As Dad finished one room, Mom and I would get to work cleaning. Sweep, shop-vac, vacuum, big dust mop, and then microfiber dust mop. I decided not to stain the floors, because I really loved the tone of the white oak (it antiques as it ages). I went with a water-based poly, as it dries much quicker than oil and doesn't smell nearly as bad.
Start in the corner farthest from the door so you poly yourself out of the room. Mom cut in the edges with a brush and I followed with the synthetic applicator. Go with the grain of the wood, and always keep a wet edge (this helps avoid lift marks). They recommend 3 coats of poly to make the floor durable, and you'll want to scuff sand with 220 grit sandpaper between the final two coats.
After several hours of sanding and cleaning and sealing, two weekends of hard work, here's the final product:
I'm SO happy I decided to do this instead of hiring someone to do it (though I'm not sure my parents would agree, haha). But I saved a TON of money and I have the satisfaction of all of our hard work resulting in beautiful floors.
The living room is the only room not done, but that's on the to-do list for this week.
A big thank you to my folks for spending so many hours helping me.
If you are thinking about doing this, I recommend visiting Russet Street Reno and looking through her instructions. I used those as a guideline for doing my floors. Very helpful! Thanks Sara!