When it comes to your wood floor restoration project or new installation, choosing a stain color is an important decision. But it’s rarely easy. The endless possibilities can make selecting the perfect color feel like a make-or-break decision.
Because once the stain is applied, you’re committed to it unless you decide to start over. If you don’t like it, you’ll have to go through the costly process of sanding and finishing all over again to fix it. You’ll obviously want to avoid this scenario because it takes more time, money, and uses up wood, which is best saved for refinishing your floors in a decade or more.
In this article, you’ll learn how to choose hardwood floor stain colors that suit your unique style and elevate your space. You’ll learn about the most popular colors, best brands, and a proven way to test different stain colors until you find the perfect shade. By the end, you’ll be able to select the perfect color for your hardwood floor.
To Stain or Not to Stain?
First, you’ll want to make sure that staining your hardwood floor is the right choice. Whether to stain your floor or not depends on the species of wood, your personal taste, and overall style.
Do you want to bring out the natural look of the wood? Staining is probably not for you. If you like the natural aesthetic but desire a lighter shade, you can apply a product like Bona Nordic Seal or Pallmann Pall-X Whiteseal for a lighter effect without staining.
Do you have a species other than oak? If you have maple, walnut, cherry, or hickory floors in good condition, many flooring professionals recommend forgoing stain and applying a finish that protects the wood and highlights the natural occurring coloration and grain patterns.
You can apply stain to these wood species, but they require special consideration. Rubio, for instance, offers many stain colors for pine, hickory, walnut, and hard maple. If you have something other than oak installed, the best thing you can do is find a knowledgeable flooring professional to walk you through your staining options.
White and red oak flooring are always good candidates for staining. You can alter the color of oak in many ways. Just remember that it’s all but impossible to make oak flooring mimic the look of an exotic wood species.
Choose Your Finish Before You Commit to a Stain
Before you stain, be sure to choose your finish. Finish is the topcoat that protects the wood and provides an attractive sheen. Knowing which finish you’re going to use will help you get the outcome you want. Your finish (not the sheen) can alter the color of your floor.
You can choose between wax and natural oils or polyurethane finish. Water-based polyurethane dries clear, but oil-based polyurethane will amber (become yellow) over time, changing the color of your floor. You can also expect your floor to change color from sunlight unless you use a finish with a UV inhibitor.
As always, work with a flooring professional to determine the best finish and stain combination for optimal results.
What Effect Do You Want Your Floor to Have?
Once you’ve decided to stain, it’s time to think about the effect you want to achieve.
What will be the focal point of your space? Will it be the floor? Do you want your floor to make a statement and draw attention? Dark red oak floors stained with ebony can give you a modern and bold look that also makes your furniture stand out.
Or would you prefer a floor that’s lighter and more subtle, unifying the room and creating a sense of balance?
Keep in mind the big picture. Your floor plays a significant role in your overall interior design, but it’s one aspect of your space. You also have décor, fixtures, furniture, and the room’s overall color scheme, including the walls. Thinking about how all the pieces fit will guide you toward choosing the perfect color.
One way to get started is to use our flooring visualizer. You can upload a picture of your room, choose the type of wood, and select the stain color. This will give you an idea about the color and how it will look in your space.
Your floor can tie it all together, be boldly attractive, or anything in between. The stain color you choose will be worth it in the end if you know why you’re staining in the first place.
How to Find the Perfect Hardwood Floor Stain Color
Whether you have time to plan or are moving in soon and need to choose a color as soon as possible, you can find the perfect color easier than you may think.
Consider Three Popular Hardwood Floor Stain Colors
Start by considering three widely popular wood floor stain colors: Dark Walnut, Provincial, and Jacobean. They look great across many styles, from modern to traditional, because they complement a variety of color palettes.