Applying Linseed Oil On Wood Floors: Pros & Cons

Coming from a flax plant, linseed oil is obtained through the process of pressing and solvent extraction. The oil is mostly used for woodwork, while the edible oil is called flax.

Before the popularity of synthetic alkyd resins, linseed oil is the woodworkers’ favorite finish, especially for floors. It makes the wood age beautifully and presents the natural beauty of the grains.

Despite its beauty, linseed oil on wood floors can be hazardous if not handled properly. Some maintenance is also required to refresh the look of the wood. For safety and beauty, follow the steps and some explanations below.

Best way to apply linseed oil to a wood floor

How to apply linseed oil to wood floors can be divided into three segments: preparing the wood, applying the oil, and post-applying.

First, protect yourself with a mask and knee pads. Then sand the floor using disks or 60-grit sandpaper.

Clean the surface and sand the surface again with 80 or 100-grit paper. You can also do another sand for the third time.

Finish the preparation by cleaning the surface with a shop vac to remove the excess sawdust. Some also wipe the surface with a cloth damped with ammonia or mineral spirits. This is optional, and you can skip it if you want.

Wear a glove before pouring linseed oil onto the surface for the second part. Pour in small sections one by one linearly. Then rub with a clean cloth in circular motions.

Let it sit for an hour maximum and wipe the layer using clean rags to clean the excess linseed oil on wood floors.

Don’t let it sit too long since the excess will be sticky. For the post-applying, you can apply another layer after 24 hours or when the floor is dry. Brush off the dust and do the applying steps again.

Can you use linseed oil for outdoor wood?

Though many don’t recommend using linseed oil for exterior, some people are already doing it and the results are quite good. They use it for decks and chairs.

They use boiled linseed oil (not raw) and the results also depend on the type of wood and the surrounding environment.

People who use linseed oil to finish their outdoor wood also find mold, bugs, and even rots.

As outdoor woods are exposed to more heat and temperature changes, they need more often re-coating to keep their appearance.

Hence, consider the effort it takes, the wood’s condition, and the environment. 

Tung oil vs linseed oil for floors

Despite the differences between the oils, they are plant-based, non-toxic, and food-safe. That’s why they are great for floors.

When it comes to hardwood flooring, Tung and Linseed oils are the go-to natural options for deep penetration.

These oils are known as drying oils, as they harden and form a long-lasting protective layer on wooden and stone surfaces.

Tung oil provides an exceptional finish, with Linseed oil being a close runner-up. Both oils offer a natural solution for maintaining the beauty and durability of hardwood flooring.

Linseed oil on wood floors gives a slight yellow hue finish that darkens through time.

Meanwhile, tung oil makes a honey-like color but retains the clear grains finish. Linseed oil doesn’t create any layer but a touch of sheen, while tung oil has a soft glow resembling plastic.

During the application, linseed oil takes more time to dry than Tung oil.

The final floors of Tung oil are more durable and water-resistant than linseed oil. Yet Tung oil is also more costly than Linseed oil. 

Advantages of using linseed oil on wooden floors

Linseed oil is a popular and affordable option for protecting wood surfaces. It can be used on all types of wood except exterior oak and provides a traditional and durable finish.

When applied over water-based or non-grain-raising stains, it penetrates the timber to replace and replenish the wood’s natural oils, providing protection and reviving its natural color.

Eco-friendly and non-toxic

Polyurethane finishes can contain toxic VOCs and harmful additives that affect indoor air quality and health. Natural oils, in contrast, are less volatile and eco-friendly, making them a better option for those concerned about the environment and their health.

Sheen finish that enhances the wood appearance

Natural oil finishes are popular for their muted, natural matte appearance. They provide elasticity to wood and hide dents.

Unlike glossy polyurethane, natural oils enhance the beauty of hardwood floors and hide blemishes like scratches and scuffs.

This is because the oil blends with the wood and becomes part of it, creating a warm feel underfoot.

It has a reasonable price

In contrast, polyurethane finishes may require costly and time-consuming floor replacement or re-coating.

Maintenance for penetrating oils only involves cleaning or re-oiling to restore its original appearance.

Works well as a wood conditioner

Polyurethane finishes protect the surface, but natural oils penetrate the wood for better protection and a watertight seal.

Some penetrating oils have hardening agents for enhanced durability and can be easily repaired for scratches and dents.

Easy to apply with the common woodwork appliances.

Polyurethane finishes can result in a poor finish due to feathering, streaking, and lap lines.

To avoid this, penetrating oils are a better option as they are easy to apply using a lambswool brush or roller.

Great to work with less dense woods

Oil finishes are ideal for less dense woods and require less maintenance with proper care.

They can be cleaned with a mild detergent and water solution or a manufacturer-recommended cleaning product.

This helps maintain their luster and reduces the need for repairs and re-sanding.

Disadvantages of linseed oil on wooden floors

Using linseed oil on wooden floors comes with a few downsides. Firstly, it takes longer to dry compared to other products.

Over time, the oil can cause the wood to darken, and frequent reapplication is necessary.

Moreover, there’s an increased likelihood of water damage, which could result in rings or mildew growth.

The oiled surface can scratch easily and does not provide the best protection for your flooring.

Furthermore, re-coating and touching up the floors with linseed oil takes drying longer.

If you plan to polish your hardwood floors, keep in mind that linseed oil and other natural oil finishes will often give the wood a yellow or golden tinge.

Now, it’s important to note that oil finishes are more prone to dents and scratches than polyurethane finishes.

While certain natural oils have strong water-resistance characteristics, others, such as linseed oil, may not be as beneficial.

If you drop something heavy, the wood will be damaged rather than the protective finish.

Another consideration is that oil finishes might have a strong odor that can irritate your nose, throat, or skin.

Furthermore, they have minimal resistance to solvents such as alcohol, cleaners, and urine. If you have a lot of pets, particularly dogs, you may wish to choose a different finish.

Finally, the oil finishing procedure typically entails numerous coats and can take several days to dry. So be prepared to spend some time away from home.

To summarize, selecting the correct finish for your hardwood floors necessitates investigation, especially if this is your first time doing it. But the end product is well worth it!

Tips on applying linseed oil on wood floors

No shine is a sign that there’s no excess linseed oil left

After applying the first coat, the excess oil must be removed after applying the first coat because it can inhibit the next layer from getting absorbed into the grains.

Wait for 20-25 minutes or less than one hour to make the oil gets absorbed.

Then wipe the excess, especially under a bright light. So you can spot shiny spots that show the existing excess oil.

Repairing damages on a floor covered with linseed oil is easy

Adding a wet cloth is enough to repair specifically the pressure damage like from high heels.

As the linseed oil on wood floors helps the fibers to rise again. However, damages with cut-off fibers are irreversible and require another sanding.

Never throw away directly the cloth that has linseed oil

Cloth and sponges that contain linseed oil are flammable. Soak the cloth and sponge for a few days until the color changes.

Then hang and dry them for another few days until you’re sure that the oil is gone. Finally, you can dump the cloth/sponge safely.