Tung-Oil Floor Finishes

Thoughts about the characteristics of floor finishes based on or including Tung oil. July 3, 2008

I am looking to finish some oak flooring and could use some advice. It is solid oak tng stained with Minwax Early American stain. I have used poly in the past but do not like the fact that it can chip and flake and scratches are not that easily repairable. I have looked at the Waterlox products and like the fact that they are tung oil based but still contain a varnish. Has anyone used this or can you recommend something similar to use? The Waterlox is a little pricey but I know you get what you pay for most of the time. I had seen that Old Masters still makes a true tung oil varnish at a cheaper price but I am not sure how it would hold up on flooring.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
A guy I know has been successfully using polymerized tung only for years now - tens of thousands of sq. ft. Go to Sutherland Wells site and purchase a small amount and see how you like it. His floors look beautiful.

From contributor P:
Waterlox is a really good choice for a floor finish. The gloss version used to be marketed as gym floor finish but they widened their strategy to include woodworking. Waterlox contains polymerized tung oil and a high ratio of phenolic resin. Here's a quote from their website:

"The result of combining Tung oil (which inherently posses excellent water resistance, due to the double bond characteristics of its molecular chain) with phenolic resin yields a film that is comparable with polyurethanes, conversion varnishes, and other synthetic coatings for chemical resistance, with the added benefit of having excellent flexibility, substrate penetration, re-coatability and non-yellowing properties. Varnishes formulated in this manner will never chip, crack or peel and will remain elastic (flexible) over extended periods of time."

It's also easy to repair.

From contributor D:

Waterlox is an expensive finish for what it offers for protection. I would use catalyzed varnish before Waterlox for durability. Both contain high flash solvent and smell like hell. Catalyzed varnish, unlike Waterox, is extremely wear resistant. If you want a user friendly finish that is repairable I would use burnished tung oil penetrating finish. It is not as durable but can be replenished in just the traffic paths (no recoating wall to wall) as often as you need. I have costed out re-oiling the traffic paths every year versus removing furniture and screening and recoating every 5-7 years and the oil is less expensive over time and provides a fresh look every year. Surface finish looks worse every year until 5-7 years later you recoat it.