Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2017

2017 Hardwood flooring trends


Hardwood floors continue to grow in popularity across the country.  Whether it’s new hardwood or refinishing existing hardwood floors, it’s all about wood.  Tons of customers are ripping up their carpet and refinishing the wood floors underneath.  Almost everyone seem to want hardwood.  In fact, even in non-hardwood surfaces (such as tile, luxury vinyl and laminate), it’s all about imitating the wood look.  And, wood is now the most popular flooring surface in kitchens.


2017 hardwood flooring tends - dark vs light hardwood floorsAs I look at what’s trending for hardwood flooring, I would classify it as a Tale of Two Cities.  What’s so interesting is that the extremes are what’s most popular right now.  They are BOTH modern and contemporary, but in different ways.  For example, I’m seeing the following extremes:


1. Modern Drama (e.g. chic black/very dark or gray) or A return to authenticity and history (i.e. celebrate the natural look, the wood’s flaws, more of an old vintage look)

2. Very Dark or Very Light hardwood floors

3.  Smoother grained floors or floors that are rustic with a lot of character (i.e. they have knots, mineral streaks and are distressed)

4.  Smooth and Flat texture and finish or Distressed hardwood for an aged look


2017 hardwood flooring trends - Dark hardwood flooring - dark walnut stainBear in mind that just because something is trending or is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right for you, your family or your home.  I always recommended that my customers do what they like and what feels right for their style/decor and their lifestyle needs.


Please note that this article may contain some affiliate links.

This guide is divided into 4 sections:

1.  Stain Color Trends

2.  Finish Trends

3.  Layout Trends

4.  Style and Lifestyle trends



Hardwood Stain and Color trends (ultra dark, ultra blonde, gray

1.   Ultra dark

2017 hardwood trends - Dark hardwood flooringYes, dark hardwood flooring is the most popular and continues to grow.  Now, most home owners are looking to go darker and darker.  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 ebonyjacobean and dark walnut are super popular (those are named from darker to lighter). 


2017 hardwood trends - True Black Duraseal stain 199Due to high demand for super dark (or ebonized) floors, around a year ago, Duraseal 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). 


To the right, you can see Duraseal True Black (#199).  And, below, you can see a stain test showing True black (left) vs Ebony (right).


true black vs ebony stain test 2017 flooring trends

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.


dark hardwood floors 2017 trendsNote that the darker you go, the more you will see dirt and scratches.  For that reason, many of my customers who love the darker ebony look will instead go slightly lighter (e.g. dark walnut) as they are much easier to maintain.


You may find these articles helpful for tips on cleaning products and ways to reduce scratches:


2.   Ultra light – blonde and white washed wood floors with more natural finishes/lower gloss finishes

2017 hardwood trends water borne bona trafficThe 2nd most popular color is going very light, and lately it’s been lighter and lighter.  Many prefer this crisp clean look and they want to avoid the yellows/golds.  For that reason, more and more have been going towards water borne poly, especially the higher grade Bona Traffic HD.


Bona Traffic gives you a light, fresh and natural look.  It’s the lightest you can go (unless you bleach the floors or add white wash).  The look is contemporary and it has a more matte finish.  Bona Traffic HD is a wonderful product (the highest grade water borne poly) – strong, durable, and it both dries and cures quickly (thereby reducing the time to be out of the house). And, it doesn’t smell as much as oil based poly.


Bona Traffic HD does cost more than oil based poly, but it’s worth it if you want this fresh clean and contemporary look.


2017 hardwood trends - white wash armstrong mistic taupe White washes also continue to make a comeback.  They tend to be more popular in pre-finished woods (as opposed to floors that are site finished) as they generally come out lighter. This is due to the wood used (i.e. lighter species and newer wood (which is lighter) and the finishes and treatments available in the factory.  The whitewash stains available in the general market are a bit light/watery.  My prediction is that eventually Duraseal will come out with a more opaque white stain.


With white wash stains, you must use a water borne poly; otherwise, the floors will turn yellow.  Bona Traffic is by far the best choice, especially for white washes, both because of its durability, but also because it amberizes the least.  It looks the best both short-term and long term.


Regardless of whether homeowners are going natural or white washed, or using  water borne or oil based poly is used, satin and matte finishes are most stylish.


