What you can see in the pic is the dry fit of this mahogany piece into my bathroom. It fits very snug into the wall pocket. In the pic is just bare wood, no finish applied yet.

I've already treated it with 3 coats of pure Tung Oil, and now I was hesitating between letting it cure for a month and then giving it a wax coat, or just installing it as is.

More info for context: We don't take baths very often (maybe once every 3 months), most of it is quick showers, so there is not a lot of long staying humidity build up in the room. We also have an extractor fan built in.

What would you guys recommend in the direction of long term resistance to water and vapor? Would you say the Tung Oil could be enough?

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  • 1
    First off that looks like a really nice piece, kudos. We have some previous Q&As on finishing wood for bathrooms that it would be worth reading for some context here; one or another of them will directly answer your second-last question.
    – Graphus
    Jan 11, 2021 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


Twenty five years ago, I installed something quite similar (not nearly as nice as your piece) and it has lasted just fine until now. This was installed in our larger bathroom which contains both a separate bathtub and shower. Before installation, I applied approx. three coats of clear Watco danish oil. I allowed the finish to dry about 3-4 weeks then applied 3 to 4 heavily-cut, thin coats of orange shellac. This was partially due to the effect I wished to achieve from orange shellac. I know all will not agree that shellac is suitable for a bathroom cabinet but we never had much in the way of wet and foggy conditions (usually) and the finish has held up quite well. I found the combo of Watco Danish ("Tung") oil and shellac to work quite well overall. It was also dead simple to do prior to installation.

Best I can advise is let it dry a few weeks and then try a top coat such as shellac or some type of varnish (diluted) or perhaps a lacquer. I just found shellac to be the simplest while still giving a nice result for a lot less work.

You can also just apply another 3 to 4 coats of Tung oil. This will take a while to dry but it has to be the simplest way to seal the piece. The more coats of oil, the heavier top coat (and protection) it builds on its own. It takes quite a bit of "Tung" oil to finally create a decent top coat that will handle moisture. Whether you use multi coats of "Tung Oil" or an oil and top coat finish, you can always add a couple coats of Howard's Feed'n wax as a top coat to add extra protection and just plain add a bit of depth to the finish

Hope this helps in some way. You have a beautiful cabinet there, it looks very, very nice in the place you are installing it. Experiment with your finishes. Try mine or try one of the above suggestions. You'll find what works best for you.


  • Your installation, while obviously similar, doesn't really inform an Answer to the OP's main query. The simple fact of the matter is that with no finish at all things like this would typically be fine.
    – Graphus
    Jan 13, 2021 at 10:34
  • @Graphus care to expand on why? Jim, many thanks for the detailed answer! Appreciate it! Since I posted the question, i went ahead and bought myself some Poliurethane (still didnt arrive). Would you consider Poli to be a good top coat for such application? Also, just for clarification, my Tung Oil appears to be 100% pure, not mixed with varnish or any other product. Thanks! Jan 13, 2021 at 14:35
  • @EricMitjans, the previous Q&As I referred you to initially basically lay it out. And anyway my 2nd sentence above is the spoiler for the punchline. There are tons and tons of things used in water, with wet foodstuffs, in high-humidity environments (way above what you'll be creating) where stuff made from wood is left unfinished and it does just fine. If your wood was fairly decent, and it certainly looks like it was, and your joinery is good this likely would have been fine as-is (except perhaps for a little shaved off the inside of the bottom of the door). So it's in even better shape now.
    – Graphus
    Jan 14, 2021 at 9:10
  • @ericmitjans, I wish I could give you a good answer about adding a polyurethane finish on top of the tung oil. I have never mixed polyurethane and tung oil on the same piece. My common sense says it would work out fine but that's not a good answer. My first thought is if the poly would really add anything to multiple coats of real, 100% tung oil? You may be ready to go as is. One other thing a finish needs deal with over decades is dust and dirt. You may want a true film top coat to ease in wiping the wood clean without rubbing the dirt and dust into the wood grain. Just a thought.
    – Jim
    Jan 14, 2021 at 11:57

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