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Hardwood flooring stain color trends

Stain color trends for hardwood floors

Hardwood floor colors for Refinishing - 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.

 

Most popular stain colors for hardwoodingIn addition, over the last two years, 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)

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

Stain color testing westchesterMinwax stain colors - Colors for hardwood flooring

 

 

 

 

 

Hardwood Floor Colors – What are the options and what is most popular?

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 a 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.

 

2017 hardwood trends - True Black Duraseal stain 199–  Over the last year or two, many customers are looking to go darker and darker – even darker than ebony.  Ebony is a very cool toned color, but you can still see the graining of the oak.  Due to this high demand, last year, Duraseal introduced a new color to their line up called “True Black” and it is striking.  So, if you want extremely dark, give this color a try.

 

Above 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 2019 flooring trends

Many who prefer dark flooring are going for a more opaque look – one that shows less graining.  Some of this may be driven by the impeccable pictures shown on Pinterest and Houzz.  (Note:  Many dark floors look darker in the pictures vs real life.)

 

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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.  Others, prefer a bit lighter as it is easier to clean and maintain.

 

Hardwood flooring stain color trendsIf you would like 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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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

 

Note:  The type of polyurethane you use (i.e. oil vs water polyurethane) can have a big impact on the color, especially for very light floor.  Oil based poly will be a bit darker and more amber.  Many customers love this; others are trying to move away from the yellow/golden look, and instead opting for a lighter and more natural look.  The best way to achieve this look (and simultaneously have a durable floor) is to use Bona Traffic HD.

 

 

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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, but lighter. 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).

 

Color consultation for Westchester County

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Trendy – Gray and white wash:

Gray hardwood floors

hardwood floor color trends 2019Yes, gray is the new hot color. It’s been very popular in tile and carpet for years and it’s now been making its way into hardwood for the last 3 or 4 years. 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

 

trendy gray and white area rug on gray floorsNote that gray stained floors work better on white oak than red oak (and even better on maple.  Please read the full article on gray hardwood floors.   I seem to get a lot of questions on this, especially as many contractors don’t have much experience with it.

 

best paint shades for north facaing bedrooms

 

 

Finally, I’ll mention that Duraseal recently launched a new line of 6 gray blend stains.  This are mixtures of grays and browns and beiges.  You can see these new stain colors here.

 

White washed floors

white washed hardwood birch driftscapeYes, one of the most surprising resurgences is white washed hardwood floors. Yes, 7 or 8 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 will help make your floors last longer (and will be less susceptible to yellowing), but this poly does cost more.

 

Wire-brushed

wirebrushed oak - stain color trends 2018Yes, this is super trendy (and more expensive) – creating a wire-brushed look.  This is basically when you have a main color (generally a darker color) and then you wire-brush the floors to pull out the grain, and then you add a second color (most often a white) so it creates a glaze and contrast on the grains.  This generally works best on oak or hickory floors, as they have a stronger grain.

 

It’s a tricky process, and most often you will see it in pre-finished hardwood flooring.  There are very few contractors that know how to create this effect on-site.

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Minwax and Duraseal Stain colors.

Minwax stain colors

Here’s a stain chart for Minwax Stains. Please note that this is a picture of a picture and hence it may not be color correct. Regardless, stain colors come out different on different woods (and even different pieces). It’s always best to test some stains on your own floors.

minwax stain samples - hardwood floor colors

 

  • Natural
  • Golden Oak
  • Provincial
  • Red Oak (the stain color, not species)
  • Puritan Pine
  • Ipswich Pine
  • Colonial Maple
  • Special Walnut
  • Red Mahogany
  • Early American
  • Gunstock
  • Red Chestnut
  • English Chestnut
  • Cherry
  • Fruitwood
  • Golden Pecan
  • Pickled Oak
  • Weathered Oak
  • Classic Grey
  • Driftwood
  • Ebony
  • Jacobean

Duraseal Stain colors

And here is the Duraseal stain chart. Again, you should test these stains on your own floors before committing to a color. They do come out different on different species, grades and age of wood. Also there is overlap of stain colors between Duraseal and Minwax. (both are made by the same manufacturer – Minwax).

