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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.

Thanks!

Tags: floor, oil, restoration, tung, wood

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Plain tung oil can be used as a penetrating oil finish, but do not expect it to form a film above the wood surface like varnish would. The finish is within the surface, not on top of it.

Tung oil cures by oxidation, so immediately put all oily rags in a metal container with water in it to avoid spontaneous combustion that could burn down the house. If you buff, scrape or sand off the oil that is now hardened above the surface of the wood, immediately put the buffing pads, scrapings or dust into the can of water to avoid spontaneous combustion.

To do a penetrating oil finish:

Warm up the wood to at least 20 degrees warmer than normal by turning up the heat in that room and blowing the air around with a fan so the wood of the floor warms up. Surface temperatures can be measured with an infra-red thermometer. Then turn off the fan and heat for applying the tung oil, and and let the floor cool down through out the curing period, which could be several days. Pull down the roller shades to keep the warming sun off the floor. Do not warm the floor back up to normal temps or above normal temps for a couple of weeks or months.  If you do, oil that is still liquid within the wood may expand and seep back up through the surface forming beads, or the white bloom.

Apply the oil. As the oil soaks into the surface and leaves some areas "dry" and other areas "wet", move the oil from the wet areas to the dry area so it will soak in there.

While there is some remaining absorbency in the wood and the oil is still liquid, wipe off all the oil that has not soaked into the wood. The ideal situation is that all the oil above the surface soaks into the wood, leaving none above the surface.

Continue to practice in small areas like behind doors, in closets, or back rooms until you learn the method and procedure that will work for you.

John

www.HistoricHomeWorks.com

I've used a hybrid method that gives floors, furniture and woodwork an oiled look but with a durable finish.  First, oil the wood as you have, although you don't have to thin it.  Then, after the oil has dried (maybe 2 days), apply a film forming finish of your choice in at least 2 coats (sanding between).  Polyurathane is the most durable, but builds the most.  I've even used a poly-varnish blend that I've mixed myself. 

Well, I'm living in the house, with the furnace only partially installed, in Northwestern Pennsylvania... the extreme heating and cooling to prep the floor isn't really a reasonable expectation at this point. But the space is conditioned at least.

On the test area I left the floor to cure but several spots turned white on me. Which I'm guessing means the oil didn't penetrate far enough? I guess I need to know how to better avoid that, and what to do if/when it happens again...

I already have the tung oil. Not touching poly for various reasons.

>>furnace only partially installed

Well, to do this kind of finish work effectively you need wood and air temperatures in the 60s or 70s, consistent minimum, plus the higher temps I mentioned above if the wood conditions need it. And you may need to promote or limit air movement within and through the room.

>>On the test area I left the floor to cure but several spots turned white on me. Which I'm guessing means the oil didn't penetrate far enough?

Hard to say with only this brief description to go on. We need more information.

What species, grade and cut of wood is it? (oak, pine, flat-grain, quarter-sawn, knots, pitch pockets, etc.)

What, specifically, has been done to prep the wood surface? (methods, steps, materials)

What specific tung oil and mineral spirit products are you using? Are they fresh stock or old stock?

What is the wood and surface like at those spots where it turned white? What is white? Is the white the color of the wood within the surface of the wood or is the white laying on top of the surface? Does the white feel soft and rubbery when you rub it with your fingers, or sharp and gritty, or oily and slippery? What happens if you scrape a white area with your thumbnail? If you scrape it with a sharp knife? If you sand it?

Can you upload some photos? There may be something else going on here that you don't know to mention or none of us will spontaneously think if.

What is are temperature and moisture conditions directly beneath these floor boards?

John

Ok... here are a couple photos. I need to try to get to an area with the 'frosted' look when the light is better.

These are soon after oiling. We cleaned the floor with TSP, then screened with an 80, 100 and 120 screen, swept up, wiped floor down with very very lightly damp cloth to get remaining dust, then oiled after letting it sit a while.

Not 100% sure on the species but thinking american chestnut? House was built in 1850.

Oiled portion.

Keeping the air in the 60/70's isn't a problem. The heat is good in the kitchen.

I'm using the 100% tung oil from RealMilkPaint. I did get it a couple months ago. I'm using an odorless mineral spirit ala Lowe's.

It appears that in the areas where the grain is harder, the white appears. It scuffs off easily with a rag or finger. Before spots even started turning white, the top layer would scuff off when I dragged a finger across it, leaving white chunks but not affecting the look of the wood. It basically looks like a light layer of waxlike residue sitting on top of the wood. I would say it's more soft and rubbery in texture when it's scuffed up.

And it does come off without too much effort with a clean rag, but the residue then gets in the grooves of the deeper grains if I'm not careful, which I'm not too keen on.

The basement is... a stone cellar. There is dampness down there but it's not very bad right now.

It's not the end of the world if I'm going to have to go over the floor with a rag and rub it down after a week of curing, but it's a step that I wasn't expecting and hadn't seen mentioned in my research.

Thanks!

Jessica

Jessica,

 

I have a lot of experience with regular mineral spirirts and the 'odorless' mineral spirits.  The only use that I've found for the odorless is cleaning my hands.  I've not had good luck mixing it with oil varnishes, oils or enamels.  It does not seem to emulsify with the finish, and in fact, it almost seemed to be of dissimilar materials than the finish that I was using.  I would bet that using regular mineral spirits would solve this problem.  The haze/milky/waxy/frosty substance is most likely the odorless mineral spirits (oustide chance that the tsp is leaving a residue).  (I assume that the odorless mineral spirits is the same as the one that I use--its a thicker milky/creamy substance).

Yes, the the spirits were very thick and milky/creamy. I had wondered if it was that the spirits didn't evaporate as they were supposed to....

I may get some traditional mineral spirits to try, I'm running out of places to test though! Thanks for the heads up.

OK, your prep sounds good.

>>spirits were very thick and milky/creamy.

This does not sound like a description of mineral spirits. True traditional "mineral spirits" are a clear transparent liquid.

You appear to be the victim of the paint industry corporations and the notorious big box stores hawking their latest cheap junk product. There is a new type of product out in this past year. It is a water-based product promoted as "paint thinner", "paint brush cleaner", "mineral spirits substitute", etc. It is mostly water. It is not suitable for thinning down tung oil. Think of the old saying, "water and oil don't mix."

>>it almost seemed to be of dissimilar materials than the finish that I was using. 

Exactly so, water and oil, very dissimilar materials.

Please tell us exactly what is printed on the label of your can. Name of product, manufacturer, product number, etc. and any description of it's contents or ingredients. so we can learn what this stuff is and how to avoid it.

Tracked it down online. It's called Klean-Strip "green" Odorless Mineral Spirits Substitute. It's supposed to be just as good for thinning oil etc... apparently not.

Klean Strip

That's the stuff that I used Great for cleaning hands-terrible for thinning.

Well I'll have some left over for cleaning that's for sure. Will the 'traditional' odorless spirits in the can work or should I just go for the straight mineral spirits and deal with the smell?

As much of a pain as it is, I'm glad I had a good test run before doing the main floors! Thanks to both for all your input!

Be sure to test out the real mineral spirits on a limited area, just in case your white spots are caused by something else.

John

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