Of long awaited tung oil and many white paints…


I have heard really good things about finishing pine floors with tung oil, and last Tuesday I pranced to the hardware store in search. For those of you who think of a big, reeking pot of tongues (me) or a cow licking the floors (my mom) tung oil comes from the nut of the tung tree, I guess they grow in China. So I found a shiny yellow quart labeled ‘Tung Oil Finish’ by Minwax, which I bought and promptly returned home to get started. I hate waiting.

It surprised me that the label didn’t mention anything specific about the contents or tung oil and after a quick internet search on the product, I was crushed to find that there’s so much thinner and varnish mixed in that very little, if any, tung oil is actually in there. Further research backed the quality of pure tung oil, and the more I read, the more I realized what was coming; I was going to have to order this stuff online, and I was going to have to wait.

It shouldn’t be such a deterrent. I’ve waited for plenty of far off things during the build, but this one hit me right in the middle of my flooring mojo. The reasonable, get-it-right-the-first-time part of me beat the impatient part that figures it’ll probably work out, and I bought a gallon of %100 tung oil for only a little more than two quarts of the other stuff cost.

6 painful days later, it arrived at the door and I was finally able to begin. I ran at that box so fast, can’t imagine why the FedEx guy didn’t seem to share my excitement for a gallon of floor oil 😀 I lightly diluted it with mineral spirits, as indicated by the label, made me up a big ole’ bucket and went on my way. It went down beautifully with a rag and brought out the grain in the most lovely colour. I had nearly planned on staining the floor before oiling, but eventually changed my mind after really looking at it during my week in limbo.

I also painted the wood around the loft triangles. I’ve wanted to make them white for a while now to emphasize light up there, and I love what it did for the space. But holy my goodness there are a lot of variations of white! I went to the store with the intention of buying plain paint and was assaulted with at least 100 different shades. Our hardware store really isn’t even that big.

I am aware, however, that when faced with decisions like this I can take several years to reach a verdict, so I limited my exposure and went with the first thing that caught my eye. It’s a rich, creamy sort of white and 2 coats on primer did the trick, sanding between each. It happens to be called ‘Finer Things’, which makes Little Yellow feel fancy 😀


24 responses »

  1. Wish I had known (last month) that you were interested in tung oil, I had almost 4 gallons I would have given to you.

  2. Ella,
    Glad you returned it and got the real deal. We love our floors and they are ewp as well. See www,realmilkpaint.com. for tung oil and boiled linseed oil, they were the cheapest and packed with hints. I would suggest using boiled linseed oil and min spirits for the walls if you want them sealed. We mixed it one part linseed to 2 parts min spirits. Yor place is looking great!

      • yes, the ms cuts it down and evaporates (saves on cost,too). you can also use turpentine it’s very expensive, though. do not use paint thinner or substitutes– it makes an emulsion that doesn’t mix- we learned hard way. check out website or google search boiled linseed oil– tons of forums on its use

  3. If you need to refinish anything else, there’s a great company that makes a oil finish that’s part beeswax and boiled linseed oil. Now if I could just remember the name… 🙂 It’s in New York…argh…

  4. Wow thanks for sharing! I’ve been very interested in tung oil for some time now but hadn’t seen it in use by anyone and there’s only that mucked up Fomby’s crud at my hardware store with lots of bad stuff in it. I have been loving your wood interior! I really like how you just painted over the wood on the triangle without drywall or anything 🙂

  5. Ella, it’s so cool to see your interior coming together! The house is looking beautiful. Will the walls be white, as well? I want to have painted walls and a wood ceiling, haven’t decided on materials yet though…. I love Doug Fir but it’s so pricey! Is your wood paneling 3/4″?

    • I’m pretty sure I’m going to make the walls white, but I do change my mind from one moment to the next on these sorts of things.

      My wall/ceiling paneling is all 1/4″ T&G pine from Lowes. The good part is that it’s light and relatively inexpensive (about $10 for a pack of six 8 footers) but with thicker wood you’d have the benefit of being able to nail into anywhere you fancied.

      It’s so nice to finally be able to do the interior homey stuff I’ve been looking forward to for so long!

      • I think the milk paint is a great suggestion…you can paint it white, but the grain of the wood will still be evident.

      • we-ve also mixed white latex paint with water to make stain. paint just seals up the wood too much. see the grain and let it breath.

  6. Hey Ella,
    Thanks to my fairly new obsession with tiny houses, I have stumbled upon your blog and have thus far been amazed at what an awesome job you’ve done so far! I am currently in the early process of planning to build my Fencl over the next year that I have off of school in WV. A few questions if you don’t mind:

    I noticed that you started in Sept of last year. Have you been working nonstop on it for the past 9 months? And is it just you and your Dad working on it? I’m deciding on how much help I should recruit. lol

    Secondly, what kind of overall price is this all costing you? Is it saving you a lot since you didn’t buy the material package? I’m assuming that you bought the full set of plans for ~$900 and that the workshop ticket was about $240.

    And finally, what made you decide on the Fencl? It seems so hard to choose between it and the other few 117 square foot designs.

    I’ll be following your blog from now on for inspiration. Any advice that you can provide will surely be appreciated. Your blog and your article in Yes! Magazine was pretty inspiring, and now I am bubbling with excitement to get started 🙂

    • When I started in September, work was based around my stepdad’s schedule as I hadn’t a CLUE what was up; mostly weekends with a few intermittent extra days off. Progress wise it was soooo slow, I swear it felt like nothing was happening at all. There was also some pretty bad weather and my dad’s 7:00pm bedtime…

      Aside from the electricity and plumbing (my wonderful neighbour is doing these) it’s just been the 2 of us. I really needed his help to get a handle on everything, but he’s barely worked on the house since January after the shell and roof went up.

      It’s been a while since I’ve updated my costs, but I’d figure I’m about $16,000 in right now. At the time I got them, the workshop tickets were a bit cheaper since I bought the plans at the same time. If you’re considering getting plans and you have any thoughts of changing or making your own interior plans, I suggest getting just the framing plans from Tumbleweed; I honestly haven’t looked at them once since the last of the roof sheathing went on. Just a thought for saving a little money. All in all, I hope to make it out under $18,000 which is about $5,000 cheaper than the estimated cost of a Fencl on the website.

      I think that having at least one other person who is really invested in the project is a very good thing. In the framing/shell/roof stage, it would have been impossible for me to have done it myself. It’s also invaluable to have someone else to bounce ideas off of who already knows what’s going on. I keep trying to tell my sisters ideas I have but they really haven’t been much involved so I end up talking myself in circles.

      The big front windows on the Fencl had me sold on that design instantly. My dad used to tell stories of his family’s window seat and how he used to read in it, and I’ve been in love with the thought ever since. It’s always so exciting to hear of others who are getting ready to build their own little homes!!! Thanks for taking the time to read of my adventures 😀

      • Yeah me too! I am living in the prairies right now but I want to move back to the coast. Something about small houses and coastal life go really well together. Have you ever been to Vancouver island?

  7. Ella,

    By the end of this experience, you will be a bona fide expert! The palace looks fantastic!! Such a great inspiration and have I ever mentioned, you should be a writer??! lol. (You are!) Great job. T.

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