 

  • Duraseal stain colorsGolden Oak
  • Provincial
  • Special Walnut
  • Golden Pecan
  • Colonial Maple
  • Fruitwood
  • Red Mahogany
  • English Chestnut
  • Cherry
  • Weathered Oak
  • Dark Walnut
  • Jacobean
  • Classic Grey
  • Driftwood
  • Neutral
  • Sedona Red
  • Coffee Brown
  • Rosewood
  • Nutmeg
  • Spice brown
  • Golden Brown
  • Antique Brown
  • Royal Mahogany
  • Chestnut
  • Ebony
  • Medium Brown
  • Gunstock
  • Mesquite Red
  • Early American
  • Country White
  • New color:  True Black

 

Check out Duraseal’s new gray blend line here.

 

Video – Which stain colors are most popular

 

Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors

 

You may also find these hardwood flooring articles helpful:

 

Color consultation for Westchester County

 

For more info, check out my Ebook – Discover the 6 Secrets to Refinishing Hardwood floors.

6 Secrets of Refinishing hardwood floors ebook

 

 

Hardwood flooring stain color trends for 2020

 

172 thoughts on “Hardwood flooring stain color trends”

  1. I have #2 red oak and I’ve been in my house 24 years ! I wanted to install the Homerwood product and I was looking at walnut and walnut butter rum but I’ve been hearing walnut is to soft ! Also it would cost be crazy to tear up my floor I bet ! Could I use a four or five inch in.
    My kitchen ? Will it look ok to have 21/4 in rest of house and 5 in or 4 in kitchen dining? I want a satin look and I won’t ride of the golden look I want more of a brown to go with white cabinets help

    1. Hi Amy. Yes, walnut is a very soft wood and probably not a good choice for a very heavy traffic area. It will dent VERY easily. And, it will show dents and scratches more. I think the 4″ next to 2 1/4″ is fine, but I would look at an alternative species. You could easily do oak with a dark stain. Also, in general for the kitchen, I think that doing site finished wood is better. I have an article on prefinished vs unfinished wood on here (just use the search function to find it (upper right).

  2. Hi, we have pre-stained white oak floors in the honey color. We want to have them re-stained in white or gray, but the floor guy told us we could not do that because the yellow color would show up between the boards and we would be able to see light yellow lines in our floors bc the lighter gray/white stain wouldn’t cover the honey color. He said even after sanding, the honey color would still be down in the cracks between boards. Is this true?

    1. Jamie – This doesn’t sound right (although I haven’t seen your floors). If they are standard solid wood floors, then you should be fine sanding and refinishing them any color you want. However, if you have some of those floors with deep bevels that have stain in them, then this will be a problem. Most people don’t have those (but I’ve certainly seen some in some older/dated homes…not sure if they were popular in the 80s (or 70s). And, there are some newer ones that have this.

      While it is often possible to sand the bevels in those floors, it’s extremely labor intensive and expensive.

      But, if you have regular solid wood, like the solid wood you see in most homes, then you are fine.

      I’d call another local flooring contractor to get a second opinion. And, is should not matter whether you gray or natural or dark or whatever. This may just be someone who isn’t experienced and comfortable doing gray. Or, it could be that you have a non standard wood. I hope that helps.

  3. Hi. We live in a 1st floor and garden level traditional brownstone in Boston. We are remodeling garden level. New baths. (Marble white/gray flooring)
    Gray and blue lace paint throughout bathrooms and bedrooms and new
    Oak flooring. My dilemma is what stain to go with.
    The 1st floor oak flooring has English chestnut stain throughout kitchen, living room, dining room and smaller bed room.
    My question is should both 1st floor and garden level floors have the same color stain.
    I like the look of whitewash as it keeps lower level so bright!!! But of course does not stay with the overall traditional look of the brownstone!
    What are your thoughts?

    1. Robin – I think it’s fine to switch color by level. Generally you do the steps the same color as the floor on that level (as you see both at same time). If you love white wash, then I say go for it…as long as you have white oak. If you have red oak, I’d probably reconsider (as it will turn out pinkish and you may need to spend extra on bleaching the floors). Whitewash looks way better on white oak.

      But, either stain should look good with your walls.

  4. I am looking to replace my carpet in all the bedrooms with hardwood floors. Unfortunately, I am stuck with the mahogny furniture as my husband will not part with it. I love the wide plank look possibly European Oak or Hickory but am struggling with the color. Any suggestions on colors that will go with traditonal furniture?

