hardwood_blog_hdr

 

138

What Color Should I Stain My Wood Floors?

One of the biggest questions we get here at Tadas Wood Flooring Inc. when it comes to staining floors is: Should I get my floors stained and if so, what color should I go with?

It’s easy to see why this can be such a dilemma for some people, your floors will have a huge impact on the look of your home and if you get them wrong, you’ll be stuck with them for a long, long time.

Staining hardwood floor

The answer isn’t as hard as you might think. There are a number of factors that will affect whether you should stain your floors and what stain color best suits your home, all of which need to be taken into consideration before making a decision.

Let’s go through a few steps to see what your decision should be.

To Stain or Not:

The first decision to make is whether you should even consider if you floor should be stained or if it should be kept in its natural state.

Consider the following…

What Type of Wood Do You Have?

If you are lucky enough to have an exotic, rare or special wood floor such as mahogany, cherry, rosewood, walnut, aged pine and even maple then we strongly recommend they don’t be stained. They already look great in their natural colors. Most people stain their floors in an attempt to get them to look like one of these awesome floors, if you already have this type of hardwood floor in your home then you’re way ahead of the game.

On the other hand, maybe you have a more common wood like red or white oak. These floors can look great left their natural color, or they can be stained to make them look a more exotic shade like the above species.

Oak flooring takes stain very well with the correct techniques and they look great when done properly.

A lot of people don’t like the “old” style of “yellowish” natural oak they associate with their grandparent’s floors. If you’re one of these people, then a stained floor could be perfect for you.

Stained Maple

The kind of flooring you have shouldn’t be the only deciding factor though. In the end it will all come down to your own tastes and preferences. We have stained many different species of wood floors for clients including the maple floors in a Chicago apartment you can see in the picture above.

Ok, I’ve Decided I Want to Stain My Floors… But What Color Should I Go With?

This can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to refinishing your hardwood floors. Unless you have the exact image in your mind of how you want them to look, you’ll need to find some inspiration.

One of the best places to see different flooring styles and colors is in that stack of home decoration and renovation magazines you have piled up in a corner somewhere. You should be able to find images of houses with all sorts of wood flooring shades within them.

What grabs your eye? Do you like the light, clean open look of a lighter colored floor, or do you fancy the deep, elegant and bold look of darker floors? Maybe your eye is drawn to reddish, brown shades in between these two palates.

The picture below shows just a small sample of the many colors that are availiable.

Stain colors

You can also take a trip down to your local big box hardware store and browse through the flooring isle to see what tickles your fancy. You should be able to pretty quickly see what you like and even more importantly what shades you don’t like with the big samples they have on display.

What Style or Theme are You Going For In Your Home?

If you have a certain taste in furniture or a design style you’re going for, it will greatly help you to decide on a color as well.

For example, if you want a country, farmhouse theme in your home, then you won’t want to stain your floors Dark Ebony or Jacobean, you would go for something like Early American or Colonial Maple that are in the color board above.

On the other hand, if you’re going for a more modern contemporary style, you won’t want to put down a color like Sedona Red as it would look completely out of place. You would go with something much bolder and modern like Ebony or one of the darker brown hues.

Try to find a color that will set off the theme you’re going with. You want something that will ground your room/s styling and not clash with your décor. Think about the ambiance of the room you’re hoping to obtain when choosing colors.

Should I Go For a Light or Dark Stain or Something In Between?

Again, this will depend on the style you want to have in your home. At the moment dark colors are all the rage in magazines. But this doesn’t mean it has to dictate your own style. They are your floors and you have to live with them. Plus what’s in now could be “out of style” soon according to the design gurus. You have to decide on something you like that will look good with your furnishings long-term.

On that note, red/brown shaded stains like Walnut and Chestnut have a very warming, homey effect in a home and are a very safe bet. Lighter shades like Cherry and Golden Oak will accent the natural grains and beauty of a floor while still giving it some depth and color. While dark shades like Ebony and Jacobean will make a grand statement in a home and show off furniture more.

Lighter floors can be better for small dark rooms as they will brighten them up, making them look bigger because they reflect light. Dark floors will absorb light and have the opposite effect.

One reason for going with a dark colored stain may be to hide blemishes or imperfections. If there are large areas of water damage or pet stains, then a dark ebony stain might be able to adequately mask these areas and other imperfections without having to do extensive repairs (assuming the wood itself is stable).

One other thing to note about dark floors is that maintenance will be somewhat more difficult. Scratches will show through easier and dust will be much more noticeable on the surface. So if you have a full house running through, scuffing things up, tracking dirt and dust in and you don’t want the stress of continually cleaning up, you may want to consider a lighter color. Lighter floors are considerably easier to maintain and keep looking clean.

What If I Can’t Decide Between 2 or 3 Colors?

If you’ve narrowed your choices down to 2 or 3 colors then you’re well on your way to getting the perfect stain for your hardwood floors. As I’ve gotten a bit carried away with this post, I’ll make that the subject of my blog post for next month (you can read it here). I’ll go into great detail of the best way to make sure you’re completely 100% happy with your decision before you commit to staining the entire floor.

In Conclusion…

As you can see, the choice you have in stain colors is almost unlimited. Whatever your taste is, dark, lighter floors, red hues or brown and all the shades in between, you will have no trouble finding a color that fits in perfect with your home. And if you can’t find the perfect color out of a tin, we’d be happy to mix some different stains together for a custom blend that matches your taste and style.

If you need some extra help in choosing a stain color all you have to do is ask us and we’ll be happy to lend our professional help.

138 Comments

  1. Tiffany says:

    Hi Tadas, thankyou for this very helpful post. I’m looking at getting my floors stained in the near future.

    May I ask, what is the type of wood and stain color used in the picture with you in it at the very top?

  2. Hi there Tiffany,

    The floors are Red Oak and they were stained Ebony. It looks good doesn’t it. I hope your project goes well for you when you decide to start. If we can be of any further assistance please let us know.

    • Tiffany says:

      Thanks Tadas. Yes they do look good. May be a little too dark for my place though. Thanks for the offer of help as well. I won’t be starting for a little while unfortunately. I’ll be in touch if I have any further questions though. Thanks.

    • Trevon says:

      Thank-you for your detailed article Tadas. You have my appreciation.

  3. Chris says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I like the stain color of the picture you have with the fire place. What stain did you use? I love the grain variation look and it’s dark but not so dark like ebony. Thanks.

  4. Mickey Burke says:

    hi :)

    We are sanding and staining our red oak floors in several weeks. We are going to weave together the old floor with a new red oak floor. At that point the entire house will be wood flooring.

    I have “colonial maple” color kitchen cabinets, but dont want to continue with the country type look, my style is modern.

    I also have a big dog, and dont want to go too dark on account of him scratching up the floor.

    I am thinking of going with natural … very light floors with a white wood work. Would that be my best bet to “modernize” the look of the cabinets?

    What would your suggestion be?

    • Hi Mickey,

      Sounds good to me. If you go with white cabinets, you can pretty much have any color on the floor and it will look good. Personally I like a floor be a bit darker for a “modern” look than natural, but I understand where you’re coming from with your dog (although you can get extremely durable finishes nowadays).

      You can see an example of a stained hardwood floor with white cabinets we did for the Waterson family in Glen Ellyn, Illinois about halfway down the page here:

      http://napervillehardwood.com/photos_of_hardwood_floors.html

      In the end though it’s up to you and personal choice :)

      Good luck with your hardwood floor restoration Mickey!

