A little while ago we had some customers come to us asking about products we’d recommend for the 100-year-old pine floor they were about to move and install in their home. Knowing that they wanted bring out much natural color of the wood. We realized a paint or stain wouldn’t do the trick. And because of the age of the floor, they wanted to preserve as much of the history and natural character of the wood as possible.

100 year old floor after sanding

Enter Citrus Solvent and Real Milk Paint Tung oil! It was the perfect solution: while the Tung oil would protect the wood and give it a slightly deeper and richer color, the Citrus Solvent—a natural degreaser and paint thinner alternative—would thin the oil and allow it to penetrate deep into the pine. The happy customers took our advice, and recently got in touch again to tell us how thrilled they were with the suggestion. They also told us about the progress they were making with the installation of the floor, and we thought we’d share that with you as well.

Testing Ratios and Finding Balance

Before they even installed the floor, Anita and Duane busied themselves with trying out different ratios of Tung oil and Citrus Solvent on test boards. They tried out their concoctions on stained wood, stained and conditioned wood, and bare wood, which was the state of their pine floor.

Eventually they settled on a mixture that was equal parts Tung oil and Citrus Solvent, which is the ratio used in The Real Milk Paint Company’s Half & Half blend. The one-to-one ratio seems to bring out the best of both products. The Citrus Solvent portion thins the oil just enough so that it’s easier to apply uniformly. Thanks to its purity and lack of color, the solvent doesn’t change the color of the oil, which is especially important when you’re working with dark Tung oil. The Tung oil in the Half & Half blend coats and seals wood from the elements, and is responsible for:

  • Bringing out the natural grain pattern of wood
  • Deepening wood’s natural color
  • Protecting floors from wear and tear
  • Creating a water-resistant finish

So far, Anita is happy that the Tung oil is bringing out some depth in the samples she has tried, but ideally she wants to see some warmer tones. She’s still experimenting with test pieces to figure out how to prevent the pine from looking too yellow or orange.

Installing the Antique Pine Floor

Along with the help of a friend who’s a carpenter, Anita and Duane successfully tackled the installation of the 100-year-old pine floor. In order to preserve the wood and its authenticity, they painstakingly installed 850 reproduction nails into the floor’s existing nail holes.

And instead of using a belt or orbital sander, they borrowed a special three-disk sander from their local museum so they could sand the floor without damaging it. Although it was a lot of work, Anita says the pine now looks like brand new wood, and they are excited to see the final results once the Tung oil and Citrus Solvent are applied.

Read what they had to say here:

Good Morning!
     Thank you so much Dwayne!  We did a lot of test boards so far and used different proportions of tung oil + citrus solvent mix……knowing that we would try a 1:1 ratio for the first coat and probably beyond to ensure penetration and less dry time.
  We tried some on bare wood and others on stain only and also stain over conditioner.  We allow ample time for drying (knowing these are only ‘test samples’ and more drying time would be needed for full floor).
    I see no problem but fully agree that testing before we proceed is crucial!  I have had great results with Zar oil  stains which are a true color (and use it most sparingly).  Ditto on wood conditioner which does work well to reduce blotchy areas on pine.
     We are happier with at least a bit of stain on the wood which brings out the warmth that just oil doesn’t do on this floor. (at least not on the pine which now looks like new wood)
    I am confident we will pleased with the end results.  Your products (tung oils and citrus solvent) are AMAZING  Your website is impressive and educational.  It is a ‘must read’ for beginners and a great reminder for those who can use a review and updates on products.
             Keep up the great work!  Appreciatively, Anita Domes
Below are a few photos.
 100 year old floor after sanding
SECOND PHOTO IS AFTER SANDING (Bless my husband for doing this!)That machine was a monster, but used by folks in our local museum so we had great information of how to proceed without damaging the wood.  The sander had 3 discs on the bottom as opposed to some of the more brutal belts or orbitals….we are pleased.
     INSTALLATION OF 850 REPRODUCTION NAILS INTO ORIGINAL HOLES!  Guess you can say that my husband (Duane) and I “got nailed” a few evenings!!!!
You will see the wood is very ‘white/light’ and clean but as I have a lot of pine in that room ( cupboards, beams, one wall) I really want to avoid the floor looking ORANGE OR YELLOW which is the nature of most pine and what I seem to be getting with only tung oil.  But we will try a few more samples before we proceed on a 20 x 20 room!
       sanded wood floor ready for tung oil and citrus solvent
Thank you again!!!!  Anita and Duane