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Victorian Floorboard Restoration with Osmo Oil Polyx Raw

Osmo Oil Polyx Raw Review

I haven't shared any progress of the dining room for months now. Truth be told, we've done loads - but it's also been a room that's been piled high with storage for a very very long time. It's a constant battle; renovating, cleaning and finding homes for the bazillion bits of materials we have leftover. And this room, well - let's just say, it's suffered!

But anyway - today I'm sharing a little flooring update in here. Despite our kitchen and dining now being open plan, we decided to go for separate flooring in both these areas. Our kitchen has beautiful limestone tiles on the floor (full blog post on that here!) but in the dining room, we decided to keep the original floorboards exposed. This decision behind this was based partly on budget (we couldn't afford THAT much limestone!) and also partly because I couldn't really bare to cover up the victorian floorboards, particularly when they're in such great knick for a 100+ year old floor!

Over the last 18 months, this room has undergone some intense work. A lot of dust. A fair few falling bricks, many dirty boots, mucky paws, splashes of paint, filler, plaster, you name it. The floor, which was in good condition, turned into absolute filth! So it still needed a lot of TLC.

Sanding Floorboards by Hand

And by TLC I mean they needed one hell of a sand! I love floorboards that have a sense of age and character to them, so I was really keen not to sand them right back entirely. We even have some lovely little details on the floor that show where an old wall/door opening would have been and I absolutely love that! I really think it helps to tell a story about the house and how it was once used, and it also shows the years of use the floor has undergone. A perfectly sanded pristine new-looking floor just wasn't the feel I wanted for this room. After all, we've kept the wobbly ceilings and original lime-plasterered walls - so it just made sense to have a rustic aged floor too.

In order to actually keep the floorboards with this kind of character, a professional floor sanding machine is just too harsh for it. Those machines are really very rough on the floor and they literally strip the floor right back to clean brand new looking wood. Which is great if that's what you're after,  but as I said, I wanted something a bit more rustic. So instead, I'll be sanding with a handheld sander! It takes much longer yes, BUT it saves you a ton of money and I personally prefer the look of floorboards when it's done this way. I've actually written a post before comparing the look of floorboards when using these two different methods, which you can read right here. But here's a quick look at our upstairs floor, which is a similar look to what we're hoping to achieve downstairs too...

Rustic Floorboards

As I said, we've done this in a couple of rooms already - but these were quite small in size, so I managed to get away just using a sanding attachment on a multi-tool. However this room is pretty big, so a small multi-tool sander just wasn't going to cut it, unless I wanted to lose weeks of my life that is. So instead I purchased a very cheap belt sander, which is basically a much smaller and less powerful equivalent to a professional floor sanding machine. It means you can still achieve that perfect clean wood look, if you want to, you'll just need to spend a bit more time sanding.

The sander I purchased was this one at just £35 (on offer at the time!) from Screwfix. It's a much much cheaper option to buy a belt sander than hire one - which would cost around £20 per day (jeeeeeez!). It's not the most powerful, or best one on the market - but it does do the job! I have to apologise now for the lack of progress photos - these are all from Grants phone and as I've mentioned previously, I've somehow managed to lose all my own photos from January-May - gah! 😞

Using a belt sander on floorboards

I always start off with a lower grit (which is coarser paper) and move through the boards quite quickly. The slower you go, the more you'll take off. I was keen to get a smooth enough finish, so we don't have to worry about getting splinters, but not so much that all the characterful dints and grooves had been removed. If that makes sense? Basically - I was happy to leave a bit of grub behind on the boards!

how to sand floorboards cheaply
sanding back victorian floorboards

You want to make sure you're sanding along the grain and with the board. You'll probably find some areas require a bit more work than others and if you have slightly curved boards, you'll also find the edges won't sand very well. For this, I recommend going over with a smaller multi-tool attachment, or even a mouse sander, which is small enough to tilt slightly at an angle. You'll also require a smaller sander or multi-tool to get right into the edges of the boards against the skirting, as the belt sander is just too big to get that close. If you've removed the skirting boards of course, this won't be an issue. The smaller sanders are much less powerful, so be prepared to spend a little longer on areas when using these!

I also HIGHLY recommend buying a DIY-hoover that you can attach to the sander. Literally, it will change your life and you'll have absolutely no dust to clear up. No dusty walls, no dust ingrained into your sofa, no dust in pesky hard to clean cracks, yep - absolutely none! We've had ours for years now and I cannot recommend it enough. If you want to read a review about the one we have, you can check that out right here.

sanding floorboards but keeping character

Once you've got most of the muck off, you can then go over with a finer grit sandpaper. This is pretty essential to remove any sanding marks the coarser one has left behind. If you don't remove these and stain the floor with a tint, these really do show up and really don't look great. In fact I would say, this part is the most important!

