Is it varnished or oiled?

(14 Posts)
wowfudge Sun 07-Aug-16 19:43:25

We have been lucky enough to uncover an oak parquet floor in our new house and we threw away the ancient carpet today. There's some work required to repair an area, remove gripper rods, etc. There's also a huge area in the middle which is lighter - looks as though no one bothered to stain the area covered by a large rug.

How can we tell whether the floor has been oiled or varnished? I don't think the floor is as old as the house so there aren't years of layers of varnish - it's really difficult to tell.

Ideally we'd like to even out the colour and we really want to use floor wax to finish it, but I'm not sure we will be able to do that if it's been varnished.

SeashellHoarder Sun 07-Aug-16 23:20:01

Can you hire an industrial floor sander? It will even out the colour and take off the varnish layer.
I've only ever done this on floorboards not parquet. But oak will come up a lovely colour.

ChablisTyrant Mon 08-Aug-16 00:20:15

There are specialists who can come to your house and advise on these things. Very important not to get it wrong!

elephantoverthehill Mon 08-Aug-16 00:32:24

You need to do a little test in a corner. If you can scrape with a sharp chisel and get flakes it has been varnished. If you get 'worms' it has been oiled. The age of the house and the thickness of the parquet will also give you clues. If they are 'real' parquet blocks, like old school halls it will probably been oiled or may be waxed. Lucky find.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Aug-16 00:38:58

might be waxed. Rub it with white spirit on a bit of rag, see what comes off. Wax will be engrained with dirt. Varnish (in unworn areas around edges) will not come off and will be smooth.

IIRC oak is not supposed to be varnished. This applies to old solid oak doors at least. Modern oak veneered doors, however, must not be oiled or waxed, I think it attacks the glue.

If old, it may be worn into traffic lanes and hollows. Shine a torch across (not at) the surface and shadows may show.

If you want to use a wood dye before refinishing, you will have to strip it back to bare wood, no varnish, oil or wax. A trick to hiding colour differences, especially when patched or repaired, is to mix dyes together and do blocks or boards in slightly different tints, seemingly randomly.

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 05:53:12

Thanks folks - will be trying white spirit on a rag later.

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 07:02:58

I think it's oiled rather than varnished, but still not sure. I tried white spirit on a rag and get muck on the rag. The thing is, I mopped with wood cleaner yesterday - not that it made much difference in most places as it's pretty dirty. How do I know the white spirit hasn't just brought off the surface muck?

I'm attaching a couple of photos of liquid damage to see if that helps. First one is where a porous plant pot holder leaked - the carpet was damaged in exactly the same spot and the mark on the carpet was orangey brown.

freshstart22 Mon 08-Aug-16 07:18:44

If it's high quality wood (which it is) it's unlikely to be varnished, varnishing would ruin the wood (in an experts eyes) they would always only oil it.

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 08:26:06

That's what I'm leaning towards. Problem is that there are original oak skirtings, architraves and doors which have been varnished. The fact the liquid damage hasn't caused those cloudy white marks you get on varnished surfaces makes me think it's oiled.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Aug-16 10:57:48

"How do I know the white spirit hasn't just brought off the surface muck"

do it again.

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 19:26:51

Right - have done it again. And again. Oiled. Just need to find some the same size to replace the missing section.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Aug-16 20:28:16

"the same size "

Or bigger.

elephantoverthehill Mon 08-Aug-16 20:40:20

I tried to copy and paste an image of a chop saw, it failed, but easier to use on flooring blocks than a crosscut, IMO grin. However, reclamation yards are the places to go OP. I would advise against replacing with new timber due to shrinkage etc. I think we need a photo of the whole floor when you have finished the renovation.

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 22:48:11

Ha ha - it's tongue and groove parquet and it's 43mm wide, or 1 5/8 inch in old money. Everything I can find is 70mm wide. If it were too long then that would be easy! We're missing about 15 pieces all told.

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