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Interior

How to give your floors that nordic look

August 28, 2013
2013-08-01-11.04

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

Are you dreaming of lush, light Nordic floors at home just like the ones you see in Scandinavian homes? Look no further, because her is as promised my step by step guide to stain your hardwood floors with white oil and create that Nordic feeling in your home.

Before we start I must warn you, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but once done they are very easy to keep. I first did this to the floors of my old home four years ago. Before that they were stained with white soap, which looks kind of similar, but takes a lot of effort to keep in my experience.

OK, let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves of the look we are going for.
DIY-guide to lush Scandi floorsDIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

Ah, yes. Let’s begin!

This is what you need:

1 // sander (you can do without this one if you don’t have one)
2 // pads for the sander
3 // pad for the doodle bug (that I forgot to include in this photo – see photo 7)
4 // paint brush – the bigger the better! (get a good quality one otherwise the hairs will fall out and get stuck in the oil)
5 // floor oil – comes in neutral and (extra) white. I used this one in extra white
6 // turpentine – to clean the tools with
7 // wood cleaner/stripper
8 // scrubbing-brush
9 // special cloths for polishing

Also a few thick regular floor cloths and rubber gloves – unless you want your hands to get that Nordic look too!

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

This is what you do:

First you need to look at your wood floor. What kind of surface does it have? If it is varnished, you need to sand it down before you begin. If you are starting with a raw wood floor, like I did, you need to scrub it down – and I don’t mean just washing it. You need to strip the wood completely of all the soap, products and dust it has ever seen. This is where no. 7 & 8 come in.

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

 Step 1

Mix a big bucket of wood cleaner and water (follow the instructions on the bottle to get the right dosage). And fill two other buckets with fresh clean water. This is a two persons job – one will do the scrubbing, the other will get fresh, clean water (which you will need constantly). Make sure you have a few thick floor cloths in your reach. Now this is dirty and hard work! So take turns being the one who does the scrubbing and the one who gets clean water.

Use a floor cloth to wet a portion of the floor (4-5 floorboards if they are wide like mine – a few more if they are smaller). This is where you get down on your knees and start scrubbing. And I mean scrubbing! When you see the amounts of dirt that has been hiding in your floors, you will be shocked!
DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

 

See? I’m not kidding. Now the trick is to always scrub in the same direction as the veins in the wood. Use the other floor cloth to soak op the dirt and dirty water and rinse with the clean water. A bucket of clean water wont be clean for long, so this is why you need a helper to constantly change the water in the buckets.

When the portion of floor boars you are working on are done, wash them with fresh clean water and then move on to the next portion. Continue till the whole floor is done.

The floor will need 24 hours to dry – don’t walk on it untill completely dry or you will leave footmarks.

24 hours later, you have a clean, dry floor ready to be oiled. If there are any marks that you couldn’t remove use a piece of soft sandpaper to get rid of it.

Step 2

Vacuum the floor. You want a completely clean and even surface to work with.

Step 3

Let the oiling begin! You want to shake that bottle of oil real good to make sure it is properly mixed before you begin. Get a disposable cup (wide enough to stick your brush in it) and pour some oil in that. Start in the far corner of the room. You want to paint a nice thick layer of oil on a portion of the floor – one floor board at a time. Keep going til you have covered about 5 floorboards (or an area small enough so that you can reach the board farthest away from you while never stepping on the boards with oil on). Again you want to follow the veins of the wood and go one board at a time.

Let is soak for about 15-20 min meanwhile you keep applying more and more oil to the dry spots, where the oil has completely soaked into the wood. If this keeps happening again and again, keep applying and let it soak for a bit longer.

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

Step 4

Time to rub it in. When you are done you will have saved yourself 3-4 trips to the gym, as this is a great workout for your arms. If you have a sander attach the special pads to it and start rubbing the oil in. If you don’t have a sander, use the doodlebug instead. Honestly we used the doodlebug for the most part, as you have more control with this in hand and it is easier on your back as you can stand up while doing it as opposed to being on your knees with the sander in your hands.

Keep going till the oil is rubbed in evenly all over the portion you are working on.

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

Step 5

Get out the special cloths for polishing. Cut them into smaller pieces and start polishing the floor. You want to use nice, round, even strokes. Make sure you don’t leave any wet spots or puddles of oil anywhere.

This portion is now done – repeat the whole procedure on the next portion. Keep going untill the whole floor is done. This is important – do NOT step on the floor once oiled.

Step 6

As soon as you are done, clean the paint brush in turpentine. Make sure to collect all the cloths, pads etc. with oil on and soak them in water.
Warning: The cloths can ignite, so make sure to soak them in plenty of water and keep them in a metal tin or the likes untill you can dispose of them in the proper manner.

