Guide to Applying Waterlox Tung Oil Finish in Horse Barns and other Equine Structures

In horse barns and livestock facilities, achieving an elegant furniture finish on wood surfaces is crucial for an upscale aesthetic. Waterlox tung oil finish emerges as a preferred choice for its combined beauty and function, especially when compared to typical finishes like the polyurethanes or spar varnish from Sherwin Williams, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. Here’s the PaintSource Guide to Wood finish in Barns compiled by Doug Wilson. Doug consults with owners and builders of equine related structures and barns across the country, with years of experience and expertise based in Versailles/ Lexington, KY where there are still more barns than houses in some areas.

Advantages of Waterlox for Barn Wood and Stalls:

  • Durability: Offers superior resistance to moisture, preventing common issues like warping, cracking, and rot.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Enhances the wood’s natural grain and imparts an elegant furniture-grade finish.
  • Functionality: Crafted to withstand typical barn wear such as horse kicks or equipment abrasions.
  • Safety: Once cured, Waterlox finishes are safe for food contact, which means they’re suitable for areas where animals might have close contact with the treated surfaces.

    Discussing best wood finish for Horse Stalls, including horse barn walls and wood ceilings: View additional discussions on this topic at YouTube.

Wood Preparation:


  • Common Deck Cleaning Solution: This can be applied particularly on older wood surfaces.
  • Wood Brightener: Essential for rejuvenating older, gray wood.
  • Sodium Percarbonate (Oxygen Bleach): Provides an in-depth cleaning action, making it especially beneficial for barn wood that might be stained or particularly grimy.

Staining (If Desired):

  • Zar Oil Stain: To add color or to enhance the wood’s natural tone, this stain offers a variety of shades. It’s advisable to review Zar’s official website for the full range of color tones.

Application of Waterlox Tung Oil Finish:

Spraying Equipment: Tip Sizes

Airless sprayers atomize and release the finish as a spray. The spray pattern’s size and shape are determined by the spray tip.

Understanding the Spray Tip Code: Spray tips have a three-digit number.

  • First Digit (Doubled): Represents the spray’s fan width in inches from a 12-inch distance. E.g., A 409 tip will have an 8-inch wide spray.
  • Last Two Digits: Represent the orifice size in thousandths of an inch, determining the amount of finish that can pass through.

Relevance of Spray Tip Size:

  • Coverage: Larger tips cover more area with each pass, ideal for vast barn surfaces.
  • Volume and Material Thickness: The orifice size affects the amount of finish. For the consistency of Waterlox tung oil, the orifice sizes of 0.009 (409 tip) or 0.011 (511 tip) work well. And experienced spray painter could edge up to a 513 for faster application, but with less control.
  • Control and Overspray: Smaller tips produce less overspray and offer more control, yielding a smoother finish.

Tip Recommendations for Waterlox in Barns:

  • 409 or 509 Tip: Suitable for general applications, offering a balance of coverage and precision.
  • 511 Tip: Ideal for more extensive areas or when aiming for quicker application. Ensure you maintain control to avoid inconsistencies in the finish.


Considering barns’ high-moisture environment and routine wear, periodic reapplication or touch-ups may be needed. Touchup and maintenance is simple. In most cases, simply wipe on or brush on an additional coat, and sanding is never required, whereas sanding is absoltely required for most varnishes and polyurethane typically used in barns.

Additional Notes:

  • Always test a patch before full application.
  • Ventilation is essential during and post-application until the finish cures.
  • Abide by the manufacturer’s instructions when using Waterlox or any related product.

Conclusion: For livestock facilities where both aesthetics and durability are desired, Waterlox tung oil finish is the superior choice. Knowledge of spray tip sizes and their relevance is vital to ensure a professional-grade result in such environments. Proper application guarantees an elegant space resistant to the unique challenges of a barn setting.

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