  5. Sarah says:

    thanks, nice post.

  6. Elaine says:

    Great post. Really appreciate this information! Thanks.

  7. Ava SantAngelesa says:

    Ciao Tadas! … recently had our 1920 parquet floors ‘professionally stained’ sadly, as a ballerina I had NO idea the impact a boring medium brown floor would have): Husband has graciously sweated… re-sanded… re-stained …& sweat again to give me the dark ebony of my dreams. No poly applied yet…! The floors now appear wet! black in some areas… & a beautiful dry ebony in other … He generously painted on the ebony stain …, & did not wipe … is this OK ? The floors appear painted black ! Our apt. is 1,200 sq ft ..high ceiling & beautiful light… Afraid to ask …do we need to re-sand): & wipe the excess stain as we apply ?? make spanikopita for Him again too!
    Ballerina & Welder at your mercy … Ava SantAngelesa

    • Hi Ava, sounds like your husband loves you very much :)

      Unfortunately, yes, you need to wipe off the excess stain as you apply it. If you leave a thick coating of stain on the floors, the finish won’t adhere and you’ll have a huge mess on your hands.

      Try and wipe off as much as you can, leave it to dry out for a few days and then test a spot of the floor to see what happens. If the finish doesn’t adhere properly, I’m sorry to say, but your husband may be sanding all over again :(

      If you do need to re-sand, I suggest you waterpop the floors so you can get that darker look you want. I just wrote another blog post about it here:

      http://napervillehardwood.com/blog/what-is-water-popping/

      Good luck Ava!

  8. Lisa B says:

    Thank you very much for writing quality content for people like me to read and research. Very helpful for our upcoming hardwood floor project, thanks.

  9. Faviola says:

    I recently found your site and have been reading along. We are getting ready to refinish our own hardwood floors. Unfortunately we are a long way from Naperville but I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and tips. Nice blog. Thank you for your help.

  10. MD says:

    We have a traditional cherry built in wall unit with an almost mahogany colored stain. Our furniture is similiar in coloring. We are going to install hardwood flooring (select oak). Wondering what stain shade to go with. Don’t want to go too light as it doesn’t match our look & afraid of choosing a color that is too orange. However, need some contrast. Is chestnut too close? & if go with cestnut, do we go with red oak or white oak?

    • Hi MD,

      Thanks for your question. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a little hard to give color advice over the internet without actually seeing your furniture and room where the floor will be.

      An “almost mahogany” color is a pretty wide range of shades unfortunately. Chestnut would definitely stay within the realms of the safe colors as your furniture has the redish hues. Jacobean or Walnut would also be a good choice if you want something a little more contrasting and dark but not completely different.

      In the end, I highly recommend you have your wood flooring professional make you some samples. Especially on the two different types of oak you’re thinking of choosing between. Nothing can replace a close-up real-life match between your potential floor color and existing furniture like a good stain sample. You might end up with a blend that matches perfectly to what you want. Either way it will make your decision much easier.

      Good luck with your hardwood floor staining and refinishing project!

      Tadas.

  11. Rose L says:

    What color should i stain my floors? not too dark or too light. I like more of a brown but not too red or orange… thank you

    • Hi Rose,

      Maybe check out the colors Provincial, Special Walnut or Early American by MinWax and see if they suit your style. All are not too dark and are more brown than orange.

      Hope that helps :)

      Tadas.

  12. Lawrence Sculley says:

    It is highly helpful for me. Huge thumbs up for this site post!

  13. Toshiko Onorato says:

    I cannot thank you enough for the blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  14. Teresa says:

    We are putting down heart pine flooring and have gone back and forth on the finish. We love the natural color but some tell us it will turn very yellow and we dont want that. We thought of staining but then was told dark colors will get darker. It’s a very large room and the ceiling is done with the same wood that is why we thought of staining for some contrast. We were thinking chestnut. Now we have two different scenerios. Can you help?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Teresa,

      Congratulations on your hardwood flooring project – heart pine is a beautiful wood!

      I understand your finish dilema, it can be a tough decision. If you don’t use a finish with a ultraviolet inhibitor, then yes the floors will change color (darker) with sunlight. Ask your local wood floor refinishing professional for their recommendations on what will work best for your floors under local conditions, they’ll be happy to help lead you in the right direction I’m sure. Most of us a pretty nice guys

      As far as color, it’s very tough for us to make a call without seeing your place in person and knowing what your “style” is. Speaking for myself, I like darker colored floors and I think the contrast between dark wood floors and a natural wood ceiling would look good. Kepeing them both the same would look too country themed to me.

      Staining pine can be tricky compared to other woods. There is some very good information about staining heart pine flooring in this pdf attachment (from the NWFA) here you should read:

      http://www.heartpine.com/resources/downloads/finishing.pdf

      As always, prepare lots of samples to help make the right choice. Once the stain and finish goes on there’s no turning back. Much better to practice on test pieces first.

      Good luck Teresa, let us know how it turns out.

      Tadas

  15. Karishma says:

    Hi,

    I am in Hoffman Estates, planning to put my house for sale. I just got guy installed Red Oak hardwood floor, can you advice what color should I go with should I stain or leave it natural. The guy did Colonial Maple sample but it turned out too light. My curtains are burgundy (maroon color). My goal is it should make statement when buyer walks in the house. I am also planning to get stager decorate the house but I am struggling to select the stain color. Can you please advice me. Wall color will be light tone (cream or very light coffee).

    • Hi Karishma,

      Sorry about the delay in replying, I was at a national trade event with my employees for a few days – keeping up on the latest hardwood flooring advancements.

      To answer your question, I always pre-face these type of answers with… it’s tough to anwer without seeing your home in person. But if you really want to make a statement and still have it blend in with your existing colors, I would start with 3 colors – Dark Walnut, Provincial and Jacobean. These colors go with a lot of different styles of decorating so the new owner will be able to picture their furnishings in the space, which will be very important for selling.

      Maybe get your stager to pop over to help you with the choice as well, they’re usually very good with colors and style. Hope you sell your house quick Karishma.

      Tadas

  16. Danielle says:

    Hi tadas
    I have enjoyed reading the blog but have a question of my own my husband and I are building a home and I need to pick out the color I want for my floors I really love the darker shades but I am nervous my 115 lb dog is going to ruin them everyone keeps telling me if we go to dark it will show all the scratches is this true?? And does the dark floor show dust alot ?? Thanks

    • Hi Danielle,

      A lot of people have exactly these same questions :)

      The basic answer is it depends on the finish system you use. If you put down a “cheap” big box store finish, then yes I’d be very worried about scratches. There are great high-end finishes though that are extremely durable – such as Bona Traffic, Pallman-X96 etc. – you need to ask your refinishing guy about these. I would also seriously look into hardwax oils as these can be touched up very easily if the dog gets out of hand.
      We always recommend for clients with dogs to keep their nails properly clipped to reduce damage too.

      As far as dust, yes the darker floors will show it more, but that’s a small price to pay for having awesome looking floors we think. Plus the best way to care for hardwood floors is to regularly sweep and clean them – when you can’t see it you can get lazy with this :)

      Hope that helps. Maybe I should do a more in depth blog post about this down the road.

