How to Apply a Linseed Oil Finish & Get it to Shine

Updated February 21, 2017

Linseed oil is a popular natural finish for wood floors and furniture. Unlike manufactured finishes, linseed oil penetrates the pores of the wood instead of creating a hard coating on top of it. The result is wood with high shine that still retains its grainy feel and natural look. The more coats of linseed oil you apply, the more shine you will give to the wood. Consequently, the best type of linseed oil for the job is boiled or Danish linseed oil. It dries faster than non heat-treated oil and reduces the drying time between coats from 72 hours to 24 hours.

Moisten a rag or sponge mop with soapy water (or the cleaner you normally use on the wood). Wring the rag or mop out until it is barely wet. Then use it to clean the floor or furniture piece. Rinse and re-wring the rag or mop frequently as you clean.

Wipe the surface dry then allow it to air dry further for several more hours.

Pour a quart or so of the boiled linseed oil into a separate container. This will keep the main supply uncontaminated and suitable for later use.

Dip your rag into the linseed oil and rub it into the wood in the direction of the grain. Rub one section until it is well saturated and then buff the surface (in the direction of the grain) until the linseed oil that still remains on the surface is gone. This buffing will help the linseed dry more quickly and maximise the final shine. Keep rubbing in and buffing out until you have coated all of the wood.

Allow the linseed oil to dry for 24 hours.

Apply a second coat of linseed oil and allow that to dry for 24 hours as well. Keep applying layer after layer until the wood reaches the degree of shine that you desire.


You can only apply linseed oil to unfinished wood. If possible, oil your wood in a covered area outdoors with good air circulation. Otherwise keep a window open and place a fan in the room to facilitate quick drying.


Let your oil-soaked rags dry in a dark, cool place unfolded. As oil dries and oxidises, it generates heat. When that heat is trapped in a rolled, folded or bunched up rag, it may ignite the fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container
  • Rag
  • Soap or wood cleaner
  • Mop
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About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.