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Linseed Oil on previously sealed floor?

Hello all,

This is my first post here, so please bear with a D.I.Y. beginner!

I am purchasing a brick ranch home, built in 1950. It has the original wood floors, which appear to be very well cared for- no water stains, not really any cracks between boards, no deep scratches or cuts into the wood.

It was finished with some kind of shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane when the house was built-I don't know exactly, but it was a finish that sat on top of the wood, and it wasn't wax. We want to care for the floors so they stay in good shape for 50 more years. I would really like to explore treating the floors with linseed oil. Does anyone have any experience with this? Transitioning from a finish that coated the top of the floor, to one that penetrates?

I know I would need to clean the surface, using steel wool or sandpaper to rough it up. Any advice if this is an idea that would work, or end horribly? Thanks!

Re: Linseed Oil on previously sealed floor?


If you have some type of finish with a surface film such as shellac or varnish, you cannot go to an oiled type finish before totally stripping the floor, usually by sanding. If you put linseed oil on top of it, it will sit there and be tacky for ages!

Given the age of the home, you might have a shellaced and waxed finish, or a conventional varnish. You would not have a urethane in a house of this age if it is the original finish. If wax is present, a few drops of water will bead up on it, then it will turn whitish. Wax can be removed with fine steelwool and mineral spirits. Denatured alcohol will attack shellac if it is present under the wax. Alcohol will not touch varnish. If you have varnish, only sanding will totally remove it and open up the grain to accept penetrating oils.

Re: Linseed Oil on previously sealed floor?

thanks for the response!

Ok well down to the hard tacks of things- Are we being completely unintelligent in transitioning the floors to linseed oil (after removing whatever the surface sealant is, be it wax/shellac or varnish) or would it end up looking fine, and also be a fine treatment for the floor?

Or are we just getting ourselves into a big mess, and even though our thoughts are to deal with the floors room by room is this treatment on this type of floor just going to end poorly?

Re: Linseed Oil on previously sealed floor?


You certainly can go to an oiled finish after stripping the floors back to bare wood, however, nothing is tougher than a modern urethane type finish. If there is a down side to urethane finishes it is that many people feel they have a very plastic appearance, particularly in the higher sheens. Personally, I have had satin urethane coatings on my hardwood floors since they were laid. After seven years, I gave them a refresher coat of Bona water based urethane. Overall, the floors were still in great shape. However, we have out kitchen table on the floor and the constant scuffing of the chairs was starting to dull the finish, although it had not worn through. The Bona has brought the floor back to its original luster.

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