Related articles:


3.  Gray

Gray hardwood - 2017 flooring trendsThe demand for gray hardwood floors continues to increase.  Some prefer lighter grays and other prefer darker grays.  Over the last year or two, I’ve also noticed a rise in gray/brown blends.


You can read much more about how to refinish existing floors to make them gray in this article:  Staining hardwood floors gray.  Please note that this is not easy (I get calls and comments from homeowners all across the country where things didn’t turn out right). So, if you’re planning to refinish your floors gray, check out the article (and I’d recommend hiring a professional and someone with a lot of experience doing gray.


gray hardwood - 2017 hardwood floor trendsRefinishing your floors gray is more expensive because you really need to use Bona Traffic HD.  Because it’s more expensive and more challenging to decorate with, many end up going with a dark stain for the floors and gray paint for the walls.  This combo is much easier to decorate with.


Will gray go out of style?  Yes, probably…but probably not until it’s time to refinish your floors anyway.


4.  Cooler tones over warmer tones

kitchen-with-dark-hardwood-floorsCooler tones and brown tones are much more in style vs warmer and red tones.  In fact, I have a survey question on my site that shows only 17% of customers prefer red tones over brown tones. (By the way, you are welcome to cast your vote for this and the other flooring poll items).  Cooler tones tend to make it easier to decorate with as they give you more opportunities for paint colors, furniture, window treatments, pillows, etc.)


Hardwood Finish Trends (satin, matte, water borne poly, oiled floors)

5.  Satin and matte finishes

2017 trends for hardwood floors - satin and matte finishesShiny finishes are definitely out.  They are dated and impractical as they highlight the dents, scratches and dirt more.  The clear preference is for satin which is much more subdued.  It has a lower sheen and tends to hide imperfections more.  With the rise in water based poly, along with grays and white washes, matte finishes are starting to rise in popularity.  You can read more about finish and sheen levels here:  What type of sheen is most stylish?  Note: the more muted satin and matte sheens are more popular both in lighter and darker colors.


6.  Oiled floors

2017 hardwood trends - oiled floors - Castle Combe FitzroviaOiled floors are a fairly recent phenomenon and they’ve become more popular over the last couple of years. 


Oiled floors don’t use polyurethane to coat them.  Instead, they use an oil (e.g Rubio Monocoat) that penetrates into the wood.  This gives the wood a unique patina and texture.  It’s more natural looking and has a duller finish.


oiled floors - Castle Combi Fizrovia close upMost oiled floors use linseed or tung oil, or a combo of the two.  Some use safflower, soy, sunflower or hemp.  Some formulas use resin as waxes, such as bees wax or carnuba for higher durability.  The oils penetrate the wood and attach at a molecular level making the wood stronger while leaving the texture and color unobstructed.  Over time, the oil ages with the wood and the patina grows stronger.


oil finished floors castle combo MaybeckOne of the advantages of oiled floors is that they are easy to repair.  In fact, you don’t need to sand and refinish it as it scratches.  Instead, you can repair it yourself by adding more oil.  The oil is easy to use and extremely low in VOC’s.  The oils enhance the natural appearance of the wood.


The disadvantages of oiled floors is that they can often be more difficult to maintain (you need to periodically treat the floors with more oil) and the floors aren’t protected from water (or pet urine).  Polyurethane provides a protective layer that rests on the wood and prevents water from penetrating.  Oiled floors don’t protect the floors in the same way.  They require a lot more regular maintenance.


Importantly, with oiled floors, you would not use a regular hardwood cleaner. Instead, you would use Woca natural soap and the Woca Wood Refresher.  You can easily buy them on amazon by following the links in this paragraph.  These items cost more than the typical hardwood cleaners, but at least you can make repairs as scratches occur.


7.  Wire brushed

2017 wood floor trends - wire brushed - shaw argonne towerWire brushed floors have been on the rise the last couple of years.  These floors are etched with a subtle texture to enhance the graining of the wood. 


Wire brushing pulls the soft grain from the growth ring leaving the heart wood exposed to the surface.  It’s stylish and helps mask everyday wear and tear (and dirt).


wire bushed hardwood - castlewood 2017 trendsWire brushed wood has a bit of texture, but it’s not rough like distressed or handscraped wood.  Wire brushed wood has a real vintage look.


