Is Tung Oil Good For Outdoor Furniture

If you’re looking to protect and enhance the lifespan of your outdoor furniture, you might have come across the term “Tung oil.” But is Tung oil really a suitable option for outdoor furniture? In this article, we will explore the benefits and considerations of using Tung oil on your outdoor furniture, helping you make an informed decision that will keep your furniture looking its best for years to come. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or just getting started, read on to discover if Tung oil is the right choice for you.

What is Tung Oil?

Tung oil is a type of drying oil that is derived from the nuts of the tung tree, which is native to China and other parts of East Asia. This natural oil has been used for centuries as a finish for various surfaces, including wood. It has gained popularity in recent years as a popular choice for outdoor furniture due to its unique features and qualities.

Origins and composition

Tung oil has a rich history that dates back to ancient China. The oil is extracted from the nuts of the tung tree, also known as the China wood oil tree or Vernicia fordii. The extraction process involves crushing the nuts to release the oil, which is then filtered and refined. Tung oil is known for its high concentration of triglycerides, which contribute to its unique properties.

Features and qualities

Tung oil offers a range of features and qualities that make it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Firstly, it has exceptional durability, allowing it to withstand the wear and tear of outdoor conditions. Additionally, it provides protection against weather elements such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. Tung oil is also highly water-resistant, making it suitable for use on furniture that is exposed to moisture. Finally, it offers excellent UV resistance, preventing the fading and discoloration of outdoor furniture when exposed to sunlight.

Benefits of Using Tung Oil on Outdoor Furniture

When it comes to outdoor furniture, using tung oil as a finish provides several significant benefits.


Tung oil is renowned for its exceptional durability, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Unlike other finishes that may wear off or peel over time, tung oil forms a strong bond with the wood surface, creating a protective barrier that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use. This durability ensures that your outdoor furniture will remain in good condition for many years, even when exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Protection against weather elements

Outdoor furniture is constantly exposed to various weather elements, such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. Tung oil provides excellent protection against these elements, preventing moisture from penetrating the wood and causing damage. This protection helps to preserve the integrity of the furniture, preventing warping, cracking, and rotting. With tung oil as a finish, your outdoor furniture can withstand the test of time and maintain its beauty even in challenging weather conditions.

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Water resistance

One of the key advantages of tung oil is its natural water resistance. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture, which is often exposed to rain, dew, and other sources of moisture. Tung oil forms a protective barrier on the wood surface, preventing water from seeping into the pores and causing damage. This water resistance not only helps to preserve the appearance of the furniture but also contributes to its longevity. With tung oil, you can have peace of mind knowing that your outdoor furniture is protected from the harmful effects of water.

UV resistance

Outdoor furniture is often exposed to direct sunlight, which can cause fading and discoloration over time. Tung oil offers excellent UV resistance, which helps to preserve the natural color and beauty of the wood. The oil acts as a shield against the harmful effects of UV rays, preventing the furniture from becoming dull or discolored. With tung oil as a finish, your outdoor furniture can retain its vibrant and attractive appearance for years to come, even when exposed to sunlight.

Application of Tung Oil on Outdoor Furniture

To ensure the best results when applying tung oil to outdoor furniture, it is important to follow a proper application process.

Preparation of the surface

Before applying tung oil, the surface of the furniture must be properly prepared. This involves thoroughly cleaning the wood to remove any dust, dirt, or existing finishes. Sanding the surface is also recommended to create a smooth and even base for the oil. It is important to ensure that the wood is clean and dry before proceeding with the application.

Method of application

Tung oil can be applied using various methods, including brushing, wiping, or spraying. The method of application depends on personal preference and the size of the furniture. Brushing is a popular method and allows for better control over the application. However, wiping and spraying can also yield satisfactory results. Regardless of the method chosen, it is crucial to apply the oil evenly and in thin coats to avoid any drips or uneven coverage.

