You’ve just finished your woodworking project, and you have given it a nice-looking Danish oil finish. However, you are in a dilemma about what to do next and whether you can put polyurethane over Danish oil.

The reality is, you’ve heard it is important to seal your workpiece to achieve a glossy finish and make it durable. But you’re asking, can you put polyurethane over Danish oil?

Well, stick around because I will be answering the question; can you put polyurethane over Danish oil?

Let’s jump in;

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Danish Oil?

Both oil-based and water-based polyurethane have no bad effects when put over Danish oil. It adheres well with Danish oil but only when you have given the preceding coat enough time (up to 48 hours) to dry.

How Long Does Danish Oil Take To Dry and Cure?

One main advantage of danish oil is its drying time. Danish oil will require about 6 hours to dry and up to 24 hours to cure. 

If you apply multiple coats on your workpiece, the Danish oil finish will take several days, up to one week, for the coat to cure.

To add, it might take more than one week if you are working in cool and/or damp conditions.

While applying Danish oil when working on one of my projects, I noticed pure oil alone doesn’t cure into a hard resin. If you use natural oil only to your wood surface, it won’t form a solid film.

This is because curing involves chemical reactions that convert the liquid solution into a hard solid. This is why Danish Oil finishes are mixed with linseed or tung oil plus varnish to cure into a hard film.

Related: Can you put polyurethane over tung oil?

Does Danish Oil Even Need a Top Coat?

There’re woodwork projects that won’t need a top coat when you finish them with Danish oil. For example, wooden furniture that is used frequently can become dull and may wear fast. 

Adding a topcoat (extra hard-wearing) is necessary. However, if you have a workpiece you won’t handle all time, e.g., wooden clocks, there’s no need for a topcoat.

With that in mind, my take is, Danish oil doesn’t need a topcoat. Many over-the-counter Danish oils are designed to be an all-in-one finish solution – they don’t require an additional protective coat.

Should I Use Oil or a Water-Based Polyurethane on Danish Oil?

So you’re torn between water or oil-based polyurethane, then let me take the burden off your shoulders. If I were for pure looks over substance, I would go for oil-based polyurethane.

Even though you can use water-based poly on Danish oil, oil-based poly stands out. However, if I want to save time working on large projects, I may go for water-based polyurethane as it dries faster.

Still unsure about which one is best, let’s take a quick run through the pros and cons of each one:

1. Oil-Based Polyurethane


  • It’s a rich finish that gives natural wood a rustic shine.
  • It’s less expensive compared to water-based polyurethane.
  • Less touch-up work is needed once the job is done.


  • It takes longer to dry than water-based (4 times longer).
  • It darkens into an ever-deepening amber tone when it ages.
  • It produces more fumes than water-based polyurethane.

2. Water-Based Polyurethane


  • It dries faster than its oil-based counterpart.
  • You can apply multiple coats within one day as it dries faster.
  • Durable because it uses an acrylic resin base, unlike oil-based, which uses an oil base.


  • It looks duller.
  • It often saps the wood of its vibrancy.
  • It’s more expensive than oil-based polyurethane.
  • It requires more maintenance than oil-based poly.
  • It is not waterproof (Is polyurethane water resistant?)

How to Apply Polyurethane over Danish Oil 

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Danish Oil for added protection

Let’s have a look at how you can apply polyurethane over Danish oil.

Materials and Tools Needed

Here are the materials and tools you’ll need to apply polyurethane over danish:

  • 120-, 180-, 220-, grit sandpaper.
  • 80-grit sandpaper (for refinishing jobs).
  • Oil- or water-based polyurethane (Can you put polyurethane over old polyurethane? Find out in our article. )
  • Quality brush (natural bristle brush and a nylon bristle brush for oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane respectively)
  • Automotive rubbing compound
  • Automotive polishing compound
  • A tack cloth or dry lint-free rags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mineral spirits -for thinning oil-based polyurethane)
  • Distilled water -for thinning water-based polyurethane)

Steps-By-Step Procedure for Applying Polyurethane Over Danish Oil

Step 1: Prepare the Work Area

Use a vacuum cleaner to ensure your work area is star-free a few hours before starting the project. Also, be sure to work in a well-ventilated workshop, under optimum light to see imperfections.

