Milk Paint Powder

Tung Oil vs Varnish

You’ve painted your piece of furniture or ornament with Milk Paint and now want to “seal” it.

Your choices are numerous but really come down to two basic options. Varnish or Natural Oil.

What’s the difference?

Varnish is a coating. It leaves a plastic coating or film which traps any moisture in the wood or in the milk paint. If the moisture wants to escape then it has to break through this barrier. That’s where the cracks and bubbles come from.

Unlike Varnishes, Tung Oil is breathable. By that I mean that, because they are made from oils from natural pressed Tung Seeds with no additives or solvents, there is no plastic coating. The oils adjust to expansion and contraction of the wood and are able to release any trapped moisture. And, because there is no coating, there’s nothing to scratch!

Wooden bowl. Painted with milk paint. Sealed inside and outside with Tung Oil.

How do I use Tung Oil?

Simple. Use at least 2 coats. Brush or wipe it on. Just be sure to wipe off any excess after 12 hours. It may darken the paint colour so best to try a sample first.  Let each coat dry for at least 24 hours for th ebest results.

What is Tung Oil?

Tung Oil is a natural wood finishing oil that originates in either China or South America. It is excellent for interior and exterior finishing. Tung Oil is highly resistant to water and abrasion. It is the most durable of all the natural oils. It gives a matt finish that does not yellow over time. Your paint colour should stand the test of time! Surfaces coated with Tung Oil typically last for 10+ years.

Is Tung Oil food safe?

Since Tung Oil contains no thinners or driers, it both food safe and eco friendly.

If you aren’t concerned about food contact then you can use a Tung Oil blend which has a solvent like turpentine in it. This helps with oil penetration and faster drying times.

How long does it take to dry?

Tung Oil takes about 48 hours to dry and cure properly.

Does Tung Oil smell?

There is a mild but not unpleasant odour which only lasts for a few days.