Waterlox TrueTone Finishing Guide

Beautiful, natural and durable. That’s a Waterlox finish. A unique blend of color-infused Tung oil, Waterlox TrueTone showcases the natural beauty of wood, providing lasting, durable protection. Waterlox delivers spectacular results, and to make sure you achieve just that, this guide will take you step-by-step through the proper buffing application of Color-Infused Tung Oil Stains and Buff-In Tung Oil Finish for projects. Because this product is higher in solids than our products, this is the only guide that should be used with this full product line.

Performance Highlights

Features Benefits
Tung oil-based
  • Penetrates surface
  • Easy to maintain
  • Enhances beauty of wood
  • Moves with the wood
  • Does not chip or crack
  • Tolerates wide temperature ranges
Water resistant
  • Excellent water resistance
  • Great for use in water-related areas
  • Protects against common household spills
  • Heat and cold
Easy to maintain
  • Easier to maintain than surface finishes and/or oils
Low odor and VOC compliant
  • Compliant in all 50 states
Buff-in product
  • Easily applied with a buffing machine or hand buffing

Choosing Your Finish

Waterlox TrueTone products create a waterproof matte finish.

Begin all projects with the TrueTone Color-Infused Tung Oil stain in the color of your choice. If no stain is desired, start with the TrueTone Color-Infused Natural.

Waterlox TrueTone Color-Infused Tung Oil

  • Produces a matte sheen / low gloss appearance.
  • Available in 11 colors.
  • Used as the first coat in this system.
  • Can be used as the first coat / colorization coat under other Waterlox finishes. The Buff-In Tung Oil finish would not be used in favor of a different Waterlox finish.

Waterlox TrueTone Buff-In Tung Oil Finish

  • Produces a matte sheen / low gloss appearance.
  • Used over TrueTone Color-Infused Tung Oil stain.


For Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil Stains and Finish, one gallon covers approximately 3200-4000 square feet per coat. One quart covers approximately 600-800 square feet per coat. One pint covers approximately 300-400 square feet per coat. One 2 fl oz bottle covers approximately 25 square feet per coat.

For hard woods (red oak or harder), we recommend 1 coat with Color-Infused Tung Oil Stain followed by 2 coats of Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil. For soft wood species we recommend 1 coat with Color-Infused Tung Oil Stain followed by 3 coats of Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil (check the wood hardness (Janka chart)). No thinning necessary. (Do not use any type of Green, VOC Compliant, Low Odor or Low VOC marketed spirits or thinner. These may interfere with adhesion.)1

Dry Time

A minimum of 24 hours before recoat. Poor ventilation, high humidity or cool temperatures may increase dry times. Light foot traffic (socks only) after 4 hours. Entrance mats should be pulled up at night for first 5 days; wait 5 days before replacing area rugs. The surface will be water-resistant after the first 7 days; keep away from water during this time period.


Proper ventilation and adequate air circulation must be provided when using any wood finish. This product line, like most oil-based varnishes dries upon exposure to oxygen. A lack of cross-ventilation (air exchange) provides less free oxygen, slowing the drying process.


  • Cross-ventilation is the biggest factor affecting dry times.
  • It is not recommended that any solvents or solvent-based materials be used in a non-ventilated area.
  • The better the ventilation (during and after all coats) the quicker the finish obtains its final hardness and chemical resistance properties.
  • Lingering odor indicates inadequate ventilation, high humidity or both. If you cannot ventilate the area choose another product.
  • Be sure to use proper ventilation while applying the coating, during the curing process (first 24 hours after each coating is applied), and continue to ventilate the area for 7 days after the final coat is applied.
  • Always read the Waterlox label instructions closely before using, including information related to the use of a respirator while applying the finish.

ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) states that the typical air exchanges in a residence using only mechanical HVAC can be as low as 0.35 air exchanges/hour. In most cases 0.35 air exchanges/hour will not be adequate to dry Waterlox in 24 hours. We strongly suggest achieving a gentle flow of air by cross-ventilation through the use of a box fan running at low-speed in a window or door exhausting to the outside air as well as an open window in some other part of the room or house to achieve 3 - 4 air exchanges/hour. Not only will this aide the drying process by pulling in fresh air loaded with oxygen, but it will exhaust the solvent odor.

