For a natural finish we recommend a coat of oil or water based sealer which we buff, vacuum and then apply two coats of water or oil based finish. Oil finishes are more affordable and a sure way to achieve a classic look but come with the down side of 12 hour dry times in between coats and a strong smell. For staining we use an oil based penetrating stain. We find these stains to look the most consistent and work great with all finishes. We always want to “water pop” the floor before stain goes on. This process includes putting a coat of water on the floor that allows stain to absorb equally throughout. Oak responds fine without water popping but we still strongly recommend it. Putting three finish coats on top of a stain is strongly encouraged. Since a stain cannot be buffed directly we prefer two coats of protection on top of the stain before we buff it to help ensure we don’t lose any color before the final coat.