Number of coats

For optimal protection and durability, multiple coats of tung oil are recommended. Typically, 3-4 coats are sufficient to achieve the desired results. Each coat should be allowed to dry fully before applying the next. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the recommended number of coats and drying time for the specific tung oil product being used.

Drying time

The drying time of tung oil can vary depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the number of coats applied. Generally, tung oil dries within 24-48 hours. It is essential to allow the oil to dry completely between coats to ensure proper bonding and adhesion. Rushing the drying process can result in an uneven or less durable finish.

Maintenance and Care of Tung Oil-Finished Outdoor Furniture

While tung oil provides excellent protection and durability, proper maintenance and care are essential to prolonging the lifespan and appearance of outdoor furniture.

Regular cleaning

To keep tung oil-finished outdoor furniture in optimal condition, regular cleaning is necessary. This involves gently wiping down the furniture with a soft cloth or sponge and a mild soap solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can strip the oil finish and damage the wood. It is also important to remove any spills or stains promptly to prevent them from penetrating the finish.

Reapplication of tung oil

Over time, the tung oil finish may start to wear off, especially in high-traffic areas or on horizontal surfaces that are exposed to constant use. To maintain the protective properties of the oil, periodic reapplication may be required. This involves lightly sanding the surface to remove any dirt or worn-out oil, followed by the application of a thin coat of fresh tung oil. Proper cleaning and drying of the surface before reapplication are crucial to ensure the best results.

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Avoiding harsh chemicals

When cleaning tung oil-finished outdoor furniture, it is important to avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents. These can damage the oil finish and strip away its protective properties. Instead, opt for mild soap solutions or specialized wood cleaners that are safe for use on oil-finished surfaces. Regularly applying a layer of wax or furniture polish can also help enhance the shine and protection of the oil finish.

Comparing Tung Oil with Other Finishes for Outdoor Furniture

While tung oil is a popular choice for outdoor furniture, it is worth considering how it compares to other finishes commonly used for this purpose.


Varnish is a popular finish for outdoor furniture due to its high durability and ability to provide significant protection. However, varnish forms a thick coat on the wood surface, which can result in a more artificial appearance. Additionally, varnish may require periodic stripping and refinishing, whereas tung oil can be easily maintained and repaired.


Polyurethane is another common choice for outdoor furniture finishes. It offers excellent protection against water, UV rays, and general wear and tear. However, polyurethane can be challenging to apply evenly and may require multiple coats. Unlike tung oil, polyurethane also forms a thick layer on the wood surface, which can look less natural.

Teak oil

Teak oil is often used on outdoor furniture, particularly on teak wood, to enhance its natural appearance. While teak oil provides moderate protection against moisture and UV rays, it does not offer the same level of durability and weather resistance as tung oil. Teak oil may require more frequent reapplication to maintain its protective properties.

Potential Drawbacks of Using Tung Oil on Outdoor Furniture

While tung oil offers many benefits as a finish for outdoor furniture, it is essential to consider some potential drawbacks.

Limited availability

Tung oil can sometimes be difficult to find, especially in certain regions or local stores. It may require special ordering or purchasing from specialty retailers or online sources. This limited availability can be inconvenient for those who prefer to purchase products locally or require immediate access to the oil.


Compared to some other finishes, tung oil can be relatively expensive. However, given its durability, protective properties, and longevity, many consider it to be a worthwhile investment for their outdoor furniture. It is important to weigh the cost against the benefits and long-term value of using tung oil.

Regular maintenance

While tung oil is highly durable and provides long-lasting protection, it does require regular maintenance to retain its effectiveness. Periodic reapplication and cleaning are necessary to ensure that the oil finish remains intact and continues to protect the wood. Some individuals may find this regular maintenance to be a minor inconvenience.

Tips for Choosing and Buying Tung Oil for Outdoor Furniture

When selecting and purchasing tung oil for outdoor furniture, consider the following tips to ensure you choose the right product for your needs.

