Does Tung Oil Darken Wood? (How Can We Use)

Many people get worried about what kind of color tung oil would give the wood. In many instances, woodworks with tung oil stains have a dark finish.

While sometimes the woodwork may also get a honey-colored finish with a tung oil stain. 

So, does that leave you in the dilemma- does tung oil darken wood or not? 

Yes, it does. The dark versions of tung oil can give a darker chocolate brown shade. But that is only to some specific woods. It also gives the wood a honey-colored finish. It helps the wood portray its natural color with a beautiful shine.

You’d be wrong if you’re thinking that the wood color depends on the number of coats of tung oil. If you’re intrigued to know about that, then read along! 

Does Tung Oil Really Darken Wood?

does tung oil darken wood

Yes, tung oil can really darken the wood. But that depends on two factors. One is wood type. And the other one is the type of tung oil. 

Tung oil is the most preferred of all the different types of wood finishes. It’s durable, flexible, protective, and gives a waterproof finish.

Tung oils are mainly of two types. They are pure tung oil and dark tung oil. The color of the stain on your wood mainly depends on which type of tung oil you are going to use. 

Pure tung oil gives honey-colored light finishes. While the dark tung oils can give finishes of chocolate brown color.

In case you don’t want to avoid using tung oil, there is always the alternative of using plywoods. Here is a list of some of the best alternatives for wood-

Now, let us look at the extent to which tung oil can darken wood in the next section!

How Dark can the Wood Get with Tung Oil?

The wood type plays a big role in the extent to which the tung oil would darken it. 

Firstly let us talk about the light-colored woods such as cedar, maple, oak, pine, etc. For the light-colored ones, pure tung oil gives a yellow or light yellow ochre color.

While dark tung oil significantly darkens the wood color. In this case, it gives a mahogany brown color. So the difference in the color of the stain is very evident for the two types of tung oil on the light-colored woods. 

Now, let us discuss dark-colored woods such as mahogany, walnut, cherry, etc. These woods already have a dark-colored base naturally. So, the pure tung oil only gives a vaguely yellowish shade to the existing color of the wood.

On the other hand, what happens when you use dark tung oil on these woods? The color of the wood does not change much. This is because the base color of the wood is similar to the base color of the dark tung oil.

So, dark tung oil cannot darken the color of these woods much. The difference in color intensity for pure tung oil and dark tung oil is insignificant in dark woods.

So we cannot conclude from this that tung oil darkens the wood. It depends on factors such as type of wood and type of tung oil. But we can conclude that tung oil cannot give the darkest brown shades on your wood. 

You would have to choose a different wood finish to achieve that. Or you could simply choose a dark-colored varnish over your tung oil finish.

This way, you can achieve the best of both worlds. You need to choose the best kind of varnish for your wood. And that’s where we can help. Take a look at our top picks-

How can We Use Tung Oil to Darken Wood?

Tung oil adds a luster to the wood. It has other benefits that stain cannot give to the wood. And sadly, you cannot expect tung oil to darken the wood as much as a stain would do.

So, what can you do to darken the wood-like stains and also have the benefits of tung oil? 

Step 1: Preparing the Wood with Stain 

Use a stain of your desired shade on the wood. Let it dry. Then, if the tung oil has not been exposed to air, there is no need of thinning it.

But, if that is not the case, then you can thin it using mineral spirits. The thinning should be done before application. 

Step 2: Applying the Tung Oil

On top of the stain, you should use pure tung oil. Pure tung oils can be difficult to apply. So, you can go for the ones with solvents mixed in them. But make sure that it is not a dark tung oil. 

You can apply a minimum of two coatings of tung oil over the stained wood. But, you have to wait for 1 day in between each coat to let it dry well. 

Make sure to choose good quality tung oils. Here are some of the recommended tung oils for your convenience: 

These tung oils would give you the best results. They are of high quality in outlook as well as in texture. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can you make tung oil darker? 

Answer: Universal tinting color can be added in very accurate amounts to the tung oil. Some oil-based enamel can also be added to get a color of your choice. 

Question: Can I put polyurethane over tung oil?

Answer: Absolutely yes. You can add 2 to 3 coats of it over dried tung oil. It would further increase the durability of the wood finish. 

Question: What does tung oil do for wood?

Answer: It gives a beautiful tinted finish to the wood. The finish makes the wood durable and waterproof and protects it from heat and dust. 

Wrapping Up

Tung oil basically acts as a tint. Because of its versatile nature, you can add other things in it to get some stain.

Now we know how exactly does tung oil darken wood. So are you ready to experiment with it? 

Let us know how it goes for you. Best of luck! 


Kevin Smith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *