New wood floors may be finished in a variety of ways, depending partly on the kind of wood and partly on individual preference. Wood finishers themselves often disagree about the best method of treating floors, but all agree that it is economy to use the best materials. The present tendency, for hardwood floors particularly, is to keep the natural color of the wood and at the same time give it a smooth, durable finish that can be cleaned and renewed with the minimum of effort. Though darker-colored floors generally give the best effects, light-colored floors have the advantage of showing dust and footprints less readily.
Stain, filler, oil, paint, varnish, shellac, and wax, or a combination of two or more of these materials, may be used. Oak and maple floors, for example, are often finished with a colorless filler, white shellac, and light-colored wax or pale varnish, a treatment that preserves the natural color of the wood with little change. A somewhat golden tone can be obtained by using orange shellac or dark varnish.
Before any finish is applied, the floor should be made smooth by planing and sandpapering parallel with the grain of the wood, and then swept and dusted with a soft cloth.....