Buying wood oils and knowing which one to use is a difficult decision. The varieties that you get can be confusing – oak furniture oil, linseed oil, tung oil, Danish oil, and Teak Oil, just to name a few.
Some oils are meant for specific types of wood while others claim to have special properties.
In this post, we take a look at the two most popular types of oil – linseed oil, and teak oil. But, before we get into the discussion of linseed oil vs. teak oil, let us first consider the definition of wood oil.
Wood Oil Explained
Applying oil forms one of the most popular ways of finishing wood. You don’t get as effective protection from other wood finishes such as varnish or polyurethane. However, the character of some woods comes out better by rubbing them with oil.
Wood oil does not come from wood but is the oil that we apply to wood to enhance its appearance and add protection.
Wood oil is a combination of different oils, but you may use a single oil as well. For instance, linseed oil comes from flax seeds and tung oil comes from nuts of the tung tree. Wood oil occupies prominence because we extract it naturally. They are also quite easy to apply and maintain. Let’s now move on to the discussion of linseed oil vs. teak oil.
Standard linseed oil and boiled linseed oil (BLO) takes a long time to dry. You may have to wait for two to three days for a single coat to dry. Considering that you need to apply at least three to five coats and maybe even as many as twenty coats it is not practical.
By adding solvents to linseed oil, we create “boiled” linseed oil, it referring to oil that has been chemically modified, not actually boil with heat.
Boiled linseed oil, however, will dry within a day. But you cannot use either form of linseed oil for outdoor purposes. You will find BLO easy to apply by wiping it onto the surface of the wood and rubbing it in. Allow a day to pass between coats. You can buff the surface once the oil has dried to get a lovely sheen.
Teak oil contains either tung oil or linseed oil with a few added resins and varnishes to enhance durability. It may contain mineral oil as well.
Many manufacturers claim that their brand of teak oil offers ultraviolet (UV) protection. But this is seldom the case. UV absorbers cannot absorb all of the UV radiation that the wood surface may receive. An extent of UV radiation penetrates the surface.
Because of this, hindered amine light stabilizers (HALS) are added to the teak oil. But even HALS do not directly block the UV radiation. They have an action on the free radicals that cause damage to the coating on a molecular level. Rather complicated, but it is sufficient to say that even if a manufacturer claims that they have added UV absorbers it is unlikely that you will get any particular benefit as claimed.
Many brands advertise their product as specially formulated for teak and other similarly oily woods. However, these oils do not dry any better than regular wood oil Also, manufacturers may claim that their product “feeds” the wood or replaces its natural oil. Teak produces a natural oily resin, for which there is no substitute.
Teak oil plays a prominent role as a finish for outdoor furniture. It replaces depleted oil and imparts a rich honey color to the wood. Teak oil also makes the wood moderately weather-resistant and reduces the chances of the wood to warp or split.
However, after a few weeks, when the oil begins to evaporate, the wood will start to become dull. The evaporating teak oil also causes some of the natural teak oil to evaporate. Due to these reasons, we consider teak oil as a temporary solution. You will get better results if you use some other form of finish like a wood sealer.
Boiled Linseed Oil vs. Teak Oil
If you want to apply a finish to furniture or flooring, you need to understand the available products. You can use linseed oil in paint, stains, and varnish.
Teak oil is a combination of different oils and can provide temporary protection to your woodworking projects. Here are some fundamental differences between boiled linseed oil and teak oil:
Linseed oil, even if boiled, takes a long time to dry. If you don’t allow it to dry enough, the surface of the wood will remain tacky. Teak oil on the other hand dries swiftly and becomes hard. It soaks into the wood, but it may tint the wood, making it slightly darker.
Both of these oils have good penetration power. But you will find it difficult to remove linseed oil from wood surfaces. Linseed oil retains its luster longer than teak oil, but it is not easy to refinish when required. Teak oil becomes hard on drying and you will find it easy to refinish after scraping off the old coating.
Indoor and Outdoor Use
You are best off using boiled linseed oil indoors on wooden flooring and furniture. It also has good preservative properties, but you shouldn’t use it outside because it doesn’t offer protection from UV radiation.
You can use teak oil on outdoor furniture and various wooden structures. It makes the wood resistant to water and provides limited protection from the wind and sun.
But as we mentioned above, applying teak as a wood finish is only a temporary measure. You will need to either apply a teak sealer on top of the oil later once dry or refinish the surface with more teak oil regularly.
Although linseed oil in its purest form contains only natural substances, adding toxins such as arsenic, chromium and cadmium forms part of the manufacturing process. Linseed oil is also a fire hazard, as rags soaked in linseed oil if left alone are prone to spontaneous combustion. Teak oil also contains toxic substances and you can consider neither of them as food-grade coatings.
Given in the table below is the comparative characteristics of linseed oil vs. Teak oil:
|Drying Time||24 hours to several days||A few hours|
|Color||Darkens the wood considerably||Minimal darkening|
|Usage||Indoors only||Indoors and outdoors|
|Cost||Cheaper than teak oil||More expensive than linseed oil|
|Coats required||More coats required||Fewer coats required|
|Combustibility||Highly combustible||Less combustible than linseed oil|
Linseed oil and teak oil are two versatile oils that you can use to finish teak wood. Either one of them will enhance the look of the wood and offer a certain degree of protection. You need to be aware of the characteristics of both these wood oils to be able to get the best out of them.
In our discussion on linseed oil vs. teak oil, we covered the pros and cons of each type of oil. When you know the advantages and drawbacks, you know what to expect out of each one, and you will be able to use either of them in your woodworking projects for the best results.