Waterlox TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oil Application Guide

TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oil stains are low VOC, low odor buff-in stains that work as a base/color coat for Waterlox TRUETONE® Buff-In Tung Oil Finish for a matte, unfinished look or with our ORIGINAL, H2OLOX®, MARINE and URETHANE finishes for a finished look.1 Waterlox TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oil enhances the color, richness, and grain of wood with a high-solids, buff-in, buff-off stain. See the Find Your Finishing System tool for help selecting a full finishing system. Select “Waterlox Stain” when prompted to be recommended one of the TRUETONE® colors.

Getting Started

What You’ll Need


  • Chemical resistant gloves and eye protection (e.g.: safety glasses and/or goggles), hearing protection (if using buffing equipment).
  • NIOSH/MSHA-approved respirator during application (for organic vapor).
  • NIOSH-approved dust mask for sanding (if sanding to bare wood).
  • Read and carefully follow label instructions, guidelines, warnings and cautions.


  • Vacuum, broom and clean, lint-free rags.
  • Paint thinner or mineral spirits.2
  • Painter’s tape.
  • Box fan(s) to insure cross-ventilation and adequate dry.


For Large Projects:

  • Use one of the following applicators when applying TRUETONE®:
    • Thick, non-abrasive buffing pad (white 3M® 4100 woven pad is recommended) on a low speed rotary floor buffer. One for every 500’ ft. of flooring is recommended.
    • Flexible trowel specifically for applying coatings to wood (corners should be rounded and it should have good flexibility).
  • The round center hole insert of the woven pad or similar small paint pad (see the small project section for other options) for cutting in edges.
  • Additional clean buffing pads or clean towels for removing excess TRUETONE®.

For Small Projects:

  • Use one of the following applicators when applying TRUETONE®:
    • Buffing pad/cloth – soft non-abrasive pad that will not fall apart when rubbing the wood surface. Examples: clean rags, sponge wrapped in an old t-shirt, car buffing pad or woven fiber polishing/buffing pad (be sure it does not contain a previous product or additives).
    • Flexible trowel specifically for applying coatings to wood (corners should be rounded and it should have good flexibility).
  • Clean, lint-free rags, old t-shirt or towel(s) for removing the excess TRUETONE®.
Surface Preparation


TRUETONE® will alter the appearance of the wood. Color is a very personal choice; therefore, proper testing of the entire process should be completed before beginning. Final color can be altered by sanding to different grits or using different surface preparation methods (e.g. pre-stain conditioners, water popping, etc.). Color cannot be deepened or darkened by adding an additional color coat; only one coat is recommended. See the Stain and Waterlox guide for more information.


  • Surface preparation is the most important step; follow proper steps and grit sequences. For floor projects, consider hiring a professional who follows the accepted NOFMA/NWFA procedures for this step. All old finish must be removed and a NIOSH-approved dust mask should be worn during sanding. To maximize penetration, final sanding should be done with 100-grit. As with any stain, TRUETONE® will highlight sanding mistakes and imperfections.
  • Vacuum the surface thoroughly with and across the grain to remove as much sanding dust as possible, including all surfaces that could hold dust.
  • Lightly dampen a mop, lint-free rag or micro-fiber mop with regular mineral spirits or paint thinner and wipe the wood surface to pick up any remaining sanding dust. Allow the mineral spirits to evaporate (15-30 minutes) before applying TRUETONE®.2
  • Tape off or cover any surfaces not being coated.
  • Perform any other preparation steps (e.g. pre-stain conditioner, water popping, etc.)

Product Handling

  • Shake or stir contents before use. Stir contents occasionally during use.

