Well it's almost time to finish the kitchen. We screened the original wood floors from our 1850 farmhouse. They look nice and have a great patina. In order to expedite cabinet installation, I did the perimeter of the room that would be covered with the oil. I'm planning on finishing the rest of the floor once the install is done, less chance of ground in dirt that way.

The oil makes the wood look wonderful but I'm guessing I didn't buff it enough or something. I used pure tung oil cut 50/50 with mineral spirits. It seemed to soak in well, but it eventually 'frosted' in some areas. Even in spots that look fine, if you run your finger across it with any pressure it scuffs up the white 'skin'. I've seen reference to that in a few places but no good ideas on how to avoid it. It does buff off ok with a cloth and then the floor looks fine. The problem is I have some planks with a deeper grain, and that's hard to get in to.

I'm glad I had the unseen area to play with as a test. I'm thinking for the main floor I need to do the following:

Cut the initial coats down even more so they penetrate.

Rub/buff the floor more assertively as it cures.

I love the look and feel of the floor with the oil, and not being stunk out of the house with floor finish is great. I know I can make this work but I was hoping someone had some practical pointers from experience rather than just the x,y,z list of directions.

This is pure tung, not waterlox or any other blend. I can attach a picture later.


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I have a few more mostly hidden spots I can try before I do the rest of the floor. I  do want to see how it behaves. I really do think the spirits are the problem after this discussion. Let's hope it's that simple of a solution.

It's interesting that both the Amazon and Rockler websites have all negative user reviews, some scathingly negative--not a single positive review. I suggest reading those reviews to learn what it is like to use this type of product:

Reviews at Amazon.com

Reviews at Rockler.com

This stuff is off my list, since the manufacture does not state what is in it on the package (namely water), the packaging is deceptively labeled (the word "substitute" is in tiny print and not present on some packages), clearly some people are tricked into buying it when they need something else, and when they use it, it causes problems.

The one thing it probably is good for is making money for the manufacturer and marketers. Their profit margin must be up on this product since it sells for half-again-more than 100% mineral spirits and one of the main ingredients is water, which, of course, costs much less than mineral spirits.

Please excuse by cynicism, I can no longer be patient with this sort of greedy corporate practice.


update: I just talked with a technical help person at W.M. Barr and Company, Inc., the manufacturer. He was helpful and confirmed that the product does in fact contain water (which he admitted with a somewhat apologetic tone in his voice), and that it is an emulsion of water and mineral spirits--useful information! But, why isn't this on the product packaging?

Another victim of the 'greenwashing' trend. I feel like I should have known better but that the advertising/packaging is very misleading. I'm just glad I didn't ruin my entire floor with this stuff!

I forgot to mention, you don't need to clean with tsp between coats.  Buff, clean and oil again.  I usually let real oils sit over night so that they dry completely.  Good luck.

I find that local hardware stores are less likely to foist water based products onto customers as the always superior choice.  Sometimes you need solvents like mineral spirits or even lacquer thinner to do the job right, more often for those of interested in historical preservation.  I hope they don't get regulated off of the market.

Its a great endeavor to be green, but one area you should not deviate from traditional materials is finishing wood.  Through my company I offer a traditional oil varnish finish applied by hand.  Its getting harder and harder to find oil/alkyd varnishes that mimic the look and feel of older finishes.  If you finish wood properly the first time, it should last a lifetime.

Tung oils and the like are great, but especially on floors they should be coated with a film-forming finish to give them scratch resistance.  If not coated with polyurathane or a hard varnish, they will need to be re-oiled frequently. 

Sorry to say Tung Oil will not work


Randall Marder


Doesnt RMP co offer a citrus based solvent that you can use to thin the tung oil?  I have no firsthand exp with it,  but I assume that you went with the odorless mineral spirits for reasons of not having the place stink.  perhaps thinning down the tung oil with their citrus product may work better for you?

I too am considering using tung oil on my floors.  I am anti poly.  Actually kicked a flooring contractor out of here once bc he kept saying poly poly poly for my floors.  I said look, lets pretend were back in the late 1800s,  theres no such thing as poly, theres no home depot up the street,  now thats how the floors are going to be finished in here.  

Ive also considered experimenting with iron buff on the wood which is an old method of ebonizing wood with iron oxide dissolved in vinegar.  Its a chem reaction that occurs with the tanins in the boards.  its not a finish, but more of a stain if you want to call it that.  

I am even toying with the idea of not finishing my floors at all,  just let them be and do their thing bare.  but the tung oil is a strong contender in my book if I do choose a finish and I was going to get some samples from real milk paint and try some spots.  Im with you though,  Id sooner not want to be cutting it with mineral spirits just from a smell and safety standpoint.  Check out the citrus solvent they have.  

One thing that I found useful on softwood floors stripped of all finishes is a 50-50 mix of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. Brush this on the floor, let it set an hour or two, then wipe down with a cloth until barely tacky. It soaks in and makes a wonderful finish. The good thing is if you get a scratch just wipe with this again and it's gone. Make sure any wet rags are left outside flat to to dry. These can be a major fire hazard otherwise, just an FYI.

I thought that boiled linseed oil needs to be cut with turpentine?  Can it also be thinned with mineral spirits?

Yes, not the green version, just standard paint thinner or spirits. 

Randall Marder



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