Looking for the best oil for outdoor wood furniture but getting confused? Well, the term “best oil” can be misleading since there is not one-size-fits-all oil for all wood types.
The dominant wood furniture in your region largely depends on the trees available in the region or close to the area.
In this guide, we will recommend the best oil for different types of wood furniture, and give an overall answer based on the oil with the most benefits.
Types of Oil for Outdoor Furniture
1. Linseed Oil
Linseed oil is also known as flaxseed oil or flax oil.
It functions by soaking deep into the wood to create a satin finish that is resistant to moisture and abrasions.
Its use has reduced over the past couple of decades because it yellows after degrading.
Many craftsmen prefer alkyd resins to linseed oil.
Types of Linseed Oil
Three types of linseed oils exist.
They are grouped according to the extent of polymerization, which is caused by heating and the addition of drying agents.
Raw Linseed oil
Raw linseed oil is the unprocessed form of linseed oil. It does little/no good for wood furniture.
One of the major setbacks of raw linseed oil is its inability to cure fast. Depending on the weather and additional components, linseed oil can take more than two months to dry.
In the popular words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Aint’ nobody got time for that”.
Boiled Linseed Oil
Opposite to what its name suggests, the boiled linseed oil is not produced by heating. It is a mixture of raw linseed oil, polymerized oil, and drying agents.
The drying agents are metallic oxides or petroleum-based compounds that serve as catalysts.
They reduce drying time significantly. Boiled linseed oil is not safe, as it releases volatile organic compounds while drying. Use with caution.
2. Polymerized Oil
Polymerized oil aka stand oil is produced by subjecting raw linseed oil to extreme temperatures (usually 300 degrees Celsius) in the total absence of air.
The process goes on for several days.
During heating, the polysaturated fatty esters in the raw linseed oil transform into conjugated dienes.
The dienes become crosslinked after undergoing several chemical reactions called the Diels-Alder reactions.
Verdict: It is not the best finish for outdoor furniture.
3. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a lubricant laxative, one that has health benefits and can serve as a wood finish.
Actually, I meant the kind of wood you use in your kitchen.
Something like a kitchen chopping board. Unlike Linseed oil, mineral oil is non-toxic and food friendly.
Verdict: The “oily” truth is no serious craftsman will polish their wood project with mineral oil.
It’s a home-made remedy for returning some sheen to the fading chopping board.
4. Tung Oil
Tung oil is gotten from the nuts of the Tung tree. Like mineral oil, the Tung oil is non-toxic.
It penetrates the wood to give a clear sheen and defend it against moisture. Tung oil has been in use in Eastern Asia for more than 2500 years.
It has a fast rate of drying. It dries upon exposure to air.
Tung oil is a flexible oil that expands and contracts with the wood.
It is applied on wood with the wet-on-wet burnishing method, a more complex and tasking method compared to other oil coatings.
The wet-on-wet burnishing method involves sanding down wood furniture through the phases of smoothness to achieve a grit reduction of 600 to 800grit.
The sanding does not stop until the wood begins to show mild luster.
After achieving the 800 grit, the task has just begun. It takes a series of oil applications and additional sanding to give the wood a satin finish.
The process is to be repeated two to three times after the wood is dry. The drying time depends on the oil used.
For Linseed oil, it can take weeks while Tung oil requires at least 2 days per coating.
After applying Tung oil on wood, the surface is sanded. To get a reliable coat, you may have to coat it thrice.
Plus, the drying time for each coat is usually three days. That’s quite fast, compared to Linseed oil drying time.
Tung oil works perfectly with maple. Plus, it looks superb on lighter woods.
Most craftsmen prefer polymerized Tung oil to the natural alternative.
Verdict: Tung oil is not the best oil for exterior wood or wooden floor. It has low resistance against wearing and tearing.
5. Danish Oil
The Danish oil is a polymerized form of Tung oil or linseed oil. It is produced by mixing Tung oil or linseed oil with solvents.
It does not have one formula, as various manufacturers of Danish oil employ several production methods.
Danish oil is better than Tung oil and Linseed oil.
Verdict: It is more resistant to wear and tear. Plus, it forms a hard coat over the wood surface after exposure to air.
6. Teak Oil
Teak oil was not made from Teak. The name originated because the first set of Teak oils were particularly used for Teak wood.
Nowadays, teak oil is not restricted to Teak wood. It is used for timber woods such as rosewood, bamboo, birch, cedar, cherry, and mahogany.
Teak oil is perfect for close grain woods. For a close grain wood like teak, linseed oil, or tung oil does not penetrate well.
The only disadvantage of Teak oil is that it is not compatible with softwood types like the pinewood, hem-fir, redwood, southern pin, western red cedar, and Douglas fir.
Verdict: Teak oil is a great finish for timber, as it penetrates into the wood just like Danish oil. It’s suitable for interior and exterior wood furniture.
What Is The Best Oil For Outdoor Wood Furniture
Overall, the best oil for dry wood furniture or any outdoor furniture is Danish oil. Danish oil can protect the wood from moisture and sunlight.
The second best is the teak oil. It is important to state that the features of the oils mentioned in this article can change depending on the aim of the manufacturer.
You can find Tung oil that has more positive features than Danish oil or Teak oil.
Given that manufacturers are “stingy” with their ingredients list, one might not be able to judge the true origin or composition of the artificial oil.
For non-toxic furniture, mineral oil trumps all.
Further Read: Learn how to rehydrate and bring life back to your old wood furniture.