DIY sanding floorboards

It took me about 2 days to do the whole room, so it was relatively quick considering this room is pretty big - but I have to admit; my knees and back were definitely aching by the second day! I recommend knee pads and lots of rest afterwards for sure. Hopefully you can see how a bit of muck and keeping those imperfections help to add character and that rustic-effect we're looking for.

Rustic Victorian Floorboards

After a few days of rest, I then had to decide what to use on the boards to protect them. I know some people are happy to leave the boards untreated, but when you have two dogs with mucky paws from the garden, I really don't think this is such a good idea. Treating the boards makes them water resistant, easier to clean, and less likely to be damaged or stained by liquids. Basically for a downstairs heavy-usage room, I personally think it's a must!

I've heard a lot about the brand Osmo, so I decided to give their products a whirl. They basically offer a unique product that combines Oil and Wax and it also allows the wood to 'breathe'. It most certainly is not the cheapest on the market, but with everything I've heard about it - I just had to give it a go! The reason I didn't use the same stuff I had used upstairs was because I wanted to keep these boards a bit lighter in colour.

Osmo Oil Polyx Raw


Osmo have a whole load of tints and different finishes, but the one I went for is the Polyx Raw. This is basically meant to leave the floor looking untreated and it claims to be "almost transparent". If you're unsure on which tin to go for - I recommend getting some samples beforehand. I actually sampled their 'Clear' version which pretty much turned the floor orange - so I'm pretty glad I didn't just go straight in with a purchase of that!

The tin said you could simply apply by brush, so that's exactly what I did, making sure to really work it into the board and not over-apply - which is never a good thing when it comes to wax.

Transparent floor waxOsmo Oil Polyx Raw on FloorboardsHow to apply Osmo Oil

I have to be honest after the first coat, I was super disappointed. It seemed to have left a white milky film in patches over the board and it most definitely was not "transparent". I researched reviews online and found a few other people had had the same issues - it would seem this product isn't the best when it comes to dark floors or dark patches on the floor. Obviously I had left some darker areas where I hadn't fully sanded the floors to perfection and it was these areas that just didn't look great. It wasn't bad enough to show up on photo really and it definitely wasn't awful, but it just made me think the floor looked as if it needed mopping in places. You can very slightly see the white patches in this pic..

Osmo Oil Raw leaving white patches

I left the floor unfinished for quite some time before deciding to go back over and give the floor a light sand (yes - I sanded it AGAIN 😩) and try again - this time rubbing the oil into the floor, so I could apply even less product. And this actually seemed to work! I had to give the floor a couple more coats than the tin recommended, but there was definitely little to no white hue across the boards. Winning!

Treating Victorian Floorboards
How to keep floorboards looking untreated

I will say this - it definitely is not transparent, as you can see! The boards were originally quite light and more yellow-y tones and now they are definitely a darker tinge and look more woody. It's not drastic or huge, but it just definitely isn't transparent. Although that being said - I do think the boards still look untreated. The oil is very matt, so it's not obvious at all that they have a coat over them, they just appear to be a slightly darker wood.

Victorian Floorboards in Osmo Raw
Rustic Characterful Floorboards

Overall, I am really pleased - you can still see those little imperfections that I loved and the boards as I say, don't look treated. We've also had a few spillages already and I can definitely say the oil wax actually works too. Which is really the most important thing! I would definitely use the oil again, but I'll be sticking to the rubbing technique personally! I should also mention that I barely used any of the 2.5L tin I purchased, so a little really does go a long way, which is REALLY GOOD considering how expensive it is. In hindsight, a smaller tin would have been plenty - but then again, I now have enough to do the whole house - literally! So here's a couple of before and afters to finish up...

Before

before and after floorboardsfloorboards in dining room

After

Osmo Oil Raw ReviewTransparent Floor Treatment

In regards to cleaning the boards - because I'm pretty sure I'll get asked, I use a steam mop on the lightest 'dust' setting. I was a little worried the steam mop may end up melting the wax or something horrifying so I certainly haven't braved it on the max setting, but a very gentle setting of steam mopping seems to do the job fairly well anyway!

I'd love to know what you think. Do you prefer a beaten-up looking floor, or something a bit more fresh and new?

Floorboard restoration DIY

Total Costs:

(rounded to the nearest pound)


New Tools Purchased:
Belt Sander £35

Materials Used:
Sanding Sheets £36
Osmo Oil £73

Total: £144



1 comment

  1. They look lovely! You've had a lot more success with your floors than I have, I like Osmo too, but its just not quite right for the bleached out look I'm going for on my old pine.

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