Our yellow pine floors (from Lumber Liquidators) are officially finished and cured, and I am fairly certain I’m in love with them.
Installing and finishing hardwood floors ourselves is definitely not the easiest or quickest option when it comes to flooring. But I think they were worth the time and effort.
Not only is the flooring beautiful and warm in the space, but also authentic to the farmhouse look, and long-lasting
(If you missed the first two installments of our floors, check out why we chose unfinished wood flooring and how we installed the wide-plank yellow pine from Lumber Liquidators.)
I decided to try something different this time around and share a short video compilation of the process. I’m not a videographer (hence the fact that this is vertical video – doh!). But, I thought it would be fun to see the process in action – in less than a minute. Plus, Henry made a few cameos, and he’s adorable.
The flooring installation and finish process (for video haters):
- Install flooring. (This process is detailed in this post. Ryan used an air nailer to nail the boards in place. We chose yellow pine unfinished flooring from Lumber Liquidators.)
- Sand floors with an orbital sander (rented locally). The floors were new, so they didn’t need the same level of sanding as they would had they been previously finished. But sanding allows you to get a smoother surface and a better medium for taking the finish. Ryan went over the floors three times using 50, 80 and 120 grit sandpaper.
- Clean the floors well, removing all the dust from all the nooks and crannies. You want it as clean as possible before finishing.
- Prepare and apply finish. (Sharing more details about the tung oil finish we chose below, and how it was safe enough that even Henry could help apply it.)
The last images in the video are after several coats of the oil finish, before the flooring soaked up the finish completely.
And this is the flooring today, after almost 6 weeks. (Yes. We installed the television. Priorities. Now I can paint while Henry watches Amazon Instant Video.)
Choosing a finish
For this house, we wanted something different than a poly finish (which we have used in two houses and a rental). The major problem we have with poly is that it doesn’t always wear well with time. It looks great at first, but we noticed wear patterns develop from traffic, dogs and kids. It happens pretty quickly. And if you want to fix those areas, you have to sand everything and start over.
No. Thank. You.
We started researching oil finishes because they allow you to touch up areas instead of re-finishing the entire floor, they can give you a great matte finish, they are nontoxic (all-natural and no VOCs), and they have been around for a long time. Oiling floors are not a very common choice to make today, but it was a great option for our home.
After lots of research, we finally settled on pure tung oil. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive, there were very detailed instructions available, and we thought it was something we could do ourselves.
The goal of an oil finish is to soak into the wood instead of living on top of the wood to protect it. This means that the oil protects the wood from the inside out. It won’t stop all the damage – like scratches or dents – but it protects it from moisture and provides a barrier. (And in our experience, nothing truly protects wood from damage that comes.)
The application process is rather simple – we followed the instructions from the website. (This is a Cliff’s Notes version, but if you are doing this yourself, I’d highly recommend reading and rereading the full instructions from the company.)
- Mix the oil (50/50) with citrus solvent. Ryan (and Henry) did this in a large bucket. The orange solvent smelled like oranges and the house smelled like oranges for weeks, but that was tons better than the chemical smell of most poly.
- Roll or brush the oil on the floors. (Rolling went smoothest for us.)
- Let the oil soak in for 45 minutes. If there’s any oil standing after 45 minutes, wipe it up with rags or clean t-shirts.
- Start the process again. (You can walk on the oil with clean socks.)
Ryan did this about 7 times total – 4 times the first day and 3 the second. Because the oil was soaked up by the wood pretty easily, he only had to wipe up excess standing oil each day.
If you are curious about how the finish looks as it goes on, here’s a before (sanded) and after (one coat of tung oil) for a comparison.
With yellow pine floors, the color of the floors doesn’t change very much. Once the oil cured, the floor felt a little warmer, but the color stayed close to the natural color of the original unfinished pine.
The one downer about oil finishes is the cure time – around 30 days to be fully cured. And it definitely took that long for us. But now, if we spill water, it beads up on top.
The natural tone of the flooring is a perfect mix of warmth with the wall colors and white trim (more on that soon).
And I love that you can see all the various colors and knots in the wood – this wide plank yellow pine is really beautiful and has so much visual variety. The oil finish doesn’t hide any of the natural beauty.
The tones of the floor also look beautiful in the kitchen. And the oil finish should hold up well to the traffic and moisture here, too. (If any areas do need a touch up, it’s just a matter of cleaning and adding more oil to the spot in question.)
The island and floors play so nicely together.
One small detail we added were built-in registers. My father-in-law took smaller scraps of the pine flooring and created these custom register covers that lie flat with the flooring. Ryan finished them with oil in the same way as the floors.
I’ll be sure to share more about how the oil finish wears over time, but we are so happy with them so far. I’ve cleaned them a few times (so much construction dust), and they easily get clean with a vacuum and barely-damp mop.
What do you think about our unorthodox flooring choice?
Thanks to Lumber Liquidators for providing flooring for our main living space in our new home. Check out Lumber Liquidators on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more flooring inspiration. And thank you for supporting sponsors who make projects like this possible.