      Tadas

  17. Jerry Richards says:

    Hi Tadas,
    I own a sawmill, dry kiln, planer, etc.. I am making some 8″ red oak plank floors for our office and have had others show interest in buying some. I am one of those people who only want to do that if I can make a super product. This is about more than the money. If I pursue this it needs to have alot of wow factor. I feel that our local red oak is great(even if out of favor right now), and since I am used to drying lumber for cabinet makers, furniture, etc. I have no fear in that aspect(or even the machineing). But I don’t have a clue about finishing or staining. Will most people who want a plank floor want it naturally colored? ($4.25/sf range unfinished)

    Also if we make some SYP plank floors, in 12′-16′ lengths (so there is no need to end match) do you think that this would be marketable (same price range). I know that this used to be done many years ago.

    The floors that we have currently made are pretty much all 8′long stock and we make the blanks oversize through the rip so we can keep them extra straight out of the moulder. The installing people who have laid them have bragged about this aspect.

    Also do you think that nailing them every 10″-12″, and glueing the same distance (keeping the glue out of the joints) is enough to hold them down. Or, should we go ahead and make plugs and proceed accordingly? I know that I have asked you alot of questions and hope that I’m not taking too much of your time!

    Thank You,

    Jerry Richards
    Mark Twain Forest Products
    Centerville, MO

    • Hi Jerry,

      Sounds like you have quite the set-up there! I think the 12′ – 16′ lengths would definitely be marketable. Us hardwood floor guys love longer length flooring and it’s hard to get. As long as they’re kiln dried properly and aren’t warped you’ll have no trouble selling them I’m sure.

      As far as the staining/finishing aspect, I would just start out offering the product raw and un-finished. That way the hardwood professional can sand, stain and finish them onsite to the clients choice of stain color and finish system. Onsite sanding and finishing leads to a much nicer finished product without the bevels pre-finished flooring is known for.

      Good luck with your endeavor Jerry. Come back and let us know how you go.

      Tadas

  18. Beth says:

    I am not sure if you are still responding to this blog, but I have a real problem I am hoping you can help me with…
    We want to stain our red oak floors a dark color. The available colors our floor guy says are out there are simply not what we had a in mind. We want a warm, brown, not reddish, dark, deep color. We tried Jacobean, antique brown, and royal mahogany. None are what we have in mind. He claims it is not possible to change, or tint, the existing stains in any way. Is that true? Or should we go with someone who can?
    Any help is much appreciated.
    Beth

    P.S. I really like your first picture at the top of this blog, but you said it’s ebony and that looked really black to us. But in your picture it doesn’t.

    • Hi Beth,

      Yes we’re here :)

      If you use the same brand of stain then yes, you can mix colors together to get the look you want. We do this all the time.

      Try to find a color close to what you want and then mix and sample colors till you find the perfect one. Can be time consuming and a pain, but you have to live with your floors for a long time so it’s worth the effort.

      The picture up top is deceiving… it’s color in the photo looks different because of the suns reflection off the wood outside. That’s why you should never choose colors from a photo :)

      Hope that helps. Tadas

  19. Carmen says:

    Hi Tadas-

    Thanks for the great information. Hope you can provide some guidance.

    Our house is an old schoolhouse from 1888. It was moved off a farm and into town in the 1940′s and a second floor was added on. In the move, there were renovations done to the main structure as well. We are in the process of renovating and are starting our wood floors now.

    Our second floor has 3 bedrooms with red oak from the 1940 renovation. We’re installing new red oak select in 1 bedroom and hallway. Our doors are solid pine 6 panel doors stained with Minwax Early American 230. Our trim is pine with the same stain. The rooms range from 10×12 to 14×16 and have small windows so I would like a light stain on the floor.

    Our main floor has a douglas fir floor (original from 1888) in the living room and red oak from the 1940′s in the rest of the rooms. Our doors and trim are solid oak and our kitchen cabinets are birch, all stained with Early American. The floor plan is exactly the same with the rooms ranging from 10×12 to 14×16 – same small windows.

    Any suggestion on the stain color for the floors? I’m concerned with all of the different wood and age of wood that we’re going to have a hodge podge of colors so am hoping the floors will tie it all together.

    Looking forward to any help.

    Carmen

    • Hi Carmen,

      Sorry for the delay in replying, we’ve had a very busy week sanding and refinishing floors here in Naperville.

      Sounds like you have a wonderful house. Plus original 1888 douglas fir floors – wow! Those are vey special indeed. Yes it will be a bit of a challenge trying to tie in all that different wood together. Red oak and fir are very different woods as you know but they aren’t too far apart in the color spectrum thankfully.

      It’s always hard to give advice over the computer without seeing your home in person and your wall and furnishing colors as well as your decorating tastes. The way I see it from my very limited view, you have a couple of choices…

      1) I know your windows are small, but if you have light colored walls you could blend the two floors all in together with a darker stain. This will give the best “color match” between the different floors but may be too dark for your taste.

      2) Keep the floors natural or use a light colored stain (Golden Oak perhaps if your taste is country) and enjoy the difference in the woods. It sounds like you only have the fir in the living room – you could make a focal point out of that beautiful wood if you wanted to and not even bother trying to hide or blend it. Natural colored old fir is absolutely beautiful.

      3) Be very daring and become a trend-setter with one of the newest and latest colors coming out for floors – greys and whites. These will blend the floors together very well. You can see some samples here:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/wdflooring/6438273691/in/photostream/

      Might not go with your decorating style in your farmhouse though, depends on your taste :)

      Either way I hope your project turns out well. Make sure your hardwood refinishing guy provides lots of samples for you to choose from. And whoever is sanding that fir, make sure they go easy on it – they’re very soft and you don’t want to take too much wood and patina off.

      Tadas

  20. Ellen says:

    I am going to have red oak floors put in. I would like to have some differentiation in color, like you get with an exotic. I have been told that the darker the stain, the less variance between the boards. How do you apply stain without losing the natural color variation in the wood? My house is a mix of oaks and cherries and I don’t want the floor to try to match anything.

    • Hi Ellen,

      Yes you’re right about the darker stains, especially if the floor has been water-popped. My suggestion would be not to waterpop the floor so the stain is a bit lighter.

      The third floor photo in the post (the one with the fireplace) is a red oak floor and you can still see the natural color variation with the wood there.

      Hope your hardwood floors turn out great.

      Tadas

  21. Jen says:

    Hi Tadas,

    Came across your blog! Thought I’d post a question to you. We live in VA and have a 110-yo farmhouse that we’ve given a complete facelift. It’s still very “farmhouse” feeling, but with a new twist! We have laid 5″ white oak with character everywhere and are trying to decide on a Minwax stain. What is your feeling on a custom stain? And if so, do you have a recommendation for a floor stain that has a mostly brown/walnut feel, but with an added warmth of red/yellow hues? I like the floor a little darker; my husband likes it a little lighter with some red…so I’m looking for a happy medium. Something like this:

    http://www.houzz.com/photos/87686/Oakley-Home-Builders-traditional-kitchen-chicago

    Any advice you could give would be great! Thx! Jen

    • Hi Jen,

      That floor looks great. I love the 45 degree angle and the kitchen. It’s very hard to tell with the lighting and shadows but the color looks a lot like Provincial to me.

      As far as custom stains, we do it all the time :)

      For a “brown/walnut feel, but with an added warmth of red/yellow hues” you’re really going to have to experiment on some sample boards – that’s a tough one. Red and yellow is hard to get on a floor at the same time. You can see it here on this floor but that’s because it’s the natural color of the wood: http://www.houzz.com/photos/87707/Oakley-Home-Builders-traditional-kitchen-chicago

      Thankfully you can buy small tins of stain cheap. I would get a few red colors and a few of the browns and maybe fruitwood and experiment with mixing them together (the same brand) at different percentages to see what you like. You’ll get a much better idea that way and it’ll be fun to do together :)

      Let us know what you decide.