    1. Lena – You should probably either go very dark (e.g. dark walnut, jacobean, espresso) or very light (e.g. natural with Bona Traffic water borne poly). These will give you the most contrast. Also, on the light side, you could try maple. Hickory will probably be too busy with your furniture (IMO).

  5. Love this. I have red oak floors that are getting refinished next week. I want something on the lighter side but I like the grays. How would the Duraseal Weathered Oak look with the oil poly? Will the ambering with that color look bad? Thanks!!!

  6. Hello! Love your blog. I bought a house with red oak throughout that was stained different colors in different rooms. We’ve had them sanded and they are gorgeous. Would love to keep them natural but there is quite a bit of pink coming out with the Bona classic and the Bona amberseal worries me… (worried it’s too golden already). We are considering a weathered oak stain… any thoughts on if it’s too trendy and we might regret it in 5-10 years? Thanks 🙂
    – we will use Bona traffic hd

    1. You can definitely try weathered oak to see if it helps drown out the pink. It may, however be a bit too thin/watery, but definitely test it. It is trendy now, and I’m pretty sure it will be dated in 5 to 10 years. But, by that time, it will be time to refinish the floors anyway. So for now, since it’s your new home and you will be there a while, I would get what you love.

  7. I have hickory engineered floors that I am re finishing. I am having a hard time finding a stain that I like that the grains of the wood don’t pop out. I like the dark walnut, and grey. Should I have someone mix stain to soften the grain? What mixture looks good on hickory? Please help

    1. Shelly – It’s hard to say…the colors come out different on every species and the stain samples show the impact on oak. Hickory has strong graining, too and sometimes stronger than oak and sometimes they are more prominent on engineered wood. (I’m assuming of course that you have enough wood that you can refinish). In general, the darker you go with the stain, the less graining you see, so you may want to mix in ebony. Also, make sure you’re using Duraseal stain (rather than mixwax)…I just wrote a blog post on that. https://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/minwax-vs-duraseal-stain-better-hardwood-floors.html Duraseal is better and the stains come out darker so it may blend the graining in more. If that isn’t dark enough, you could try mixing in some True Black. I don’t think the gray is going to help (although I may be wrong), especially if you are using a premixed stain from minwax (as it’s very watery). And, it may complicate things as you may need to switch polyurethanes (and do a more expensive one). Graining shows less when you are very dark or very light (i.e. natural).

  8. Great article. Can you describe how much an ambering poly will yellow white oak vs going with a ligher stainj Igolden oak/pecan) and using a clear poly. I am trying to find pictures of white oak with no stain but an ambering poly to compare but cant seem to find any. My hardwood guy says there is no stain on my white oak but its very yellow/orange and i dont see how a clear coat will match what I have now. thanks

    1. That’s a really challenging question to answer, but most likely with the stain, you will darker and more amber. Between the 2 options, I think you’ll get a CLOSER match with natural, but you will probably never match exactly if you don’t sand the other part. Over time, your new area will darken and amberize, so over time, it will look closer. You also have the option of refinishing the other area alter.

  9. We are getting ready to refinish our red oak floors and I’m having a hard time deciding on a color. I am considering coffee brown or antique brown because they probably won’t show dust and dirt too much. I’m afraid they could be too traditional though. What are your thoughts on those color choices? And do either of those have burgundy undertones?

    1. Laura – I totally understand your dilemma, and agree that those 2 colors will show dust less. They are also nice colors. There is a trade off between practicality and style and the key is to test and see what you actually prefer. I would test these two + dark walnut to see what you think on your floors (they come out different on everyone’s floors. Antique brown will is darker/browner and red should not be a concern. Coffee brown has a bit more red in it, but it is usually subtle. I think one of the keys is how much the graining shows. The more the graining shows, the more traditional it will look. So, despite the name, most likely antique brown will look more contemporary than coffee brown. The closer you are to the mid range, the more the graining usually shows. But, see what you think and like.

      I hope that helps.

    1. I personally think that dark would go best with that especially with the vaulted ceilings. It will give a nice contrast vs wall and ceilings. I’d try dark walnut as well as 50/50 blend of ebony/dark walnut and maybe 50/50 ebony/jacobean.

