Anyone with basic woodworking experience must be familiar with teak oil as a fantastic wood finish. It not only enhances and maintains the fresh look and authentic color of natural wood but also provides moisture resistance.
You can use teak oil on many types of wood. But as the name suggests, it is excellent for teak and similar hardwoods such as rosewood, acacia, mahogany, and eucalyptus.
But can teak oil be used on pine? No, you shouldn’t use teak oil on pine. It is highly discouraged due to the dry and porous nature of the softwood. Instead, you can use alternatives such as Danish oil, linseed oil, and others, each of which have their pros and cons.
If you are considering teak oil as a wood finish for your newly made pine wood pieces, read on. In this post, we explain why teak oil is not an option for pine and introduce you to the best alternative finishes you can use.
What Exactly Is Teak Oil?
Teak oil is a manufactured oil. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a pure oil that you extract from the teak tree.
It is made of other oils, commonly linseed oil and sometimes a little tung oil, and petroleum by-products like mineral spirits or resins. The ingredients vary by brand.
You might then wonder – why the name teak oil when there’s no relationship? Well, the term teak oil only means that this oil is best for that specific type of wood or others closely related to teak.
Teak oil was initially reserved for the treatment of outdoor wooden furniture and wooden fixtures of sailboats. These pieces usually are exposed to harsh elements outdoors like moisture, UV light, and wind.
Consequently, the golden beauty of the wood dulls and fades away pretty quickly, turning the wood grey. Teak Oil helps deepen the wood’s original color and maintain its integrity for much longer, especially since it has some degree of water and UV resistance.
Why Teak Oil Is Not Good For Pine
Today, teak oil is the choice of oil finish for many types of wood and not just teak. But can teak oil be used on pine? While teak oil works fantastic for teak and other hardwoods, it is not the best for pine. Pine, unlike teak, is a softer and more porous and dry kind of wood.
Normally, teak oil doesn’t penetrate deeply in the teak, but pine being porous and dry, soaks up copious amounts of the oil. Where you would typically apply three coats, you may end up needing up to seven coats or more.
Considering how expensive teak oil is and the constant reapplication demanded from time to time, teak oil on pine is a time-intensive and not so cost-effective finish.
Another reason to avoid teak oil for your pine pieces is the effect of pure linseed oil on porous wood. Since the wood sucks up teak oil deeper, the linseed component may feed any mold harboring inside, leading to rot.
This is especially true in warm and humid climates which provide the perfect conditions that support mold growth. The interior of the pine wood could turn into a breeding ground.
From an application perspective, you want to keep teak oil away from pine dining tables, food counters, chopping boards, or utensils. Teak oil contains solvents as ingredients and could contaminate any food that comes into contact with it as a wood finish.
In addition to not being food-safe, teak oil also doesn’t offer any resistance against staining. Therefore, any food or drink that falls on the wood may stain it, and the stain can only be removed by sanding.
Furthermore, a teak oil finish is not exactly waterproof. It does nothing to prevent water from soaking into the wood, considering how porous pine is.
Therefore, if your pine wood pieces are meant for outdoor use, a teak oil finish is not enough to seal them. More robust protection against water, mold, and UV light damage is necessary.
The Best Finishes For Pine Wood
Pine is so easy to work yet difficult to choose a finish for. Consequently, it’s often the go-to for unfinished wood projects.
Do not worry if you only had teak oil in mind for your pine wood. There are plenty of alternative finishes; you just have to choose the appropriate one based on the application.
Here are a few fantastic options.
1. Danish Oil
Danish oil is one of the most remarkable oil finishes you can choose for your pine wood. It not only adds a lustrous, beautiful finish to wood but also promises outstanding durability.
Like teak oil, danish oil is a manufactured oil. It contains other oils like tung or linseed and mineral spirits. It performs excellently as a protective finish for softwoods due to its polymerization ability.
Danish oil is hard-drying oil. That means it will solidify when exposed to air after application. It disappears into the wood, so there is no superficial waxy plastic-looking film.
This property is perfect for wood of a porous nature like pine that tends to suck up too much liquid oil too fast. Being hard drying also makes it more durable as a finish and creates a much stronger moisture-resistant barrier.
Danish oil is also food-safe when wholly cured. It won’t contaminate food. However, take this with a grain of salt, as some brands may add other non-food-safe ingredients to the oil.
Nonetheless, it is fantastic for both indoors and outdoors, be it a finish for doors, furniture, floors, or decks made from pine. It can also be a primer for other finishes if you do not want an oil finish.
2. Linseed Oil
If you need peace of mind for the safety of the food on your new pine tabletop (dining table) or wooden chopping board, bowls, etc., linseed oil is the best option.
Linseed oil is an all-natural oil extracted from flax seeds. It is pure oil without contaminants and guarantees the safety of your food on pine wood surfaces while still enhancing aesthetics and offering protection.
Linseed oil is available in various forms. There is raw or pure linseed oil and boiled linseed oil. The latter is usually a blend of the oil and solvents to speed up the drying time.
Therefore, if food safety is your priority, opt for all-natural raw linseed oil. Unfortunately, it needs plenty of curing time.
This can be anything from a minimum of 7 days up to 21 days. So be sure to apply very thin coats of it.
Alternatively, you can go for polymerized linseed oil. It is a much better option if you do not have patience with raw linseed oil. It has a shorter drying time, usually 2-3 days.
Linseed oil gives pine wood a slightly golden, amber hue. So you should beware that you are not crazy about this color.
Also, you should not expect the same durability as with Danish oil, but it offers water resistance. This oil is non-film-forming and absorbs entirely into the pine wood grain.
Note: As we mentioned before, linseed oil is included in the blend that makes up teak oil and may feed mold. This is why we recommend a fast-drying formula that won’t create excess moisture in the wood. You may also want to consider a clear topcoat to ward off more mold and fungus, which we’ll talk more about below.
3. Clear Topcoat
While oil finishes bring out the authentic look of natural wood, they do very little to protect the wood surface from mechanical stress. Therefore, if you are not necessarily going for an oil finish, a clear topcoat is an option.
A clear topcoat is applied for robust protection by creating an impenetrable barrier. Still, it allows the beauty of your pine wood to show through.
It is the best finish for pine wood pieces that will undergo heavy use and abuse such as toys and also furniture permanently left outdoors.
Clear epoxy is among the most durable topcoats for pine wood. It is practically impossible to mar and waterproof too. Other fantastic clear topcoats are a thin layer of satin polyurethane or varnish.
4. Stains And Paint
Staining raw pine is not always a brilliant idea. It absorbs the stain unevenly, and the end result is a mottled look.
If you want to stain pine successfully and professionally, precondition the wood with a thin layer of shellac or lacquer first. Then, opt for a gel stain.
You can also finish pine with oil-based paints or latex paint for pressure-treated pine or water-based paint over an oil base.
And because pine is notorious for being knotty, you have to seal those before painting or staining. The dark color of knots tends to bleed into the paint or stain and ruin the uniform color if the knot was not sealed prior.
In conclusion, you are not short of options for finishing pine. Even though teak oil is a widely preferred finish, it is not ideal to use on pine wood.
It is neither waterproof nor food-safe. A teak oil finish is also non-durable on pine and expensive in the long run thanks to the spongy nature of pine.
You can opt for a different hard oil like danish or one of the non-oil finishes discussed above, such as clear topcoats, paints, and stains.
Up Next: Can You Use Liming Wax On Pine?