How to stain hardwood floors with tung oil

Say hello to my new kitchen floor… we’re best friends!  Recently I shared how we installed our new pine hardwood floor, and now I’m back to share how we stained our floor using dark tung oil.  I have to say I’m in love but I think you probably picked up on that!  I’m always looking for environmentally friendly products to use when remodeling our home and this dark tung oil is a winner.

Now I will say it might not be for everyone, but I absolutely love the results.  I’ll go through the steps to achieve this look as well as some pros and cons.


Pure Tung Oil comes from the seed of a tung tree and is a finishing product that provides a tough, flexible, and highly water-resistant coating for a great wood finish when staining wood.  It’s an all-natural way to finish your floors that’s completely food safe.  I purchased my dark tung oil from the Real Milk Paint Company, they provide non-toxic, environmentally friendly products, and in the past I’ve had great success with their products.  So naturally I was excited to try it on my floors.

Pure tung oil is thick, making it difficult to penetrate wood on it’s own so it’s best to thin it out.  The Real Milk Paint Company provides citrus solvent that is meant to be used at a 50/50 ratio to thin tung oil making it easier to use.  You can buy regular or dark tung oil and mix it with citrus solvent on your own or you can buy it already pre-mixed which is what I did.  I used Dark Half on our floors which was conveniently mixed and ready to use at 50% dark tung oil and 50% citrus solvent.

After sanding of course, staining our floors was such a simple and easy process, and bonus our house smelled like oranges for days which is much better than strong chemicals!


We stained our newly installed pine floor as well as our original 120 year old floor, we aren’t positive what wood species the original floors are but both floors had great results.  The most commonly recommended method is to use a paint roller with an extension and roll it on.  I used a paint tray at first but after a bit I just poured it directly on the floor and rolled it, just be careful it can splash!  I rolled it on thickly, let the oil sit and penetrate 20-40 minutes, and with lots of rags wiped off the excess oil.  I repeated these steps 3 times, but it can vary, you may need more coats.  I was staining two large rooms and it did get a little tedious so I experimented a bit.

Dark tung oil on floors How to stain with dark tung oil

After heavily rolling my first coat with a paint roller I decided to apply the second coat by hand.  It applied a bit thinner and deepened the color, and after 40 minutes I had much less product to wipe off.  I liked this because it felt like I was wasting less product.  In our dining room I used a roller on half the room and the rag method on the other half to compare.  After the final wipe the results were pretty much the same.  However all floors and climates are different so if your refinishing your floors definitely experiment for yourself!

Dark tung oil stain applications

I did a total of 3 coats for the new kitchen floor and the old dining room floor.  You’ll know when your floors are done because the wood stops absorbing the oil.  The directions state to let it stand 20-40 minutes before wiping off excess.  I wanted to see if my floors would get darker so I left it on for about an hour before wiping it off.  I want to stress that you need to wipe the oil off or it will dry sticky and you’ll need to sand again.  Whatever you do don’t leave it on overnight!!

Easy DIY hardwood floor refinishing

The tung oil definitely dried lighter in color and cooler in tone, it does change with the light.  The kitchen is brighter so it looks different than in the dining room.

I love how even after sanding our dining room floors the dark tung oil still highlighted deeper scratches and wear.  I think it makes for a beautifully authentic floor and can’t wait until our kitchen floor ages too!

Another benefit of using tung oil is when new scratches occur you can simply wipe on more tung oil!  It’s really that simple!

Tung oil floor results


Honestly I think so but I realize everyone has different goals so here are my pros and cons!


It’s FDA approved for food contact and environmentally friendly.

The finish does not blister, peel, or mold.

When properly applied, tung oil is shown to be more water and moisture resistant than shellac.

It’s incredibly easy to stain a floor with.  I found it pretty much error proof.

No chemical smell after application.

It’s great for kids and dogs who spend time on the floor, or adults who walk around bare-foot (hello that’s me).

Any scratches can be wiped with more oil.  I like to keep a jar of oil for easy touch ups.

Once the newly applied stain looks dry you can walk on the floor in clean socks or roll wax paper along the floor to walk on.


It’s a matte surface so if you’re looking for a gloss finish this is not for you.  Just keep in mind shiny surfaces with a top coat show scratches!