  10. Is it possible to white wash hickory using a watered down paint technique? Or is it best to use a difference species? I really like the stripiness of character hickory, so I was leaning toward that. Do I have to do a conventional white wash w milk paint or lyme to get the look? I don’t mind if the color eventually pulls grey. Finally, what stain/white wash process do you recommend for the cleanest, mattest final look?

    1. I would NEVER recommend using paint of any sort for this. Paint of any sort will most likely permanently ruin your floors and you won’t be able to refinish in the future as paint will seep in the cracks. (and, yes, I’ve seen many people that need to replace their floors and/or live with stripes.

      We often use Bona white. And, use Bona Traffic HD for poly. No other polyurethanes are good for this. Use Bona Traffic HD in extra matte.
      Here are 2 articles that may help.
      https://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/which-are-the-best-polyurethane-brands-for-floors-which-do-i-recommend.html

      https://theflooringgirl.com/flooring-and-color-trends/staining-hardwood-floors-gray-westchester-county-ny.html

      1. Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll skip the paint and try the stain instead 🙂 Any thoughts about using the stains you recommended in white on hickory floors, or do you think a different species would work better?

  11. Hi there! We have just built a new home with 4/5/6″ hickory flooring and I’m hoping you can lend some advice about colors. I was hoping to have a lighter, possibly medium brown floor with little yellow or red tones. I would like to stay lighter as our home is in the country and we have 3 young children tracking in dirt often. ???? We have put some duraseal samples down and I like antique brown but it is darker than I was wanting to do. Mixed antique/ebony/country white and I thought I loved it at first. However after mulling over the samples more it seems very dull and almost some pinkish tones that I don’t like. Do you have any suggestions/pictures of hickory floors you have worked on and what turned out beautiful??? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Gidget. I don’t have pictures of hickory to show you variations. You’ll just have to test until you find what you like. If you want to avoid pink/yellow, I’d go more brown. You may want to try coffee brown as it’s a bit lighter than antique brown (or even medium brown which is a bit lighter). I’d try to avoid minwax stains or premade whites such as country white as it is very thin/liquidity and allows the pinks and yellows to shine through. That’s why so many are unhappy with that as well as their premade grays. If you want to cut in some white, try Bona White. (It may be a bit difficult to find, but that’s what we use and it’s what works).

  12. We recently updated our kitchen with shaker cabinets in dark cherry and light gray walls. The floor is white oak with a medium brownish stain; it runs throughout the first floor and needs to be refinished. The home is a traditional 2-story colonial, but we like a modern flair. What stain color would you recommend? Dark?

    1. Bob – Cherry cabinets are always hard as they are in the middle and you want a contrast, so either very dark or very light. In this instance, my first choice would be very dark – try 50/50 ebony/dark walnut blend or 50/50 ebony/jacobean blend. If you don’t like dark, then go very light – no stain + Bona Traffic HD water borne poly. That is the lightest you can go (unless you add white wash).

      If you like dark, but don’t like in kitchen, you could try to contrast there and do a white wash or natural w/ bona Traffic. But, I think they dark will look more modern.

  13. Hi – we had our living room floor stained natural and they don’t look quite like the floors next to them (in dining room) but the flooring folks said they will age in 4-6 months and look similar then. They are red oak. Is this true or are they selling me something? When they did the sample it looked pretty close but doesn’t seem that way now that they are done.

    1. Nicole – Yes, it will darken and amberize over time and be more similar. That being said, I can’t see the floors, so I don’t know how much of a difference it is nor whether the dining room has a stain on it or not. You can never match exactly no matter what you do as wood is a natural product and it changes color over time.

  14. Love all your comments! We have white oak floors in a beach house that gets tons of natural light. Right now they are stuck in the 90s. Orangey/yellow high gloss. I don’t want to go dark. Will show too much sand. I’m tempted to try natural, or a driftwood grayish color, but want it to be “timeless” and afraid that 10 years from now they’ll be stuck in the 2018s. So thinking I have to stick to a medium brown… The contractor will do samples, but I have to give him 3 or 4 colors to try. Any suggestions?

    1. Cathy – I hear you on the glossy and orange yellow. I might actually go for natural with Bona Traffic, especially given your location. If you use Bona Traffic HD, you will avoid the yellow and be on trend, it will be hold up best to sand and show it the least.

