In this guide I will show you how to give your old wood floor a new and fresh Nordic look. The floor in this guide is from my own apartment where a doll gray carpet has covered it for many years. After I took over this apartment this old floor was high on my to-do list to get fixed.
In the following I will describe how I sanded and later lye and oil treated my floor. There are of cause several different ways and techniques to make a floor like mine. You should therefore always follow the instruction from your local paint shop where you also can buy all the stuff you need for this project. Especially, in the lye and oiling process is important to follow the instructions provided on the labels as this may be different from brand to brand.
Renovating My Floor
Instead of rolling out a new carpet, I removed the old one and the original wooden floor was revealed underneath. Because the floor had been protected by the carpet for many years it was in quite good shape.
It was an easy decision for me to keep the beautiful floor and give it a new and fresh look with some white colored lye and oil. This kind of treatment is very popular in Denmark and the other Nordic countries in general. Almost all newly built houses have some kind of white oil colored floors. I think it is because it gives a nice and light feeling in the room. I know that it is popular with heavy carpets in many countries – in the Nordic design you would never uses full floor carpets.
Treatment with Oil and Wood Lye
Even though the floor was in good shape, I decided to have the floor sanded to make it stand out as completely new as possible. A newly sanded floor is beautiful to look at but it is completely open to all dirt and other stuff. Therefore, it is important that the floor is sealed with a good oil. The oil will act as a kind of coating of the wood preventing the it from getting dirty when using the floor. However, before the oil is painted on the floor it is also a good idea to treat the floor with a wood lye. The lye is easy to apply and it will sucked into the wood preventing it from being discolored over time mainly due to the UV light coming from the sun.
Step 1: Sanding of the Floor
Depending on the size of your floor I would recommend you to rent a professionel wood sanding machine. It is normally not that expensive and it will do a good job. Remember to ask for instructions and some good tips from the rental company. In Denmark you can rent these machines from local hardware stores – I would believe it is possible that you can do the same at your local hardware store. Depending on how you floor is previous treated your might need special sand paper. Again, the rental place can help you there.
My floor is not that big and because it has been protected by a carpet I was able to sand the entire floor using my small orbital sander. It differently took a bit longer compared to a large and professional machine. However, then I saved the money on the rental of a professional machine and the time to and from the hardware store.
When sanding the floor always try to move the orbital sander along the wood grains. Then you will avoid making noticeable grinding marks.
Step 2: Treating with Wood Lye
Wood lye is mainly used for priming newly sanded or unfinished wood. The main reason for treating your floor with wood lye is to prevent/reduce the natural yellowing process of your floor. It will also give the wood a lighther/whither color if you decide to use the colored lye like I did. Wood lye is only a pertreamtment and cannot stand-alone. You would always have to continue treating your floor with wood soap or oil. I decided to treat my floor with oil, which I will describe in the following steps.
1: After the sanding of the floor; apply an even layer of wood lye all over the floor. Then leave it for about 20 minutes, so that it have had the time to be sucked into the wood. During this time, it is important that the floor has a fully covered layer of lye all the time. If you see dry spots apply some more lye in this area.
2: After 20 minutes I used some old clothes or cloths to polish the rest of the lye into the floor. I know that some types of lye should be left on without the polishing step. I personally prefer this step where the lye is polished to make sure that you do not get any spots where the lye did not dry evenly. This can otherwise result in noticeable spots in the final result.
This might sound like it is difficult to do – however, just remember two things; no dry spots and always an even layer.
3: When done, let the floor dry for about 8 hours and then use a piece of sandpaper grain size 120 to lightly sand the floor. When applying wood lye to a freshly sanded floor some of the wood fiber will rise a little bit. That is why it is a good idea to lightly sand it again.
4: Vacuum before continue with the next step.
Step 3: Treating with Wood Oil
After the floor has been sanded and treated with wood lye, then it is time to seal of the wood with some good floor oil. This is an important step because this will keep the floor nice for many years.
Always follow the instructions on the bottle of the oil. However, below I will list the instructions how I applied the oil with a good result.
1: Apply the oil to the floor using a wide brush. It is a good idea to spend some money on a quality brush otherwise you risk that the hairs will come off and get stock in the wet oil. Like the wood lye, it is important that the floor has an even layer of oil for about 10-15 minutes. If you see some dry spots apply some more oil in that area. If you have a larger floor I will recommend you to work on smaller areas of the floor and then complete the entire floor in several steps. Just remember always to work wet-in-wet. If you let parts of the area dry and then continues with the oiling at a later point – then you might be able to see this intersection in the finished floor.
2: After the area/spot of the floor has been covered in oil for about 15 minutes, use a scraper to scrape any exceeding oil to the next part of the floor. Then use a polishing machine or some old clothes to polish the oiled part. Continue until you are done with the entire floor. Make sure to do the entire floor in one work session. If you let parts of oil cure then you can risk of getting an uneven color.
3: When the entire floor is oiled and polished, it is time to let the oil cure. The type of oil I used took 8 hours before I could gently walk on it. The total curing time was 7 days. It is very important to remember that using some types of wood oil can cause the used polishing cloths to self-ignite – always add a lot of water to the cloths after you are done with them.
Questions or comments
I will be happy if you would leave a comment in the comments section below. You are also very welcome to ask questions. I will try to answer the best I can.