Step 7

Let is dry for 24 hours. Make sure to let in fresh air as the oil have a very distinctive smell. Do NOT step on it at all for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours you can walk on the floor in bare feet. It will need 7 days to cure before you can walk on it in shoes. Also don’t drag any furniture across the floor for the first 7 days or it will leave marks. If you want to move in the furniture before the 7 days have passed, make sure to leave a piece of plastic or coarse paper between the floor and the furniture.

This is the look you will end up with. Same floor – hard to believe right?

DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

 Maintenance

In my experience, oiled floors are easy to keep. Note that I don’t have any pets and never wear shoes indoors. If you do have pets you might need to wash them a bit more often. You want to wash them with oilsoap – this is a soap that will clean your floor and at the same time add a little bit of extra oil to make up for wear and tear. I use this one, but there are other brands on the market.

My favourite thing about oil is that it adds a sort of membrane to the wood, so that if you spill something (let’s face it – who doesn’t?!) it will be easy to clean up as opposed to floors stained with white soap. Also when done properly, the oil will add a satin finish to the floor, that white soap doesn’t.

I did this to the floors of my old home and this is what they looked like fours years later, when I moved out:
DIY-guide to lush Scandi floors via that nordic feeling

As long as you take good care of them, you won’t have to redo them in my experience. But if you do, I know there is a brush up oil on the marked, which doesn’t take as much effort as the original layer.

Be warned that it will take a lot of effort, but it is so worth it afterwards. I hope this guide will answer all your questions. If something isn’t clear or you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

If you go on to oil your floors after reading this guide, I would be very happy if you will come back and let me know. As I said in this post, this is one of the questions I get asked the most on both Instagram and the blog. So I hope this will be helpful. I know a few of you have waited for this – all across from Australia to the UK. I hope you will keep me posted.

Happy oiling my dears!
x Rikke

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33 Comments

  • Reply Belinda August 31, 2013 at 15:12

    THANK you for this!! I was dying to know how how you did it! I don’t think we have an oil here (there is something they use on engineered floors but the company never responded to my questions about using it on pine). I ended up trying something else – I’m happy with the way it turned out, hopefully it will wear ok. Thanks again x

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke September 2, 2013 at 16:19

      You are very welcome. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, I appreciate it. Glad you found a way that works for you. If you ever need to redo your floors, maybe the oil can be sourced from Denmark, if your local hardware store or DIY centre can’t supply it.

      Rikke x

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  • Reply Mariska January 6, 2015 at 20:41

    Hi! Can I ask you what kind of floor you have? Pine? New? I really love this look!

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke January 6, 2015 at 20:47

      The original 100 year old pine floors.

  • Reply molly adams January 7, 2015 at 20:35

    could i stencil over this finish, please? any advice is welcome. i have unfinished wide plank pine floors in my kitchen and would love a background color like your floors. thanks!

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke January 7, 2015 at 23:15

      I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you mean with stencil?

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  • Reply Alyce January 25, 2015 at 12:33

    Hi Rikke,
    Do you think this process would work on a ‘pine like wood’ bar stool?
    Thank you!
    Alyce

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke January 25, 2015 at 13:33

      Hi Alyce.
      Is it hard wood? If yes, I think you’ll be fine.
      Good luck x
      Best, Rikke

  • Reply madison June 3, 2015 at 21:38

    I have DARK wood floors. Any clue if it would lighten this much?

    Thanks

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke June 3, 2015 at 21:47

      I have no experience with dark wood, I’m afraid.

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  • Reply Jane turnbull September 18, 2015 at 20:59

    Hi
    I love your step by step instructions – very clear and easy to follow. My floors Re engineered oak but what I would like to know if you think it would be practical to use this method on a bare wood table top?

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke September 27, 2015 at 18:05

      Absolutely – that will work too as long as it is hard wood and not just veneer :)

      Good luck x

  • Reply Danae October 15, 2015 at 04:52

    The link to the oill is broken. Can you please give me the name and brand of it? Thank you

    • Rikke
      Reply Rikke October 27, 2015 at 09:03

      I’ve updated all the links :)

  • Reply Priya Mani January 4, 2016 at 10:27

    Hi Rikke, I have just moved into an apartment in Østerbro where the whole apartment has a white-ish look on the floor from the original 100 year old pine. But we made a new room and the floors there were sanded. The contractor used hvid sæbe (Trip Trap) 3 times but the result has been very patchy and bad. Really bad. And he doesnt seem to care.

    The earlier owners seem to have used hvid sæbe as well since there was a half used box of it when we took over. However when I wiped the floors the day we moved in, the old floors felt smooth and the colouring looked as if it had seeped into the wood. Ofcourse the water turned a bit white (perhaps from a recent hvid sæbe wash)?

