Technically, Ebony is a very dense black hardwood – it is so dense that it sinks in water. But, generally, when homeowners in Westchester County ask about Ebony hardwood, they really mean dark hardwood flooring, and usually that means oak flooring with an ebony stain.
Real ebony refers to several species of the genus Diospyros. The most common of these are Ceylon ebony (from India and Sri Lanka), Gabon ebony (from Western Africa) and Makassar ebony (from Indonesia). Ebony is the blackest of all known woods. The heartwood is usually the jet black the color we see in ornamental pieces. Very dense and hard with straight to slightly interlocked grain and a very fine even texture.the Janka hardness scale, Ebony is 3220. Generally, real ebony is not used in flooring, but rather is used in small ornamental pieces such as black piano keys, chess board pieces, cutlery as well as violin and other finger boards. It has incredible resilience to termites.
For purposes of dark hardwood floors, the most common approach for homes in Westchester is to stain the oak floors with an ebony stain. This means that you can refinish your hardwood floors without needing to replace them. Ebony is the darkest stain and it gives you home a modern and sleek look. It’s chic, stylish and classy. The darker you go with the stain, the less you see the oak graining and this is another reason that many homeowners love this look. You can use ebony stain on other hardwood species, but it tends to work well with oak which absorbs the stain well and evenly.
For those that like dark hardwood flooring, but feel ebony is too dark, there are two other dark stains you may want to consider – Jacobean and Dark Walnut. These are also striking, but not quite as dark.
Ebony and darker stains do tend to show the dirt and scratches a bit more, so you may want to consider adding an extra coat of polyurethane for some extra protection. Also, we recommend a satin finish with ebony and dark hardwood floors. Satin has some sheen but less than the shiny appearance of semi gloss, so it looks classier and shows the scratches less.
Ebony hardwood floors tend to look great with cool toned paint colors such as ivory, grays, blues and some taupes. Some beiges also look classy and formal. We recommend to our customers that they test the stain color on their own floors before making the final decision on color (and we do this for our customers for no additional charge). We recommend that they do the same with the paint colors.
Dark flooring is fashionable, in fact haute couture, especially in Westchester County. In fact, it’s the most popular color range, and we have a lot of requests for specifically for ebony hardwood floors. It seems that the most popular seems to be a 50/50 blend of ebony/jacobean (sometimes called espresso) and 50/50 ebony/dark walnut. And, of course the pure forms of ebony, jacobean and dark walnut are super popular (those are named from darker to lighter.
Due to high demand for super dark (or ebonized) floors, Duraseal recently introduced a new stain color called True Black. It’s even darker than ebony and it’s more opaque. (Note: these floors are challenging to maintain as they show every bit of dirt).
Above right, you can see Duraseal True Black (#199). And, below, you can see a stain test showing True black (left) vs Ebony (right).
Most of my customers who prefer dark flooring are going for a more opaque look – one that shows less graining. The darker you go, the less you see the graining and you also see less color variation in the wood planks. Many prefer this look both because it’s more contemporary and also because the floors are more uniform making it easier to decorate.
If you’re looking to buy the True Black stain, you can purchase it online at Amazon by following above link or clicking on the picture of the can. It’s not available in most stores yet.
Another way to make your floors a bit darker (as well as a more even and consistent color is do a water pop. This does cost extra and requires a very skilled floor refinisher. Going with a darker color is far easier and more practical. And, of course doing both is also an option.
More information on hardwood flooring and refinishing:
- Water based vs. oil based polyurethane: Which is better for refinishing hardwood floors?
- How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?
- Dark hardwood flooring (see examples of other stain color options)
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