The perfect antique pine wood floor restoration

by Chris Newson on August 17, 2010







I’ve spent a long time researching this one, and we’ve tried a number of different approaches ourselves. I am now happy to share what I believe to be the perfect way to get the best out of your lovely old pine wooden floors.

The process splits down into 4 main stages and there are a good number of different ways of doing each one of them. I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of each approach as it would take forever, and there are plenty of other disparate resources online which do that if you want to compare.

I will say however that this way is definitely the best 😉

1) Sanding
Follow the preparation and sanding instructions on

This is not a job that should be done by a novice. I wouldn’t try it myself (again), and I would be very sure that any tradesman I chose to do it had done it many times before, and was a patient and detailed person who will definitely follow the instructions to the letter. Get this bit wrong and it’ll look horrid forever. Be afraid, be really afraid.

2) Filling those pesky gaps
Use antique pine slivers made from old floorboards to fill the gaps. These guys at The Old Pine Company sell lovely ones.

This approach to gap filling will look gorgeous and last longer than any other.

3) Staining
Use Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent – we used 2 coats of the Cognac colour, for a beautiful rich dark oak colour on our original pine floorboards.

Well actually, we’ve only perfected the stairs to the cellar at the moment…in our living room we used the Osmo Polyx Oil without a stain and regretted it, and in the bathroom we used the Osmo Wood Protector as an undercoat, and the Osmo Polyx Oil on top, which made the floor a bit darker, but orangey, which we also regretted.

Perfection will now be rolled out across the whole house once we’ve saved some more pennies up!

By the way, the Victorians stained their pine floors as pine was a cheap wood that should either be painted or stained, so your restoration conscience should be completely clear when staining your floors.

People also say that it will look stained, but it won’t if you follow the sanding guidelines above and use the Osmo stains.

4) Finishing
Use 2 coats of Osmo Polyx Oil Original in Satin Finish.

It’s some kind of crazy combination of sunflower oil, soybean oil, thistle oil, Carnauba wax, Candelilla wax, paraffin and all sorts of other splendid things.

It will look more alive and be easier to repair than varnish, and its super-easy to maintain unlike waxes.

So if you follow this mechanism you’ll soon have a super lovely restored floor that you’ll love forever. All in all – I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

If you’re not yet convinced, then either try a patch somewhere using tester pots, or spend a few hours Googling until you’ve seen enough supporting evidence to feel ready to make the leap, or both of course.

Hopefully though this post will help someone reach the same conclusions we did with a bit less research, and trial and error than we managed.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa January 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

Hi Chris – do you have any photos of the stairs? Also, I have been told that if there are gaps which need to be filled this can only be finished with a lacquer finish – have you come across this? Did you do the work yourself or do you have any recommendations? Best, Lisa


Chris Newson January 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hi Lisa – I’ll try and dig out a photo for you over the weekend. Your source isn’t right, we have lots of gaps that we have filled with antique pine slivers and smaller ones with filler, and it works absolutely fine with a hard wax oil finish. I can’t recommend this finish highly enough, and as you have a whole range of colour options with it, then i’m sure you’ll find one that works for you 🙂


Neil Smith March 24, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Hi there, great blog post, did you ever get round to taking some photos of the stairs? I’ve had this page bookmarked for months in the run up to my own sanding and staining attempt, but now I’m ready to start sanding and the blog seems to have stopped! If you could post a picture I would be very grateful indeed. All the best,


Asbestos Awareness Training October 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Why doesn’t anybody mention asbestos in there blog You must come across it when renovating an old house


Chris Newson August 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

We didn’t, but the previous owners had done most of the stripping out work so they may well have.


