Stripping and Sanding
I've only refinished floors in 2 houses, so I'm pretty new to this. In the first house we rented a big drum sander, and it took at least 30 hours (for 5 rooms) to sand down, we went through a lot of sand paper, and it was really a hard work.
This second house I'm doing (currently doing, not finished yet... but...) we striped the floor first, which was pretty quick and painless (one 12x12 room took about a gallon of striper.) It only took about 3 hours (could have done it in 1 hour if we didn't overlapping) to apply the striper, scrape it, scower it, and dry it.
A) Striper, unless you're really really good, is going to leave little spots of finish on the floor.
B) If there were places on the floor where the finish has worn away, striper will not remove the dirt.
Striping is more of a preparing for sanding step as opposed to instead of sanding. Like I said, striping took a WHOLE lot less time, then I turned around and (using 120 grit... against the grain, I don't know if that's going to be a problem or not.) sanded the floor.
The floor looked 1,000 times better than the first one, I didn't even RISK gouging the floor, and went through very little sand paper (when it doesn't get clogged up with floor finish, it lasts a whole lot longer)