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Stain color trends for hardwood floors – Westchester NY – Updated Sept 30, 2014

Refinish hardwood floors - Westchester NY - ebony flooringWhen it comes to hardwood flooring in Westchester NY, dark and light are in – both extremes.  Light stains gives the room a nice warm, airy and welcome look; dark stains hardwood gives the room a more formal and sophisticated look.  At the moment, dark seems to be the preference between the two, but this can vary based on the home owner’s tastes and style of the home.


In addition, over the last year and a half, a new trend has emerged and an old one has been reinvented.  Gray is the new hot trend.  And, white wash has been reinvented.  Yes, you read that right!  More below.  Because of these strong trends, I needed to update this article.  (My original article was from 2011 and yes, styles and trends evolve).


When we are refinishing hardwood floors in Westchester NY, we usually test 3 stains for a customer on their own hardwood.  It’s important to do this as all wood varies and accepts the stain differently based on the type of wood, grade of wood and it’s age. Also, wood color varies, so it’s much better to test it on several pieces – some lighter, some darker to get a true picture of how the stain will look (vs. a small chip that is on fake wood)

Stain color testing westchester

Minwax stain colors westchester










Dark hardwood stains


Ebony hardwood flooring - Hartsdale NY 10530Dark colors are probably the most stylish and dramatic. There are several similar tones, so I think it’s usually best to see which is just the right shade for your taste.


- Ebony for an deep espresso stylish and dramatic look.  Jacobean is very similar, so it’s good to test that stain, too.  Jacobean is currently the most popular stain.  Often, we will test a 50/50 blend of Jacobean and Ebony (this is nicknamed espresso) and many of our customers love this combo.


How to get dark hardwood floors- Dark Walnut is similar to Ebony and Jacobean, but it a bit lighter, which some customers prefer.  Jacobean and dark walnut show the dirt a bit less than ebony.


- Royal Mahogany has a bit of red cut in.  It’s almost a combo of Red Mahogany and Ebony.




Light colors for hardwood flooring

Refinish oak hardwood floors - Westchester NY - light naturalLight colors are very cheery as well as neutral.  They also work for modern looking homes (and ironically, ebony on the opposite extreme also works for modern).


- Most often, if someone is going light, we will do natural as this is the lightest you can go, and it usually costs less than adding a stain. Lighter, especially natural tends to hold up better/last longer and show less dirt.


- Golden Oak, fruitwood and ipswich pine are also a nice options – just a tad darker and adds some gold tones for more depth



Mid toned stains

Herringbone - Provincial hardwood floors - westchester NYMid tones tend to work for traditional homes in Westchester – they just seem to work color and style wise.  They also tend to hide some of the imperfections if the wood is older. 


- Provincial is the most popular mid tone color.  It works well because, it is a brown stain (and does not have reds mixed in), so it’s very neutral and goes with almost everything.  The picture on the left is provincial, but it appearing much lighter than usual due to my flash.  The picture below is more indicative of what provincial typically looks like.


mid tone stain colors for hardwood- Special Walnut is very similar to Provincial but a tad browner, so usually I recommend that a customer tests both colors on their floor to see which they prefer.  Provincial often works better in more traditional homes and special walnut often looks a bit more contemporary.


- Chestnut is similar to special walnut.  Please note that all of these stains come out slightly differently in everyone’s homes pending the species (red oak vs. white oak) and age of wood.



Red toned stains

westchester hardwood flooring - red tonesRed tones are more polarizing and less popular than the brown tones, regardless of whether the stain is light or dark.  Red tones are more challenging to decorate with as they are more challenging to match other wood furniture, as well as paint, window treatments and pillows.  Many homeowners and decorators find the reds limiting.

- Popular red tones include red mahogany, sedona red, mesquite red and red oak.  Most of these are pretty red.

- Then, there are red/brown blends such as English Chestnut.  This is a mid toned reddish brownish color.

- On the lighter side, there is Colonial maple (rather orange) and Golden Pecan (which is similar to golden oak, but with a hint of red).



Up and coming stain color trends – Gray and white wash:

Gray hardwood floors

gray hardwood floor refinishing westchester countyYes, gray is the new hot color.  It’s been very popular in tile and carpet for the last 3-4 years and it’s now been making its way into hardwood.  Gray is a bit challenging to achieve and more expensive than typical colors as you need to blend 2 colors and use a water based poly (otherwise it will yellow).  You can read more about gray hardwood floors here – Refinishing hardwood floors gray.  My higher end customers and those moving from NYC seem to have a lot of interest in this


Whitewashed floors

white washed hardwood birch driftscapeYes, one of the most surprising resurgences is white washed hardwood floors.  Yes, 5 or 6 years ago, this was so 80’s, but now it’s coming back!  The trend seems to be driven in part by the gray trend and in part by high end beach resorts in the Hamptons and now the Jersey Shore.  NYC often starts the trends and this is becoming bigger there, so it’s naturally migrating to Westchester County NY as we have so many who move here from the City and work in the City.  It’s especially popular with wider plank flooring.

White washed floors are more expensive.  Similar to gray floors, you need to use a water based poly, and this costs a bit more and you often need to add an extra coat for more durability.  In addition, using a higher grade water based poly such as Bona Traffic HD will help make your floors last longer (and will be less susceptible to yellowing), but this poly does cost more.


Video – Which stain colors are most popular


What stain colors do you prefer – take our poll and see the results:

For hardwood floors, do you prefer dark, light or mid-toned?


For hardwood floors, do you prefer brown/golden tones or red tone?



You may also find these hardwood flooring articles helpful:


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Map of Westchester hardwood refinishing and staining

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Hardwood flooring stain color trends  – Westchester NY

Hardwood flooring stain color trends - 2014 by


My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties. We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at debbie@TheFlooringGirl.com. Let us "bring the store to your door." If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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