Modern gray, greige and brown-gray stain shades for hardwood flooring
Over the last 7 years, gray hardwood has become super stylish and continues to grow faster and faster. We’ve been getting more and more requests to stain hardwood floors gray. Some prefer lighter, some prefer darker and some prefer somewhere in between.
We’ve usually customized the gray stains to achieve the customer’s desired shade. We haven’t been thrilled with the pre-made gray and white washed stains from Duraseal and Minwax (e.g. classic gray, country white) as they just aren’t thick enough. They come out too thin and watery.
Now, over the last 2-3 years, we’ve been getting more requests to mix the gray blends with browns and beige to get greiges or brown grays. Sometimes it takes a bit of imagination as well as trial and error (and patience) as we are often blending 3 or more colors (white, ebony and at least 1 shade of brown). It can take a while.
Well, Duraseal, the preferred stain among professional refinishers, has come to the rescue. They are also aware of shifting and evolving homeowners’ tastes. They introduced 6 new gray and gray blended stains. These are part of Duraseal’s Inspired Stain line.
These innovative gray stain blends range from light rustic tones to time-worn grays to deep brown and gray blends. These new stains are more charming, more contemporary and have more pigment than the gray, whitewash and weathered oak stains.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Duraseal’s new stain color line:
- Silvered Gray
- Rustic Gray
- Warm Gray
- Dark Gray
- Aged Barrel
- Heritage Brown
Silvered gray is lighter than classic gray and dark gray is a bit darker than that.
Now, we have Rustic Gray and Warm Gray which mix in some beige with gray to get a Greige (or a warmer gray).
And, then on the other end, we have Aged Barrel and Heritage Brown which integrate dark browns and ebony with gray.
I think my favorite is Heritage Brown which looks kind of like a stylish charcoal. It’s ebony with lighted a tad with a touch of gray. It softens the ebony and even gives you slightly different tones pending on how the light hits it.
I recently had my refinisher test all 6 of these gray or grayish stains and I wanted to share the pictures with you.
The above stain colors (in order) are dark gray, rustic beige, heritage brown, warm gray, aged barrel and silvered gray.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FLOOR TIMELINE HERE!
How many coats of stain should you use on hardwood floors?
As always, you would just want to do 1 coat of stain. While adding a 2nd coat of stain will make the color darker, you really only want 1 coat of stain…that’s how the product is designed.
The stain penetrates the wood, and then the polyurethane is designed to adhere to the stain. If you do a second coat of stain, it will not penetrate the wood properly, nor will the poly adhere to it as well. As a result, it is possible that the stain and/or poly may peel (over time) and it certainly won’t last as long.
After the stain has properly dried (usually 24 hours), you would then add 2-3 coats of polyurethane on top for protection (3 coats is lasts longer).
Which type of polyurethane and which brand is best for gray blended stains?
When it comes to gray stains, you always want to use water borne polyurethane. You want to avoid oil based polyurethane poly, as this will turn the gray yellow and it will look very unattractive.
But, a high grade water borne poly will do the trick as it won’t yellow. My top recommendation is Bona Traffic HD. This is the most durable and yellows the least out of any polyurethane out there.
You can read more about the best brands of water based polyurethane in this article.
Related gray hardwood articles:
- How to stain and refinish hardwood gray
- Best paint colors to go with gray flooring
- 13 Stunning gray hardwood floors (pre-finished) you can buy online
- Hardwood flooring trends
- 9 Amazing warm gray paint colors
- 11 Stylish cool gray paint shades
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
And, this Painting and Flooring Planner will organize your paint shades, finishes and flooring choices by room.
New Gray Blended Hardwood Stains by Duraseal
36 thoughts on “New Gray Blended Hardwood Stains by Duraseal”
My trim and doors are a light golden oak. Do I have to match the floor or can I go gray?
Joelyn – I would paint the trim white. It’s much more stylish and brightens up your space and makes it look larger. Then, you can do any stain color you want. Generally, you would either paint the trim white or stain the trim the same color as the floors.
Painting white generally looks better and costs much less.
