Hardwood in my farmhouse - need advice on options (tung oil)-PICS

hautingluJanuary 22, 2010

On slateberry's advice, started a new thread to figure out what my options are with the hardwood in my new (old) farmhouse. His/her thread got me thinking a using Tung Oil instead of the more popular sand/stain/poly method on an 800 sq ft addition that has unfinished pine.

A few random notes:

-The addition is unfinished pine that has been under carpet for 20-30 yrs (see pics).

-Other rooms have the same type of wood (pine, I believe) which was also under the carpet.

-When we pulled the carpet, we found the outside of most of the rooms had some kind of brown paint/stain but the inside where an area rug was previous was unfinished.

I guess my questions are:

-Is tung oil a reasonable option for high/medium traffic? I don't mind the re-coats later on. How does it hold up?

-For unfinished, but dirty, pine is a full sanding needed with a random orbital?

-For the addition, which is newer than the farmhouse, I'm leaning towards Tung Oil. But for the rest of the first floor of the original farmhouse, I'm thinking of a matte or glossy black floor. For a black enamel paint, does the wood need to be sanded to the bare wood?

-The flooring is stained in some areas (dog?), but doesn't bother me too much. Will the tung oil darken the rest of the floor?

-In what order should these be done in?: windows, paint, flooring.

Please pepper me with ideas or photos =] It's almost Spring and I need to figure out what to do.

What else do I need to keep in mind? The only thing that comes to mind is that the Addition is extremely cold and I think I need to replace the windows here and possibly install insulation under the floors. This room sits above an uninsulated garage.

*Addition (pine, unfinished):

p.s. I love that split door. Not sure the proper name =)

*Dining Room (others are similar, so I won't post all the rooms):

*Bedroom 1:

*Bedroom 2:

*Bedroom 3:

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What a great house! I love the wallpaper in bedroom 3! You are so lucky to have your original doors and hardware; they look fabulous.

I hope others will chime in about tung oil, as I have only used it on a furniture project so far. In my research about using it for my pine floor, one thing I turned up that pushed me strongly toward using it is that a tung oil finish is more flexible than a polyurethane finish, so on a soft floor like pine, it will adhere better. What you want is the two surfaces to move together, so to my mind, a flexible finish and soft floor are made for each other. Also, I would not equate flexibility with weakness, in terms of judging its merit for a high-traffic area. My neighbor has a ten year old cork floor installation in her kitchen, and it looks brand new. I can't see a dent or ding anywhere, and who doesn't drop cans in the kitchen once in a while. I think it's the flexibility of the cork that keeps it looking new. So, this feature of the tung oil finish may well work in your favor. (Sadly, the softness of the pine will NOT take a dropped can as gracefully as the cork :-) Also for a high traffic area you can apply more coats, or apply maintenance/preventative coats periodically as needed. In my readings (again, I'm not a primary source yet), people claim that touchups are easier with tung oil than with polyurethane.

The other thing that attracts me to tung oil is how you can diy the whole thing without killing a million brain cells. It can be thinned with pure orange oil instead of mineral spirits. I do have personal experience with orange oil, and it's fantastic. If I were doing polyurethane, I'd want to clear out/sleep elsewhere during the work, whereas with tung oil I could stay in my home. It looks like you haven't moved in yet, so it may not be such an issue for you.

My plan for my floor is to start with the Real Milk Paint company's regular 100% tung oil, and do a couple of coats with that. Then, if the floor does not look dark enough for me, I'll switch to a mix of regular tung and their raw dark tung oil, until I get the shade I want. I just don't plan to start with the raw dark, because the bare floor will absorb so much on the first coat; I won't have much control over the shade at that point.

Here is a picture of various species treated with regular vs. raw dark tung oil:

Be aware that there are a lot of cans of stuff out there that say Tung Oil all over the label, but are something else. Tung Oil Finish comes to mind: it's not 100% tung oil; it's some other chemicals that are meant to look like a tung oil finish. What a cheat.

Polymerized tung oil products are also another animal. They are nice, but they might not be the thing you are going after for your floor. Tung oil products like Waterlox and Sutherland Welles are polymerized, while Real Milk Paint Co's tung oil is not. I'm planning to use waterlox on my oak kitchen countertops, but I want the real milk paint tung oil look for my floor. Polymerized = glossier, harder; regular = softer, matte.

If you browse the real milk paint site you'll find more photos and information, and I'm sure there are other vendor sites as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: funny testimonial about using tung oil

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 9:34AM
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No idea about tug oil but I just painted black one of the rooms of my house and yes they do need to be sanded. Or at least free of poly, wax, shellac or whatever makes a shiny surface. Depends on what is there right now maybe a good washing would be enough. In my case I had wax and a couple of place that I did a bad job removing it I could see the difference when I applied the paint. It does not get absorbed and you can see the brush marks. However, that's the first floor I ever painted and I do not have much experience. Everything I read though recommended sanding.