Wire brushed wood is usually factory made, so it’s  generally in a pre-finished form.  Occasionally, you can find some people that have a wire brushed sander, but these are few and far between.



Hardwood layout and style trends (wider planks, multiple widths

8.  Wider planks

can you match new and existing hardwood floorsWider planks have been preferred and on the rise for years.  They are more popular and they make your space look larger.  The standard that you see in most homes built from around 1950-2000 was 2 1/4″ strips.  Now, people prefer to go at least 3 1/4″ wide (this makes a huge visual difference) and even wider (e.g. 4″, 5″, 7″).  The preferred width can vary based on whether the wood is solid or engineered (prices shoot up much faster in solid wood and the planks expand/contract more), size of room and budget.


And, for those going for a more rustic look, wider is better (e.g. 7″ and even wider) for a more vintage look (as that’s how old pine floors were made).


9.  Multiple widths

2017 hardwood trends - mulitwidth planks - Shaw Springhill in trolleyOver the last year or so, I’ve noticed an uptick in using multiple widths for hardwood floors.  It seems to be a return to historic and more authentic floors.  Historically, floors were multi-width to utilize the cut of the trees in the most efficient way.


Note: Multi-width planks seems to be a bit of fad that comes and goes over the generations and it can date your house.  Hardwood colors change over time, and it’s easy to change their when you sand and refinish.  But plank width and pattern are permanent (or may be there for 100+ years), so consider that you’ll be living with these for a while.


10.  Chevron (over herringbone)

White Oak Chevron rifted and quarter sawn light hardwoodChevron is the more contemporary version of zig zagged wood.  Herringbone gives a more historic look and Chevron is more angular and action oriented for a more modern and action oriented look. 


Chevron can be seen above and herringbone below. 



Herringbone - Provincial hardwood floors - westchester NYChevron is a tad more expensive than Herringbone (and requires a bit more skill).  Both of these are more expensive vs. a standard straight lay as the wood needs to be specially cut, it takes more time and skill to install and it takes longer to refinish as you need to refinish the floors in both directions.


Imagine a V being repeated again and again – that’s a Chevron.  The flooring is cut at an angle so that the pieces come to a point.  Herringbone floors are not cut at an angle, and they are created by placing the rectangular pieces in a staggered pattern (similar to cobblestone roads).


Style and Lifestyle Trends

11.  Farmhouse and weathered planks

Wide plank flooring 2017 trends in flooringThere’s been an overall mega trend to return to the past and simpler times.  We’ve seen this in decor styles, especially in kitchens (think French Country kitchens) where many want to have a friendlier and more approachable home – one that fosters communication and reduces formality.


The farmhouse style (or shabby chic) provides a rustic and time worn look.  This provides a sense of style, but also provides an easier way to maintain floors.  The floors naturally have more character (in color, texture, mineral streaks and graining) so they camouflage scratches.


wide plank pine floorsFarmhouse flooring is usually wide plank (often 6-10″) and often uses multi-width planks as they mimic the look of floors from the 1700 and 1800’s.  These floors often come in pine or character grade oak with mineral streaks and lots of knots.


Here in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic area, you can find homes from the 1700’s and 1800’s.  We’ve had the honor to refinish many floors from the 1700’s.  These floors are stunning and witnessed a ton of history.  These floors have character, including gaps between the planks.  Many have face nails (as that’s how they were installed in those days.


Some of these farmhouse floors have warmer tones (as old pine does) and some is reclaimed wood.  Some have darker and cooler tones for a aged vintage look.  This wood is not cheap.  People are choosing it for a style statement.


12.  American over exotic

hickory flooring wide plankYes, the trend is buying local and home grown woods.  Oak is the most popular (and reasonably priced.  It’s timeless.  It’s practical in that it hides dirt and scratches more and it’s easy to sand and refinish.  Maple, pine and hickory are also popular. 


With maple, many are going for a light northern European look (there’s a strong preference for clear grade which has less color variation).  When it comes to pine and hickory, most are going for a more rustic look with lots of color variation among the boards and lots of knotting for an old world style.


