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Linseeed oil floor finish

magneticanomaly

Titanium
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Location
On Elk Mountain, West Virginia, USA
Ten or twelve years ago I finished a new pine floor with boiled linseed oil. I think I thinned it...probably with kerosene because kero is cheaper than turpentine and less noxious than gasoline. It dried in a few days. I probably did 2 coats, and has held up very well.

A year or so ago I tried again, on another new pine floor.. This time I did not thin it, and it is STILL faintly sticky, and also duller than my first attempt.

I know there are hundreds of floor coatings, "better " in dozens of ways. I like the linseed oil because (except for the driers) it is relatively non-toxic, natural, reasonable in cost, smells nice, and has held up fine..

Looking for advice about why I seemed to get it right the first time, and how to get it right on-purpose rather than by accident, in future.

Thanks!
 

dalmatiangirl61

Titanium
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
I think the differences in success comes down to thinner. The thinner thinned the BLO so that it could be absorbed into the pores of the wood on the first floor, on the second floor with no thinner the BLO could not permeate the pores and just dried on the surface, leaving a thicker tacky layer.

No expert on the subject, but use blo-turp on many metal and wood projects, I like the way it looks.
 

johansen

Stainless
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Location
bainbridge island
Boiled linseed oil used to use lead acetate as the catalyzing agent. They have been using something else since then. I don't know the transition year.

Some swear by it, others like my dad who was very successful in the residential painting industry swears at it.. mildew........
 

richard newman

Titanium
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
rochester, ny
Boiled linseed oil used to use lead acetate as the catalyzing agent. They have been using something else since then. I don't know the transition year.

Some swear by it, others like my dad who was very successful in the residential painting industry swears at it.. mildew........

Not to be a Luddite, but IME, every change in finishes I've seen over the last 50 yrs due to environmental and health concerns has resulted in a decrease in quality and ease of use of the material.
 

dalmatiangirl61

Titanium
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
Boiled linseed oil used to use lead acetate as the catalyzing agent. They have been using something else since then. I don't know the transition year.

Some swear by it, others like my dad who was very successful in the residential painting industry swears at it.. mildew........

Moss grows on car roofs in Washington, maybe the constant humidity and rain is your problem, not the BLO......
 

dalmatiangirl61

Titanium
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
If part of the problem may be change in formula/drying agent, what would the likely effects of adding japan dryer be?

Reading your first post, you thinned BLO with kerosene on first floor and you liked the outcome. On second floor you applied BLO without thinning and dislike the outcome. I'm going out on a limb and suggest you go back to what is known formula 50/50 BLO and turpentine or mineral spirits, not sure about kero, and never used japan dryer on anything.
 

HHollow

Plastic
Joined
Jun 15, 2014
Location
MT
Linseed oil undergoes some chemistry in order to harden. It is not just about losing the solvent and drying - the chemistry must happen in order for the finish to be hard.

The linseed oil undergoes an oxygen fueled free radical crosslinking reaction, kind of like vulcanization of rubber. The oxidation turns the oil into a hard durable plastic that tends to be insoluble.

So dilution of the linseed oil using kerosene or turpentine might help oxygenate it. However, a additive such as Japan Drier tends to be specially formulated to encourage the free radical chemistry.

Wikipedia is your friend, in this case:
Oil drying agent - Wikipedia
 

Scruffy887

Titanium
Joined
Dec 17, 2012
Location
Se Ma USA
Linseed oil undergoes some chemistry in order to harden. It is not just about losing the solvent and drying - the chemistry must happen in order for the finish to be hard.

The linseed oil undergoes an oxygen fueled free radical crosslinking reaction, kind of like vulcanization of rubber. The oxidation turns the oil into a hard durable plastic that tends to be insoluble.

So dilution of the linseed oil using kerosene or turpentine might help oxygenate it. However, a additive such as Japan Drier tends to be specially formulated to encourage the free radical chemistry.

Wikipedia is your friend, in this case:
Oil drying agent - Wikipedia

And rags soaked in it can burst into flames, but only when you are not there to see it start. You will see it finish if you live. Just saying.
Another word for oxidation is sometimes FIRE!
 

scsmith42

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 28, 2020
Location
New Hill, NC
Most oil finishes harden "in the wood". Most film finishes harden "on the wood". By thinning, you allowed just about all of the BLO to penetrate the wood, where it hardened.

If you want to build up a surface film with BLO, you need to add Japan Dryer to it. It's available at many hardware or paint stores.

Odds are that your current finish will stay tacky. Use a thinner to remove it, and then reapply with the Japan Dryer additive.

Alternatively, use a high quality film finish instead. Water based finishes have come a long way in the last 20 years.
 

