We moved into a house that has old oak floors, in good shape. The
floors have some water stains,
mainly white, but some black ones too.
The previous owner covered the floors with carpets, but the owner
before may have applied wax to the floor. I'm no sure. In any case, no
wax has been applied for at least nine years. I don't think there is
any kind of finish on the floors, but being completely ignorant about
wood, I might be wrong.
I'd like to rejuvenate and protect our floors with Waterlox tung oil. I
would prefer not to sand the floors. I've been told that just rubbing
the Waterlox tung oil with a fine steel wool pad should work miracles
on our floors.
I've taken some pics of our floors and have put them at:
1) Can you tell just by looking at these pics whether our floors are
for applying tung oil without much preparation?
2) Would old wax (at least nine years old) present any problems
to using Waterlox tung oil?
3) What should we clean the floors with before applying tung oil? They
haven't been cleaned
in nine years having been covered up most of that time. I don't want to
do further water damage to the floors.
Thanks for any advice.
Based on the pics, it looks likely the floors were varnished when new.
Water damage to the oak could cause the black stains. Water damage to the
varnish could cause the white stains.
The waterlox will probably not cure very well over the old varnish, not even
if you scuff the floors first. Thin, oil-heavy varnishes like waterlox like
to soak into the wood. I'm not sure how well it will cure sitting on top of
the old varnish.
I'd recommend trying it in an inconspicuous spot first and see how well it
works. Try it on the stains, also, to make sure you'll be happy with the
Unless the floor is huge, sanding the floor isn't that big a deal. You'd
still be doing better than just waterlox and steel wool, if you sand with
120 using a heavy random orbital sander. If you don't already have one,
this is a perfect oportunity to buy a new tool. In fact, every project
around the house should always require a new tool purchase, as a general
rule of thumb.
I like the PC random orbital with 5" 5 hole psa pad, and a shop vac
I'd also recommend using good heavy varnish designed for floors. You're
gonna need a top quality large china bristle brush and a good angle cut
brush for the edges and corners, too. And a good pair of knee pads. Any
other tools you've been wanting to get, just let us know and we'll back you
up that you had to get it for the job. >8^)
I would agree with Hambone. If the oil cannot soak in it will probably dry
very slowly. Also, oil isn't a real good choice for floors. It will
proabably scratch fairly easily.
Several years ago we pulled carpets in a rental we owned and found oak
floors that looked kind of like your pics. We bought some wood floor
cleaner and went over them a couple of times to remove the worst of the
stains and dirt. Then we applied two coats of MinWax paste buffing with a
power buffer both times. They came out looking surprisingly good and held
up for the next two years we owned the house. The whole process took 3-4
hours vs a much longer refinish process.
There are some pretty strong opinions on this group about not using
straight oil (tung or boiled linseed) on wood floors without some other
film-forming finish on top, usually polyurethane.
That being said, I have heard of it being done over in Europe. Ping
Andy Dingley on this group...he's got the queen's English and he might
be able to verify that. (Or shoot it down, too...)
I've never tried it, so I can't comment on that part. But what I
_will_ comment on is the steel wool part. Never, not for any reason,
love or money God or country, use steel wool to refinish a wooden
floor. Tiny shards of wool will catch in the wood and get left behind,
where they will rust and stain. Only use steel wool where you have a
perfectly seemed, perfectly smooth surface. A wooden floor is not this
type of surface.
Good luck with whatever you choose!
Of this I speak with some experience. I am in the (slow) process of
refinishing the oak floors in our house after 20 years of hard use. I am
using Waterlox - 1 coat of Original and 2 of Gloss. Some of the refinished
areas have been in use for about a year with 3 large dogs to abuse them and
seem to be holding up fine. I am sanding with a large orbiting pad floor
sander starting out with very coarse grit to remove the original finish and
stain and working though up to about 150grit screens. Dust collection with
the floor machine is good. I do edges with a ROS. Both processes are SLOW
compared to a drum floor machine, but you really need to practice with one
of those or you can leave some real valleys. Sanding only with even a 6"
ROS would be REAL tedious!
Stains, I've had them. White waterstains seem to blend OK, but I am
staining (Minwax provencial)before the Waterlox. Black stains seem to go
too deep for even sanding to remove. Oxalic acid lightens them fine with
several paste applications, but make sure you remove the residue. Even then
I had trouble getting the gloss to come up over those stains and used a
shellac Sealcoat (zinzer) first to cure it.
Now as you have read, I've been sanding, but in doing a room or area at a
time I have transitions and overlap to old areas. The Waterlox seems to
cover and dry without a problem on those small overlaps so what you propose
MAY (?) work. I also have refinished base moldings in the rooms with gloss
poly prior to doing the floors. Again, where I've gotten Waterlox on the
base shoe (etc) it has dried and adhered just fine.
Waterlox seems like a good product and gives a deep richness to the floors.
I am using the older high VOC product which is no longer available here & I
will be switching to the new formula shortly. With the high VOC (volatile
organic compounds) I must work with all windows open, hence no winter floor
Good luck, let us know if you try w/o sanding,it may sand me some work!
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