My wife and I are remodeling our home and we're almost ready to do the flooring, we want the rustic and antique look of wide plank hardwood, top/face nailed completely, not tongue and groove. We're considering getting the wood from a local saw mill, is this a good idea? we'd sand and stain it ourselves, but what is the best finish to put on it to protect the wood from denting, scratching and basically wearing down fast?
Stain it. Then, two or three coats of poly or if you can afford it, one of the new hybrid nano tech urethane finishes would be an excellent choice. My floor guy lays down a high gloss layer first and then usually puts two coats of satin over that since most do not like the high gloss look.
Are you sure you really want to top nail flooring? I think this will come back to haunt in a very short time as the nails pop up and catch your feet at the very least. At least screw it into countersunk holes and fill them? Even then...
Why are you opposed to T&G? And side nailing it like you would any other flooring?
Your other option, which would work out better, would be to get wide plank flooring in floating floor form?