Examples of poor ventilation:

  • Ceiling fans do not bring in fresh air from an outside source, even if windows are opened. They circulate stale air around the room. Ceiling fans have a tendency to direct too much air downward on the surface of the freshly applied coating and can potentially “skin” over the fresh coat. This slows down the drying time because the solvent is trapped beneath the skin, causing a longer or improper cure.
  • HVAC alone does not provide enough ventilation. Opened windows with air being exchanged, replenishes the room with fresh oxygen and vents the evaporating solvents.
  • Closed doors cut off airflow in a room even if a window fan is in place. If the window fan is working properly, solvent odors should be exhausted and will not enter connected rooms.
  • Closets are typically the most difficult areas to ventilate – leave closet doors fully open.

Application Tools

  • For safety: rubber gloves, goggles, a NIOSH/MSHA approved respirator fitted with an organic cartridge, and a NIOSH/MSHA approved dusk mask (for sanding).
  • Blue or green painter’s tape.
  • A 120 - 150 RPM buffing machine with 3-4 3M® #4100 white maintenance pads (remove the pre-cut center hole).
  • Regular mineral spirits, turpentine or paint thinner (Do not use any type of Green, VOC Compliant, Low Odor or Low VOC marketed spirits or thinner. These may interfere with adhesion.)1
  • A vacuum.
  • Tack mop, or clean and lint-free rags.

Clean Up & Storage


Clean application tools immediately with paint thinner (regular mineral spirits) or turpentine. Properly dispose of rags, applicators and waste. (Do not use any type of Green, VOC Compliant, Low Odor or Low VOC marketed spirits or thinner. These may interfere with adhesion.)1


Keep containers closed when not in use and in a cool, dry place. If stored properly, an unopened can of Waterlox has an almost indefinite shelf life. Cold temperatures will not affect Waterlox, but if it has been chilled or exposed to freezing temperatures, allow it to stand for at least 6 hours in temperatures above 60° F before using. DO NOT artificially heat Waterlox products. Read carefully all cautions on the product label(s).

Stains and Fillers

In today’s ever changing world, more products are available due to market forces and general reformulation. Therefore, we are not aware of every type of colorization and filling process available.


If stain is desired, we recommend staining your floors with the Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil Stain of your choice for best results. Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil Finish can be buffed in over high VOC, low-solids conventional oil-based stains (after 48 hours minimum dry time). If using a conventional stain; some color (<10%) may be removed due to the slightly abrasive action of the buffing pad; this can lighten the color or intensity of the stain.


Our finishes are compatible with most fillers other than those containing wax or silicone. We also recommend using filler that is marketed as being paintable and stainable, as this is an indication that it can be coated. Keep in mind that Waterlox will penetrate and seal between the boards and into knots, etc. Follow proper application and spread rate procedures.

Previously Finished Wood Application2

Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil ONLY performs when applied over bare wood and is not designed to be used as a top coat over previously finished surfaces. For best results, strip and sand previously finished surfaces to bare wood, and then apply as described under “New Wood Application”.

New Wood Application:

1. Stir contents (do not shake) before and occasionally during use.

2. This product will alter the appearance of the wood. Wood is unpredictable. Always test any new technique, material nad product on an inconspicuous area before proceeding. The first coat will be Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil stain color or Natural. The remaining coats will be the Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil Finish for a matte finish.

TIP: When testing on soft wood, be sure to sand and condition the test area. To achieve a more uniform color appearance, water prop the grain prior to staining. Refer to the NWFA stain guidelines for more information; or use a professional.

3. Preparation of the surface is the most important step in the finishing process. In order to achieve the desired results, the floor must be properly sanded prior to finishing using the accepted NOFMA/MFMA sanding procedures. All old finish must be removed and a NIOSH-approved dust mask should be worn during sanding.2 Because of the importance of this step, hiring a professional to do the sanding could be money well spent. To maximize penetration of Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil Stain, final sanding should be done with 100-grit.

4. When sanding is completed, vacuum the surface(s) thoroughly. Vacuum with and across the grain. Follow up by vacuuming every surface in the room that could potentially hold dust, including doors, walls, mantles, windowsills and lights.

5. After vacuuming the surface with and across the grain, we recommend tacking it. This can be accomplished by using a mop, lint-free rag or micro-fiber mop dampened with regular mineral spirits (paint thinner) which will attract and remove any residual dust and dirt. (Do not use any type of Green, VOC Compliant, Low Odor or Low VOC marketed spirits or thinner. These may interfere with adhesion.)1

TIP: When the mineral spirits is wet, it will provide a preview of what your finished floor will look like and allow you to address any sanding or substrate imperfections.

