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Old 03-23-2010, 04:19 PM   #1
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


I'm remodeling the kitchen in my mid-1940's house and have discovered that underneath a layer of vinyl tiles (likely full of asbestos) and underlayment, there's a beautiful layer of unfinished tongue & groove Douglas fir.

I know this is soft wood and will wear accordingly, but I'm tempted to just rip up the tiles and underlayment (taking reasonable precautions with the asbestos) and finish the fir with Tung oil (Waterlox, I think). I don't think I would even sand it. It looks fairly even and I've heard sanding can remove some of the grain.

Any thoughts on this? Am I crazy to even think about it given the high-traffic nature of kitchens?

My original plan was to just leave the vinyl tiles and cover them with something like natural linoleum. I'm not opposed to that if the fir is going to be a recurring hassle to maintain.

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Old 03-23-2010, 04:59 PM   #2
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


I think fir was used as flooring in less trafficked areas like bedrooms for exactly that reason, because it is towards the soft end of the flooring wood spectrum. We have fir in our 90 year old home and the only place it has noticeably worn is at the top of the landing. We also have an area where the fir has been covered in vinyl tiles. Concern about asbestos did not factor highly into our decision to leave the tiles alone (and cover them with carpet), but they looked as if they were fastened to the floor in such a way that the fir would be damaged by removing them.

As for tung oil, you definitely want to avoid pure drying oils on floors as they are not a hard enough finish. As for a polymerized tung oil, I would love to know myself if that is a suitable finish.

Please keep this thread updated - would be interested to know how it turns out for you.

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Old 03-23-2010, 10:00 PM   #3
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


In a bedroom, this would be an easy choice. Of course, my house has [much harder] maple just about everywhere but the kitchen. I guess the fir's softness is the reason it appears to have been covered since day one.

I think I can get the other flooring off without significant damage to the fir.

Yes, I'll update on what I end up doing. I have a good DIY-oriented refinishing supply/sander rental shop in town, so I may ask them what product(s) they'd use in this situation.

Have you refinished any of your fir?
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:11 PM   #4
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


nothing wrong with Fir flooring. Just use vertical grain pieces. Flat sawn will wear too much.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:53 AM   #5
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


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nothing wrong with Fir flooring. Just use vertical grain pieces. Flat sawn will wear too much.
Well, let me set my time machine for 1946 so I can tell the builders to stick to vertical grain.
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:06 PM   #6
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Unfinished T&G douglas fir in kitchen - finish or cover?


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Have you refinished any of your fir?
I am about to refinish the first bedroom and I have been learning quite a bit.

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