anyone using oiled wood floors (not polyurethane)?

Bridget HelmApril 24, 2013

i posted in the flooring thread, but there's not enough action over there.

anyone have experience with or has lived with oiled wood floors? they are so beautiful! but i don't want to make a huge mistake. they look rustic already, so i'm figuring wear and tear will just add to the patina??

i'm nervous about them because they seem so raw and exposed. but that's part of their beauty.

we will NOT be using them in the kitchen or bathrooms. we don't have pets, but we do have kids - 4 of them

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Bridget Helm


    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:09PM
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We have oil rubbed brazilian cherry in our family room - 2 kids (boys 8 & 10) AND a 75 pound dog. Our major draw to them is that they hide scratches better and IMO they do. There is no interruption in the sheen as with poly where the scratches stand out because they are dull and seem to be magnified by the shine of the floor.

We have had them a year and a half and I have been very happy with them. I am used to the lack of sheen and actually prefer it now. I'll try to post a pic later. They have held up very well and I would definitely repeat it.

Actually it's been 2 1/2 years already! I have attached a picture...taken today not at install.

This post was edited by Autumn.4 on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 18:06

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 5:13PM
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I didn't want poly, etc so I had them use tung oil. 3 dogs, 3 cats. Over 7 years later, no problems.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:18PM
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Bridget Helm

oh good. thanks everyone. i'm glad to have found people that have lived with them and like them!! great news.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:37PM
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Some family members used oiled pine floors. After 7 years there are definite traffic patterns worn into the floor and to me they never look clean. But I like a shiny wood floor!

I guess it depends what wood material you use. Pine is very soft as opposed to oak.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:40AM
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Bridget Helm

they are oak, so the hardness is there. i like shiny floors too, but i really want this beachy limewashed color. i can't find a ployurethane in this color for this price.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Hi, we used waterlox on our oak floors (a tung oil product) and I love them. We built three years ago and yes, there are some scratches (we have three kids and we are rough with our floors) but I like the patina. It was a great product to work with, and we did the waterlox and staining in one step. good luck!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Bridget Helm

this is the sample a little farther away.

has anyone used a prefinished oiled floor? i guess that prefinished will be ok?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Me again - ours was 'pre-finished' oil rubbed. If we see a scratch we just rub it with some tongue oil and it helps it to blend in.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Autumn, where did you find your floors? I really like the look!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:21PM
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The color of a wood floor should be achieved before a protective clear finish is applied whether it is an organic "drying" oil like Tung Oil or an "oil-modified" synthetic resin finish like polyurethane/urethane. Color added to the top finish is for the DIY market and will wear off as the finish wears.

Select any "drying" oil carefully, especially Tung Oil; manufacturers shamelessly use deceptive terms, claims and advertising for these materials since most people have little idea of what they should be or how they should be used. Basically, pure Tung Oil must be heat-treated and modified with resins and suspended in mineral spirits to be used on a floor. A product only needs a small amount of Tung Oil to use that term in its description and might be mostly cheaper vegetable oils (linseed), resins, dryers and solvents.

Waterlox is advertised as a Tung Oil finish. It contains:
Mineral Spirits
Specially Processed tung oil
Ester gum
Phenolic resin
Specially Processed Linseed Oil

This is surprisingly similar to an oil-modified polyurethane finish with a little heat-treated Tung Oil added.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 9:19

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Our floor guy told us about his brother who did not know he was allergic to nuts until after a trip to the ER. (wasn't while doing my house). His throat swelled almost completely shut.

"Wood finishing:
When applied in many fine coats over wood, tung oil slowly cures to a satin "wetted wood" look with slight golden tint. It resists liquid water better than any other pure oil finish, though it still provides little protection against water vapor exchange or scratches. Tung oil does not darken noticeably with age and is claimed to be less susceptible to mold than linseed oil.[7]

Tung oil has become popular as an environmentally friendly wood finish, but it should be noted that many products labelled as "tung oil finishes" are deceptively labelled: polymerized oils, wiping varnishes, and oil/varnish blends have all been known to be sold as tung oil finishes (sometimes containing no tung oil at all), and all the above contain solvents and/or chemical driers.[8] Product packaging will usually clearly state if it is pure tung oil, so there is a good chance you will be buying something else if the sales literature is vague.

Heating tung oil to about 500 degrees in an oxygen-free environment will substantially increase the viscosity and film-forming quality of the product. The resulting polymerized tung oil will range in consistency from that of maple syrup to that of motor oil. Most polymerized tung oils are sold mixed with mineral spirits to make them easier to work with. Limonene and D-limonene are less toxic alternatives for the mineral spirits."

Here is a link that might be useful: source

This post was edited by allison0704 on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 19:29

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Tung oil is a "drying oil" like linseed, safflower, walnut and other vegetable oils. But these oils don't "dry"; they "oxidize" when exposed to air and in a chemical process called "polymerization" molecules link together and form a tough flexible film. If you added a pigment you would have an "oil-modified, solvent-based" paint commonly known as "oil-based paint".

Tung oil, like other drying oils, cannot be applied in its pure form; it must be thinned with a rapid drying solvent like mineral spirits to make it easier to apply and able to penetrate the surface of the wood. Also, raw tung oil has poor moisture/water vapor resistance and poor protection from abrasion. Water will leave a mark on the surface and you would need to re-apply the oil every year or so. So tung oil must be heat-treated in order to start and accelerate the polymerization process that will result in a surface tough enough for a floor.

