Can You Use Tung Oil Over Acrylic Paint?

Yes, you can use tung oil over a coat of acrylic paint. Applying tung will protect your painted surface, and it is an eco-friendly product, which means that it is safe to use. The oil will also make your painting look rich and neat.  

Since acrylic paint is water-based, you might get confused about whether it’s possible to seal the paint using an oil-based sealer like tung oil. And, yes, we appreciate your curiosity. So, can you use tung oil over acrylic paint?

However, you must know the right way of doing this. This article will take you through all the necessary details regarding tung oil and how to apply it to your acrylic paint surface.

Tung Oil Over Acrylic Paint: Is It a Good Choice?

A lot of painters use acrylic paint on either wood or canvases to get the best possible results. You can consider applying tung oil as a protective layer over your acrylic paint to get even better results. Tung oil will also increase the life of the wood while enhancing the results.

What Exactly Is Tung Oil?

Tung oil, also called china wood oil, is a type of drying oil. It is extracted from tung tree seeds. The tung tree is a native plant that is mainly grown in China and other Asian countries. 

Tung oil has been used for many centuries. To date, tung oil is used as a waterproof gel for boats and other surfaces. It is also used as a finish for most paintings. 

Tung oil is used widely by many people because it is easy to use, eco-friendly and versatile in nature. Speaking of versatility, acrylic paint itself is highly versatile as well. You can even paint leather with acrylic paint (the paint goes well on almost any surface!)

What Are the Characteristics of Tung Oil?

As mentioned above, tung oil has been in use for years now. The reason people like using it is because of its unique and distinctive characteristics. 

Here is a list of all the characteristics:

  1. Tung oil has the ability to resist moisture. 
  2. Once tung oil is applied on the surface, it helps protect the surface for more than 5 to 6 years. 
  3. Tung oil will not mould. 
  4. It has a durable finish. 
  5. Tung oil is known to dry faster compared to other oils. 
  6. It gives the surface a final matte finish and makes the surface look smooth.
  7. Tung oil is easy to clean. 
  8. Once you apply tung oil to a surface, you do not need any other sealer. 
  9. Pure tung oil is eco-friendly. 

Things To Consider When Using Tung Oil Over Acrylic Paint

You can use tung oil over acrylic paint, but there are a few things that you must keep in mind. 

  1. You must apply at least three to four layers of acrylic paint on your canvas before applying tung oil. Or you can also apply a minimum of two or three coats of acrylic gesso before adding tung oil. This will help tung oil spread smoothly on the surface.
  2. When you are painting with acrylic, you must remember that it dries quickly. Hence, applying more acrylic paint layers or coats can affect the coverage from one layer to the next. To have consistent coverage, make sure that you mix and dilute the paint thoroughly before painting. So, when you apply tung oil over it, the paint on the canvas or material will look even and smooth. 
  3. When applying tung oil over acrylic paint, you must ensure that the paint has completely dried and cured. Applying tung oil when the paint is not dried or cured will end up damaging the painting, or your colour will start peeling off, which in turn will ruin the painting. 
  4. You can use tung oil over acrylic paint, but the colour might change over time. Tung oil tends to develop a natural amber colour as time passes. 

Can You Use Tung Oil As Acrylic Paint Finish?

Yes, you can use tung oil as an acrylic paint finish.

You can use tung oil as an acrylic paint finish as it quickly dries, making it easier for you to use the surface in no time. With other oils, you have to wait for a very long time which can cause delays in work or other commitments. When you apply tung oil over acrylic paint, over time, it will give a matte finish and will provide the painting or the material with an antique look. 

Another compelling reason why you can use tung oil as an acrylic paint finish is that it helps to protect the paint. Tung oil is known to work as a waterproof protector.

It is also tough and highly versatile when you use it on materials. Hence, if you use tung oil, then it will ensure that the material that you use for applying acrylic paint will be safe. 

The Benefits of Using Tung Oil as an Acrylic Paint Finish

Given below is an entire list of all the benefits of using tung oil as an acrylic paint finish in detail. 

  1. Waterproof: Once you use tung oil as an acrylic paint finish, it will act as a protector. It will protect the surface from water and moisture. Tung oil will ensure that water does not absorb into the surface and protect the wood from rotting. 
  2. Food safe: You can use the acrylic paint surface in the kitchen after applying tung oil because it is highly secure. You can apply it on bowls, baskets, chopping boards and many other surfaces where food is placed. 
  3. It is resistant to acids: Tung oil is resistant to alcohol and acids. That is why you can apply it to your chopping boards or baskets. The surface coated with tung oil will not spoil even if fruit acid falls on it.
  4. Long lifespan: Tung oil as an acrylic paint finish will last long. It will not crack during harsh weather or get damaged from regular use.
  5. Easy to apply: The application process is very easy. You do not need to hire anyone; you can do it yourself at home, even if you are a beginner. 
  6. It is not toxic: Pure tung oil is not harmful as it is made by crushing tung tree seeds. However, it is better to wear gloves while painting tung oil on acrylic paint in case you have an allergy.  
  7. Gives a good end look: The result will be perfect once you apply tung oil to your acrylic paint surface. It will improve the appearance of the surface by giving it a clean and rich look.
  8. Easy to clean: When you apply tung oil as a finisher, work becomes more manageable. You can easily clean the acrylic-painted surface using hot water or dish soap. 

