How to use linseed oil as a finish

Updated February 21, 2017

Linseed oil is commonly used as a wood finish because it brings out the grain of the wood and gives it a more natural look while making it water and stain resistant. Linseed oil finishes are not shiny like varnish. Although you can use regular linseed oil, most experts recommend that you use what is called "boiled linseed oil" because it dries faster. Boiled linseed oil is not actually boiled, but chemically treated to reduce drying times.

Sweep the wood with a push broom, collect the dust, dirt and other debris and discard them. Wipe the entire surface with a damp cloth to soak up any fine dust. Allow the surface to dry completely.

Fill a paint tray or small paint bucket with linseed oil. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and dip a clean, lint-free cloth into the linseed oil. Wring the cloth out so that it is just damp with the oil.

Spread the linseed oil over the wood surface with the cloth. Wipe with the grain of the wood. Be generous with the oil, but don't use so much that you leave puddles of oil on the wood. If you have to push hard to spread the oil around, dip the cloth back in the oil.

Let the oil soak into the wood for 20 to 30 minutes. Buff the surface of the wood with a fresh lint-free cloth. Wipe with the grain of the wood until you have soaked up all of the excess oil. Test the wood's surface with your finger. If your finger feels oily, keep buffing until you can't lift any oil from the wood with your finger anymore. Allow the floor to dry for 24 hours.

Scour the floor lightly with 0000 grade steel wool. This process is called burnishing and will even out any grains of the wood that may have been lifted during the oil process. Sweep up any wood dust you create while burnishing.

Spread a second coat of linseed oil over the wood surface using the same method you used before. Repeat the entire process up to five times or until you are satisfied with the look of the finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Push broom
  • Clean, lint-free cloths
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Paint tray
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • 0000 grade steel wool
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About the Author

Jarrett Melendez is a journalist, playwright and novelist who has been writing for more than seven years. His first published work was a play titled, "Oh, Grow Up!" which he wrote and performed with a group of his classmates in 2002.