Filling Pores on Oak Flooring

A woodworker wants a natural finish on an Oak floor, but he wants to keep dirt out of the pores. June 28, 2010

I would like to install a wide plank red oak floor and use a tung oil based finish.
I am little worried that dirt will catch into the oak open pores. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Unless the pores are filled or pretty darn filled, dust and dirt and puppy dog tails will lodge into the pores. You won’t get enough fill from the tung oil to really fill the pores but other types of coatings are available and they are manufactured just for wood flooring.

From contributor U:
I don't know anything about the finish you have chosen, but what I have found over the years to solve your problem is simply to brush on your finish instead of spraying. This is very easy and fast on floors since there is no finish running problem. Brushing works the finish into the pores and also allows you to use thicker viscosity finish in the first place.

From the original questioner:
I would prefer an oil base penetrating finish over a surface finish. I am looking for that old time look and I don't want to re-sand the floor ever again.

From contributor U:
I have never seen an old oak floor without a film (surface) finish. I've seen many old floors where the finish was worn off and they were preserved simply by wax. I'll take your word for it. At any rate, I don't think you are likely to get much stain resistance with a penetrating finish, especially on a floor surface where staining liquids don't run off and also have time to soak in.

From contributor D:
The "old time look" includes dust.

From contributor F:
I've put in enough floors to know I would not want to go through all that work and not protect it with a film finish. The more durable the better.

From the original questioner:
The reason I want to stay away from a film finish is that scratches shows off much more on a film finish and I want to stay away from the trouble of having to re-sand. In any case, what film finish do you guys suggest?

From contributor F:
Often when you have a scratch in a film finish the scratch is in the film, not the wood. When you refinish you sand mostly the old film away. With no film, all the scratches will be in the wood itself which will require much more sanding when refinished. Just because it's oil doesn't mean it won't show scratches. Yes, you can touch up easier with oil, I agree, but a wood floor needs protection unless maybe it's just two little old ladies living there. Then maybe it's ok to use oil.

From the original questioner:
I don't mind the wood to be scratch nor dent. I just don't want to sand off the finish.

From contributor F:
Ok, I think you are set on the oil finish. That being the case, back to your original question: dirt in the pores. The two things that come to mind are:

1. Fill the pores with wood filler. Use a solvent base filler designed for filling wood pores. You can get some really dramatic effects by coloring the pore filler a complimentary color, say black or tan or something that looks good with the oil. Or you can go wild and color them red or yellow for a really wild effect. I've never experimented with oil as a final finish over this technique.

2. The second thing you can do is fine sand the floor with a wet coat of oil on the floor. The dust/oil slurry will fill the pores as you sand. It will match the floor as well. As for durability - just make sure those two little old ladies don't have any biker parties.

By the way, the best sander out there is called a Super Bee. You can find them at rental centers under that name or called U-Sand. They are both the same. Unless you are skilled with a drum sander, I'd look for a Super Bee.