Choosing The Correct Grit Sandpaper And Stain For Red Oak Hardwood Flooring


Purchased your How to’s for refinishing hardwood floors. I installed red oak wood flooring in 3 different rooms (physically challenging) but I am absolutely tickled at the outcome. I have come this far and want to “finish” the job myself. Thought about hiring a pro, but want to complete this myself.

After researching this and talking to a number of folks, I found your articles. They were well worth the $$$$. One question did arise, any guidelines to use in the amount of sandpaper to get. Was hoping to find a guide like 5 sheets of each grade for a 12x 12 room or something like that.

My wife wants a cherry stain (the oak floors in the rest of the house that had hardwoods were done with on a red oak floor. Can you suggest which stain and finish you would use on red oak ? I have 3 teenagers and 2 dogs!

Thanks for the great articles.



Dear Ken

Thanks for the compliment, and for your feed back, it’s much welcomed. As to how much sandpaper to buy, I didn’t write about that because every floor (new or old) is different. In your case, a sheet of 36 grit should last about 200-300 square feet. You can tell when the paper is wearing out when you have to really push the machine to remove the “over-wood” on the newly installed floor. And generally speaking the finer grits will all go about as far. But buy more paper than you need . I’m sure they allow you to return unused sandpaper.

Be sure to sand with 36,60 (slowly as to take the coarse marks out) and then 80 and finally 100 or 120. Like I said in the article I don’t buy the really fine paper preferring to burnish the 80 on the running machine. Nice Trick.

As to the stains, the easiest to use are the Minwax wood stain, especially for a light color like cherry. But, I still say to hire the pro to follow my sanding instructions, he’s got the better machines. But most certainly do all the finishing of the floor yourself, that’s the fun part anyway. If you think that the installation was tough, you will find the sanding about 10 times more difficult. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Oh, and as to the finish, for sure 3 coats of oil poly applied just as I said in the article. Don’t be tempted by the new industrial water based finishes (Street Shoe, Traffic) they will make your floor look like plastic. And all the water based finishes last only about 10 years before they turn opaque. I will do an extensive article on this very subject sometime this year. I’ve been talking to industrial chemists and art restorers, about the whitening of water based finishes. Big Problems. Hidden from the public.

For now I would say the brand of oil poly that I mention in the article has held up well in my household with the same sort of use (that your mention) for about 22 years now. Not bad.