      Tadas

  22. Ellen says:

    thank you tadas! I love the fireplace room floor above. It is very warm and elegant. You say you used 50 percent rosewood stain. 50 percent of what? You also mention that the materials you used cannot be used anymore. Also, rosewood is not shown in your color palette above. How can I recreate that look with materials available? Finally, what is plain sawn red oak, and how is it different from common or select red oak?

    If I get up the nerve to go darker, is there a stain that blends well with light and medium oak as well as cherry? Thank you for your help! You don’t install wood floors, just refinish?

    • Hi again Ellen,

      It was 50% rosewood and 50% natural, I should change that to be more clear… sometimes when you do things so often you forget it doesn’t make sense to others :)

      The finish system used on that floor had very high VOC’s and with good reason they are starting to be banned across the country. You can still get lower VOC oil modified finishes though that will give that nice deep amber look. There are sealers too that can be used under water based coatings that offer similar looks.

      The color palette in the blog post is just a small sampling of our colors, we have many more and all of them can be mixed and blended to get any custom shade you want. You floor guy should have no problem getting you the color you want.

      Plain sawn red oak is the way it has been cut at the mill. It is also called flat sawn by some. It shows more “wavy wood grain pattern” for lack of a better description. You can also get rift sawn which is cut on a different angle from the log and it has a more tight, straight and consistant grain pattern.

      The terms “common” and “select” refer to the grade of wood. Common is more rustic and has more “defects” (if that’s how you view them) compared to higher grades like “select”.

      And lastly yes we do install for select customers. We don’t go out of our way to advertise it because we love refinishing hardwood floors more, but at least once a month we’ll do the full package and install, sand and then refinish a hardwood floor for a client :)

      Hope that helps.

      Tadas

  23. Mark says:

    Dear Tadas,

    Many thanks for your blog which I have found really useful.

    We have just moved into a new home which has untreated light oak flooring throughout. All the walls are off-white and the furniture is a mix between white and black. With these colour schemes the current floor colour seems out of place and I was wondering if you could suggest a stain colour so that the rooms feel warmer and also mix with the black/white colour-schemes for the furnishings. Was considering an ebony, Jacobean or dark oak but would value your thoughts as to what would give a wow factor….

    Many thanks,
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Glad you found the blog useful. Congratulations on the new home. I can see how you would want to change the hardwood floor color from natural. I think you’re right on track with the colors you suggested. Ebony floors definitely have the Wow factor if that’s what you’re after. Your white furniture will definitely stand out. If that’s to dark try mixing Jacobean and Ebony if you want to take the dark edge off the Ebony. Good luck and let us know what you decide.

      Tadas.

  24. Gabby says:

    Hi Tadas! Thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge and info… it’s very helpful. I am currently having my floors sanded and there are some dark circles left that are probably old pet stains. The floors are oak… not sure red or white, but the house was built in the 1950′s if that helps. Anyway, I’m not sure how good these guys are and they tell me that dark stain will cover them. They are pushing me for the stain color and want to start even before they finish sanding my closets. I think all the sanding needs to be completed before going to the staining phase don’t you agree? I would like a dark expresso color and am wondering if I need to mix ebony with dark walnut? I love your first photo… does it look like a black brown in real light? Is water popping the only way to achieve the deep stain? I doubt I will be able to get them to do it and I don’t know if I can do it on my own? Any suggestions on the very quickest, easiest way to water pop? Sorry for all the questions, but I’m really desperate here! I greatly appreciate your help.

    • Hi Gabby,

      Glad to be of help. Without actually seeing the stains and floor it’s hard to say if they’ll be covered up by staining or not unfortunately. Usually, if we are not 100% sure, we will replace the boards in that area to make certain they “disappear” for good.

      Many times however, staining will allow the pet stains to blend right in and become unnoticable if you go dark enough like you’re thinking. And yes we would water pop the floor to make the floor take the stain darker still. Here’s a blog post I wrote on water popping to help you out on this subject:

      http://napervillehardwood.com/blog/what-is-water-popping/

      As far as choosing the stain color, we usually do that before the job has begun. In your case we would have sanded the pet stain areas and tested a few different colored stains to see what worked. Once you had decided on a color you were happy with we would then start the job. And yes you’re right that the sanding has to be completely finished before the stain is ready to be applied.

      For your dark expresso color try mixing Ebony with Jacobean or Dark Walnut like you said. Experiment with a few colors to see what you like. The guys you hired should have no problem with this, it’s part of our service. I’m sure they would have no problem water popping the floor for you either (unless they are extremely under-qualified, but I’m sure they’re not or you wouldn’t have hired them.)

      Hope this helps a bit Gabby. I’m sure they’ll look great in the end. Come back and let us know how they turned out.

      Tadas.

  25. Gabby says:

    Tada, Thank you so much for taking the time to help. They’ve already got a coat of stain on. I chose a mix of a gallon of dark walnut to half gallon of ebony. The temperature has dropped here to the 40′s at night, so I don’t know how long it will take before going to the poly phase which I’m doing the mid range shine… not flat and not high gloss.

  26. Gabby says:

    Tada, also, on another forum they were saying that unless you change out the boards of the urine stains, in the hot weather you will smell it… is this true? Even with one coat of stain and two coats of poly? It was hot while they were sanding and I didn’t smell anything. And one more question… do you think two coats of poly is enough for a rental with dark stained wood floors? I will be renting the house and really hoping I don’t have to redo the floors down the road when I sell. Again, thank you mucho mucho!!!

    • Hi Gabby,

      They must have had some pretty serious urine damage to be able to smell it after it was coated. You really shouldn’t have a problem if its only in a smaller area. As far as number of coats, personally I would put on 3 thin coats for a rental.

      Tadas.

  27. Gabby says:

    ps… I’m sorry I misspelled you name above.

  28. Kandy says:

    Love your blog!! Can you please help? I am after a Pottery Barn/Ballard Design look with neutrals and seagrass/sisal rugs. My goal is to create a warm cozy feel. I am refinishing the floors of my newly purchased 1965 ranch home. I read somewhere (can’t find it now) that you can mix walnut (or dark walnut…I can’t remember which) with english chestnut for a really nice look. I can’t recall what percentage of each to use in the mixture or whether it was dark walnut or just walnut. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t want it to be too red or brown…just a happy medium…or more brown. What do you think??? I am in Georgia or I would just hire you : )

  29. Kandy says:

    I forgot to tell you that the floors are white oak.

    • Hi Kandy,

      Your “cozy warm feel” idea sounds nice. Yes you could definitely mix Dark Walnut and English Chestnut together to get a great red/brown look. As my advice is always… test a few mixes on a scrap piece first. I would try half and half first and if that’s too red for you try 3/4 walnut and 1/4 chestnut. I’m sure you’ll find a great hardwood floor refinisher where you are in Georgia. Good luck with your project!

      Tadas

  30. Matt says:

    What is the color of the floor in your first picture dated May 26 2011. What kind of wood. We are deciding between ebony and Jacobean on an oak floor thanks

    • Hi Matt,

      The color is a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany on red oak. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you will need to water pop your floor.

      Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.