Unfortunately making a serviceable tung oil finish is expensive so many manufacturers substitute chemical additives to the raw oil that speed up oxidation (called dryers) and often mix it with cheaper oils. The resulting concoction can be so toxic that it would be virtually impossible to know immediately what element had caused someone an adverse physical reaction.

When shopping for a Tung oil floor finish look for "polymerized tung oil" in a low VOC solvent base and expect to pay a premium for it. Sutherland Welles Ltd. is one supplier.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Matt-We bought them from a local guy that has a warehouse in MI but also has one in PA. I just checked the site and I'm not sure if he has the oil rubbed now or not. You could give him a call. On a side note - the tiger wood is beautiful - my parents installed that in their bedroom but it does have more of a shine that what we wanted for our furry beast.

I think he carries more than he has showing on the website since I don't see the tiger wood and I know he still has that one - there is a note that some of the website is not 'back up'.

We plan to order from him again for our new build that will hopefully start this winter or next spring.


Here is a link that might be useful: ExoticFlooring Direct

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 1:59PM
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Bridget Helm

renovator 8, so though these floors seem/look unprotected, they really are durable if the right oil was used? they just seem so raw to me since they lack that fossilized look that i'm so used to from an engineered floor.

the company that makes the floors i'm interested in recommends this oil for touch ups

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:26PM
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I have oiled wood floors. They look decent in this pic but if you look at them during the day in the light it's not good. The brand is Garrison French Connection. The oil product they use is Woca Oil. It's vegetable oil based. These floors are gorgeous when freshly oiled, but the rest of the time they look really bad. It's not just the dogs, its that when we clean them there is this white cloudy hazy film on them that then shows every footprint and dog print and layer of dirt. I can't seem to find any product (even Woca products) that will clean them without leaving that film. So basically we could be re-oiling them once a month to have them looking good. It's labor intensive for sure. The color is pretty dark so that may be another reason. With lighter oak it may look better on a regular basis. I'm so frustrated with them as they always look dirty.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:31AM
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I hope this is helpful for someone. I own a historic home that I have been in the process of renovating for some time. Around 4 years ago, I scraped and sanded my upstairs wide plank pine flooring. I applied a mixture of tung oil and citrus solvent. After applying the coats and waiting for it to cure, it looked amazing. However, when we began to walk on it the floor began to turn grey. I believe that I applied the coats too thick and too fast. It was also humid. It seemed that the oil did not fully penetrate. I steel wooled it out until the wood had no oil left on top and was ultra-smooth. I rub one more coat of tung oil/solvent after this. The floor is beautiful and has held up well. I love this floor so much that I am in the middle of refinishing my downstairs floor. Like the upstairs floor, it was painted when the project started. I sued a soy gel stripper, scrapers, or sanding to prepare it. I am now in the oiling stage and am taking it much slower. I am putting on 1-2 coats per day. Once the oil has been on for 30 minutes, I am going back and vigorously rubbing them to help any remaining oil penetrate or to rag it off.

My experience says tung oil creates a warm feel that is fairly durable and easy to repair. There is no other finish that I would go with based on my current knowledge. I would be careful to ensure that it is a good quality pure tung oil that you purchase. I bought mine online. For anyone who deices to go this route, it is labor intensive and takes a lot of time. I think it is worth it. Lastly, please remember that tung oil can only go over bare wood.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Our floors are not oiled but I wanted to mention that there is a bona product that offers almost no sheen and that is called naturale. We put that down as the final coat on our walnut and the extremely low sheen looks amazing and does cover scratches really well. We love it and would use it again. Just an alternative to consider.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:55AM
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Great info on this thread! We will have to make this decision soon for our upstairs wood floors. They will not be done until after we move in, so we have time to do a little research. Thanks bmh, for bringing this topic up.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:11AM
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illinigirl I've been looking into that Bona product and love the way it looks. You said you used it as the final coat - what product did you use for the first coat(s)?

I grew up with waxed oak parquet floors and would love to duplicate that look, the soft glow but no shine and not matte, either.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Hi Dlm2000,
The first two coats were Bona Mega. Those were matte (which is Bona's satin sheen). I think because those coats were matte (satin) that the final coat of Naturale probably had a teeny bit more sheen than if all the coats had been done in Naturale. For me that was fine because I did not really want 'zero' sheen. just low sheen. And it still is very very low sheen. Nothing like a typical satin product, but still a hint. A glow like you mention.

So if you realllly want as close to zero sheen as possible you will want to make sure that all the coats are done in Naturale. But there will need to be something different on top of any stain you do, because Naturale can't go directly on top of the stain. Mega can be the sealer and the finish. Naturale can't be the sealer. Hope that makes sense. So if you are staining the coats are like this:

sealer (Bona has some sealer products, or Mega can be the sealer)
top coat(s) (Naturale, Extra Matte, etc)

I also considered the Bona HD Extra Matte, which has a little more sheen than the Naturale but less than Bona Matte I liked it but my husband wanted the Naturale. No regrets on that. It really does help hide any scratches that happen.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Thanks for all that info illinigirl - confusing? Yes!! But I understand the order of application. So many options are out there - it does require a lot of research.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:39AM
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