We would like a whitewashed finish on red oak floors. I read what you said about that, but is there a way to achieve a good whitewashed finish, despite the red/pink undertones? Or, can you recommend a product that would come close to a whitewashed look on a red oak floor? Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
Jackie – The only way that you’ll be able to achieve a whitewashed look on red oak is to bleach first. period. All other “options” would permanently ruin you floors (e.g.if you paint or mix in paint). If you do that, you should know that you will not be able to refinish your floors again (as you will need to replace them) and not sure that you could even find a poly that will both adhere properly and not yellow.
thanks for you advice, very helpful
Essalene – Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
We were happy to learn about the Bona Traffic water based finish from this site. However, what water-based stain is available? Want to avoid the VOC’s.
Irene – THx so much. I would not recommend a water based stain. They do not come out well – they come out streaky and don’t look nice. You should use a regular stain. Then, the poly will seal it in. (Also, if you decide to not heed my advice, know that you will need to pay a LOT more for a worse looking product and it will take longer.).
Hello! I am so happy to find your page. We just installed 4.5” White Oak select. We are in a dilemma for the color. We want something of a griege, with some warmth, but no yellow or as my husband calls it “Hillbilly Gold”. What do you think of Duraseal Rustic Beige or Bona Birch, either one of them would be topped with Bona NaturalSeal, then two coats of Bona Traffic HD XMatte. We were thinking the Bona NaturalSeal will pull a little of the natural tones, but still wouldn’t yellow. What do you think???
Linda – LOL, I’ve never heard that term for floors. Hilarious. You will have to test the stains on your floors to decide. My gut tells me that rustic beige will come out a bit too yellow for you. but, you could mix in some white (from Bona) or you could try Nordicseal rather than Natural Seal. You can read more about that NordicSeal here. Yes, on Bona Traffic HD for the poly.
I can’t find a dealer that uses Duraseal in my area. Is there a place you know that will sell samples of their different colors so I can test them out on my wood? My other option is Varathane by rustoleum. Will the traffic HD stick to that?
Kyle – You can always buy Duraseal on Amazon. But these new ones may not be available yet. Or in local hardwood flooring stores. It is very possible that some in your area aren’t up to date on these new blends, but they should be able to order them from their dealer.
Hi! Where can I purchase these new great gray stains? Having trouble finding them online. I am looking to do my stairs and want to test the new colors! Thank you.
Sarah – You can get the new Duraseal stains in most flooring stores. Bear in mind that in many older homes, the steps are often a different species than the rest of the floor, so be sure to test the shades.
This is such a process but we LOVE your blog. A few questions:
We have a large traditional home and are leaning between Jacobean, Jacobean/Ebony or Heritage Brown. Our base wall coat is Revere Pewter. Based on your experience, would you rank these in order of preference?
Jack – I actually think all 3 stain colors can work with Revere Pewter since it has warm and green undertones (so it can work with the red undertones. I would test all 3 to see which you prefer. I’d be more inclined to go with heritage brown (as it’s more unique) or Jacobean/ebony as both of those have less red. You may also want to test 50/50 ebony/dark walnut. But I think all of the above stains/blends will work.
Thank you! One more question…
Have you blended Jacobean and Classic Gray? Any input is greatly appreciated. Seems like one that has gotten some traction. We love a Restoration Hardware look.
Jack – I would try dark walnut and classic gray instead. Jacobean has some red undertones, so it won’t look as good with te gray as dark walnut would.
I’m leaning toward staining my red oak floor 100 ebony. However I still see some red in the sample. Would mixing in some grey to it help reduce the red? Or would that combo already be “heritage brown” and should I just go with that? I guess what my question really is how do I get a red oak floor dark with no red undertones and minimizing the heavy graining? (My furniture is mostly greys and blues. Walls are decorators white and shoreline by Benjamin Moore)
Lee – First, it’s unusual that ebony would still show some red undertones in it. Are you doing this yourself or is the refinisher doing it? It’s possible that the floors are sanded enough or that you’re wiping the stain off too much. All that aside, you go darker to hide the graining. Usually dark walnut is dark enough and ebony is darker than that. but, if you want to go darker and hide the grain, mix in True Black. I think that Heritage Brown will show the grain more. And, if you use Heritage Brown, you’ll want to use a water based poly like Bona Traffic which will cost you much more money. So, if you’re really just trying to hide the gray and completely smother the red, mix in True Black (start w/ 50/50 ebony/true black) and adjust from there. 100% True black is very hard to maintain and shows every bit of dirt. I hope that helps.
