This story shows how to stain or varnish a wood floor.
Finishing a wood floor requires a number of preparation steps, but the result is a wood floor with all its warmth and richness.
If you're planning to refinish an existing floor, pull up a floor register to make sure you have enough wood for another sanding. Standard hardwood strip flooring can be sanded several times, but if your floor is only slightly more than 1/2 inch thick, consult a professional. The same goes for engineered flooring. It can be refinished, but its top layer is quite thin.
Take inventory of the existing floor and mark and repair popped nails and damaged areas. Because depressions in an old floor are inevitable, they'll show up as you're sanding them. Mark them so you can resand them if necessary.
Even if your floor is brand new and unfinished, it will require sanding and preparation. In almost all cases it's easier to use a pad sander rather than a drum sander.
2 to 4 days, depending on conditions and size of the floor and your skills and experience
Pry bar, putty knife, hammer, pad sander, random orbit sander, vacuum, finish applicator, paintbrush
Preparing, sanding, and finishing wood
Finishing nails, wood putty, stain, sandpaper, varnish
Rough-cutting the floor will leave the edges slightly higher than the main body of the floor. To even out this difference in floor levels, scrape down the edges so they're level with the sanded surface. Change blades often and pull the scraper toward you with firm pressure on the wood.
Drum sanders require a specific technique to produce a smooth surface. Start about two-thirds of the way along the length of one wall and sand with the grain, pulling the sander towards you. Then, push the sander forward and overlap its next path slightly. After sanding the section turn the sander around and repeat the process.
Stain the floor (optional) with a rag or the applicator recommended, removing the excess if required. Let the stain dry. Using a lamb's wool or other suitable applicator, apply the finish coats, letting each coat dry. Scuff-sand and vacuum each dry coat before applying the next one.