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what can you put on hardwood floors to make them look better without sanding?

I bought an old house that has had carpet for probably 30 years. Underneath the carpet, there are 1 inch oak hardwood floors. They are in pretty good shape, but have some paint drops and are dull. I can't afford to have them refinished, but thought about maybe light sanding with a hand sander. I'm a petite female and don't think I could handle the big sanders that you can rent. Will it work to sand them just a little, then stain & polyurethane? I'm planning on a dark stain. I thought dark would cover imperfections better....and mistakes I might make. Does anyone have any suggestions? I appreciate any help I can get.

Thanks again!

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1 Answer from this member:
Christopher Pope
by Christopher Pope Earned 502 community points in Building Supplies
January 31st, 2010
Answered in 8 hours
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