Fair enough, thanks for the ideas. We certainly don’t have the money (or the time for that matter) to do it before we move in, and it’s not something we feel is absolutely necessary anyway–I just would rather have slightly darker floors, so it’s purely preference. The floors are in great shape, so I’m not overly tempted to do anything to them anyway.
But either way, it’s good to hear those experiences for down the line if we do consider it in the future. Fortunately all the extra expenses wouldn’t be an issue for us, but still.
It is easy to go darker later. It is much harder to go lighter. It is possible with oxalic acid ‘bleach’ but a hassle. So if the floor is in good shape and all you want to do is get it a little darker or richer hues – it can wait and easily be done later when you really need to redo the whole floor again. But you will want to completely remove existing varnish / urethane sealer prior to new stain or it can be blotchy.
I have done floors quite a number of times over almost 40 years – always had hardwood. I have torn up badly damaged floor and put in new from scratch. I have repaired very old damaged floor part by part as needed [termites in Iowa and another badly burned floor where prior owner dropped a cigarette over carpet – then covered with new carpet]… I have refinished using the big push sanders [fast but can eat a floor badly if unskilled] and have stripped and sanded ‘by hand’ [six inch rotary orbital sander on hands and knees]. You name it and I have done it with wood floors. It isn’t as hard as it sounds.
All the hassles you read above are legit. Probably the worst though is if you have area carpet in part of the room over sealed wood floor. While you can walk in stocking feet on cured varnish after about 12 hours. As mentioned above, pets with claws, people wearing shoes and furniture you should wait longer, like 72 hours… But if you have area rugs and carpets – they should stay off newly varnished sealed floors for almost a month… or they can partially fuse to the sealant. Especially if there is backing or no-slip liner under the rug. The chemicals in the backing and urethane really like to bond.
So… we usually do floors prior to buying new area rugs or if they are out for maintenance and cleaning – that can take a month total turnaround so it works pretty well for us.
Good luck – have fun with those floors.