My oldest son moved out a couple of weeks back and we let him take the sleeper sofa that has been in our living room for 20 years. We wanted something bigger and he could use the sleeper if he has guests. This also meant that for the first time since we moved in, we could think really hard about refinishing the floor.
With the new couch on the way, my wife and I decided to make the effort. These floors were installed in 1973 and they were looking a little rough. I have two orbital sanders, but only one vacuum so we took turns sanding, mainly with 120 grit paper.
This house has only had air conditioning since we moved in, so that means there was over 20 years of humidity causing the oak floors to expand and then shrink again in the winter. There were a lot of gaps. some of them 1/4″ wide. Wide enough to snag a sock and rip off a large splinter when you walked by. I filled the worst of those gaps, in the high traffic areas, with Timbermate wood filler I used red oak and white oak color to try to match the different tones of the wood. The red oak looked better in the end.
When I went to the store to get some oil-based floor polyurethane, they only carried water-based. So I picked up a new product offered by Minwax, Water-based, oil modified polyurethane. I was skeptical but whatever they do to infuse oil into the mix seems to impart the warm tones usually associated with oil-based poly. The benefit was that it dried in two hours and there were minimal fumes.
I did two coats the first night and one more the next day, sanding with 320 grit paper in between each coat.
We stopped at the hallway, you can see the color difference between the cleaner, refinished area, but the poly blended well. It actually went on so easily that my wife wants to work our way down the hall and continue to refinish the rest of the main level, one room at a time.
I was pretty happy with the outcome, especially since we did it in two days. The couch was delivered the next day and the floors were hard enough to install it without any problem.