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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. I've refinished around 2500 square feet of wood floors as a DIYer over the past several years and I think I have it down pretty well. However, I have a new challenge that I would appreciate some expertise on.

The 3rd floor of my house (circa 1918) was only sorta finished when I bought it, but the wood floors up there (3" white pine) were never finished. You can kinda see them in the attached picture. They definitely need a good sanding and poly, but one thing I noticed is that in the 100 years of sitting unfinished with intermittent light water damage from leaks in an old slate roof, the floor isn't as flat as it should be. I could just sand it smooth, but it also moves a little in some places and I'm worried that I'd have to take off a ton of material to get it flat since some boards are bowed, cupped, etc. Clearly, the right answer is to pull up the flooring and relay it with some spare boards I found, but this isn't possible due to time constraints.

So my question: does it make sense to simple face-nail the boards in at each joist to re-secure them all and make the floor as flat as possible before sanding? If so, what type and size of fastener do I use to minimize the appearance of face-nailing everything, and how can I make sure that the fasteners are deep enough that I can still drum sand the room without hitting the ends of the fasteners as I remove the wood surface? On the other hand, should I only face-nail the bad spots and then proceed? Is there a better option short of re-laying the floor?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you are going to use nails, use ring shanked nails in a nail gun otherwise use screws.
What holds better/longer? In the past when I've had to secure single boards, I used #8 trim screws (after pre-drilling) and sunk the heads. But I did this after sanding. In this case, I'm worried that it would be better to face-nail first, but when I use the drum sander after that, I'll expose the screw heads and mess up the drum sander/sand paper. Do you have any experience with doing this?
 

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If you face nail/screw prior to sanding you'll need to countersink the heads so they won't come in contact with the sandpaper. Matching putty to the stain after the first coat of poly can make the heads all but disappear. Screws hold better than nails.
 

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If you face nail/screw prior to sanding you'll need to countersink the heads so they won't come in contact with the sandpaper. Matching putty to the stain after the first coat of poly can make the heads all but disappear. Screws hold better than nails.
Thanks, this sounds like a great idea. I think I'll countersink some screws and putty after the first coat of poly.
 

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Have you finished a soft pine floor before? If it was mine, I'd find a less aggressive sander. I rented one of those Varathane floor sanders for a pine floor once (partly because I had difficult access) and it turned out great. Just a suggestion. A drum sander is pretty aggressive as you know. It'd be a pain to sand into your nail/screw heads.
 

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Have you finished a soft pine floor before? If it was mine, I'd find a less aggressive sander. I rented one of those Varathane floor sanders for a pine floor once (partly because I had difficult access) and it turned out great. Just a suggestion. A drum sander is pretty aggressive as you know. It'd be a pain to sand into your nail/screw heads.
Yes, I have done other pine floors in the house, and you're right that the drum sander is pretty aggressive. I am a bit worried about sanding into the screw heads. To counteract that, I'm planning to countersink screws to 3/8", which should be below the wear layer. If I have to sand down that far then the floors are toast anyway.

I'd love not to have to drum sand, but the issue I run into is that the floor isn't level/even. There are many boards that are lifted, cupped, bowed, gouged, etc. and I haven't found another way to get an even sand without first leveling the floor by drum sanding diagonally with 24 grit paper. I'm sure that I'm taking half of the life away from these boards, but I don't really have a viable alternative unless you have another suggestion that might work.
 
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