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Thread: Tung Oil v. Teak Oil v. Danish Oil - Need Help

  1. #1

    Tung Oil v. Teak Oil v. Danish Oil - Need Help

    I normally use Watco Danish oil as a finish on my projects. I like the way it performs and looks. That being said, I am in a bit of a quandry on my latest project.

    I have a slab of bubinga that I will be using for a bathroom vanity counter top. It is a single piece of wood that is 22 3/8" x 65" x 1", so there is a lot of surface area that has to be sealed. I want something that will seal the wood, but provide some protection to the moisture-rich environment. I would like to stay away from the "plastic" look of poly and read online that Danish has the potential to mildew, where tung and teak don't. I haven't ever used the tung or teak and was hoping someone would have some advice on direction.

    If less is really more, imagine how much more more would be. - Frazier Crane -

  2. #2
    Hey Lance, I hope my experience helps. I have used both Tung and Teak oils in wet areas extensivly over the years. With both of them you must apply the oil untill the wood no longer absorbs it. Depending on the wood this can mean many coats. Once it no longer soaks in, I was taught to use 400 or even 600wd paper to apply a final coat ensuring you leave no exess oil behind. The longer you rub the nicer the finish. The nature of these oils and the wet environment means you may have to reapply a final coat anywhere from every 6 months to a year. This helps with the water proofing and removes any stains and dirt. Harsh clensers will ruin the finish. Any sign of dryness in the wood means you must reapply or suffer water stains. Overall these oils may not be the best finish for the bathroom, but if you are willing to put in the effort they sure make the wood look great. It sure sounds like you have a nice piece of wood there. good luck.
    When in doubt, ask a Creeker.

  3. #3
    I think I am going to go a slightly different route. In doing some other research, Waterlox has a product for counters that will handle some of the environmental stresses I will be dealing with. It is tung oil based, but has a varnish in it as well. I think it will be a better choice for what I will be doing. It is hard to find a single piece of wood that big. I want to make sure it is well preserved. I don't think the oil-based finishes will be quite what I am looking for in a high-humidity environment.
    If less is really more, imagine how much more more would be. - Frazier Crane -

  4. #4
    On a tangential note to this thread... Is there a REAL difference in appearance between using a Seal-a-Cell/Arm-r-Seal finish vs. making your own custom mixture of tung oil/polyurethane? I'm on a budget..


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Southport, NC
    You have asked a question that is not easy to answer. This is because there is so much marketing garbage associated with all the "oils".

    First, is the question of what do you mean by "tung oil"? Do you mean real, 100%, pure tung oil or one of the many faux "tung oil finishes" most of which contain no real tung oil at all. Tung Oil Finishes (ala Minwax Tung Oil Finish) are oil/varnish mixtures that contain an oil, a varnish and mineral spirits. You can make your own by mixing equal parts of the three components.

    Teak oil is an oil/varnish mixture that generally contains a little pure tung oil added to linseed oil. The oil mixture is then mixed with varnish and mineral spirits.

    Finally, there is "Danish Oil" which is again a mixture of linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits. See a pattern here? In other words, Tung Oil Finish, Teak Oil and Danish Oil are virtually identical. The differences are based on marketing, not performance.

    Of course, there is also real, 100% tung oil and boiled linseed oil. Both are what are known as drying oils. The only difference is that tung oil is slightly less amber and slightly more water resistant. Neither are really protective or water resistant. Both will support mildew and mold.

    So, how does this all fit into your project? Oil finishes, whether pure oils, or the oil/varnishes are not very protective from a water resistance or abrasion resistance point of view. The oils are an in-the-wood finish that will leave the look and feel to the wood. None are long lasting and require frequent renewal to maintain their properties and looks. Oil/varnishes are excellent for furniture items that do not get heavy abuse but I would not recommend any oil as a finish for something in a bathroom unless you are willing to perform the maintenence.

    The appropriate finish in bathroom is a film finish. Something like Waterlox Original Gloss or Satin would be a good choice. It's a phenolic resin/tung oil varnish that has excellent water and abration resistance. Another is Behlen's Rockhard varnish. For best appearence, I would avoid using a poly varnish and certainly stay away from the big box brands of varnish or poly varnish.
    Last edited by Howard Acheson; 05-24-2007 at 12:45 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Fairfax Station VA
    I'll throw my vote in favor of Waterlox. It has the long molecule configuration that is slightly flexible and can take another coat long after the likes of polyurethane has become brittle and resistant to any add-on, or repair. It has nearly the same properties of poly otherwise. If it works for floors, it surely can do the countertop you describe. Takes a week or so to fully cure, but can be recoated on consecutive days until it's where you want it. Gloss or Satin, as you prefer.

    Good luck.

    Why eat natural foods when most people die of natural causes?

  7. #7
    Thanks for the education. I knew the Danish was an oil/varnish mix, but didn't realize the other prepackaged finishes were the same. As always, I have learned a great deal.

    I think I have settled on the Waterlox products and will go with the recommended sealer with two coats all over and a final with three coats on the tops and ends.
    If less is really more, imagine how much more more would be. - Frazier Crane -

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