Will stain darken to match over time?

Q: We have brand new oak floors. The builder had to replace a couple boards around an electrical plate. The stain he put on doesn’t match. He says they will darken to match the rest of the floor. ‘Just give it time.’ In the meanwhile he has put a finish coat on it.

My question is – Is this true? Or should I make them try to match the existing floor better?

A: If the stain doesn’t match now, it isn’t likely it will match later.

Which DuraSeal stain matches Gunstock color?

Q: I have a dining room with what I believe is Bruce prefinished hardwood flooring. I have gotten two estimates on having the flooring sanded down to bare wood and completely finished. I would like to match the hardwood that is installed in my kitchen as closely as possible. The kitchen hardwood is the 2 1/4″ Gunstock stain. However, the refinishers use DuraSeal.

Is there a way to tell which DuraSeal color is actually the Gunstock color? I visited Bruce’s website, and they have no information. I sure wish I would have found your website before I had prefinished floors installed! Great site with great advice!

A: I don’t think Dura Seal has any colour ‘off the shelf’ that will match gunstock. You can go to any building center that carries Min Wax stains and see if there is anything in their line up that will match. Dura Seal is a subsidiary of Min Wax and their Dura Seal Quick Coat stains also includes all the min wax colours.

Why did the floors look nothing like the sample photos on the poly and natural stain cans?

Q: After sanding our floors, they were a nice, light golden color. After applying gloss poly, they looked much, much darker and reddish! We decided to go oil based, natural stain in the other rooms and the same thing happened! Why did the floors look nothing like the sample photos on the poly and natural stain cans?

A: Every floor is different. Especially with very old floors. Not only do they get darker with age, but they may have years of grime and various finishes, cleaners and chemicals that have seeped deeper into the surface.

Color match existing floors to new prefinished floors

Q: My home is 11 years old. I have wood floors in the kitchen and hall. I want to use prefinished wood floors in the living room and dining room after removing the carpeting. Can I transition or match the existing floors that are not prefinished to new prefinished floors, or do I have to have the existing wood floors replaced with prefinished wood?

A: If you are asking if you can match the colour the answer should be yes. A good colour mixer should be able to come *close* to a colour match. Your pre-finished floors have bevels, even if only micro bevels. You site finished floor is square edge (a superior idea in my view) so that would be the most noticeable difference.

Matching new (heart pine) hardwoods to 95 year old hardwoods

Q: I had termite damage in one room of my 95 year old home. The room required new flooring. The other rooms have a dark, consistent appearance. The new flooring was stained, but its appearance is noticeably lighter and the grain is heavier.

My flooring contractor said the new flooring is heart pine, but compared to the original heart pine floors, it will lack the red or darker tones. Should a stain get the appearance close (tone and color)? Or am I out of luck trying to match new hardwoods to 95 year old hardwoods?

A: In 95 years the new pine will be a much closer match to the original. 🙂

I did a job recently for a contractor who had me stain new pine an orange color. In his mind, this colour is to make the pine look old. As far as I’m concerned, they look like new pine stained orange. I don’t know of a way to duplicate natural aging.

Opaque, jet black, high gloss finish?

Q: I am looking for an opaque, jet black, high gloss finish for a freshly sanded oak floor. Any ideas on what products to use?

A: Perhaps Min Wax has something like that in their polyshades line. I don’t know that I would be using it on my floor though. Another idea may be to mix the blackest stain with Waterlox and apply that.

Can you stain Brazilian cherry floors any color?

Q: We have Brazilian cherry floors throughout that may need to be refinished. A couple questions:

1) Does refinishing mean re-staining?

2) Can you stain Brazilian cherry floors any color (such as a chocolate brown)?

3) Our floors scratch so easily and show a white mark. Since the floors may need to be refinished, what can be done to prevent this?

A: Refinishing means to sand and and apply a finish of choice. Re-sanding and staining means to apply a stain to alter the colour of the wood. Jatoba can be stained. The finishes used in the factory are very hard. When they get scratched they leave what looks like a white scratch. This is how aluminum oxide finishes look when they fracture on dark floors. I have heard that Jatoba can contain an extractive which reacts with oil based finishes and the mineral spirit solvent and can leave white blotches. Since this varies from one batch to another it may be wise to use a water born polyurethane.

Stain brands besides Duraseal?

Q: I just had red oak floors installed. We did the Duraseal stain tests and I personally do not like any of their colors. Is there another stain brand? Or does doing a double coat of stain make it richer?

