Finessing a dumb idea; question

Howdy,
Lots of experts here; never seen anyone here as neophyte as I am, so this ought to be an easy one <g>
Love woodworking, but I'm disabled so most of my work is done while I'm on my butt or one one of the occasional "good" days I get.
My problem: Our LR floor looks like an old school gymnasium floor that's been ignored for a century and a half while the neighborhood kids and wildlife used it for their playtimes. Oh, and the occasional spill & cat, uh, "stuff".
I know HOW and WHATto do. Well, almost, anyway. My main problem is that it takes a -long- time for me to do things. Since I would like to refinish the floor as opposed to painting it, I get the problem of having it lying in mid-conditioned/stained/poly'd/waxed states for relatively long periods of time. Most areas I can put a sofa or something over to protect for the durations, but ... well, that won't work for the whole area. DW just won't allow it, plus occasionally I need to pass a wheelchair thru the room. The specific question:
Is there a way to cover/protect the floor while it's "in process"? Particularly pre-stain and post-stain. People would have to be able to walk over it. There is no other passage in the house to use, so the LR must be crossed. The only thing I can think of is to put down one of those big blue tarps sold everywhere for a few bucks, but I don't know what damage they might cause to stained areas after a few days of traffic - if damage is an issue, which I feel sure it must be. Do those tarps mark or distress a bare wood or wood stains? All stains, finishes etc. would be oil - no water base.
Before anyone asks, yes, I know the pitfalls of lap marks, aging effects and shade issues of differing drying durations, etc.. The boards are 2 1/2" wide so I should be able to use board edges and a little 6-day masking tape for transitions. The wood itself is actually in good shape, so I think as long as I want a dark stain, sanding will be rather easy to accomplish, and maybe a little work on some small-area discolorations. It had carpet over it for about a hundred years.
Any & all polite or humorous ideas accepted with cheer and/or gratitude.
Thanks
Pop Rivet
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Been there done that.
As you suspect, It's not a very good job for piecemeal work. Seriously, can you send the family away for a long weekend? It can be done, start to finish in 3 days.
Tape and plastic all the doors, or the dust from sanding will get **everywhere**. Between coats lightly sand (to remove nibs), vac, vac again, then maybe vac again. then wipe *everything* down with adampened cloth to tack up the remaining dust. dust is the enemy.
The dust is so much of a problem that you DO NOT WANT to do this bit by bit.
I know, it's specifically what you asked to no hear but....
-s

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I don't have an answer to your problem, but why stain at all? Sand it down as good as possible, and finish it. The worn rustic look is really pretty nice. I put down some Used maple in a bedroom, sanded it, finished it, and it looks beautiful. It has character! I don't think clear finish will show lap marks as much as lapping stain. Just my opinion.
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wrote:
snip

snip
rosin paper.
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I was afraid I'd get responses like that: In fact, that's what I'd probably tell anyone that asked that question too. Looks like back to the drawing boards; I originally thought about carpet with a painted perimeter, so ... who knows? Wonder what my nephews are doing next weekend? Then wifey & I could both go away for a weekend & have a good excuse to do it!
Thanks, appreciate the comeback.
Pop

it
get
or
walk
tarps
issue,
and
tape
and
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<% } %>
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