Wood floor stain options

Choosing a stain is hard. Like really, really hard.

And that’s probably because it’s a big decision. It’s expensive, so there are no “do-overs” if you don’t like it. It also sets the tone for the home – too dark of a stain can make a room feel heavy and cold, and too light of a stain can make a room just feel blah. And, in our case, the entire first floor will be wood. There’s no escaping our stain color. We will literally “live” with the color we choose for a long, long time. No pressure, right? HA!

Let me step back a bit. We chose wood floors because they are timeless, versatile, and we love the overall look of them. We also chose them because we had really, really beautiful wood in 75% of the house, so we thought we’d just add on to what we inherited with the home. This choice though, was a BIG investment. So we really don’t want to screw it up. We want to do this job right. So much so, we hired Union Floor Co., a local company that has been in business for 100 years. They’ve seen it all, and are total experts when it comes to wood/staining/sanding/care.

As I mentioned here, we decided to “seam” the new wood floors in with the old wood floors, and I’m happy to report you’d never ever guess the floors weren’t all laid 50 years ago. Once the floors are sanded and stained, they will truly appear to be seamless.

Now, for the stain. I wish I could tell you the color of all 5 of these stains (the small natural stain in the lower right-hand corner is just that – the natural color), but Union Floor custom mixed them for us, so I don’t have specific color names handy. I showed them a few photos and asked them to give me a range of stains, from super dark to medium, and this is what they mixed up….

My first impression? The dark is too dark and I’m not feeling the red tones in a few of the stains. Also, I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that wood really does darken over time, so what we chose today, will be even darker down the road. And I hear dark wood floors are tough to keep clean too. Hmmmm…..tough decision!

Any favorites? Do share!


23 thoughts on “Wood floor stain options

  1. Helen Said:

    Second from the right in the first photo (the one above the swath of natural)
    It’s gonna look awesome!

  2. katie Said:

    hmmm… the long skinny one seems to be the most medium brown (without as much red tone), so i think that’s the one i’d go with. i haven’t had any experience with it, but i have also heard that darker floors are more difficult to maintain, and that they show dirt, dust, and scratches more than lighter floors. i actually like the natural color too – that’s what we went with when we refinished our floors upstairs (http://www.five2eight.blogspot.com/2009/02/floors-are-refinished.html), although ours seem slightly darker, and i’ve been very happy with that decision. when we picked new floors for downstairs, i wanted something that matched the upstairs floors (http://www.five2eight.blogspot.com/2011/03/5-months-later.html) so we went with “gunstock”. we also have natural woodwork in a few places, so that also influenced our decision. i’m sure whatever you pick will look great!

  3. Jillian Said:

    I also really like the second from the right in the first pic. It’ll look great as it ages and darkens!

  4. Rachael Said:

    I like the color in the middle. We put all hardwoods in our first floor and went dark and I regret my decision every day. I xould clean them twice a day and they do show EVERyTHING! Cant wait to see the final result!

  5. Patti Said:

    I have a darker floor now with warm gold tones. I had a natural wood floor in my previous house. I love the undertones of the darker floor. Yes, you will have to dust more often but….! I love the warmth of the color. Good luck!

  6. Michelle Said:

    In our 1920′s bungalow, we went with the natural stain on both our maple floors on the first floor and oak floors on the second. It brings out the beauty of the wood and makes the dark trim pop. We found some birds eye maple strips that would be hidden with dark stain. We are very happy with it.

  7. Megan Clark Said:

    It’s like choosing a hair color! But much more permanent, you’re right. If you don’t like red tones, my sister the hairstylist would say “think about ash”. The far right looks pretty ash-y? Can they do something in-between the natural and the others? I’m sure whatever you choose will be FABULOUS! You’re good at this. Trust your instinct, friend!

  8. Jennifer I. Said:

    I like the middle color or the far right color best. Floors are incredibly hard. I chose some darker engineered wood floors for the first floor of our home from a small swatch. I love them, but they did end up having a slightly reddish undertone to them that I didn’t know they’d have, which can drive me crazy from time to time. Your floors will look awesome! And yes, darker floors equal dust.

  9. Jenn Said:

    OMG, I do not envy you this decision — so hard! You have such amazing taste, though — whatever you choose will be beautiful :) . I am terrible at stuff like this, but I think my favorite is the one on the far right in the top photo. In the photos, it doesn’t look too yellow, too red, or too dark. Can’t wait to see what you decide!

  10. HMC Said:

    Just like dark furniture, dark floors show dust!! I’d go middle to light as it is timeless and classic! Either way, they will look awesome!

  11. Kara Said:

    I love the first one in the second picture. The natural grain looks AMAZING!!!

  12. Shelby @ Sweetness in Starlight Said:

    I’m loving the color to the far right in the first picture (and I think it’s the left one in the second picture). It’s not too dark and has kind of a grayish undertone (which I personally love). Can’t wait to see what you pick!!

  13. Kristen @ Inspired Whims Said:

    Ok, I’m digging the second photo far right stain and the third photo far left stain. I’m with you on staying away (far away) from the red tones. Also, dark floors are a SUPER pain, especially if you have pets, children, or even people in your house.

  14. TraceyF Said:

    No suggestion from me, you’ll nail this on your own. :)
    Btw, love how the bathroom is coming along!!

  15. Sandi Said:

    I’m a big believer in little to no red… you can get really sick of it really fast.. same applies to yellow. I always look for something smokey and not too dark (because then you see everything)
    You’ll pick something great!

  16. kate Said:

    I feel like there’s not a nice “in-between” color from the natural and the next shade darker. I’m sure the colors look different in person too. Trust your gut and go with what feels like “home” to you. :)

  17. erin Said:

    I love the two that are both second in from the left and right. The second one in on teh left does have that touch of red your talking about but the darkness of it is great. the other one; second one in from the right doesn’t seem to have that red under tone but its also not toooo dark, just dark enough.

  18. Ginny Said:

    Go with the middle one. More sophisticated and I think you can live with it for a long time.

  19. Aaron Said:

    I think the natural is the best choice. Timeless and becomes more rich/dark over time.

  20. Sarah Said:

    We just finished this exact process for our main floor! We seamed in new wood into our newly remodeled kitchen to match the beautiful original wood in the rest of the house. Our color was 3x Ebony. In other words- dark. We had similar feelings as you about the red tones in the lighter stains and ultimately after getting 18 opinions from everyone willing, we just knew we had always pictured dark. Also, we do have dogs. This presented a two fold consideration: 1. Dark floors wear really well if they get worn with dog nails or things like that etc. They look lived on rather than scratched. 2. Dog hair. They do shed and it does show up. They are not hard (as in difficult to clean) to keep clean. You should never need more than a little water and I use my microfiber “mop duster” a few times a week. We ultimately decided that to have the beautiful floors we dreamed of, I’d give in to keeping them clean. We have ZERO regrets. They are fantastic and absolutely make the room and work so well with out natural organic/industrial furniture.

  21. Laura Said:

    Been there, done that! And yeah it’s a toughy…..For sure avoid the uber dark and the red undertoned options. What’s left? The one on the right in the top picture (aka the long skinny one), looks to be medium brown with no reds. The darker one next to it is a close second, but may get too dark later on, as you mention. Keep in mind. The moment it is down and you love it, the “new trend” will be something completely different! Alas, home decor you are so fickle.

  22. Portland Flea Said:

    I’d just go natural. That’s what we did (after agonizing) and we’re really happy with it.


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