HHollow

Plastic
Joined
Jun 15, 2014
Location
MT
I prefer oil based polyurethane rather than water based. It is so darn good I believe it is illegal in California.
 

holtzapffelFan

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 31, 2015
I've never used Linseed oil on anything, but we received a sample of Waterlox at a woodworking show, and I tried it on cherry as my test. (THis is a small sample) In 2019 we used it to refinish floors in our parents' home before my sister moved in, and it has been a beautiful floor finish and it can be renewed. We are not professional floor finishers, but followed the instructions on the website and used the recommended products for application and it was easy finish and in year 4 now the floors still look good. The floors were probably original and this is the first time there were refinished. Son #1 actually did the floors and he is the person with virtually no wood finishing experience, except his very experienced father giving him additional tips for refinishing. (Son#1 actually volunteered for the experience.)



I use waterlox on all my projects that are cherry, and it is a very simple wipe on / wipe off for woodworking projects. After I started using it, I did go through the magazine archives of Fine Woodworking, and American woodworker and wish I had not ignore the articles that were published earlier. I am definitely a fan, and it comes in different variation for environmental compliance. Our state doesn't have a restriction, so I ordered and used the original. The product does have a shelf life, so you do need to remove the air with bloxogen (sp?) to extend shelf life.

I used to be a Watco Danish Oil fan, but doubt I would ever have a need for Watco danish oil.

What is Waterlox?
It is still made by hand from pure tung oil and phenolic resins to create a truly beautiful, durable and one of a kind finish that looks and works great on any wood project. Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is a solvent-based, resin-modified tung oil finish that is delivered in mineral spirits.

To get back to the problem, this is Rockler's Q&A on the subject.

Why Is Your Linseed Oil Not Drying?

HF
 

Bill D

Diamond
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Modesto, CA USA
Thin 50/50 with coleman fuel and add 1 teaspoon of japan drier per quart. It should be used up or thrown away within a week or so of adding the japan drier.
Bill D
 

henrya

Stainless
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Location
TN
Put a light film of boiled linseed oil on a piece of glass and see how it dries. It won’t. Also, be careful of what you thin it with. A building full of vapors and a spark is all you need for disaster.

I’ll second the Waterlox suggestion for a “natural” finish. Excellent finish to work with, durable and readily repairable.

Otherwise, today’s waterborn polys are really good.
 

SteveF

Titanium
Joined
Jul 4, 2004
Location
central NC
And rags soaked in it can burst into flames, but only when you are not there to see it start. You will see it finish if you live. Just saying.
Another word for oxidation is sometimes FIRE!

I finished some floors with linseed oil and when I was finished put the can at the edge of the patio with the wet pad on top of the can. This was in Texas, on a warm day and the can was in the sun. Talking to a couple of people and thought "What the hell is that burning smell" and looked over to see a stream of smoke coming up from the pad. Yes, it can happen easily.

Steve
 

DaveKamp

Titanium
Joined
Oct 3, 2004
Location
LeClaire, Ia
BLO is fascinating stuff. First off, it's flashpoint is about 200F. Not hard to reach that point on a sunny day in Texas... or on a sunny day at the North Pole... especially if there's a little black spot on a reflective surface... solar radiation is amazing stuff (catch some, and store it in a jar, so you'll ave it on hand next time the sun goes out)... Depending on the MATERIALS in contact, BLO can be much MORE flammable... if the materials offer any OXIDIZERS, there'll be a possibility of autoignition at points MUCH LOWER than flashpoint. Even a little WATER can serve as that oxidizer!!! Keep your rags and brushes clean and dry.

In many cases, you can pour BLO on paper, and get a fire. Once it's plasticised though, it's stable.

I use a 3-way BLO, Turpentine, Beeswax mix as general waterproofing, wood protection, and corrosion protection for iron and steel... and it works GREAT to keep the surface of my 1880's J.A. FAY from rusting. The table looks spotless, through three winters in the pole barn... not so much as a rust stain anywhere. I put all three in a paint can, then set it on my electric hotplate on LOW. It generates a strong odor as it warms, then the wax melts into a medium brown liquid. Turn off the heat, and it becomes a very firm paste. I brush it on surfaces when warm, wipe it on/off when it's cooled.

Exercise caution and respect, everything is safe. Exercise disregard and disrespect, and EVERYTHING becomes a danger.
 

Greg Menke

Diamond
Joined
Feb 22, 2004
Location
Baltimore, MD, USA
My old Machinery's Handbook suggests a coating consisting of linseed oil and gasoline- mix them, pour onto the floor. The assertion is that the gas helps the linseed oil soak deeper into the concrete (or whatever), increasing the depth of the coating. I tried a few patches on my floor (circa 1920's cement with a lot of sand), using the linseed/gas, I also tried linseed/IPA and linseed/acetone and a test patch of linseed only. I couldn't tell much difference between them wrt affect, though the gas mixture did take a bit longer to evaporate. All were less oily afterwards than the linseed only.

That was fun and all but the modern (even elcheapo) concrete floor paint worked lots better and no risk of blowing up the garage lol.
 








 
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