I'm about to start refinishing the floors in my new house. I am having a terrible time figuring out what finish to go with. The floors are red oak, mostly center cut, and about 60 yrs old. The do not appear to have ever been refinished, but are in decent shape. There are a few areas where the finish has worn through in high traffic areas, but it doesn't look like there's much, if any staining. Also, the combined area of the wood floors to be refinished is ~1000sq. ft.
Ok, now the details are out of the way. My basic options are water born, or oil modified urethanes. I'd prefer to go with water born, as I like the clear finish, and I've heard that oil based finishes smell for quite a while.
There are a few things I don't understand yet though.
1.With water borne finishes, do I need to apply a sealer first to prevent the wood grain from rising?
2.Also how many coats will I need to apply. With a new house, the budget is getting stretched thin, so I need to get a good idea of cost.
3.Will any sanding be required between coats? I'd like to avoid this, because the rental price for the sander is not cheap.
Prices of water born finishes seems pretty high in comparison with oil based finishes. The low end seems to be in the $50/gal range. I could use some recommendations on low cost, quality finishes. At $50/gal, giving 500sq ft/gal, 1000sq ft of floor, and 3 coats, I'm looking at ~$300 for finish alone. Is this right?
I'm not counting out oil based finishes. They seem to be about half the price of water born finishes. In fact I've found oil modified urethane as low as $100/5 gal. I don't want to base what finish I use on cost alone. But if anyone could recommend a decent quality oil based finish with an attractive price, I might go down that road.
Thanks in advance for any help,