Jo December 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

Hi Chris, do you have any photos of the osmo cognac finish on your original victorian pine that you could post or email to me? I’m having a nightmare, nothing seems to look good. I originally wanted to white wash my original pine boards, but have tried every way of doing this and none produce a good or nice finish. The boards are just too orange/pink from old age. So i’m now reverting back to a more natural finish but i want something that won’t emphasize the yellowness of the original pine and isn’t too warm a colour but also not too dark. I’m very hard to please but its become a bit of an obsession and i want to get it right. Also, how did you apply the osmo cognac? I’ve had so much different advice on the best way to do it and from having done tests in different ways i’m finding it hard to spread it evenly. Any help would be much appreciated!! Thanks


Chris Newson December 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I’ll see if I can dig out / take a photo. It does look lovely though – a nice dark, authentic, rich browny colour. We did – I think – 3 coats of the Cognac stain. I had a similar problem with attempts at a whitewashed bathroom floor, and ended up going for white floor paint – which was super easy and still looks really good – the grain shows through it well and it softens as it ages. Good luck!


Jo December 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Hi Chris, thanks it would be so helpful to see a photo. What did you apply the oil with? And also, if you can remember, which brand/finish was the floor paint you used? Thanks! Jo


Chris Newson December 13, 2011 at 9:27 am

Here’s the stairs with 3 coats of the Osmo Cognac Stain:

And the paint we used for the white bathroom floor:

Hope that helps 🙂


jane January 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Is the house finished?? I’m a local freelance journalist and I’m always on the hunt for nice houses with a good project story to tell for the renovation magazines! Drop me an email if you’re interested and I can tell you more… Thanks, Jane


Chris Newson August 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Hi Jane, Nice to be asked the question, but we’re not finished yet – an eternal project it would seem 🙂


Simon Munt May 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Hi there,
I’m a joiner/furniture maker and am renovating a late victorian terrace in E17. Re. the floor It was painted pink so I have planed and sanded it and we were experimenting with waxes and oils none of which we liked, googled it got your blog and I had some osmo polyx oil on the shelf (used for some oak furniture) tried it and love it. however we prefer the matt finish with no stain.Jo try wood bleach to lighten your floor.


Chris Newson August 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Great to hear. Glad my ramblings were actually helpful for someone 🙂


Laura August 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Hi Chris,

I keep hearing the word ‘Osmo’ this, and ‘Osmo’ that for flooring. We are soon to be sanding our circa 1880’s pine floorboards and finishing them… we were going to use Diamond Hard Varnish and just go for a clear finish. But this Osmo stuff intrigues me… is it an oil? Does it protect the floors? Thanks! Laura


Chris Newson August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

It’s a hardwax oil. it is like an oil in the tin but sets with the hardness of a wax. personally i’d never use anything else. It’s all natural is easy to touch up if scratches, low maintenance and looks like nice rich wood rather than wood with a shiny hard layer of varnish over the top of it. Different stains can be used to get the colour right too.

The main thing though is to do a really good job of the sanding. I would always use an experienced professional. Recently a friend did it himself against my advice, and I he was a broken man with a naff looking floor by the end of it…

Good luck – i’m sure it will be lovely once done 🙂


Kurt August 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Hi Chris, I’ve been researching like crazy to learn more about restoring floors. I have an 1896 Colonial Revival with narrow board maple hardwood floors throughout that were put down in the 1940s. I pulled up 4 different floors and underlayments on the kitchen floor a few years ago to discover beautiful Georgian Yellow Pine boards beneath a layer of black “tar” paper. I spent weeks removing all the paper, pounding finishing nails deeper into the wood and covering them with putty before sanding and refinishing. It turned out beautifully. My dilemma/question is…I believe the same flooring to be underneath all of the 1940s hardwood but have no idea how they installed wood floors back “then”. I’m aching to pull up the maple (it squeaks, needs a few repairs and definitely needs to be refinished) in hopes that it would reveal the same floor as the kitchen. Since there was really no need for underlayment (I’m guessing) for the maple I’m hoping that would mean yellow pine floors that could easily be refinished/spruced up. Did you ever come across any sites/articles that might help me out with this or maybe one of your readers may have experienced something similar? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Matt C May 20, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Hi – I have ordered the cognac osmo stain on your recommendation for my victorian pine floor!! I’ve filled the gaps with reclaimed pine slivers and am getting a pro in to sand it!! My question is: how did you apply the osmo cognac stain? Did you use brush, roller, or cloth??
Cheers, Matt


WOODEN FLOOR RESTORATION June 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Greta tips guys! Your not far off the mark at all when it comes to utilising best practices for flooring and Restoration. Even learned some new things here!


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