Step 2: Prepare the Wood Surface

Just like in putting polyurethane over resin, wear a nose mask and sand the Danish oil coat using  80- or 100-grits sandpaper, then smoothen it with 220-grit sandpaper. Use a dampen tack cloth to clean the wood surface.

Step 3: Apply Danish Oil

Reapply Danish oil and allow about 4-6 hours drying time. 

Step 4: Apply Polyurethane Over Danish Oil

In this step, you can use the wipe-on poly or brush-on poly, or the spray-on technique to apply poly over Danish oil. The result will be similar. I will be using the brush method for flat surfaces.

However, use the wipe-on method for contoured surfaces and the spray-on method for hard-to-reach surfaces.

  • Step I: Dip about one-inch of your brush into the poly. 
  • Step II: Apply the poly by following the direction of the grain (even, long strokes are recommended). 
  • Step III: Ensure there’re no drips or gaps on your workpiece and allow about 24 hours for it to dry. 

See also: Making wipe on poly instructions.

Step 5: Wet Sanding the First Layer

Use fine-grit sandpaper (wet it to avoid damaging the finish of the previous polyurethane) for sanding the first coat of the poly.

Step 6: Thin Your Polyurethane

Thin your poly by mixing two parts of oil-based poly with one part mineral spirits. Use distilled water-based polyurethane.

Step 7: Apply the Second and Third Coat

Apply the second coat of poly and allow 24 hours drying time before sanding and applying the third and fourth coats.

Recommended read: Can you use oil-based polyurethane over water-based stain?

How Can You Tell if Polyurethane Is Oil or Water Based?

Looking at the label of the polyurethane container is the easiest way to tell oil-based from water-based.

Sounds easy, right?

But is it true?

Well, there might be an error during labeling, so the best way to differentiate the two is to take a look inside. Usually, water-based poly is milky when inside the can. However, its brushes are clear.

Related post: Can I apply polyurethane over chalk paint?

How Many Coats of Water Based Polyurethane Should I Use?

If you’re after basic protection, using a minimum of 3 to 4 coats of water-based polyurethane will be a good start. However, you can add more coats if you aren’t on a tight budget.

Again, it is wise to do touch-up coats after a few years to have an ever-good-looking finish on your wood surfaces.


1. What Can I Put On Top of Danish Oil?

Danish oil doesn’t build like a film finish, so you can put polyurethane over it. You can also use lacquer if you’re working on surfaces that may be exposed to liquids or abrasion.

Reapplying oil with and some wet sanding will restore the original luster if it suffers damage.

2. How Long Should Danish Oil Dry Before Polyurethane?

Danish oil finished surfaces may take up to 8-10 hours before use. However, if polyurethane is to be put over it, allow 72 hours before application.

3. Can You Seal Danish Oil?

Yes, you can. Danish oil doesn’t require sealing, but to give it extra hardness and durability, you can use any oil-based varnish, either resin or polyurethane, to seal it.

Read also: Can you paint on trex boards?

4. Can You Put Water-Based Polyurethane Over Oil?

Yes, you can put a water-based polyurethane coat over Danish Oil. It will adhere to the finish as long as the Danish oil coat is fully cured.

5. Can I Spray Polyurethane Over Danish Oil Finish?

Yes, you can spray poly over danish oil rather than brushing or wiping-on method. No matter the method you use, poly will bond fine with the oil.

6. Can you polyurethane over polycrylic?

Yes, you can polyurethane over polycrylic. However, are some important considerations to keep in mind. Before doing so, ensure that the polycrylic is well cured, which takes about 30 days. Additionally, lightly sand the surface to promote adhesion. Putting polyurethane over polycrylic can create a more durable and protective finish.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Danish Oil?

As you’ve read, it is good practice to put polyurethane over Danish oil despite standing on its own.