    My big problem is how do I achieve this uniform look in the new room we have made? Should I do a hvidolie treatment first? Is this the same as ludbehandling? Can I use the hvid sæbe after the floor has been treated with hvidolie?

    Sorry to ask so many questions, but I cant seem to find reasonable explanations in English :)

    My husband and I have been working on renovating the apartment with a lot of attention to historic details from the building’s construction period. We would hate to screw up the floor !!

    Regards

    Priya

    • Rikke • that nordic feeling
      Reply Rikke • that nordic feeling January 14, 2016 at 09:24

      Hi Priya!

      First of all congrats on the apartment :)
      Hvid sæbe (white soap), lud and white oil are three different things. Lud is a treatment you do once to stain the floors. They need to be freshly sanded for it to give it an even look. White oil is also a treatment you do – like I did in this post. White soap is a way of keeping the floors light by adding a new layer of white overtime you wash it. It’s the same you do with white oil soap to keep the oiled floors looking fresh.

      Now to your problem. It sounds like the floor needs to be sanded down first to get rid of all the old layers of treatment and dirt. From there you can go either with lud or white oil depending on the look you want to achieve.

      The other floors you mention could be either treated with lud og white oil. Done right both will have a silky feel to it. So I can’t tell you what to do.

      As I write in this post I have tried both. In my opinion white oil is always the best way to go – it is so much easier to keep afterwards.

      Good luck! Let me know what you do.
      Rikke x

  • Reply Harry February 1, 2016 at 00:23

    Hi Rikke,
    I have an pine ceiling put up sometime ago. It hasn’t been stained or treated and has a golden colour. Can I apply the white oil directly to this after wiping it down? And will it lighten up the timber or still show the golden colour? I was thinking of “liming” it but your applications seems a lot simpler.
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.
    Harry

    • Rikke • that nordic feeling
      Reply Rikke • that nordic feeling February 1, 2016 at 19:39

      You will need to get rid of the golden tone first – otherwise it will shine through. I would sand it down first. I have never heard anyone try this on a ceiling before! Good luck with the project, Harry.

  • Reply Thomas March 7, 2016 at 04:50

    Hi Rikke, can you share how much white oil you used per room? I’m wanting to do my whole house and it looks like I can only buy 2.4 liters at a time.

  • Reply Kalina April 10, 2016 at 18:46

    Hi Rikke. Thank you for your post, it has given me so much courage and inspiration to do my pine floors, at last. I already know a bit about it, as it’s been my dream to paint my floors white. My question is – if I want to paint them white (i.e. as you have it in your new kitchen), should I follow all the steps in THIS post and just put white paint at the end of the process or is there something extra i ought to do in between? Thank you in advance, hope my question isn’t too chaotic and you understood what i meant to ask :)
    Kind regards
    Kalina

    • Rikke • that nordic feeling
      Reply Rikke • that nordic feeling April 10, 2016 at 18:51

      Hi Kalina
      If you want to paint your floors, you don’t need to go through all this trouble. Just sand them down and paint them :)
      Good luck!
      Rikke

      • Reply Kalina April 10, 2016 at 23:31

        wow, I had no idea it was that simple, thank you! should i use any oil before or after painting them though?

        • Rikke • that nordic feeling
          Reply Rikke • that nordic feeling April 10, 2016 at 23:33

          No oil. Just make sure to use a good and suited floor paint.

          • Kalina April 24, 2016 at 19:21

            hi again! i’m about to buy everything i need – should i also buy a primer to put before painting? thanks in advance :)

  • Reply Louise April 12, 2016 at 14:42

    Hi Rikke, what product do you use to “top up”? I have white oiled floors and was a bit over-enthusiastic cleaning the area in front of the door. It had become dirty and I scrubbed it and seem to have removed the oil. Is to possible to “touch up” part of the floor without redoing the whole room?

  • Reply James Bergman June 16, 2016 at 18:29

    Thank you for going over all of the steps for putting this white oil on hardwood floors. I used to live in Sweden and I really like how much more natural this makes the floor look. I do think you answered all of my questions and I think you directions will be easy to follow. The only part I am not looking forward to is sanding and cleaning the old finish off of my floors. I don’t like that kind of work, dust and me don’t agree. However, I’m sure I can find someone willing to do this part for me. Thanks again!

    • Rikke • that nordic feeling
      Reply Rikke • that nordic feeling June 16, 2016 at 22:02

      Hi James. I know what you mean – I don’t like that part either, but once it’s done, you will be happy with it. Good luck with the project. I am glad to hear you found the post useful :)

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