      Tadas

  31. tabata says:

    I like your fantastic web site. Just what I was searching for!
    Best regards

  32. Rivki Weinhouse says:

    Love your site! About the type of finish used on dark floors to avoid seeing scratches- you mention using a higher end finish. If I were to use Minwax Satin finish would that be protective enough or should I use something better?
    Thanks!

  33. Michelos says:

    Hi Tadas
    Great info! We have a problem don’t know if you can help. My contractor hired a floor guy to come refinish my oak floors. I wanted a dark brown – we did a mixture of Provential and dark walnut. He put one coat on and it wasn’t dark enough so he added another ( he may have tweaked the formula a bit not sure) and the color was perfect; however after a few hours – of course after he left, lines started forming in between the cracks of the wood, (lihter in color). After it dried it looked horrible. After researching I think it may be called “bleed back”. He resanded and started over saying in 20 years he had never seen this – was thinking it had something to do with my subfloor and the air underneath. I think that he used too much stain. What are your thoughts and how do I get that perfect very dark color again without the lines?

  34. Michelle says:

    Sorry my name is Michelle!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Sorry to hear of your troubles. It’s never fun when things go wrong :(

      Without looking at the issue in person it is hard for me to say exactly what happened, but I think you are heading the right way in thinking that there was too much stain added to the floor. That would be my first assumption. It’s never a good ideas to fix a stain problem by adding even more stain.

      It looks like this contractor
      A) Did not wipe the 2nd coat of stain.
      B) Put stain in the finish and applied too thick.

      It definitely has nothing to do with subfloor and air. Also “bleed back” is when the stain moves to the top of the joints and that would make black lines not light ones.

      To fix it you’ll need to allow sufficient time for the stain in the gaps to dry and then start over. I would recommend finish sanding to 80-100 grid and slowly buff with 80 or 100 grit screen, not finer. To get a dark consistent look we would water pop the floor first. You can read about that process here: http://napervillehardwood.com/blog/what-is-water-popping/ Apply stain one line at the time and start wiping after 5-7 minutes if using quick dry stain and 10-12 min if using regular dry stain. If using regular stain do not apply the finish the next day, let it dry out sufficiently first.

      Hope you get them sorted out Michelle.

      Tadas

  35. janice says:

    I recently refinished my 50 yr old red oak floors with minwax english chestnut in a satin finish. Way too much red tone for me. My floor guy didnt do any samples for me. Very disappointed in that. I wanted a medium brown stain without red or orange. I want to know what my options are? Do they have to fully sand down the floors and restain another color to achieve the color I want. Also I am interested in provencial minwax stain. Is it darker than EC? And will I get any red tones which I dont want. HELP!

    • Hi Janice,

      Sorry about your bad outcome with your floors :(

      As you can see providing samples is a very important step in choosing a stain color, otherwise you find yourself where you are right now. Unfortunately you have no other choice but to sand the floors to bare wood again and start from scratch if you want to change the stain color.

      As far as your other question, Provincial will not be darker than English Chestnut normally, but if you water pop the floors (see this post here) then you’ll be able to get it darker. Also look at Jacobean for a mid-dark non-red stain color. Colors can be matched as well if you want a custom color.

      I hope you can get it sorted out Janice so you can enjoy your floors.

      Tadas

  36. Ray Crary says:

    Very well written article and very helpful. Thank you very much Tadas

  37. Brian Alpher says:

    Hi Tadas,

    Thank you so much for being so professional and sharing your expertise on flooring. It is greatly appreciated! I am just about to move into my new home and wanted to stain my hardwood floors before I move in. The flooring is white oak and I was looking to go with a dark stain? The dark flooring that has really caught my eye happened to be Brazilian cherry flooring with walnut stain to tone down the red.

    What combination of stains would you suggest so I could get the same type of look with white oak flooring?

    Thanks in advance for your time!

    Brian

    • Hi Brian,

      Congratulations on your new home!

      Just so you’re realistic and don’t get your hopes up too high… it’s pretty much impossible to make oak look like exotic wood because of grain patterns and different colorations in the same piece of wood.

      To be honest Brian, I’ve never seen Brazilian Cherry stained with Walnut myself. I can’t really tell you what colors you would need without seeing the actual board you want to match in person and doing some experiments on sample boards. There are way to many variables that come in to play, some that come to mind are:

      - Was the Brazilian Cherry water-popped first before the walnut stain was applied?

      - Is it new Brazilian Cherry or has it had time to age? Brazilian Cherry darkens as it ages and changes color quite substantially after a few month and years.

      - What kind of white oak do you have, plain sawn or rift cut?

      I would get your hardwood floor guy to mix up a bunch of samples for you. Start with all of basics like royal mahogany, ebony, walnut and chestnut and go from there adding more or less and then different colors as you go. You won’t get an exact match but you’ll definitely get something you’ll be super happy with.

      Sorry I can’t give you an exact formula Brian. Unfortunately that’s not how matching wood colors works. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Pop by and let us know how you do if you get the chance.

      Tadas

    • Brian says:

      Hi Tadas,

      Thank you for your time and replying back to me. After reading your reply and realizing the challenge I was up against with trying to make three different types of woods match, I decided to play it safe and keep all the floors their natural color.

      Unfortunately, one mistake I did make was not doing enough research on the company I hired. I’m mentioning it, just in case one of your website visitors happens to read this. I ended up hiring the company who had the lowest price, and I got what I paid for. Since I decided, JUST to have the floors sanded and polyurethane, I thought any floor guy should be able to do that. I was wrong!! I ended up with uneven floors, grit marks all over the floors, lines in the poly from the roller, and a cloudy poly finish. Complete nightmare!

      Fortunately, I found another floor guy who’s been doing floors for 24 years and he will be able to repair the mistakes. He’s not done yet, but I have confidence in this guy. So my point is, make sure you get references and pay the extra few dollars. You’re paying for guys like Tadas professionalism and expertise! I really wish you were in the Boston area.
      Thanks,

      Brian

    • Hi there Brian,

      Sorry you had a bad experience with the first guy you hired. That’s a story we hear a lot unfortunately :(

      At this very moment we’re salvaging a floor that a “professional” company messed up big time. There will be plenty more too unfortunately.

      As you found out first hand, the guys out there that are cheap are usually cheap for a reason. There’s no way you can have professional results without well trained employees, spending the proper amount of time on each job and using high-end equipment and products – all which cost more money unfortunately.

      I hope this new guy can get you sorted out Brian. Thanks for coming back and giving us an update with your experience, we appreciate that a lot.

      Tadas

  38. mathen says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles here. You obviously know what you are talking about!

  39. Judy says:

    We have just installed red oak floors . Cabinets in kitchen are a darker tobacco stain. We are thinking about duraseal cherry stain but may be too light. How would you darken it up a bit? I like the look of a lighter color for our small space. Any ideas/suggestions?? Our second choice probably is nutmeg.

    • Hi Judy,

      Sorry for the delay in replying… it’s been a very busy week here. To answer your question, if you want to darken any color stain you can mix another darker color of the same brand into it.

      Try a small amount first and make sure you record how much you used of each. Then take some scrap wood or a section of the floor that will be covered (like under the fridge) and test them out. You’ll eventually find the perfect color.

      Gook luck Judy, I hope it goes well.

  40. Luigi Fulk says:

    Love your web-site! Very helpful. Thank You for the information!

  41. Katie says:

    Help! I’m going to be refinishing floors on Friday (May 24) and still struggling to find a stain color. I found the below project and the image is perfect. Can you give me the specifics on the stain used called “Golden Brown”??? I’m having a hard time finding it.