      Driftwood could work (and if you do it, you definitely should use Bona Traffic HD anyway), but yes, it will likely go out of style faster. Also, if you need to refinish one area before others (e.g. heavy traffic rooms such as kitchen or entry area, it will be harder to match.

      All that aside, in 10 years, it will be time to refinish your floors anyway, so you can always change/update the color then if that’s your major concern.

  15. I am refinishing white oak hardwood floors. I have dark cherry cabinets and alot of golden brown wood toned furniture. I want to make the floors dark rather then trying to match to all the different wood tones. I don’t like the reddish brown floor as the house is at the beach and i want it to look more clean and contemporary. I am just afraid if the floor is too dark and cool it wont blend with all the other woods. The walls are cream with white baseboards. HELP!!

    1. Lisa – This is a toughie as dark cherry cabinets are the most challenging to work with for wood colors. You’re 2 best options are to go as dark as possible (e.g. 50/50 ebony/dark walnut blend or ebony) OR go as light as possible (i.e. natural with water based poly). Whatever you do, I would stay away from reds and red undertones. So, for example, dark walnut is better than jacobean (which has some red undertones). I hope that helps.

      1. Thank You! Does the Dark Walnut have any warmth? I brought home a very dark cool sample and it looked very cold against the warm woods

        1. Lisa – It’s a “cool” color, which most people prefer. I suppose it has a bit of warmth, and it’s certain not cool cool like ebony is. Also, the color comes out different on different woods. You should test it to see how it looks on your floor. If it’s too cool, then mix in a bit of red or a different stain or look test jacobean which has some red undertones and is warmer.

  16. Hi. I currently have red pine flooring. I want to stain them to hide the yellow/orange/red tones. I don’t want to go as dark as Jacobean but want them brown. What is your reccomendation in order to hide those tones? Thanks

    1. Nikala – The darker you go, the more it will hide the red/orange tones. Dark walnut tends to work well, but if that’s too dark for you, then try antique brown.

      I probably wouldn’t use jacobean as that has some red undertones and dark walnut and antique brown are absorbed more by pine.

      Also, you MUST use a conditioner w/ pine before you apply the stain. This will help absorb the stain better…and importantly more evenly.

      If you feel antique brown is still too dark, you can try coffee brown, but I don’t think this will hide the red undertones before. Test and try it. the stain color samples are usually shown on oak…and they look different on pine.

      Also, use Duraseal for the stain, not minwax.

  17. Our red oak hardwood floor has become sun bleached in front of the window and darker under the area rug. We have sanded down the floor, but the different colours still show. Even after applying stain. Any suggestions on how we can even out the stain so that the lighter area doesn’t show as much.

    1. Lorna – Unfortunately, it’s is bleached that badly, there is very little you can do. You may need to replace some of the pieces of wood and weave in to even it out (and refinish again).

      Did you sand the floors yourself? If so, it could be that you didn’t sand properly. Or, you may just need to sand it again as the sun damage has penetrated more.

      Usually, when you have a professional do the sanding, this is not an issue. But, there are times where the damage is so bad or as occurred over such a long period of time, that you need to replace some of the wood. You may also want to look into UV protection for your windows. If it’s that bad, your windows are the source of the problem.

  18. Hello! I am writing with t-minus 4 days until my condo floors are sanded and restained. Besides stressing out about stain color (still! I like dark walnut but am afraid its too cool on my white oak floors) I want to know your thoughts on finish….satin or matte. Our condo gets a lot of light from a western exposure. Any thoughts on this would be so very much appreciated!

    1. Robin – Either one will work, but satin is more popular as it has a bit of sheen. It tends to work well with dark walnut. I love dark walnut, but you could also test antique brown (which is just a tad lighter).

  19. My red oak kitchen floors (natural finish) look outdated. I want to give my floor a more neutral or cool tone, but was hoping not to have to go to a super dark stain. Is there a light to medium color stain that could help accomplish this?
    Also, I want to extend the wood flooring into the connecting rooms (that are now carpet). Is it possible to make all the flooring look uniform/match?