Polyurethane will make your finish stand out, plus it is durable. It will take you several years before you do maintenance on your project.

To add, polyurethane is tear, abrasion, impact, mold, mildew & fungus resistant that’s why I recommend applying it over Danish oil.

Did I leave out something you wanted to know? Shoot us a comment, and we’ll work towards adding it to this article.

What next? Read our article on how to apply wipe on polyurethane and leave us a comment if you find the information helpful or have any questions!

8 thoughts on “Can You Put Polyurethane Over Danish Oil?”

  1. I’ve put 9-10 thin coats of Medium Walnut WATCO wood oil on my Siberian Elm live edge bar.

    After a month it is almost totally waterproof (I wouldn’t leave water on it for days). It is also fairly glossy (polished), without giving the artificial sheen of Polyurethane or Resin.

    I’ve has several complements on the finish.

    BTW, I used WATCO on a burled walnut dining table, over 25 years ago and it still has a nice natural shine, with no water/liquid damage. I swear by it.

    I’m putting it on a Maple Shuffleboard table, to make the grain pop…but I will coat this project with several coats of Polyurethane, for durability.

  2. Generally Danish Oil is a mixture of Tung Oil or Boiled Linseed Oil, Mineral Spirits or Turpentine, and Varnish. The ratios depend on the maker with variations depending on the preference of more Varnish for better protection or more Oil for the richer grain affect. Bear in mind that Tung Oil comes as 100% Pure Tung Oil , 100% Dark Tung Oil, or Polymerized Tung Oil which can be bought with the same ingredient mixture as Danish Oil. In essence, you can make your own Danish Oil and vary the ratios of each, within reason, based on preference. Polyurethane is a sub- category of Varnish but I’ve never seen retail Danish Oil with Polyurethane listed as an ingredient. If extra protection is desired, why not stick with Varnish over the top?
    What am I missing?

  3. Goodell David,

    Many thanks for your valuable advice !
    I am about to apply a finish on a large (10′-10″ x 3′-5″) walnut, live edge dining table. My desire to not have a “glossy poly” type finish has led me to Odie’s Oil and Watco Danish Oil. I have reviewed ( extensively ) multiple other products in these two types of finishes. I want something to help bring out the wood grain, ease of application procedures, and be resistant to food & liquid staining with good durability. Presently leaning towards Watco Danish Oil, and or adding a third coat of Watco Teak Oil for final coat. Not sure it would be wise but I am wondering about a final top coat of Odies, if the appearance is not compromised. Very much want to get this right the first time !

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Kevin Begley

  4. I used Tru Oil to finish the wooden shell of a snare drum.
    I would say that I applied 18-20 coats.
    It’s curing right now and it has a beautiful gloss shine that shows off the grain.
    I would like to protect it even more by using an oil based Polyurethane as a top coat after it has finished curing.
    Will the Polyurethane stick to the cured Tru Oil?
    I imagine I have to scuff the True Oil finish before applying the Polyurethane.
    I’m thinking of wiping it on by using a 50-50 mix of Polyurethane with Mineral spirits. I imagine that it would take several thin coats to complete tge project? Is this okay to attempt? Would I be sanding in between coats?
    Any advice would help. I have never worked with Polyurethane before.
    Thank you.

  5. I am refinishing an indoor teak dining table. Will use Danish oil.
    Is it ok to put Minwax poly wipe over the Danish oil as a final finish?

    • You can; it will need to dry for a couple of days. I prefer to use finishing wax over danish oil. Or even better, you can skip both Danish oil & poly and use Tung Oil it has qualities of both products!

  6. I used Danish oil with a polyurethane finish on a Canadian red cedar addirondac chair that sits on a covered porch. After two years, the finish has darkened with black spots that appear to be mold. I don’t understand why this happened nor what I should do to remedy the situation. Do you have any advice?

    • It could happen if the wood wasn’t completely dry when the finish was put on, or if not, could be places where the poly has cracked as the wood flexes with the wider humidity swings that you get with outdoor furniture, and moisture has leaked in to cause trouble. What kind of poly did you use if I may ask?


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