A: Dura Seal actually now includes the entire Min Wax stain line and comes in a fast dry version. You can make any colour darker and richer by using a technique called water popping. The floor surface is wiped down with a wet cloth (don’t miss any spots) and when dry the stain is applied. Water popping opens the surface grain allowing better stain penetration.

There are a lot of stain manufacturers. Circa, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Bona fast dry, etc.

Also see our recommendation to hire a pro.

Want a distressed, aged pine look

Q: We have just had 10 inch T&G pine installed in our new home. In the past we had stained pine floors in our cottage and stained with Minwax Golden Oak. The floors were not sanded and the result was great, an aged pine look. Our new floors were sanded after the floor was put down. We put the same stain down (golden oak) and it does not look good. The grain, etc., really shows through and is very dark brown, not really golden (it was brushed on). I verathaned it this morning and it made it look a little better. We just want an aged pine look. We have not yet done the downstairs. Do you have any suggestions?

A: I’m surprised you got anything to penetrate and stick to that first pine floor you mentioned. There is a condition called “mill glaze” or planer glaze wherein the new wood appears to have a slightly shiny appearance. This has to be removed to clean wood before staining or finishing. Pine is a difficult wood to stain. I had amazing success on nearly 4000 feet of pine I stained. I mixed the colour directly into Waterlox penetrating tung oil finish and mopped it on. No removing the excess is needed. Let it dry and apply another 3 coats. This might be the type of finish and look you are after. You could also beat the floor up some to make it appear old and distressed.

Related Q: Hello. My authentic oak wood floors are requiring spot/ area staining where floor traffic was constant and where vinyl sheet floor was previously installed. After I had lightly hand-sanded a section down to almost the bare wood, in preparation to spot stain, I concluded the entire floor might look good with this easy remedy to create a distressed look. I figured I could always stain over these sections if I didn’t like the effect. Good or bad idea?

A: It is really subjective. If you like the look then it’s a great idea. The first time I saw a couple looking at a sample of hand scraped flooring I told them I spent my entire career trying to make sure my jobs didn’t end up looking like that. So, you can experiment as you like. You can always have the entire floor sanded again at some point provided it is thick enough to handle it.

Staining black walnut grey

Q: I have natural Lauzon black walnut floors that need refinishing. I would really like to achieve a greyed contemporary look (that is so current right now). Is staining black walnut grey possible? What colour would I use (due to the variations of gold, chocolate, blond, red in the wood)?

A: I don’t honestly know how you will achieve such a look with black walnut. Semi transparent stains still allow wood colours to show when using what I would call pastel colours. That is why sometimes when staining oak white we had to bleach the floor first. Colours like that were big in the ’80’s. They aren’t generally very durable.

Webmaster’s Note: I’d make a sample or try it in a hidden spot like a closet. A warmer grey might look cool despite the variations?

Staining Wood Floor a Bold Color

Q: I would like to stain my hardwood oak floors to a very non-traditional, bold color. For example: indigo, blue, or blood red. Minwax makes some water based stains in those colors, are those advisable for the floor? They can be seen here: http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/stains/minwax-water-based-wood-stain#Colors

They will be coated with oil based polyurethane. Also, Benjamin Moore makes custom colored oil stains, would those be a better choice? Any other advice on working with such colors? Thank you!!

A: I definitely would not use the Min Wax stain. I believe they say on their web site those particular stains are not meant for wood floors. You are much safer with the Benjamin Moore colours and they dry fast. They can be a little tricky to work with too, especially the reds, probably because of the high pigment levels. Apply it in narrow rows with a cloth and then go back and give it a quick wipe with a clean rag to remove any excess.

Dark wood floors show dirt more readily

Q: We have a dark bamboo floor. It shows too much dirt! It’s impossible to keep clean. Would an extra lacquer top coat help this?

A: Dark wood floors do tend to reveal house dust, etc., more than lighter colored floors. Applying another coat of finish won’t change that. If you do apply another coat don’t let it be lacquer. I would suggest an approved cleaner meant for use on top coated floors such as the following: hardwoodcleaner.com.

Webmaster’s note: I’m posting this in “Choosing a stain color” since it may be imperative to that choice. For those not forced to go dark to camouflage pet or water stains, the fact lighter stain colors can make it easier to maintain a “clean look” may be a deciding factor. This dark vs. light rule goes for any surface or flooring. Personally, I tend to throw caution to the wind and let taste be the main factor, and I just live with this slight (in my opinion, not a deal breaker) consequence; our hearth floor is tiled black (against the tiler’s recommendations, for this exact “it’ll show dirt more!” reason) and our wood floor is stained a dark reddish mahogany.