    1. Teresa – If you want a lighter color that is more stylish, I’d recommend that you go natural and use a water based poly as that will cut out the yellow. (it’s the yellow that makes the floors look dated. I would recommend you use Bona Traffic HD for the highest grade. You can read more about that here:

  20. Has anyone found a wood looking tile to match stained white oak. If so….what was the stain color and name of tile? I would love the look of having continuous hardwood in my kitchen without the upkeep. Thanks!

    1. Jessica – It is challenging to find an exact match as these are totally different surfaces/substrates. Often people do different so they don’t have this option.

      But, you are welcome to go searching around. I can’t give you guidance as every floor and every stain is different.

  21. Considering purchasing a new maple engineered floor (Bella Cera verona) that is pre-finished with a darker brown/khaki colored stain (“pisa”). I have read about maple’s issues to photosensitivity and am somewhat concerned, and especially that my darker brown floors will turn yellow or organy. Will the prefinished darker brown stain prevent/hide the yellowing, or should I expect that it will still show through over time?

  22. I saw a picture on your site calling out True Black as a popular color. However, the image shows more of a blue..which I have been wondering about. Can you tell me if blue is an option and are you seeing it out there?

    1. Mary – True black actually looks black…or pretty close to it. It could be due to the way the picture was taken or how it looks on your screen. But, I will tell you that sometimes when it’s mixed with white, it looks a bit bluish – or a dark gray bluish. But normally, if you use it straight, it’s black/blackish. In general blue is not a great option. To get that, you would need to get a blue water based stain which is expensive and very difficult to apply…it’s very streaky when you use those and most refinishers won’t do this…or if they do, they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t realize it won’t come out right and that they will probably need to start over and refinish the floors again. If you really want to do this, you will have to search carefully for an installer that has a lot of experience. You would need Bona Traffic for your poly. Expect to pay 2 to 3 times the amount you would for a standard job.

  23. I had new red oak floors installed 3 years ago. I chose chestnut as I wanted a mid tone floor. I had dark floors in a previous home and did not want the maintenance that came with dark floors. After 3 years my floors are looking orange. Do you know why that would be? We are going to be redoing our first floor wood floors. Would you recommend doing them in the provincial stain? The stairs would not match the new floors since those were also done in chestnut? Do you think that would be ok? I prefer traditional rustic decor throughout my house-so the chestnut although orange/red works with it. Just annoyed that they aren’t more brown..

    1. Jo – Your floors probably turned orange because they used an oil based poly which yellows and amberizes over time…and chestnut isn’t a very dark stain so the orange shows through. To avoid the yellow, use a high grade water borne poly. In fact, I just wrote a blog post about this earlier in the week and you can read it here: Which polyurethanes don’t turn yellow.

      Regarding doing a different color/poly, I would do one that you’re actually happy with. If you can’t afford to redo the other floors, do them in a few years when you can afford it/when it’s convenient. There is no sense in having floors you don’t love. also, you could consider going a stain or two darker if you like that better. you could try provincial, special walnut or even antique brown. test it…make sure you love it.

  24. Hi! Love your site! My favorite wood is natural finished walnut and walnut with french bleed. At this time I am refinishing white oak floors and I am attempting to achieve that rich natural walnut color. Any suggestions for a blend (ideally minwax)that would get me close? And I could go darker, but for me Jacobean and Dark Walnut are too dark.

    1. Alicia – Thank so much!. So first, I would advise against Minwax stains. See why here: Mixwax vs Duraseal. Duraseal is better and it’s what the pros use. Plus, it will dry faster. So use Duraseal instead (same manufacture as minwax and a lot of shared colors). So, I don’t know what you mean by walnut – dark walnut or special walnut or the species. But, the brown colors that I would test would be special walnut (lighter), dark walnut (darker), blend of the 2, antique brown (in the middle w/ a touch more red but not much) and you could always blend it w/ one of the other 2 is those options don’t work well.

  25. Great site and we appreciate all your constructive comments. We are adding red oak floors in 3 rooms. We currently have the same in our dining room and kitchen but we want to change those two rooms to match and do them all at the same time as the others. We want it to be a little darker than the current floor but I don’t remember the name but it is lighter. The current floors were done about 9 -10 years ago. Our concern is picking a stain that will match my cherry kitchen cabinets. We are leaning towards Puritan Pine but also considering Golden Oak. In your opinion would those go ok with those cabinets or are there others you would recommend I consider? Thank You

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