Dark hardwood flooring - watchoutss when buying a new home with hardwoodPart of this trend is due to economics – Domestic species tend to be less expensive – plus, many would just prefer to support our local economy and part is due to aethetics, especially as there is a strong preference towards darks and cooler shades and reds have become dated.


This contrasts with the trends 8-10 year ago towards the exotics (e.g. Brazilian Cherry, Mahogany and Tigerwood).  These floors (especially the red colors) have become rather dated and are certainly less popular among most home buyers.  They also tend to show scratches and dirt more.


13.  Trend towards high quality/longer lasting and more sustainable wood

2017 hardwood trendsAs more people care about the environment, there seems to be a trend towards more sustainable wood and making sure that their floors will last longer.  There is a strong preference towards solid, as this will last a century or more, and towards woods that will hold up better. 


As the economy improves (bit by bit), and as more cheap products have been exposed (see 60 Minutes episode), more homeowners prefer to pay a bit more to get a wood or a finish that will last longer and avoid the inconvenience and future expense of needing to refinish (or replace) sooner. 


People are wisening up to the concept of “you get what you pay for” especially as some of the cheaper woods coming from China just don’t hold up well, and many have adhesives laced with formaldehyde.  More are going for higher quality woods, even if that means doing a smaller area.  They are also choosing higher grade polyurethanes and doing more coats.


2017 Hardwood flooring trends conclusion

2017 Trends for hardwood floorsThere you have it – 13 hardwood flooring trends for 2017.  I would expect these trends to gain even more popularity over the next few years.  Several have been growing for a decade or more and some are new trends over the last year or two.


As I mentioned before, while it’s good to know what the trends are, it’s more important that you love your hardwood floors, and you do what you love and what works best with the style and decor of your home.  All homes are different, and everyone’s taste is different.  I recommend that do what you love, regardless of whether it’s on trend or off trend.  And, remember, hardwood is on trend…so you can’t go wrong with hardwood.


Other helpful resources:


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Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors


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If you’re looking for a great hardwood flooring cleaning product, I recommend Bona. You can buy that directly from Amazon by following below link.



2017 Hardwood Flooring Trends – 13 Trends to follow









33 Response Comments

  • Jay Markanich  December 31, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    I would expect trend toward the dark and the gray would pass quickly as it has come and gone before. I have never seen the Chevron, and like it a lot! Must be expensive, unless the pieces come in the box at the desired lengths.

    • TheFlooringGirl  December 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Jay, I would expect gray floors to pass in the next 5 years or so. I would expect dark to be longer lasting as it has been growing for a while and seems more stylish. It is an excellent pallet to decorate from. Many will gravitate towards a bit less dark as it’s more practical. The chevron is cool. It’s definitely more expensive. Yes, the pieces are specially cut, but it’s more labor intensive to install (even moreso than herringbone) and the pieces tend to cost a bit more than the precut herringbone due to the angles. And, you need to sand in 2 directions, so again a bit more labor intensive.

  • beth Witt  January 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    A beautiful comprehensive and informative post. We will be taking advantage of your great tips in our future rehabs.
    I can tell you from experience that Bona as you recommended is a fantastic floor cleaning.

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 6, 2017 at 6:21 am

      Thank you so much, Beth. Yes, hopefully this will help. You guys are pretty close to us. Great to hear from you.

  • Ann Mehrman  January 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    I am one who prefers a light stained floor; since I already have red oak, I lean towards a reddish tone over yellow; brown or gray (like the gray but have too much other woodwork to match 😉

    I have a question about laying natural oak flooring around a round brick hearth. We currently have carpeting but I would like to change to hardwood and replace the carpet. I like the “picture frame” transition from floor to hearth but with a curved/semi-circle brick hearth, I don’t think this is possible.

    Any solutions?

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 8, 2017 at 4:36 am

      Ann – First, yes, do whatever color you prefer. Second, yes, it’s tricky with brick and even trickier if it’s curved. You probably need to get some talented installers who can scribe around the area. I have seen some curved wood that is specially fabricated as well (it gets expensive). You’ll definitely want to do this unfinished for a cleaner look after it’s sanding. Prefinished won’t work. Alternatively, you could try a flexible rubber piece, but this obviously doesn’t look as nice and it will be challenging to get it to match the color and graining of the wood. Sometimes, in specialty lumber stores, they have some rubber pieces/moldings that have a wood grain and then you can stain it to the color. I hope that helps.

