Does Tung Oil Darken Wood?

Tung oil is an excellent finish for any wood projects from flooring to furniture. But many people are unsure about how the oil will affect the color of the wood and whether it will darken it or not.

Pure tung oil will not darken wood, but it will give it an amber tint. However, dark tung oil has pigment added to it and this will give the wood a rich mahogany color. You can also tint tung oil if you want a different shade.

This guide will give more detail about how tung oil changes the color of wood. I’ll also include some information on how to properly tint tung oil so you can get the perfect color.


Will Tung Oil Change the Color of the Wood?

Yes, using tung oil can change the color of the wood but it doesn’t always darken it. Pure tung oil will give the wood a slight amber tint but it won’t change the color that much at all. It brings out the natural grain of the wood and enhances the color.

However, dark tung oil has pigments added to it and it has been modified with hydrocarbons. When applied to the wood, it will darken but the end result depends on the wood species. If you are using a light colored wood, the tung oil will turn it a dark mahogany brown. On dark wood species, the color doesn’t change that much because the natural color is very similar to the color of the dark tung oil. Pure tung oil will just give dark wood types a slightly yellow/orange tint.

Does Tung Oil Get Darker with Multiple Coats?

Does Tung Oil Get Darker with Multiple Coats

Again, this depends on the type of tung oil that you are using. Pure tung oil doesn’t get darker with each coat. The color may deepen slightly but it won’t get darker. However, dark tung oil does get darker with each coat. This is because it has pigment in it that builds up on the wood. That said, if you are putting it on dark wood, you won’t see much change, even with lots of layers.

If you want a very dark finish, you may need to combine tung oil with stain. I will give more details about how to mix tung oil with other finishes to make it darker later on.

What Color Is Tung Oil?

Pure tung oil has a faint amber or honey color to it. This is what gives the slight tint to the wood. Dark tung oil is a deep brown color because of the added pigments.

Does Tung Oil Look Good on Any Type of Wood?

Yes, tung oil works on any type of wood. The great thing about tung oil is that it accents the natural grain of the wood and highlights the color. So, it’s especially good on wood types with an interesting grain, like walnut or mahogany. It’s great for darkening light wood species too and you’ll get a nice rich brown finish.

Can You Tint Tung Oil?

Yes, you can tint tung oil to get the desired color. This is a good option if you want some color but you don’t want it to be as dark as the dark tung oil. There are a few different ways that you can tint the tung oil but using stain is the easiest. You need to use an oil-based stain so it mixes with the tung oil properly. Water-based products will not mix properly.

You also need to be careful about the type of oil-based stain that you use. Tung oil is a slow drying finish and if you mix it with a very fast drying stain, it can cause problems when applying it and letting it dry because half the mix dries much faster than the other. If the stain you have added dries faster than the tung oil, it can form a barrier over the wood so the rest of the tung oil cannot properly soak in.

Can You Tint Tung Oil

Ordinarily, fast drying stains are a better choice because they save you time. But if you want to mix them with tung oil, you should look for stains with a long drying time that is closer to the drying time of the tung oil. When you mix them up, start by adding a small amount of stain at a time until you get the desired color. Then, test it on a piece of scrap wood to see how it dries before you go ahead.

Alternatively, you can use tung oil and gel stain separately to get a darker finish. Gel stain doesn’t soak into the wood, it sits on the surface like paint. So, you can apply it over the top of tung oil. Start by applying the tung oil and then let it fully cure. This can take up to 30 days. Once it has formed a solid seal over the wood, you can then apply gel stain over the top to get the desired color.

Does Tung Oil Leave a Shine on the Wood?

No, pure tung oil leaves a natural looking matte finish. While it gives you a nice amber color and creates more contrast in the wood, it soaks in rather than sitting on the surface and leaving a shine. That said, some tung oil finishes have other things added to them, like polyurethane. Polyurethane does leave a glossier finish so if you’re using one of these combination products, you could get a bit of a shine. If you want a nice natural finish, double check that you are using a pure tung oil product.

Can Tung Oil Turn Wood Yellow?

Pure tung oil will not turn wood yellow. But a lot of people report problems with tung oil yellowing because they are using a product that is not pure tung oil. Many of these finishes are made with a combination of tung oil and polyurethane. While this does offer more moisture protection, polyurethane can turn yellow over time when exposed to UV rays. So, if you want to avoid yellowing, make sure that you check the ingredients to ensure you are actually using pure tung oil and not a mixed product.

Final Thoughts

Tung oil is a great finish that protects wood and brings out the natural aesthetic. If you don’t want to darken the wood, use pure tung oil products to get a nice warm glow and bring out the grain. But if you want to color the wood, you need dark tung oil products with added pigment, or you can try tinting your own. Just remember to check the drying times on any wood stain that you add to your tung oil, and always test it on some scrap wood first.