How to Finish a Floor with Pure Tung Oil
How to Finish a Floor with Pure Tung Oil
This finishing technique can be used in many applications such as wood floors, decks, docks, concrete floors, outdoor wood furniture, wood counter tops and many other porous surfaces. Hundreds of people have used this method successfully over the years since we first reintroduced Pure Tung Oil back into the spotlight. You will find other websites that have shamelessly copied all or parts of this information to call their own. What most of them lack is the technical experience to guide you though the process. We are here to provide you with our full support to the best of our ability and make only the best materials available.
If the surface is not clean or has recently been stripped of its finish; it should be cleaned with TSP. TSP (Trisodium phospate) is a powdered heavy duty cleaner that will leave the surface free of contaminates. If you have a wood surface, which is old, and case hardened, it should be scuff sanded lightly with 150-grit sandpaper, to open up the wood to receive the oil. Sanding with too fine sandpaper will case harder the surface. If after removing finish you find black or brown stains, see Oxalic Acid wood bleach to remove them.
The objective with Pure Tung Oil is to saturate the surface with as much oil as fast as possible and drive the oil into the cells of the wood getting maximum penetration but without leaving a film build on the surface. With very dense hardwood a thinner ratio than described below may be required. I can not stress enough if the oil and thinner mix is not soaking in the 40 minute application period, a thinner ratio should be used. For example: 1 part oil to 1 1/2 parts solvent. The oil to solvent ration can be variably adjusted any direction from a thicker mix to a thinner one. The difficulty is trying to find the ratio of oil to thinner with each coat so as to get the maximum oil to solvent ratio that will soak in. Also I must note, Minwax stains will not work with Pure Tung Oil. They contain varnish and will not let the oil penetrate. Please see "How to Stain Floors."
If the room is fairly large you will notice most of the oil soaked in where you started. Go back to the beginning and apply another coat. Continue to apply the oil from beginning to end in this fashion. You will do this until you have a uniform glossy surface for 20 to 40 minutes. If the room is not large, you should wait 20 to 40 minutes between applications. The Pure Tung Oil should stand on the surface for 20 to 40 minutes and stay glossy over 80% of the surface without really dry spots appearing. The really dry spots can be individually coated. You may have to apply 3 to 7 coats of oil one on top of the other until it stays glossy.
After all coats are applied and you waited 20 to 40 minutes you are now ready to wipe down the surface. Wipe all excess oil from the surface with lint free "T-shirt" type material. Hang rags out side to dry. Allow floor to dry over night.
Pure Tung Oil works by oxidation with the air and polymerizes. So you want to get as much oil in the floor as soon as possible, but you do not want to apply the Pure Tung Oil with out thinning. It takes too long to dry and will sit on the surface and dry leaving a frosted appearance. Pure dry tung oil left on surfaces will also scuff leaving white marks like dry skin. So always thin Pure Tung Oil in floor applications and wipe off the excess.
Using the 1 part Pure Tung Oil to 1 part thinner, apply the same way as the first application with a brush or sponge mop. Apply the oil in several coats one after another till you get a uniformly glossy surface that stays glossy for 20 to 40 minutes. After the waiting period, wipe the oil off the surface with a "T-shirt" type material. When wiping you do not need to scrub the surface. Just gently and evenly wipe excess oil from the surface.At this point the floor should dry for 7 to 10 days before you can walk on it with soiled shoes. During this time you can put down wax paper to walk on the floor. Do not use cardboard, newspaper, paper or plastic. Wax paper will allow the floor to breath and dry. Wax paper rolls can be purchased from the local dollar store. If you speak to the manager you can probably get a deal on a case. If you absolutely must move furniture onto the floor before it is dry, nail plastic furniture glides to the bottom of the feet. With these on the bottom of the feet and the end grain of your wood furniture legs will not absorb the oil from the floor and leave a mark. The Pure Tung Oil finish will take 15 to 30 days to fully cure depending on temperature and number of applications. Buffing the finish to a low sheen cannot not be achieved before the finish is cured. Waxing over Pure Tung Oil should not be done until the finish is hard and cured. The wax will only sink in and have no effect.
The Pure Tung Oil will dry to a matte flat finish and look as though there is almost no finish at all. You will find however that water spills bead like a waxed car on the surface and do not absorb. In high traffic areas such as doorways you may want to do a maintenance coat once a year. Use thinned down oil 1 1/2 parts Citrus Solvent to 1 Part Pure Tung Oil with a clean "T" shirt or bed sheet material, apply a thin coat over night or for the weekend if possible.
Pure Tung Oil will provide a deep rich color to wood floors. It does not however, provide a gloss or even semi-gloss finish. To make a semi gloss surface you would need to wax the surface or buff when the floor is dry. Any type of oil base finish can go over Pure Tung Oil at a later date.
Care and Maintenance
Day one 3 coats x 500 = 1500
The above 5 coat calculation would be for a "New" wood floor. The average number of coats for "New" material is about five coats. Old materials will absorb much more oil then a new floor Old materials may benefit from using a straight up 100% Pure coat of oil on the first coat. Follow by thinned coats for the remainder. Very dense hardwood species such a Brazilian cherry would need to use a 1 1/2 parts Citrus Solvent to one Part Pure Tung Oil for all coats.
Here is a Tip from CEI Distribution in Florida. When doing future maintenance on your oiled floor and you need to get it done fast. Put a 1 part Citrus Solvent and 1 part Pure Tung Oil into a spray bottle. Mist on the floor in the worn areas, then buff with a high speed buffer and a dense natural blend buffing pad. Do the worn area's first then do the rest of the floor overlapping the worn area's again just like you have not done them at all. So the worn area's will get two coats.