You need to re-oil as needed, most likely every few years or when it looks dull.  I’m planning to wipe future coats on by hand.

You can’t use harsh floor cleaning products.  A bucket of water with a splash of vinegar or dish soap to dry mop with is recommended.  Plain water is good for light floor cleaning.

It’s more expensive than regular floor stain.

How to stain a pine hardwood floor


This is a tough one, yes, maybe.  We went to a farther Home Depot to rent our floor sander and grabbed sand paper there.  When we realized we needed more sandpaper we went to a closer location.  Each sales associate told us conflicting information.  The first told us to sand up to 180 grit.  The second said he specialized in furniture making and said we should sand to 220 grit.

I’m not really sure what to think about this.  It is a fact the higher grit in sandpaper you use the less stain will absorb, this is because the wood pores are closed up more.  We did finish with a 220, and I can’t say I have any regrets because it made our floors baby bottom smooth.  If we finished with a lower grit I think the floors would be just a bit darker… but I love the baby bottom under my bare feet so when we add hardwood to our future rooms we’ll probably do exactly the same.

The best natural floor stains

If you’re thinking of installing new hardwood floors or refinishing your own in dark tung oil I definitely think you should go for it!  I hope this helped you, and if you have any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them the best I know!


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  1. This was super helpful! Thank you for adding the details, the photos, and the opinions. I’m considering using the dark tung oil on the floors in our century old house.

  2. Thank you so much for your post. This so so helpful. I do have a question, how did you go about wiping the excess off such a large area?

    1. I purchased a bag of paint rags from Home Depot to get the bulk of it off. Then I walked over the floor with old towels under my feet. It definitely counted as cardio, and I’m saving all my old rags and towels for future floors I will oil.

  3. Hi Laura. I just stained my new pine floors with dark Tung oil. I am wondering if the dark resin color eventually stops coming up on your socks?

    1. Yes it’s all dark tung oil. The color does change throughout the day with thr light. The floor has aged a bit and looks less golden. I think the second to last photo of the kitchen floor looks like the true current color most days. The dining room is a different wood species and it looks more golden especially with the lights on. I’ll be doing an update soon on our finished kitchen and the floor.

  4. How long did it take for your floors to stop off gassing? We did our whole house this past weekend, but needed to rent another space to stay in for the past few days due to the smell. Am curious when you all felt comfortable with preoccupying/using your space?

    1. Hi Steph, the fumes aren’t dangerous so I would say it’s personal preference. We also didn’t do our whole house at once, but we did open the windows to help with the smell. I would think that after a couple days it should be tolerable.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts and experience. Unfortunately we are still getting headaches and sore throats after 6 days. We have all the windows open with fans on full blast (dying in the Atlanta heat). I read a couple other sites that compared/reviewed linseed and tung oil and noted the same issues with off gassing for up to 30 days. It is getting better, but definitely not what we expected after reading your pro/con list. It might be worthwhile to update that list so folks have a realistic heads up on what to expect. Sharing the MSDS could also be helpful so folks understand that the solvent is especially harmful to your lungs. I wore a P100 the whole time through sanding and finishing with Tung oil and highly recommend this as part of standard PPE. I also read in the MSDS that it can be harmful aquatic life so clean up and disposal can be a concern.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience! Are you using the same tung oil that we used? Not all tung oils are the same. We used Dark Half which is dark tung oil mixed with citrus solvent from The Real Milk Paint Company. I appreciate your suggestions and would remind everybody to read reviews and follow all manufacturer instructions to ensure safe and complete coverage. If you have additional concerns I would highly recommend contacting the manufacturer and letting them know your dissatisfaction with their product. In any event, I really hope the negative effects go away soon and your life gets back to normal.

  6. Hi Laura,
    These pics are beautiful. Would you say the Milk Paint Dark Tung Oil stops the pine from yellowing? There are some products that state this. We are in the Northeast and would be putting down hard red pine. Some say it yellows with time and polyurethane (even water bases) and I’d like to avoid that!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Diane, thanks for reading! We use yellow pine here, and so far it looks like this stain covers it well. I haven’t noticed any signs of yellowing yet.