    Distressed Random Width French White Oak Floor:

    THE CLIENT: Arch Remodeling – Orland Park, IL

    THE JOB: This was another project for Arvydas. These floors are beautiful random width french white oak. They were distressed and then stained before being coated. The project was about 400sqft comprising of the kitchen, dining room and living room.

    THE SPECIFICS: The floors were stained with Golden Brown and then finished with OSMO Hard Wax Oil.

    Thank you!!!

  42. Kelley says:

    Could you tell me the wood type and stain color in the photo with the fireplace? Thanks, you have so much helpful information!

    • Hi Kelley,

      You’re welcome, glad to be of help. The color is a mix of Rosewood and Natural – 50% of each. Then it was finished with an oil based polyurethane.

      Tadas

  43. Dan Lashua says:

    Tadas your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!

  44. Jessica says:

    Tadas, I loved your article and your comments! Really helped me understand staining a little more! I saw that people asked what the stains were in the first and third photos of your article but nobody has asked about the second photo. That’s my favorite one and I’m VERY curious to know what the wood and stain is!

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for the compliments, glad you enjoyed it. To answer your question – that’s a Maple floor stained red mahogany (Bona brand stain).

      Tadas

  45. Amy says:

    Hello Tadas,

    We just bought a colonial in Connecticut. They’re sanding today and we have to choose the color by tomorrow! Our current house is a ranch, the main level is Red Chestnut throughout – bedrooms, living room, and dining room. We love it. The kitchen is cheap natural colored pergo, which looks fine against the Red Chestnut. For our new house, we were thinking of putting Red Chestnut upstairs in all four bedrooms, the hallway, and on the stairs down to the main level. Downstairs, we’re thinking of putting a light color, and a Red Chestnut single border around the living/family room which would tie in the color on the stairs. What do you think? Unfortunately we have three different types of wood downstairs – oak in the dining and living/family room, spruce in the kitchen, fir in the sun room. I’m thinking maybe the Golden Oak downstairs on all floors, but I don’t want it to be too yellow. Can you recommend a color for downstairs, and what do you think of the idea of two different colors in the house? It’s a pretty typical colonial, in the woods with stone walls and white picket fence outside. Our style is cozy and comfortable – not too contemporary and definitely not modern.

  46. Amy says:

    Sorry, I should have said the kitchen cabinets were installed in the 1980′s, and they’re that medium oak color, similar to golden oak I think. The kitchen floor is spruce. The entire house has wood floors except the bathrooms and closets and one small hallway. So the stain color is a very big commitment.

  47. Amy says:

    Sorry. Kitchen is cypress not spruce.

    • Hi Amy,

      I think two colors should be fine. I like the idea of the same coloured border in the living room to tie in the stairs, especially if it has a built in border already.

      As you know, it’s going to be a little difficult tying in all 3 different woods downstairs. The best way is by staining it all dark but that’s not an option as you mentioned. Instead you’ll need to think in terms of highlighting the beauty of each one and enjoying the differences between them.

      I would do a test patch of Golden Oak like you suggested and also one of Natural. Do the test patches on all 3 woods as close to each other as possible so you can see how they look together. The issue will be with the fir and cypress, the oak takes a stain well but the other two are more challenging to get even coverage. Make sure your contractor water pops them all.

      Hope you find a color you love Amy. Let us know how it goes. Remember… test patches are your friend :)

      Tadas

  48. Amy says:

    Thanks for your quick reply, Tadas. The original post and everyone’s comments were super helpful. I found some beautiful images of Golden Pecan floors online. We’ll try out Golden Pecan, Golden Oak, Puritan Pine and Natural. We found some pieces of the cypress in the basement, and our contractor should be able to give us a piece of oak. Not sure about the fir. Maybe he can apply a stain on a small patch of the floor, let us look, and re-sand if we don’t like it. Thanks again for helping out from so far away. You helped to calm me down. I can tell you really love what you do.

  49. Katie says:

    Hi
    I’m having a hard time deciding whether to stain my floors. My home has original oak floors from 1885 that are very thin at this point. It may be there last time being sanded. I have a ton of sunlight and feel they are too yellow. I had some area sanded and tested some colors, special walnut, cherry, dark walnut and golden pecan. None of which I am excited about but selected golden pecan becAuse it seems the safest. I don’t want any reddish hues and the dark stains made it look grainy and sort of dirty. I would love a light chocolate hue but don’t know if it possible. What are your thoughts. I definitely want to warm up the floor.

    • Hi Katie,

      If you’re not happy with any of the colors out of the can, maybe try blending a couple together so you get a custom color.

      Since your floors are so old and you may not be able to sand them again, I would also suggest looking at a hardwax oil like Rubio Monocoat. You’ll be able to get the color you want as well as having the finish be repairable and if looked after well you will never need to sand them again.

      You can read up about Rubio Monocoat and see the huge range of colors here: http://napervillehardwood.com/blog/the-hardwax-oil-experiment-part-2-monocoat/

      Tadas

  50. John says:

    Hi Tadas, Awesome blog! What’s the easiest way to get a nice espresso finish? Seems like the good brands of stain do not carry it. Thanks

    • Hi John,

      Have you looked at Duraseal Coffee Brown color? That may be close to what you’re looking for. If not you may have to get a custom blend mixed. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

      Tadas

  51. Mary says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you so much for the information. Can you tell me your opinion between the Dark Walnut and the Jacobean? We are having our red oak floors done Monday and I am torn between the two stains. It seems every picture I see of floors that I like is a custom stain that was done on site. I wish I had come across you earlier!

    • Hi Mary,

      I think this comment was for me,Tadas, right? I’ll answer anyways :)

      Jacobean is a bit more coffee brown color than the Walnut. Both are very nice colors. Make sure your floor guy puts down both colors in a test patch for you though so you can be 100% sure about which one you like better.

      Good luck tomorrow!

      Tadas

  52. Catherine says:

    We had red oak floors installed and are having other rooms’ floors sanded and re-stained. Original owners had a medium-dark dull brown. I want to go a little lighter for easier maintenance and to brighten the home.

    Style of decorating will be contemporary/classic. Paints are beige (Grant Beige, Dove White), phillipsburg blue, etc. Furniture will be neutrals with grey or blue accent pieces and chocolate brown dining room set.

    Was thinking of going with 3 parts early american and 1 part english chestnut for a richer tone and depth. Do you think this might work or do you think the two should not be mixed together?

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Catherine,

      I say go for it. At least test it out on a small area to see if you like it. The worst that can happen is you don’t like it and you choose another blend. The neutral colors of your place allow for pretty much any color to look good though.

      Good luck and have fun experimenting!

      Tadas

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you!

  53. Lorena says:

    Hi Tadas,
    I currently have a floor that is a custom stain (Duraseal 50% ebony; 50% antique brown). It was only stained in the last year but an accident on the floor (an acetone spill) has prompted us to reconsider the colour which we have discovered is very high maintenance. I would love to have the floor done in Rubio Monocoat in one of the natural light colours. I asked you about this earlier as I have red oak floors and was concerned about the outcome. Largely, on your very positive response I’ve decided to go for it.

    I hired a flooring professional and he felt uneasy about going from dark to light. He therefore experimented in a small bedroom. What we found was disheartening. After four passes (starting at 40 ending at 100) the original stain was still creeping through the pores of the soft grain and between the planks in a number of places. He is now recommending that we change route and go with a medium brown colour to hide this problem. I would really like to go light (RM 5% Smoke or Vanilla). Have you encountered this problem? If so, is there a way neutralizing or bleaching the remnants of the original stain? Surprising, I haven’t come up with any reference to this problem online.