We had other rooms in my house with pine floors that looked just horrible when we bought the house but we sanded and poly and now they look really good. Still you can see stains here and there and lots of character but everybody comments how great they look. However, those floors were very solid meaning all wood planks were intact and still attached well, no loose boards or boards replaced with mismatched wood and they weren't "raised" so the sander actually could go around touching all surfaces. Sorry for my poor english but you get the picture I hope. We only painted the room that had some uneven boards and a couple replaced with brand new planks (what were they thinking???). Anyway for us, any floor that would look half way decent sanded and poly is worth keeping from painting but that's a personal taste.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 10:58AM
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So it sounds like any type of finish will require some sanding to clean up the wood and remove any of the previous paint. Additionally, the tung oil is more or less permanent while and poly or black paint can be sanded off.

Decisions, decisions.....

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 3:03PM
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Penetrating oils (like tung) require raw wood (sanded) to pentrate; otherwise they set on the surface & get wiped off.

If the wood happens to be heart pine (I don't know how old your house is), it will become dark reddish with any clear oil; other pines won't. Test an unfinished area with a drop of paint thinner & see what color it becomes when wet; if it turns dark red, it's heart pine.

Southern Heart Pine, oiled & waxed:

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 3:05PM
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antique - will do! I'm assuming the picture is from your house? Just because it will turn a dark reddish color isn't completely a bad thing, correct? (as long as I'm expecting it).

Also, will an area rug under a couch hurt or help with the wear on the floor?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 3:34PM
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Another reason the wood must be sanded is that the exposed surface of wood eventually hardens (I believe it is called "case hardening") and will not absorb oil. I was warned by tech support at the Real Milk Paint Company that I must sand my 60 year old oak floors to expose fresh wood, even if I can get all the old finish (what is left of it) off without sanding.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 5:14PM
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hautinglu, heart pine is definitely NOT a bad thing unless you're expecting a pale yellow pine 'natural' finish. With old floors, I'm a big believer in rugs - to prevent wear & to hide stains, imperfections, etc. And yes, this is my house, and guests always insist that the floors are stained, which isn't so because I'm the one who oiled them after the sanding.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 5:41PM
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I seem to remember coming across the same thing somewhere, that once you go with tung oil, you can't change your mind and switch to other finishes. But I can't believe that all other finishes are incompatible with wood that has absorbed tung oil. You got shellac, varnish, polyurethane, paint, and probably something I've never heard of. Perhaps polyurethane is incompatible, but others aren't? I should post this to the woodworking forum. Just guessing, but I bet at least shellac and paint can be compatible.

Do you recall where you read this, and can you link it? (It's not that I don't believe you, but I wonder if it's the same thing I read, and I'd like to find it again.)

As for floor paint, I know that Farrow and Ball has a 40% sheen floor paint that looks good. Their off black color is less harsh/industrial than some other blacks, but that's a matter of personal preference. I was thinking about painting my pine floor until I read about tung oil. I have been in other old houses where the 3rd floor is rough painted wood, and I liked the country feel of it. But I think I'll like tung oil better.

Have you thought about changing the heat registers in your addition? It would be a neat trick to make the addition look older.

Here is a link that might be useful: heat registers

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:11AM
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In my new 1900's home I have all kind of wood. Dinning, living room and hall ways are mostly oak. Master Bedroom and guest room are maple or birch (the experts are divided) and kids bedrooms, entire third floor and kitchen is pine. It is funny how they used wood depending on use of the room. Anyway, I got all kind of colors here. The oak is magnificent of course with rich orange tones. However the oak is surrounded with mahogany paneling so it gets all kinds of reds hues from that. The maple/birch floors are very pale and not much character from plank to plank. The pine floors I was told are most probably Douglas fur and boy are they red. They absolutely look stained but of course they are not. I love them. I dare to say I like them more than the oak (blush). And then my kitchen has a less quality of pine because you can see some knots here and there and it is yellow as yellow can be. When we bought the house all the floors looked the same: Grossly dirty and dingy and grayish and you could hardly see what is underneath. We were so surprised after sanding and poly to see all the richness and explosion of color. We did get oil stains and water marks and some deep scratches left here and there but hey it is an "old" house. I ll try to post some pictures.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Here are some before pictures. Not great but you get the idea:

And here some after pictures. All sanded (not stained) and poly with oil based poly.
oak floor

kid's bedroom (pine). Really red.

kitchen and pantry transition. The flash killed the colors but the white is actually yellow and it is the kitchen and the other is really red and it is the pantry. Both pine.

The kitchen and some of the black nail marks left behind and where a rag goes on now....

The maple or birch master bedroom

The pine "maid's" staircase to the kitchen that we were told is beyond saving and to carpet them or replace.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Slateberry - I dont recall where I read, but it was sometime after I saw your post. I'll try and go through my bookmarks to find it. Thanks for the hardware link. It's something I'll consider once everything else in there is done. Looking at the prices, I guess I'm glad I decided to keep the old doors, hinges, locks, etc etc.