6. Using blue or green painter’s tape, tape off or cover any surfaces you do not want to coat.

TIP: As you’re preparing to finish the surface, take a moment to plan where you’ll begin and where you’ll finish. Application will work in sections that are reachable to you to buff in the oil, overlapping each section as the project is completed.

7. Fit the 120-150 RPM buffer with a 3M® white maintenance pad #4100 and position it approximately 1' – 2' from the starting wall/corner.

8. The first coat will be Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil stain. All subsequent coats will be with the Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil Finish for a matte finish. Use the center hole punch of the maintenance pad to hand buff the coating when edging against a wall or baseboards. Color cannot be deepened or darkened by adding an additional Color-Infused stain coat; only one is recommended. Color can be deepened by water-popping the wood prior to the stain color coat. We recommend following the NWFA’s guide on water popping stain to accomplish this or using a professional.


  • Only cut in areas of the 3' x 3' or 4' x 4' section against a wall.
  • Hand buff approximately 2" - 3" from the wall.
  • Buff using the same manner as the buffing machine.
  • Wipe off any excess oil; there must be NO glossy film or puddles of oil remaining.
  • As you use the buffing machine, overlap the non-wall edges as you move from section to section.

9. Starting from the furthest wall from the exit area, pour a 3-4” diameter of oil approximately 6" – 12" from the wall or adjacent area.

10. Start the buffer and move it into a section of the poured pool of oil. Begin buffing until the area becomes saturated and even. Add more oil if floor is buffing dry.

11. Small droplets (spits) of oil may fly off from the pad. Buff until no spits or swirl marks remain, continue on to adjacent areas blending back into previous areas until floor is complete.

12. Move on to the next finishing area, following steps 8-10, slightly overlapping the previously buffed section(s) until all the sections are completed throughout the room / finishing area.

13. When finished, buff the entire surface again with a new (3M-4100) white maintenance pad (and possibly a lint-free cloth under the pad, if necessary), working your way out of the room to insure all footprints are removed, this will even out the gloss and remove excess material. There should be no glossy or wet areas. If any remain, these areas must be wiped off or the finish will NOT dry properly. Thin coats are the key to your success.


  • If after approximately 250 square feet has been sealed and the pad begins to ‘catch’ or ‘grab’ while buffing, turn the pad over and continue by using the other side of the pad.
  • Use smaller diameters of oil when nearing the exit area.
  • Constant airflow (using a fan) will improve the drying process.


Cure time is 7 days. The surface will be water resistant after the first 7 days; keep water away from surface during this time.

Re-coat and Maintenance

For small scratches or mars not down to bare wood or into the color, clean the area well with regular mineral spirits (paint thinner), then simply rub Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil Finish into the scratch, wiping off any excess material surrounding that area, 2 or more applications may be required to “fill” the scratch to the same film thickness as the surrounding area. For scratches down to bare wood, apply the Waterlox Color-Infused Stain color as the first coat and then build up with the Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil Finish.

For larger damaged areas, lightly sand with 150-220 grit sandpaper to clean-up the area. For bare wood, wipe Waterlox Color-Infused Tung Oil Stain into the area and wipe off the excess. Repeat the application with Waterlox Buff-In Tung Oil Finish until the area has been restored.

The area being repaired will be slightly higher in sheen than the surrounding area, this is normal. The gloss will dissipate and blend in with the surrounding area within 7-14 days.

Product Information Hotline

24/7 answers to wood finish questions and more information @ waterlox.com. Email: info@waterlox.com, or call 800.321.0377, Monday – Friday, 9 am – 4 pm ET (excluding holidays).


1 Do NOT thin, mix, clean brushes or applicator tools or wipe wood surfaces with products labeled as: "Low-VOC Mineral Spirits", "Green Mineral Spirits", "Low-VOC Multi-Purpose Solvents" or "Low-Odor Mineral Spirits". These types of solvents are not compatible with Waterlox Original products. Many of these solvents/cleaners contain up to 50% water and surfactants and/or they are blends of VOC-compliant solvents and acetone. Acetone is not a suitable solvent with our products and any products with water will raise the grain of bare wood. Look for product labels that read "100% aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent" or "100% petroleum distillates".


  • For MSDS information, visit the technical download page within the product section of our website at waterlox.com.
  • Danger! Rags, steel wool or waste soaked with this product may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in a sealed water-filled metal container.
  • WARNING! If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto www.epa.gov/lead.

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