  • Ken Fisher  January 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm


    I think you mentioned how reds don’t do well last year as well. When I chose the custom colors for Uptown Floors I put a few reds in there and low and behold they became the biggest sellers. So I added more with some brown tints. Gray surprises me. Very few sales. Natural finished hardwoods on the other hand are running second, followed by beige and light browns. That’s a good sampling that covers about 20 states.

    About that fireplace Ann mentions…


    • TheFlooringGirl  January 9, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Ken – Interesting that you’re seeing that. Yes, reds are VERY dated here. And, in fact, I have a survey question on my site with over 1000 responses and only 13% like reds (or oranges). I can see it being more popular in the south and the trends tend to start here.

      All that aside, when you are offering a whole line, I would think you would want at least 1-2 reds to satisfy the breadth of preferences (the concept is “variety without duplication”). One of Coretec’s most popular items is a red, too. But sometimes these items become more popular as there are only 1-2 options, so everyone who likes that range just picks the 1 color.

      So, all in all, you want to have that variety in the line, but the overall preference here is to move away from red…and in fact, I get lots of requests from homeowners here (and across the country on the blog) for drowning out the red.

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 9, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      Ken – Yes, gray is popular here, but many end up going dark instead. When they think it through, dark is much easier to decorate with. And, yes, I agree light/natural is 2nd here.

      Part of this difference we may be seeing is based on type of wood – you probably have a lot of prefinished wood whereas here people are more often refinishing existing wood. And, the finishes are different.

  • Charles  January 11, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Here in the Southwest, our customers prefer the light colored flooring. One of our customers chose a dark (Ebony) color, and the very next day, we had a dust storm (very common here in the desert). The customer was not very happy as the dirt was very visible with the dark colored flooring.
    We decided not to “upsell” the dark colors after a few complaints, instead the light colored flooring – which goes even better with the Southwestern decor!

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 12, 2017 at 11:41 am

      Charles – Yes, I can see lighter working better in your area and I’ve heard some others in Southwest say the same thing. The weather and home styles vary by area of the country. And, yes, darker is shows dirt more, and it probably shows even more in areas with more bright light/sunny days.

  • CATherine  January 18, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Any recommendations for my contractor around the process of mixing ebony and Jacobean? He says he has never done a mix. Thanks!

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 24, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Hmmm. That really should be that hard. That’s odd that he’s never mixed. He needs to carefully measure so it’s a one to one ratio. He will need to mix in a separate container. I supposed if he feels really uncomfortable, he could also test espresso which is generally a 1:1 ratio of these 2 colors.

  • Leslie  January 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Neet some advice. We are redoing our kitchen which butts up to our dining room. We put teak hardwood flooring in the dining room over 20 years ago and purchased from an auction. Can’t match it up. On the other side of the kitchen, we have a laminate in the family room (it has a step down from the kitchen). I’d like to put in hardwood in the kitchen and hallway (which are continuous) but am concerned that there would be 3 different “wood looks” on the first floor. Any suggestions?

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 24, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      This is a toughie. If you can’t match, you can’t match. But, if it Brazilian Teak, you should be able to get additional Brazilian Teak. It may not look exactly the same due to the aging. An alternative, especially if you have extra left over is that you could “integrate” teak into the kitchen via a border. This depends on size/shape of kitchen. I might try this with maple as the main color as it would be the lightest wood and give you the most contrast with the teak/teak border. I’d also probably try to replace the laminate to match the kitchen area, even if you need to do later.

  • Sue T  January 29, 2017 at 8:20 am

    My hubby chose red oak for throughout our upstairs, uncharacteristically not asking me first. This is what we have throughout downstairs of our 25-year old custom built Victorian with mahogany stained woodwork (that’s tough). Project almost complete- no going back on that. Do you still recommend a natural satin finish or is there a finish that will diminish the look of the red? Exceptional post by the way! Thank you!!!

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 29, 2017 at 11:28 am

      I would probably use Bona Traffic HD for the poly. This is natural. This will give you more contrast vs mahogany woodwork and it will probably be a bit less pink. It won’t get rid of the red, but it will be a bit lighter/less red.

