Primer on Finishing Wood Floors with Tung Oil

I remember my first job. I was hired part time to “drive dowels” in a furniture factory in Hickory N.C

I worked on Saturdays and the day started very early. The smell of wood and sawdust was addictive. I knew that I would enjoy working with wood. I was also taught about primers, fillers, stains, lacquers, Tung oil, and poly urethanes.

This factory was a very old building and all of the floors were wood. They had heavy steel wheeled carts rolled over them daily, yet never wore out. These floors were maintained with Tung Oil.

Tung Oil is extracted from the nut of the Tung tree. It is native to China, but also grown in South America. Tung oil is usually polymerized for quicker drying and can be used to create finishes from matte to high luster. This proven floor finish and preservative was the for-runner to todays oiled floors.

There are several oil finish manufacturers. The most popular is the WOCA Brand. It is easy to work with and very low in VOC. It contains primarily vegetable oils and hardening oils. WOCA is a very wear resistant finish, that hides scratches and indentations, from normal wear and tear. You can mop your WOCA finished floor. It is recommended that you deep clean with the WOCA soap periodically. The soap contains soy and coconut fats, which give added protection. To refresh and renew they have a maintenance oil that will virtually hide shallow scratches. It can be applied in spots or traffic areas, without being required to do a whole room. Oiled floors, properly maintained will look good and last a lifetime without ever needing to be sanded down and re finished.

There are some manufacturers that have tried to market their own name brand Hard-waxed Oil finish.

They can be very misleading and difficult to achieve your desired results. Beware when you read their instructions and are warned to “always test [our product] in an inconspicuous area on [our product] to safeguard against undesirable outcome. I don’t think we should sell products that the average consumer will have a problem being able to use. Do your research and consult your flooring professional. Don’t go with the old familiar,” Somebody said or somebody told me”, when it comes to Hardwood questions.

The biggest difference in an oil finished and the standard aluminum oxide finish is that the aluminum oxide will be on the top of the floor and the oil penetrates into and becomes a part of the floor.

Oiled floors will require regular maintenance and if properly done will outlast all others. Aluminum oxide is less maintenance, but when they ugly out, you will have to hire a professional to sand and re finish.

This is a time consuming and more expensive and more intrusive than renewing an oiled floor.

When it comes down to it, other investments require more expensive maintenance than todays’ floors.

Whether you decide on poly urethane or oiled, hardwood floors are a great investment and a comfortable and healthy alternative to carpet.