How To Apply Tung Oil Over Acrylic Paint Surfaces?

The process of applying tung oil over acrylic paint surfaces is not a difficult task. There are a few steps that you must follow to get the best results.

We have listed all the steps to make work easier for you. 

Step 1: Clean the Acrylic Painted Surface

Begin by checking if the acrylic paint surface is completely dry. Once it is dried, you must dust the surface to remove unwanted particles or contaminants. 

There will be tiny dust particles on the acrylic paint surface since you laid the paint down to dry. Use a brush to wipe the dust away. You must also keep in mind that the dusting process might differ from surfaces.

For a few acrylic paint surfaces, you might have to sand the surface slightly without thoroughly sanding the paint. If your surface is made of wood, you must sand it a little. 

Step 2: Thin the Tung Oil

The tung oil might be too thick for the acrylic surface. Make sure you thin the oil according to the need.

The process is easy. Combine or mix the oil with mineral spirits or citrus solvent. Once you combine them, you can apply them on the acrylic paint surface.  

There are certain situations where you should not thin the tung oil. If you are applying the tung oil on concrete, weathered wood, unfinished wooden floors, or highly absorbent surfaces, you should not thin the tung oil. Thinning the oil and applying it on these types of surfaces will not be beneficial as these surfaces are already thick. 

Step 3: Liberally Apply the Tung Oil

You can use a wide-tipped bristle brush, a lint-free cloth, or a sponge brush to apply tung oil. Do not apply vast quantities of tung oil to the acrylic surface. 

Pour a small quantity of tung oil into the cloth or sponge. Spreading the oil over the acrylic paint surface will become easier when you pour the tung oil into the fabric. Once you pour in, apply the oil properly. 

Once the first layer is applied, let it rest and absorb. 

Step 4: Apply the Next Layer of Tung Oil

Once you have applied the first layer, wait for 40 minutes and apply the next layer. 

If you are applying tung oil on acrylic paint surfaces which will be used for walking or will be in constant use, then you must apply more than four layers. If the acrylic paint surface is more of a decorative item that will only be touched or moved a little, you can apply three coats of tung oil.

The number of layers also depends on the look you are going for. 

Step 5: Remove Excess Oil from the Acrylic Paint Surface

Once you have applied all the layers and you notice that the acrylic paint surface can not absorb any more oil, take a cloth and wipe the surface to remove excess oil. 

This step is very important because if the excess tung oil starts curing on the acrylic paint surface, the end result will not be pleasant. 

Once you have removed the excess oil, you can add a thin layer of tung oil over the surface for the best finish. 

Step 6: Leave It to Cure for 30 Days

It is essential for the acrylic paint surface to cure appropriately. Leave the surface for 30 days. 

You must check for excess tung oil seeping on the surface during the first ten days. If you notice extra tung oil, wipe it away gently. You must also ensure that the acrylic paint surface is not in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Exposing the acrylic paint surface to direct sunlight can cause the paint to fade.  

Ensure that the surface is not touched during the curing periods. If you have to move the acrylic paint surface or walk on it, ensure you hold the surface with rags or covers. 

Can I Get a Shiny Finish With Tung Oil?

If you use pure tung oil, you will not get a shiny finish. Pure tung oil does not contain additives. Even if you add multiple layers or coats of pure tung oil, you might not be able to get the shiny look. 

If you want a shiny finish with tung oil, you can use polymerized or modified tung oil. Polymerized tung oils contain additives that will give a shiny and glossy look. 

Since polymerized tung oil contains additives, not all brands are safe to use on kitchen utensils. When you are purchasing the product, read the information on the product carefully. 

How Long Does the Effect Of Tung Oil Last?

Tung oil’s effect will last a very long time over acrylic paint surfaces. The effect will last more than 5 to 6 years. The canvases that you coated with tung oil can be stored safely. The only difference you will notice is the change in the aesthetic of the paint.  

If you have used acrylic paint over wood and applied tung oil over it, the layer will last up to five years. It also depends on how you maintain the wood, the type of wood you use, and the condition of the wood. If the wood is maintained well, the effect of tung oil can last more than five years.

You can ensure the maintenance of the wood by cleaning it with warm water or dish soap every two months. Since acrylic paint is water soluble as well, the overall cleaning process will seem easy-peasy!   

Consider using tung oil over acrylic paint, as the oil will give an excellent and antique look over time. 


To summarise, consider using tung oil over acrylic paint anytime. Pure tung oil is safe to use and environmentally friendly. It will protect your work or painting from damage. 

The main point is that the surface or canvas must be thoroughly dry and cured for tung oil to make its magic work on the acrylic paint surface. 

Use tung oil over your acrylic paint projects and witness its effect.

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