      The only other ways to reduce the red are 1) on the light side, bleach the floor and do white wash…but you may not like it…white wash works way better on white oak than red oak and you may still have pink undertones (and the bleach isn’t wonderful for the wood) or 2) go darker to drown out the red (but you may not like with the mahogany wood work.

      so, that’s how I gravitate towards natural and Bona Traffic. Note: Bona Traffic does cost more than oil based poly. You can read more about brands of poly here – Brands of poly I recommend.

  • ann warren  February 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    We have decide to go hardwood throughout the house, We are having trouble deciding on color, we prefer the traditional colors, & styles. We also have a selection of wood furniture, in Light & med oak. The Burgundy tones in the coaches ,
    We also live in Canada. , From reading this I do feel more informed, still intimidated though.lol

    • TheFlooringGirl  February 12, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Ann. Glad this has helped. I’d probably go for oak – either very dark or very light (i.e. natural) to go with your furniture shades. I hope that helps. Choose red oak if you like more graining/more traditional or choose white oak if you like less graining.

  • Cathryn  February 22, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Going for a contemporary look. Please advise which manufacturers carry true grey wood floorings … showing minimal wood grain, wide plank, matte finish? Thanks!

    • TheFlooringGirl  February 25, 2017 at 7:46 am

      If you are looking at prefinished wood, you will want to look at these in person. Rather than suggesting a manufacturer (because there are many out there and many opinions on color), I would recommend going with a maple species (or birch). Maple is stronger of the two. Maples look more modern and tend to give more of a true gray look and less graining. Many manufacturers are using matte or satin finishes for gray now. I’d recommend you go to a local store and see what you like.

  • Denine Uphoff  February 26, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Hi – I read in your informative article here that for white-wash stains you recommend water-based finish only. Because of the durability issues, the floor refinisher recommends oil-based finishes, as you do. My color choice for our red oak ’89 floor refinishing (2nd x) is a mix of about 40% Daly’s stain “Frost” and 60% “Fog Mist”, which looks darker/more red on the red oak than it does in this sample: . So, it appears to be a mid-white wash, not grey, but more of a taupe. Do you think I can get away with an oil-based Glitsa on top? I will anticipate some yellowing, but how soon would it be noticeable?

    • TheFlooringGirl  February 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      Absolutely NOT! You should only use water based and I would only recommend Bona Traffic for this job. Bona traffic will last just as long as oil based. They are equal in durability. You need water based for anything white or gray or in that range, otherwise, it will turn yellow (and get more yellow over time. I could have sworn that I had responded to this comment a week or so ago.

      You can read more in this article: What are the best brands of polyurethane?

  • Cynthia  March 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Hi! I live in a North facing 1963 ranch house in Milwaukee, WI. We are currently refinishing our oak hardwood floors. I think they are red oak but I would be lying if I said I knew that for sure! I had my heart set on Minwax Dark Walnut (a nice medium brown) but my husband thought that would be too dark and the floor guy warned the floors would turn out dark. So we tested Minwax Special Walnut (floor guys recommendation) and Expresso (I know a dark stain but didn’t look as dark at the store)…I decided that the Special Walnut because it looked just dark enough and just warm enough. Plus I liked that the grain looked smooth and not so in your face.
    Well we went to look at it yesterday and it’s way too light! Problem is the floor guy put a poly layer on already. So he told my husband he would mix stain and poly together to get the floors a bit darker. My question is- will this work?
    In general how many layers of Special Walnut stain do you usually recommend? Also IYO would dark walnut be too dark on a North facing ranch?
    I am so frustrated at my husband and the floor guy…and myself for not going with my initial choice…so any words would be helpful at this moment in time : /

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 8, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Cynthia – Oh gosh, I feel your pain. First, I think dark walnut is nice (espresso, by the way is darker than dark walnut), but if you were concerned about dark walnut being too dark, I would have advised you to test antique brown and coffee brown. Those 2 stains are a bit lighter than dark walnut and darker than special walnut. Second, obviously, it would have been better to check the stain before the 1st coat of poly went down if you were unsure about color, but I get that it’s too late now. Third, he only should have done 1 coat of stain. That is the best way to go. Putting down 2 coats of stain is bad form and can create issues with adhesion (so the poly could peel later).