    Thanks so much with any advice with this.

    • Hi Lorena,

      To be honest I haven’t come across this issue myself. We’ve sanded dark stained floors back to natural before and never had a problem. You definitely need to sand more wood off the floors in these cases though.

      Without seeing the floors in person, my suspicion is that he hasn’t sanded them aggressively enough. I would call another professional to come around to have a look and give you a second opinion, it can’t hurt.

      I hope you can get this sorted out Lorena.

      Tadas

  54. Lorena says:

    Thanks Tadas. Took your advice and you are dead on (again). He didn’t sand enough. Btw, really wishing I lived in Chicago, so you could do my floors!

  55. Lorena says:

    Hi Tadas. One more question re. refinishing dark floors. Is there anything that can be done about some of the dark stain remaining between butt joints of the wood? If the joints were tight to begin with, could aggressive sanding get rid of the remaining stain or is it something that you just have to live with? thanks again, Lorena

    • Hi Lorena,

      Yes there might be some stain that has soaked down between the butt joints if it was applied quite liberally. If it’s soaked in deeper than a few aggressive sanding passes will take out then it might be something you’ll have to live with… you really don’t want to take all the life out if your floors this soon so you have nothing to sand years down the road when they need refreshing.

      Hopefully there aren’t too many dark joints. Sorry you have to deal with this, I know it can be frustrating when you invest a lot of money and things don’t turn out exactly how you want them to.

      One last resort thing you could do if you decided to go with a 3 coat surface finish instead of Rubio is to carefully paint the joints out between the first coat and second coat. Then you’ll have 2 coats of finish to seal the ‘cover up’ in. You’ll have to have some painting and graining skills though to blend them in so they’re invisible. Just a thought and another option.

      Good luck, Tadas.

  56. Lorena says:

    Thanks Tadas. Great idea. I was thinking-as a last resort-to take a thin blade to the dark joints; open them a hairline and then very carefully apply wood putty (not filler). In order to match the various colourings in the grains, I thought of investing in several different colours of putty. This would be done when the floor was completed. Thought of this after reading the following article about various ways to fill gaps: http://www.cinhome.com/gapfiller.html

  57. Zo-An says:

    Hi Tadas,

    Can I pick your brain. Just installed white oak in my 100 year old farm style house. I’m going for a transitional rather than traditional look and was going to use Jacobean thinking it was a medium stain but it looks a bit dark and flat in my rooms. I still want the coffee brown tone but want a lighter brighter look. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Zo-An,

      Sorry for the delay in replying, another busy week here! If Jacobean is too dark you can mix it with another lighter color to come up with a blend. Start with Natural to make it lighter and then experiment from there. You could also try colors like Provincial and Special Walnut to lighten and lift the color a bit but still retain the “coffee brown tone” you’re after.

      Spend some time and have some fun experimenting and you’ll soon come up with the perfect color for your floors. Make sure to do a big sample area too with finish applied (that will change the color) so you’re confident that’s the final look you want.

      Good luck Zo-An!

      Tadas

  58. Zo-An says:

    Thanks Tadas,

    I did experiment with a natural mix but the color was a bit uninspired. Stuck with Jacobean. Thanks for your advice.
    This blog is terrific and you are very kind to share your knowledge so generously!!
    Warm Regards, Zo-An

  59. Jean says:

    Hi there, we recently sanded and stained our oak floors. I had a hard time deciding on a colour, we wanted to go with Gris beige from Monocoat. But we only had 3 days to get the floors done. So the floor guy mixed grey with Cherry. The first coat was so pretty. Then he put 2 more coats and it’s dark now. I’m not loving the colour:((((( any suggestions?

    • Hi Jean,

      Unfortunately once the stain is down, plus 3 coats of finish on top, there’s not much you can do other than sand it off and start all over. I’m guessing it must have been an oil based finish applied because water based wouldn’t make it darker.

      Sorry for the bad news. Is it really that bad? Hope you can get it sorted.

      Tadas

  60. Christie says:

    We are getting ready in next few months to tear out carpet and put down red oak wood floors. We have got a sample piece of wood and have stained it. My sister in law did Red Oak stain and I love the darkness but it has a little too much read. On our sample we did Red Oak and Red Mahogany, I am really drawn to the darkness of the mahogany but I am thinking about mixing a stain in to give it a little more brown tone. Any suggestions on what would be a good stain to try and mix with it!? Thank you

    • Hi Christie,

      You could try Jacobean. That will keep it dark but add the brown that you want. Try adding a quarter first and then half and half if its not brown enough.

      Hope that works for you.

      Tadas

  61. robyn says:

    Hi Tadas,

    I love your blog and have found it really informative. My contractor is putting in new red oak floor in my bedroom and refinishing the existing red oak floors in the living room/kitchen (its a small 650 sq ft apt). The previous color on the floor was a deep ebony (I don’t know the actual color from the previous owners)that I would like to replicate but maybe a little lighter. A 50/50 mix of dark walnut and english chestnut was recommended to me. Any thoughts on that combination and what brand of stain to use (my contractor doesn’t like minwax). I really like the look of the darker colors and don’t love anything “reddish”. Thanks for any advice.

    • Hi Robyn,

      I would stay away from English Chestnut if you don’t want a reddish hue. Maybe try Jacobean or even an Ebony and Natural blend. I would go with the brand of stain your floor guy is familiar with as you don’t want him experimenting with unfamiliar products/systems on your floor.

      Good luck with your floors Robyn.

      Tadas

  62. Deborah says:

    Hi Tadas,
    Have you ever worked with Australian Blackbutt hardwood flooring? I currently have my kitchen and dining in this wood in a honey colour and want it to be more Jacobean 2750 in colour, but I have concerns it’s not suitable to stain and the current floor’s sanding marks may stand out from the new wood. Looking forward to any feedback you may have.

    • Hi Deborah,

      Sorry for the delay… been a busy month here. Unfortunately no, we haven’t worked with Blackbutt yet. I did some quick research for you and it looks like it will take stain ok though. How bad are the sanding marks in the existing floor? It might be best to re-sand the entire floor – old and new – to make it the same color and sheen.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance.

      Tadas

  63. Mary Anne says:

    Hi Tadas;
    Does Bona Provincial have a orange / red undertone? Looking for a mid-brown stain without orange or red tones. Jacobean and Medicum Brown are to dark for our house with limited natural light. Thanks.

    • MaryAnne says:

      I should mention it is white oak quartersawn and rift. thanks.

    • Hi MaryAnne,

      Yes it does have orange/red undertones. If Jacobean and Medium Brown are to dark why don’t you try blending them with Natural to lighten them up but still keep the tones you want. Start with 50/50 and go from there.

      Hope that works for you.

      Tadas

  64. MaryAnne says:

    Thanks Tadas. What, if any, is the difference between Bona stain colors and Minwax stains with the same names? i.e. is one more red or yellow than the other?

  65. Hi MaryAnne,

    Not 100% sure as there are a lot of colors. We tend to blend most of our stain colors as well so most of our floors are custom colors. Best bet would be to get some samples of each so you can see for yourself.

    Stain colors will look different depending on the type of wood too so make sure the sample is the same wood as your floor. For example red and white oak with the same stain color will be a very different look.

