Refinishing Red Oak flooring

Well,
I finally went and sanded inside the closet of my 40+ year old home to refinish my solid oak floors. It's a red oak, pretty thin - I think 3/8" , and it is in a lot of home around here, I believe.
Here is SE Pennsylvania.
It looks pretty bad. First of all the floor boards were all top nailed, so when I sanded down, and then urethaned, the nail holes became quite black. It's the closet, so no one will see, but I'll need a better solution for the rest of the floor.
I have two choices, I reckon. Either I sand down and use a stain & varnish all in one, or I just buff out.
If I stain first, it will have to be dark, so that the nail holes, and any other cracks aren't as noticeable.
If I buff out, I guess that *would* be easier, but -- I don't own a buffer.....
Just a little disappointed in the finished look.
Does anyone know what I could do to make it look better? Go over all the nail heads with some wood putty? Rub some kind of glaze on top before urethane?
Thanks for listening...
mr. curious
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I have the same type of flooring in one of the houses. Its actually between 3/16" to 1/4". I've seen my neighbor finished his and it looks like crap where you see all those little black holes and doesn't go with his high end kitchen. I'm not saying it couldn't be done to make look new but I rather just put in a nice laminate flooring over it and be done with it.
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<snip>

Of course laying another floor is a possibility as well. I'd have to rip off the molding, and then worry about floor levels, but dollars and cents probably not much different.
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Rip off molding is no big deal - I'm on my third house. Level the floor you need to do regardless, don't you? In my area, refinishing is much cheaper than a new floor - new floor cost about 3x or you could go much, much more. I went with laminate and install it myself for a little more than a contractor charge me for refinishing. I could refinishing it myself as well but it would take longer than laying a laminate and doesn't look as well as its done by a pro.
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If you have enough thickness left on the floors, I'd fill nail holes with red oak filler, sand again, stain (even with minwax "natural" color stain--it is SO worth it on oak because the grain of oak is so wonderful. IMO, just poly-ing oak without stain is a tremendous disservice to the wood's look), and then your 3 coats of preferably oil-based polyurethane with a fine sand in between each. If you are short on time and want lower odor, and still want a rugged finish, try Street Shoe brand stuff--very tough, but pricey. http://www.goldenstateflooring.com/finishes.php/basiccoatings/0/streetshoe
Good luck!
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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http://www.goldenstateflooring.com/finishes.php/basiccoatings/0/streetshoe
I thought Street Shoe was very difficult to apply. What was your experience?
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I used oil-based myself.
The pros I interviewed before I decided to try it myself recommended the Street Shoe product as a very tough finish without the downsides, odor and cleanup issues of oil-based poly, so I really can't speak to application issues I'm afraid.
I was dealing with a house I wasn't living in, so the odor wasn't a downside, and the cost savings and ending up with a tougher finish had me go the oil route.
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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Sounds like you used waterbased finish and the water reacted with the tannins in the oak and stained the wood black. Oxalic acid will neutralize the black stain then oil based finish can be used. Oil smells and takes longer to dry though. I'd try nail set and filler for the holes after oxalic acid treatment. Paint store typically has wood bleach that is oxalic acid, check the label.
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 17:20:22 -0400, "ng_reader"

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I reckon you have a point there, bob.
The floors were originally finished 40 years ago, so I would have suspected oil. But, the builder did it not me, or the original homeowner.
Sort off odd, in that as soon as they laid the wood floor in the foyer they quickly went over it with linoleum tile. They were using the hard wood floor to make and record measurements on, funny.
But, to your point, something changed the color of the wood. Could have just been oxidation from the metal nails, perhaps not nec the finish.
I do like the look of oak, and would like to keep it.
L8r Ted
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