      Now that this has been done, the contractor’s suggestion of mixing in some tint with the poly is a good one. You can do this on the top layer of poly. Now, when you do this, it weakens the poly a bit, so it’s important that you have 3 coats of poly (and not 2) and then the 3rd coat would have the poly. (Note: if you were planning for just 2 coats of poly, this will cost extra, but you really should be doing 3 coats anyway (with or without the tint).

      We have done this a few times for customers when they chose and approved the stain and then later changed their minds. Bear in mind that this will only make it a little darker. If you want it much darker, then you will need to start from scratch and resand everything. If you are totally unsure, see if there is a way to “test” it in one room. This would delay the process (and possibly cost a bit more as the contractor needs to make more trips), but you could see how you like the one room and if it’s dark enough then do the rest of the area; if it isn’t, then resand. I hope that made sense.

      • Cynthia  March 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

        Thank you for your input!
        We did have our floor contractor add a little stain to the poly as you suggested…it made it a tad darker. Overall we do like how the floors turned out- they are beautiful. Also, I think since we live in a North facing ranch we made the right decision going with Special Walnut. Plus once our white trim is up and the walls are painted a light griege, I think the floors will end up looking darker.
        I am still in love with the look of Dark Walnut floors and I will always think “what could have been” but alas they were not to be in this house!
        BTW I love your blog, so much wonderful information!!

        • TheFlooringGirl  March 10, 2017 at 6:26 pm

          Cynthia – Thx for coming back and providing. I’m so happy that things turned out well. Sometimes, things work out for the best. And, thank you so much for your kind words. That means the world to me.

  • Dean  March 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Great read here. Thank you.
    What are the thoughts on 2 different types/colours in one house. My main floor is a dark oak and the rest of my house is carpet. I’m thinking about ripping out the carpet and laying down some boards, however, my style and preference is different from the current oak floor that I don’t want to replace.
    Is it a terrible idea to go with what I like now on the 2nd floor of my house if the 1st floor wood is different? Keep in mind that I would want to do the stairs as well which would lead right down to the dark oak.
    Thank you, and thanks for you work.

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 12, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Dean – Thanks so much for your kind words. I think it’s fine to switch on the 2nd floor, especially if you don’t like what’s on the 1st floor. Generally, though, you would do the steps the same as the 1st floor so it’s cohesive look on 1st floor. I hope that helps.

  • Francesca  March 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    We have a 1920 home with 2.5 inch red oak strip in the parlour The colour is walnut with golds. It was cut on the quarter so colour variation is big. The stairs are also in that colour with white risers. We are doing our entire upstairs and need to rip out the old floor which is ruined. I don’t know what to replace it with that will work with the rest of the house. I love walnut but that would be too different. I don’t know if white oak will be ok with the red oak. Help!

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 26, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      First, I should warn you that this will probably a larger job than you are anticipating. Based on time of house and wood not lasting well, it’s most likely that you don’t have a subfloor, or don’t have a good one. So you may need to add a level of plywood. I would strongly advise against walnut, as that is very soft and very expensive. I’d probably do oak and stain it with a walnut/darkish brown stain. I’m not sure that I would let 1 room on a different floor dictate what you do in the whole house. If you like white oak better and it’s on a different floor, I’d probably say that.

      I’m guessing what you mean is that you have quartersawn oak. That is more expensive. I’m surprised about the color variation as normally there is less color variation with this cut, but there are more rays. Bear in mind that if you did red oak select, it won’t match that anyway, so if you like white oak better, do that…neither will match…unless you do red oak quartersawn (which will cost a lot more), but chances are that won’t match either as it hasn’t aged for 100 years and the standards for quartersawn are different now vs 100 years ago.

      I hope that helps.

      Watch out as old homes almost always cost more to renovate, and be prepared to do subfloor work.

  • Kamini  March 28, 2017 at 3:45 am

    We are planning put the Rich Acacia laminate flooring. I think it will be too dark but my husband has liked that. I am thinking of going little lighter like grey or bamboo color.
    Please suggest.

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 28, 2017 at 6:29 am

      Kamini – It really just depends what you like. Acacia is redder, which some people love and others hate. It is more challenging to decorate with. Lighter will make you space look larger and will be easier to clean.


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