Pure tung oil vs. tung oil finish

There are different types of tung oil products available, including pure tung oil and tung oil finish. Pure tung oil is the unprocessed oil directly extracted from the tung tree nuts. It provides the most natural and durable finish but requires more time and effort to apply and dry. Tung oil finish, on the other hand, is a mix of tung oil, solvents, and other additives. It is easier to apply and dries faster but may not offer the same level of durability and longevity as pure tung oil. Consider your preferences and the specific requirements of your outdoor furniture when choosing between these options.

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Checking product labels

When purchasing tung oil, always check the product labels for important information such as drying time, application instructions, and recommended number of coats. Look for oil that is specifically labeled for outdoor use and offers UV resistance. Reading customer reviews or seeking recommendations from professionals can also help in selecting a reliable and high-quality tung oil product.

Quality considerations

To ensure the best results, opt for high-quality tung oil from reputable brands or manufacturers. Quality tung oil has a higher concentration of triglycerides and fewer impurities, resulting in a more durable, protective finish. While quality tung oil may be more expensive, it offers superior performance and helps to safeguard your investment in outdoor furniture.

Precautions and Safety Measures When Using Tung Oil

When working with tung oil, it is important to take certain precautions and follow safety measures to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

Proper ventilation

Tung oil emits fumes during the drying process, which can be harmful if inhaled in excessive amounts. It is crucial to work in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a space with open windows and good airflow. If the weather does not permit outdoor work, consider using fans or air purifiers to improve ventilation.

Personal protective equipment

When applying tung oil to outdoor furniture, it is advisable to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect yourself from potential hazards. This may include gloves, safety goggles, and a respiratory mask. PPE helps to prevent direct contact with the oil and reduce the risk of any adverse reactions.

Disposal of rags and applicators

Tung oil-soaked rags and applicators can pose a fire hazard due to the oil’s flammable properties. It is essential to properly dispose of any used rags or applicators by allowing them to dry in a well-ventilated area or soaking them in water before disposal. Alternatively, they can be stored in a metal container with a tight lid to reduce the risk of spontaneous combustion.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Applying Tung Oil on Outdoor Furniture

To ensure a successful application of tung oil on outdoor furniture, it is important to avoid common mistakes that can compromise the finish and overall results.

Applying too much oil

One of the most common mistakes is applying too much tung oil in a single coat. Thick layers of oil can take longer to dry and may result in an uneven or tacky finish. It is best to apply thin coats of oil, allowing each coat to dry fully before applying the next. This ensures proper penetration and adhesion of the oil, resulting in a more durable and attractive finish.

Insufficient surface preparation

Proper surface preparation is key to achieving the best results with tung oil. Failing to clean and sand the wood surface adequately can prevent the oil from bonding effectively and result in a less durable finish. Take the time to clean and sand the surface thoroughly, ensuring that it is free from dust, dirt, and any previous finishes or treatments.

Not allowing proper drying time

Tung oil requires sufficient drying time between coats to ensure proper adhesion and cure. Rushing the drying process can lead to an uneven or less durable finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the recommended drying time for the specific tung oil product being used. It is also advisable to avoid using or placing any objects on the furniture until the oil has fully cured to prevent any marks or damage.


In conclusion, tung oil is indeed an excellent choice for outdoor furniture due to its durability, protection against weather elements, water resistance, and UV resistance. Its unique properties and natural composition make it a popular and reliable finish for outdoor furniture, ensuring that it remains in good condition for many years to come. By properly applying tung oil, regularly maintaining the furniture, and following safety measures, you can enjoy the numerous benefits that this versatile oil offers. So go ahead, choose tung oil for your outdoor furniture, and enhance its beauty and longevity.

Maci Morgan Photo

Maci Morgan

We spend a lot of time on our patio. So why not have the style and decor to your own specific taste. Not only will you feel great and relieve some stress, but so will your relatives and friends when they come to visit and chill out. Small party or special events, they all will be enjoyable once you find the right patio decor.

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