Love your blog, you do a great job at explaining the processes!
What stain/ color would you recommend for a whitewashed oak look? Really looking for good quality and long lasting. Can I finish using Bona Traffic HD? Recommended? Thanks!
I think Bona White is the best. And, for poly, definitely use Bona Traffic HD. It is by far the best for looks and longevity. No contest.
Hi, I am doing a modern farmhouse remodel. I a doing about 1200 sq feet of hardwoods. My trim is Dove White. I am struggling with Aged Barrel. Some rooms I like it, others I don’t. I only have seen it as a sample o my floor, but it look dingy. What top coat (i.e. satin, etc.) do you recommend? I have greys and greens through out the house.
Kelli – Be sure to use Bona Traffic HD on that. I’d do either Matte or satin finish (probably Matte, but either will work based on your personal preference).
Thanks. Do you have a favorite brown gray stain color? We are using white oak. Thanks again..
I am struggling with the same! What did you decide?
We just had our floors stained with one coat of the duraseal silvered grey. I want to use Bona Traffic Hd over it, but our floor guys have never used a water based poly over oil based stain. Any advice on how they should prep the floors in order to prevent peeling? I tried calling bona but they just said adhere to duraseal dry times, so not that helpful. The stain had been drying for 4 days so it should be cured. I’ve read about wiping down with mix of water and denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, light sanding…our floor guys said we’d void our warranty by putting the water over oil stain, so Im anxious to get it right. Any advice would be great. Thanks!
Jenny – Honestly, it sounds like maybe you need more experienced refinishers. the info Bona gave you is correct. No prep is needed. Generally the stain takes one day to try and they should be able to check it by touch. 2 days at the most if it’s humid. then either put on Bona Traffic HD or a Bona Sealer and follow the instructions on drying time which is generally a few hours but it will vary a bit based on humidity and which coat it is. If they do a sealer, do that as first coat and next 2 coats Bona Traffic HD. do not use water or denatured alcohol after stain or anything is down. you might use that as a water pop before stain but not after.
Hello! Thanks for your blog. We are having our floors refinished and are struggling with the right stain color. We have red oak floors and would love to have a lighter oak look. I know I’ve read that it is very difficult to achieve a light wood color on red oak without having the red and pink undertones. Any suggestions on stain mixtures that would be on the lighter side? We don’t mind having a slight gray look to it either we just don’t want to go dark. Thanks in advance!
Tiffany If that is the look you want w/ red oak flooring, the way to achieve it is to first bleach the floors to drown out the pink. Then you can choose whatever you like for the stain color. Otherwise, choose a mid to dark gray to drown out the pink.
Does the heritage brown have a green undertone? Or is it a true gray? I think this is what we like but am concerned it will look green with the brown. It is going on red oak. Also, the fiooring people say a clear oil poly will not yellow the floor. Is this true?
Lisa – In general no, as it’s so dark. But, on the red oak floors, it may have a subtle green undertone due to the red oak (red and green are opposites). Test on your floor to see.
And, your flooring guys are wrong. The oil will yellow so the gray that’s mixed in won’t look right and it will yellow more over time.
If you decide to just do a dark brown, then oil is fine.
Hi. We have red oak floors that we are about to refinish. We are looking for duraseal options that look contemporary and fresh. Our style is clean lined, contemporary and eclectic. Also, what are your thoughts on sheen. We will go with the water based sealer you suggest. Thanks!
Ginger – If you have red oak and want to do some form of gray, you will either need to bleach the floors first or choose a darker gray. Otherwise,you’ll have pink mixed in.
If you do a stain, you don’t need a sealer…as the stain is the sealer. You just need the polyurethane on top (bona Traffic HD) for protection.
I’m just point this out from a terminology standpoint. That might have been what you meant. But they have both polyuethanes (which protect the floors) and sealers, which is the first coat only to seal the floor. I know the terms are easily confused. And, I hope this made sense.
For finish, I would choose either matte or satin.
We have red oak floors with a bit of white oak mixed in. We are considering Aged Barrel. Like a darker “gray” look.
Aged Barrel seems to have a bit a blue in it. Any thoughts on this?
I think that Aged Barrel is a great choice. Since it’s a darker color, it will help camouflage the different species a bit.