Alexia - thanks for the pics. I guess I'll go with a combination of poly in certain areas and tung oil in the addition part.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:07PM
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We had floors sanded with big sander and coated with 3 coats water based poly,they were done 20 years ago,still look great,watch that tung oil,I left a rag lay it combusted.Also they used tung oil on cabinets,wormy chestnut,wood ceilings,beams etc looks nice.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 9:36PM
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Have you considered Waterlox? I have polyurethane on my floors, not bad, however I am considering Waterlox for the next level of floors.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 7:09AM
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alexia, great pics. "Beyond saving"--that advice was beyond stupid!!!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 9:15AM
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I've read a bit about Waterlox, but haven't researched it much. Going to look at the pros and cons of all three (tung/waterlox/poly).

slate - ain't that the truth. The first contractor I talked to said I should get rid of the pine (in the addition) and just install laminate or hardwood. But if I really wanted to, they would refinish it at $3/sq ft. The one that redid my upstairs (bathroom update/paint) said I should dump the floors too. I was thinking of installing carpet in the short term.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:39AM
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oh when we bought our 1700 farmhouse,I had a book I kept photos of all we did while restoring the home.My husbands brother says wouldnt it be easier to just tear it down and build new,after done he saw it and couldnt get done saying how beautiful everything is.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 4:11PM
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We just re-did the kitchen in our 1920's colonial revival last winter. We laid down varied-width oak flooring and finished it with Waterlox ourselves. We had previously refinished floors upstairs and put poly on them. We liked working with the Waterlox. We also like the fact that if the floors begin to look dingy, we can simply put another coat of it on. No sanding necessary!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 5:17PM
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From your link describing using the tung oil, I'd go with that. I would stay away from polys at all cost as they are so difficult to repair without redoing the whole thing. I am hoping to do my kitchen floor--don't know what's under the vinyl tiles or the several layers underneath, but the rest of the downstairs is oak--white I presume? I think my trim is red oak--is that possible? My house was built in 1908.
I would replace the registers also, but don't go to the expense of the linked site--they seem to only sell ones to fit modern ductwork; check out salvage shops/antique shops...there is one in my town where I've bought a couple registers from their large pile--all the good old cast iron black, some with louvers, some without, but all with varying designs of patterns for the grate. I put in an additional duct to my living room, and absolutely had to have the large register if I ever move furniture to match the one in the open near the dining room doors.
Your idea of tung oil has given me another and easier option than sanding insanely and doing smelly chemicals. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 3:19AM
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I don't know why I even bother to ask contractors to quote certain jobs. Had a guy come in today to quote sanding down the floors in the whole house. After I told him what I wanted, he recommended just putting laminate through out the house *sigh*. I said, no I'd prefer to keep the pine and use Tung oil, after which I had to tell him what that was. He said he could do it for $1/sq ft, but it would be easier and cheaper to just put down laminate.

Next was the small master bath. He said he typically puts cement board over the studs and tile over that. What about the moisture membrane? Well I guess we could put that in for the pan. *sigh*

This just backed up what I was already thinking --- take your time and just do it yourself for 20% of the price, plus I get all of the tools to keep.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 2:05PM
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This is when a personal recommendation from another old house person comes in handy. Also, don't expect a wood floor guy to be the tile guy unless you've seen his work - many are lucky if they've mastered one skill!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:03PM
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I wish I had a few recommendations for skilled labor. By luck I found a great excavation/trench guy who also owns an old house who I will use put in gas. He also recommended a finisher/carpenter who will quote windows for me.

But other than that, I'm the up the creek.

I'm disappointed because my Amish contact fell through =( He was suppose to stop by with his crew sometime. The only day I was away from the house and couldn't meet him is the day he calls me. I apologized and said ANY other day I'm available, or I can come meet him. He said "OK, no problem." but never called back.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 10:16AM
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hautinglu - if you think that Amish contact is a good one, call him again! That said, we use Angie's list for most of our recommendations. Our floors turned out beautiful (oak, 'natural' stain, finished with water based something or other). Wish we had pine though! Keep looking and good luck! At least you know if they say 'easier and cheaper to do x' then they are definitely NOT the contractor for you!

You and alexia have/will have some great floors!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 6:50PM
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Well just as I decided to call it a day and do it myself (as a I may), I went to the annual Home & Garden show this weekend. There were a couple Amish booths, but mostly selling furniture and who were working with a kitchen contractor. Since I have no interest in a new kitchen, I moved on.

I stopped by one Amish booth that was setting wood log type beds. I chatted him up because he had the same last name as the guy that didn't call me back (even from the same town). He was very interested in getting me in touch with his brother who is a general "contractor" type. So it's not a total loss. If I get a call back somehow (since they don't have phones), I might start with a couple small jobs and go from there.

For some reason I have this image of 20 of them coming in one weekend and completely redoing my old farmhouse shed (it's the size of a mobile home, has a chimney, and divided into 3 rooms).

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 1:05PM
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With pine flooring a penetrating oil allows you to spot repair. Pine does scratch and dent easily. I love our pine floors and we used Land Ark oil on them. If I actually get a gouge through the penetration I can easily rub a bit of oil in.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 7:33PM
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Whats all this talk about spot repair?We did our floors about 17 years ago with 3 coats of water poly.They still look great.What if you had to would be easier but to use water based poly to repair?as say use oil?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 8:41AM
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