Choosing hardwood floor stain color: Is there a rule about whether the floors should be a darker or lighter color than the other wood in the room?

Q: My family room contains lots of oak (woodwork, windows, bookshelves, TV cabinet built in). It’s a beautiful medium color oak. I would like to replace the carpet with hardwood floors. I feel oak flooring might be too much for the room. Is there a rule about whether the floors should be a darker or lighter color than the other wood in the room? Any suggestions you can give me are appreciated.

A: I worked in a home recently which likewise had a large office/TV room with high quality oak paneling, built in library and entertainment cabinet, and large oak crown molding with oak plank. It was all stained golden brown and looked stunning. If you wanted to do something a bit fancier with the floors, you could install oak but also install an inlay or medallion. Allan Macdonald, the owner of www.oldeworldflooring.com would be more than capable of helping you with that.

Note from Rachel: if any interior designers out there want to chime in about choosing hardwood floor stain color, just submit your response via are question forum incl. your URL so we can send you traffic.

Staining bleached (white) oak floors

Q: I have bleached oak floors / white stained hardwood floors. Will I be able to have them sanded and stained a cherry color?

A: You can change the stain colour but you need to be aware that it is usually impossible to remove every single trace of stain from some parts of heavy grain. So while the vast majority of this stain will be gone to make way for the cherry stain, you may see the occasional but slight trace of white.

Light amber-brown color stains (staining pine)?

Q: I’m getting ready to install some white pine flooring. I’m going to use Waterlox to finish it. I was wondering what stain combinations you have used. I’d like to get a light amber brown color. I’m thinking of using Early American or English Chestnut. Any thoughts?

A: I’ve only used the Waterlox/Min Wax stain mixture on one huge pine floor. It was a terrific way to stain pine. You may have to apply more than one coat of the mixture to get the colour you are after, but it is the best way I’ve found to stain a pine floor. You simply need to do some small sample tests to figure out what will work best.

Too much variation in wood and color?

Q: We are about to replace our carpeted area with hardwood. I fell in love with the 3/4 solid Santos Mahogany, but I am concerned that the color may clash with our existing nature wood trim throughout the house. The trim is between a wheat and pecan color. Would this be too much variation in wood and color?

A: I really think you would be better serve asking a decorator. I know how to do all the work, from installation to sanding, staining and finishing, but I’m the last person you want advice from regarding colours. I agree that Carbrueva is a beautiful looking wood. Some pieces look like someone has woven tapestry into the grain. And it doesn’t change colour as radically as Jatoba.

Note from Rachel: if any designers want to chime in, for some free publicity at that, just contact me via our questions form with your answer and URL!

What colour would go best with oak wood cabinets and shelves that have been stained with “Special Walnut”?

Q: I was wondering if you could suggest what laminate wood/colour would go best with oak wood cabinets and shelves that have been stained with “Special Walnut” (by Minwax). Does it need to be a walnut coloured floor or is there a contrast colour to create a lighter look? (Btw, my wall paint is light, parisian taupe by Behr paint.)

A: I don’t think the colour has to be exactly like the cabinets but it has to compliment either them or the paint colour. I couldn’t even suggest a laminate colour because every manufacturer has a different line-up. Special Walnut stain I know.

Note from Rachel: In the future I’ll work up an article on choosing colours, matching floors with cabinets, figuring out undertones, etc.

Restain or replace for desired colour?

Q: I would like to stain my pre-stained oak floors a darker medium brown. They are a golden natural colour now. I would hire a professional to do this, my floors are in great shape. Can you recommend a professional to change stain color on hardwood floors, or would it be just as economic to replace them with dark floors already done at the factory?

A: It wouldn’t be economical to replace your factory finished floors just because you don’t like the colour. Have them sanded. It will cost more than a site finished floor because the bevels have to be dealt with as well as an aluminum oxide coating which is tough to remove. What area do you live in?

What are the risks in going with a darker stain?

Q: I want to stain my hardwood floors with a darker stain than the natural color I have now. What are the risks in going darker? Will it show everything little speck of dust? The floors have never been stained, only waxed.

A: Dark colours do show dust film more readily than lighter colours. Of course, even with light stains, you might not see the dust as easily, but it is still there. It’s just part of living on Earth. Vacuum regularly and if you have forced air heating, keep your furnace filter in good shape.