What type of finish (varnish?) was used in the 60’s?

Q: I want to refinish just a couple of sections of my oak hardwood floor (fixing black nail spots and some marks left by carpeting that has been taken up). I have been told to mask off the area I work on, bleach and sand, etc. I don’t know what to use for a finish.

The floors were professionally refinished, probably sometime in the 60’s. There doesn’t appear to be any stain. What type of finish (varnish?) was used at that time?

A: Both varnish and wax were used. If the finish spots from a drop of water, it is wax. You can try to hand rub with fine sand paper in a corner where you will be working anyway and apply some polyurethane. If the finish sticks you know what to finish with. If it crawls or repels, you know for sure it’s wax or the like.

For the smooth edge strip black spots around the nail holes you could use a nail set and oversize the hole slightly so the black spot is recessed below the floor, then fill the holes with wood filler, which you would have to do anyway. Forget the bleach.

Similar Q: I’m looking at a house that was built in 1962 and has wood floors throughout, both stories. They are dark, plank style, and have pretty big gaps in between. I’m trying to find out what kind of wood they are but have found no help on the net. Were the majority of floors back then a certain kind of wood?

A: You have no idea if the floors were original to the house, and my guess would be they are not. It may be helpful to take some pictures of the floors. Most common species in North America is oak.