The only room that looks good enough for photos
For the hall, which was a small space, I used a palm sander. I started out with a heavy grit, to remove glue and smooth down splinters from the staples. Then I used a medium grit and finally a fine grit paper. Between each sanding, I swept with the shop vac and then wiped the floor down with a tack cloth.
After the first coat of stain, I sanded once more with the fine grit paper, swept, and wiped down. I was satisfied with the floor at that point and only applied additional coats of stain and then a day latter added four coats of a water-based, quick drying polycrylic. That stuff is great! Makes the floor look shiny and smooth as glass!
We followed essentially the same procedure for our master bedroom, except that we used a belt-sander and only sanded the whole floor twice. We did that floor when we first moved in, so we had only a couple days to do it and not money to rent an orbital sander. We didn't stain the master bedroom, only sealed it with poly.
We still have the staircase to sand down and finish. I think we'll be using a combination of a palm-sander and a mouse-sander for that job because it has lots of small spaces and corners. DH wants to just poly the stairs, while I want to stain and then poly. The wood on the stairs is red oak, which is a shame to cover with stain, but it's been very badly discolored over the years. Once we come to a consensus, that job will start too.
we're on room 4 (6 rooms and 2 hallways left!) of our house renovations (i've put up nursery pics before.)
playroom before and after (major clutter difference here!) it's not quite done but you get the point:
living room before and after (ugly purple trim and stupid light blocking book shelf gone):
dining room before and after:
and the counter tops.....they look great NOW, but we tried to paint our counter tops and realized rather quickly that they would have to be "babied" in order to stay looking nice. and since we actually USE our kitchen, i knew that that would never happen and they would be a scratched up mess in no time. poly will only seal for so long....and you have to reseal it every once in awhile. once you start wiping up messes everyday it will wear down. and scooting a bowl or something across it can also scratch the finish.