Application Process

  • Starting at an edge, pour a small puddle onto the raw wood surface or directly onto the applicator.
    • On large projects, cut in edges with a hand pad or the center insert of the buffing pad. Do NOT work too far ahead (more than 10 minutes) of the buffer or trowel that is finishing the field.
  • Buff, rub or trowel (drive in) TRUETONE® using the chosen applicator into the wood. Do NOT brush or wipe; be sure to RUB INTO THE WOOD. A lot of speed or pressure is NOT needed; just rub the product (drive) into the wood surface.
    • Do not allow puddles of TRUETONE® to sit on raw wood for more than 30 seconds. Begin driving in as soon as possible and try to work from a previously colored section when adding more color.
  • When the pad/applicator becomes dry (more difficult to spread the product), pour more TRUETONE® onto a previously colored section and work the new puddle onto the raw wood.
    • On large projects, if buffing becomes more difficult, switch or flip the application pad. (This usually happens at about 400-500’ ft. per pad)
  • Moving section to section, continue to buff/rub (drive in) the finish into the wood until the whole area is coated and color appears even. TRUETONE® has a long open time, but can be immediately walked on to revisit an area.
  • MOST IMPORTANT STEP: When the surface is fully coated and saturated OR it has been 10 – 15 minutes (whichever is longer), begin buffing or rubbing off all excess material with a clean pad, rag or towel.
    • Do not allow excess/wet TRUETONE® to sit on the surface for more than 1 hour. Wipe off excess.
    • On large projects, buff out of the area that was coated last to buff out any footprints or tool prints.
    • Remove any and all shiny spots from the surface.
  • TRUETONE® may bleed back from soft grain, cracks, gaps, knots, etc. in the wood. Keep clean rags available for the first few day(s) to wipe up any shiny spots that may appear. The surface can be immediately walked on with clean COVERED feet. Use socks or shoe covers; not dirty shoes or bare feet.

Clean Up and Disposal

  • Clean application tools immediately with regular mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Properly dispose of any oil-soaked rags or pads properly to avoid any chance of combustion. Lay rags or pads flat (at least) overnight in a well-ventilated area (i.e. outside) to dry before disposing of properly. DANGER! Rags, applicators, steel wool or waste soaked with Waterlox may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place in a sealed water-filled metal container. Read carefully and follow all label instructions, guidelines, warnings and cautions.


  • Visit waterlox.com/storage. Keep container closed when not in use. Read carefully and follow all label instructions, guidelines, warnings and cautions.
  • TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oil is not a stand-alone product and will not provide a waterproof surface when used on its own. It is recommended to apply two coats of a Waterlox finish overtop to fully waterproof the surface.1


  • TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oils will dry through exposure to oxygen.
  • Once all excess TRUETONE® is removed and immediately following application, cross-ventilation and the use of box fans pointed/aimed directly on the surface is recommended. If using TRUETONE® as a first/color coat under H2OLOX®, box fan(s) are required.
  • Depending on the final finish being used, dry times before recoating will differ. If top coating with the TRUETONE® BUFF-IN TUNG OIL FINISH, allow at least 24 hours before applying. For other Waterlox finishes (H2OLOX®, ORIGINAL, MARINE and URETHANE), allow 48 hours of drying due to the higher amount of solvent in those finishes.
  • Poor ventilation, high humidity or cool temperatures may increase dry times.
  • After 4 hours, light foot traffic (socks only). Keep away from water during the dry time.


Sanding will remove color and may result in an uneven color. The wood is sealed and due to the buffing process, should be smooth and ready for the first coat. Lightly dampen a rag with mineral spirits, paint thinner or water and wipe the surface to pick up any stubborn sanding dust.

This guide is intended to be a standard application procedure. See the TRUETONE® product page for additional guides and tips.


DANGER! COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID AND VAPOR CONTAINS MINERAL SPIRITS. VAPOR HARMFUL. MAY AFFECT THE BRAIN OR NERVOUS SYSTEM CAUSING DIZZINESS, HEADACHE OR NAUSEA. CAUSES EYE, SKIN, NOSE AND THROAT IRRITATION. NOTICE: Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and nervous system damage. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents may be harmful or fatal. Keep away from heat and flame. Prevent build-up of vapors by opening all windows and doors to achieve cross-ventilation. Use only with adequate ventilation. Do not breathe vapors or spray mist. Ensure fresh air entry during application and drying. If you experience eye watering, headache or dizziness or if air monitoring demonstrates vapor/mist levels are above applicable limits, wear an appropriate, properly fitted respirator (NIOSH/MSHA approved) during and after application. Follow respirator manufacturer’s directions for respirator use. Close container after each use. Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing. Wash thoroughly after handling. FIRST AID: In case of eye contact, flush immediately with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes and get medical attention; for skin, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If you experience difficulty in breathing, leave the area to obtain fresh air. If continued difficulty is experienced, get medical assistance immediately. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Call physician immediately. If spilled, contain spilled material and remove with inert absorbent. Dispose of contaminated absorbent, container and unused contents in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.

WARNING! Cancer – www.P65Warnings.ca.gov


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.


1 The TRUETONE® Color-Infused Tung Oil is used as a color coat under the TRUETONE® Buff-In Tung Oil Finish for a matte, unfinished look or our H2OLOX®, ORIGINAL, MARINE and URETHANE finishes for a finished look.

2 If regular mineral spirits or paint thinner is not available in your area, there are alternatives. Visit waterlox.com/mineralspirits.