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, its a bit hard to show and describe colors through a computer compared to in person with large samples :)

    Tadas

  66. Megan says:

    Hi I have an entire house of 6inch hickory and trying to decide on stain color for floor and stairs / handrail – about 3500 sq/ft of wood so I need to get the color right… what color would be more timeless in your opinion? I have white cabinetry (BM white dove) cabinets and trim throughout the house with an espresso island and butler pantry. Should I do ebony, jacobeen, antique walnut, ebony with some red mahogany? please help any advice would be appreciated. Going for a “costal” look Hampton’s style / or southern costal – also have a wood front door that i need to stain the interior of.. do I go lighter darker or the same as the floors for the door? do I go darker lighter or same on the stair treads and handrails on the staircase? ~ thanks!

    • Hi Megan,

      I’m very sorry for my delayed response. For a timeless color I would suggest Antique Brown or Spice Brown. They looked nice 20 years ago and still look nice today. In between those 2 decades there has been a lot of different looks from very dark floors, to red floors up to the grey floors that are popular right now. These extreme colors tend to go out of style quickly though, the two colors above won’t.

      I would do the treads the same color as the floor. As far as the door I would stain or paint it a different color. The wood most likely will be a different type and it will not take the stain the same as your floor. Then it looks like you’ve tried to match it but missed the mark :)

      Hope that helps.

      Tadas

  67. Sammyov5 says:

    Helllo I was wondering how you achieved the dark stain on the first picture on this blog? We recently had our red oak floors sanded and asked our contractor to stain them dark prepared to see a color like in your above pic, unfortunately they tried a dark walnut and Jacobean and both looked to light even the ebony was pretty light with greenish tint. They said that’s the darkest they could go is there anyway you could tell me how to get them as dark as your pic and what product to have them use? Thank you so much for you help! The products they used were minwax oil base

    • Hi Sammy,

      If I recall that floor was stained with a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you’re after you will need to water pop your floor.

      Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.

      Hope that helps.

      Tadas

  68. Rose says:

    Hi, we are in the process of laying white oak in our home and I am wanting a medium brown color (want a warm feeling). Which colors should I try to achieve this? Thanks

    • Hi Rose,

      Try Jacobean and then 50% Jacobean and 50% Natural. That is a nice warm medium brown color that will look good and in style for decades.

      Good luck with the project.

      Tadas

  69. Kelsi says:

    Hi Tadas,

    We are currently planning to stain our oak hardwood floors. The floors are currently stained with a neutral color which has turned to a yellowish color. I am debating whether to go with Jacobean, English Chestnut, or Dark Walnut. I went to see a neighbor’s floor that our current contractor recently finished. He chose the Jacobean but it sure looks like Ebony to me. It is really dark!! I liked it but I think it may be a bit too dark for our home. (He uses the DuraSeal brand). Our kitchen cabinets are the same color as the floor, neutral. If we use these darker colors I am wondering if they will clash or if it wood be a nice contrast. I have yet to see a hardwood floor that features our color of cabinets with the darker wood stain. Most are either white or cream colored. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

    • Hi Kelsi,

      I don’t have any pictures of dark floors with neutral cabinets, but on our ‘Photos’ page we have a few pictures of a project (2nd one from top in Orland Park) that has dark cabinets and neutral floors. It looks good and I think the reverse would look fine as well.

      Make sure you get hold of a large sample and keep it up against the cabinets for a few days so you get a good idea of whether you like the look or not.

      I hope you find something you love.

      Tadas

  70. dale sanden says:

    What color stain should I use on my refinished douglas fir basement steps?

    • Hi Dale,

      That’s very subjective :)

      Fir looks great with either an oil-based finish or natural stain and waterbased. Don’t just use waterbased finish though as it will look very washed out. If you want a darker color then you could stain it any color you choose. I guess it depends on your taste and furnishings.

      Tadas

  71. Ly says:

    Hi Tadas,

    Thank you so much for all of your expertise you share on this blog. Wish we lived up in the Chicagoland area so we could have you guys do our floors! Since we don’t, we ended up going the DIY route. We have installed #2 common red oak, 2 1/4″ planks, throughout the house & plan to finish them with Rubio Monocoat. We’d like to finish them in a light, natural color that doesn’t hide all the grain & interesting burls, etc., but that also brings a little uniformity to the sometimes wild tonal variation between all the planks – without looking like we just painted the floors. Do you have any experience with and recommendations of a Rubio color that might accomplish this, or are we asking for the impossible? We have created samples on our scrap wood, but for some reason they keep turning out looking like we just painted the wood with whatever color sample we used – none of them look beautiful & natural like your photos of floors you’ve done in RM. Is this because we hand buffed the samples vs using a machine (as we will for the actual floors)? Any input you might have would be very, very appreciated! Thanks so much and hope you are doing well!

    • Hi Ly,

      Sorry you’re having trouble. Yes you’re going to have a hard time getting a color that “doesn’t hide all the grain & interesting burls… but that also brings a little uniformity to the sometimes wild tonal variation between all the planks – without looking like we just painted the floors.”

      These finishes accentuate the character of the wood, so if you have a lot of variation then it will be hard to mask that with a light color unfortunately.

      Have you tried 5% White or Vanilla yet?

      Also make sure you really buff off all the excess oil otherwise it will look like it was painted. It will also be impossible to live on if there is still excess oil on the floor.

      I hope you can find something you like.

      Tadas

  72. Deanne says:

    Hello Tadas,

    We have red oak in our home and are in the process of refinishing them. Our floor guy put samples on our floor and we originally wanted the ebony yet it didn’t have the rich color I was looking for. I came across your site and saw the above picture you are in and that is exactly what I’m looking for. What was the process you used?

    Keep in mind, we are finishing them off with a water base matte finish…I hope that doesn’t effect the final outcome…Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Deanne,

      I’m going to quote from a former reply above to save some time if that’s ok…

      “If I recall that floor was stained with a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you’re after you will need to water pop your floor.

      Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.”

      The sheen of the finish won’t effect the color. Hope that helps.

      Tadas

  73. Keith says:

    Have an older 1924 home with lots of stained trim and cabinets..darker color..likely mahagony or dark walnut…likely, not cherry, since not as reddish tint. which color stain of the two is most likely the color(Milwauee), and do I use varnish or poly on top of it for protection?

    have to redo some areas near the windows, etc.

    thank you! Keith

  74. Keith says:

    oh, which is the best stain you would use..ZAR, etc.

    • Hi Keith,

      To be honest I couldn’t tell you the color unless I had a look at it in person. It would be best to get a couple of sample tins of both color stains and see if you can match it. Sorry I can’t be of more help here.

      For your second question, yes you will need to apply a finish over the top of the stain to protect it.

      As far as brand of stain, we use a few different ones depending on what look we are trying to achieve. Duraseal is a good brand we can recommend though.

      Hope that helps Keith.

      Tadas

  75. Jenn says:

    Hi Tadas,
    My floors are oak in a golden color with wider planks and the room is an L shape with the dining room. I want a warm rich feeling and I am tired of the golden yellow color. I want a warm color with no red. The room doesn’t get much natural light and we have high-hat lighting. My friend has provincial 111 and I loved it in her house. Do you think it will work well for me? As for the finish I have what I believe is a matte finish now not to shiny like a high gloss. I have a small dog whos nails leave tiny scratches so I need a good finish. I like matte would you recommend that again or would I be better with a different finish? Thanks so much:)
    Jenn

Leave a Reply


9 + = 15