Sanding And Finishing Wood Plank Floors


Hello, I have a 3 part question. My husband and I are renovating an 1865 victorian/farmhouse in the Adirondack mountains. After replacing the subfloor in 3 rooms we flipped over the tongue and groove 5 inch (pine?) floor boards and reinstalled them. The floor look great, we feel we have saved the integrity of the house along with LOTS of money. We now have to have them sanded and possibly stained and poly. Q1. There are some old nail holes on the planks that we do not intend to plug. Will this jepordize the final finish greatly ?Q2. In your opinion, do you feel pine flooring should be stained or left natural with a protective coating on it ?Q3. I am considering stencling a boarder around room. If I plan on using a stain should I stencil before or after the stain?

Thank you in advance for your help. Websites like this one make it possible for do it your selfers to try and make informed decisions.



Dear Sharalee

Be sure to read my short article on plank floors in the Hardwood Authority section. You may want to add some screws and pegs, as I suggest in this section. It will prevent warping and separation of the boards. As an alternative to this you can use steel cut nails at

If they are an Eastern white pine (like I have in one room) be sure to finish it with at last 4 coats of an oil modified polyurethane. The old holes will be fine, just allow enough time for each coat to dry. You can only tell if a coating is dry, when you scuff sand it, and the sandpaper or screen doesn’t clog up. If it clogs wait another 2 days, and be patient.

I believe the pine should be just clear finished, as this wood doesn’t have a good appearance when stained. But if stain you must, use a gel stain for sure, it will prevent blotching.

Apply at least two coats of finish on the floor before you stencil it. You will have to make sure all the stain, finish and paint are compatible with each other.

So here’s the order of things that will work best:

Sand the floor to 100 grit sandpaper, remove edger marks, and screen entire floor.

If you must stain try using the Old Masters gel stain from prod. #56Z28.55.

Then BRUSH on two coats of OMP (Fabulon Brand Pro Poly 800-263-8108). Don’t use a lamb’s wool applicator.

Then use Flecto colors in plastic for the stenciling at

Finish the job with 2 more coats of the OMP. Be sure you scuff between the coats of finish and paint, don’t scuff the stain.

You should certainly hire a professional floor sander to sand the floor. Be sure to read my article in the Hardwood Authority section, on this very subject. But with time and patience you should be able to do all the finishing yourself. I wouldn’t trust nice stenciling to most of the floormen I see out there. You will find that there is a lot of hand sanding and brush work involved for a good job. Most pros want to put their buffing machines on the floor, and this can whisk away parts of the stains and stencils, I know I’ve seen the results.

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.