excess oil, pooled or puddled.  The tung oil should start curing on the surface.
  8. At this point, your surface is fully saturated. Pure tung oil will settle inside the wood/material overnight through the next day. For a better finish, we recommend applying one or two more coats of the oil, following the instructions previously stated, after this period of waiting. Make sure to wipe up oil on the surface that does not absorb. Hang oil-soaked rags separately outside to dry before disposing of them.
  9. Drying and hardening begin at room temperature. Curing will occur faster in warmer temperatures; it takes a week to get started and up to 30 days to cure. Monitor the piece for the first ten days, wiping off any excess oil that collects. No additional sealer is needed as the tung oil naturally seals and gives waterproof protection.
  10. Reapply when necessary to revive and provide more protection. Surfaces used often or walked on frequently need maintenance to revive their look and add more protection. Mix two thinner to 1 part tung oil and wipe down your surfaces. Allow time to dry.

Tips for maintaining tung oil-finished hardwood floors

  • Dust and clean regularly
  • Protect the floor from spills and stains
  • Re-oil the floor as needed to maintain the finish.
  • For a better finish, raise the grain before staining or finishing.
  • Smooth the surface with steel wool.
  • Apply a thin coat of oil every 4 to 6 months.


In conclusion, tung oil works better for hardwood floors. Use tung oil for your hardwood floors, clean regularly, re-oil the floor after some time, and make the surface smooth to ensure the longevity and beauty of the finished floor. Let the oil dry before use. I assume you have grasped all the necessary steps for applying Tung oil.

David D. Hughes

Leave a Reply