What Color Should I Stain My Wood Floors?


One of the biggest questions we get here at Tadas Wood Flooring Inc. when it comes to staining floors is: Should I get my floors stained and if so, what color should I go with?

It’s easy to see why this can be such a dilemma for some people, your floors will have a huge impact on the look of your home and if you get them wrong, you’ll be stuck with them for a long, long time.

What Color Should I Stain My Floor

The answer isn’t as hard as you might think. There are a number of factors that will affect whether you should stain your floors and what stain color best suits your home, all of which need to be taken into consideration before making a decision.

Let’s go through a few steps to see what your decision should be.

To Stain or Not:

Just to be clear – when we talk about “staining” we are talking about a separate step done to color your wood floors . This step is done in-between them being sanded and the clear coats of finish being applied. Many people think ‘staining’ means applying the top coats of oil or polyurethane. But in the flooring industry, those are referred to as ‘finishes’. The multiple coats of clear finish gets applied on top of the stain.

The other ways you can change up the color of your floor is to use a colored hardwax oil like Rubio Monocoat or Pallmann Magic Oil , or use a dye.

As such, no floor needs to be stained.

It’s perfectly OK to just apply finish to them without this step.

But if you’d like to change the color of your hardwood floors and have a surface finish applied, then they will need to be stained or have a pre-treatment done to them. If you want to go with a hardwax oil, then you have the option to use a stain under the oil (for OSMO Polyx-Oil and Pallmann Magic Oil), or go with a pre-tinted colored finish.

The photo below shows the huge difference applying a stain can make…

Buffing Stain on Wood Floor

So the first decision to make is whether you should even consider adding color to your floor, or if it should be kept in its natural state.

Consider the following questions:

What Type of Wood Do You Have?

If you are lucky enough to have an exotic, rare or special wood floor such as mahogany, cherry, rosewood, walnut, aged pine and even maple then we strongly recommend they don’t be stained.

They already look great in their natural colors.

Most people stain their floors in an attempt to get them to look like one of these awesome floors. If you already have this type of naturally beautiful hardwood floor in your home then you’re way ahead of the game.

On the other hand, maybe you have a more common type of wood like red or white oak. Then you have a decision to make.

Oak floors can look great left their natural color as you can see in this photo…

Natural Colored Oak Floors

There are new finish systems available now, like Pallmann Pall-X Gold or Loba Invisible (used on the floor above), that don’t turn oak flooring that old orangy-yellow color that people associate with their grandparent’s floors.

Those floors from the 1950’s and up to the 2000’s turned that way because oil-based polyurethane was used. As they aged over time, and with exposure to the sun, they slowly turned that amber color we all want to keep away from.

New water-based finishes have come a long way in stopping that effect. No more 70’s orange oak floors if you don’t want to stain.

But, if you would rather add some color to your floors to simulate a more exotic or dramatic look, then oak flooring takes stain very well with the correct techniques. And they look great when done properly as you can see with this stain mix of Sedona Red + Ebony…

Dark Stained Oak Floor

The kind of flooring you have shouldn’t be the only deciding factor though. In the end it will all come down to your own tastes and preferences. We have stained many different species of wood floors for clients, including Brazilian Cherry and maple floors that clients weren’t in love with.

Ok, I’ve Decided I Want to Stain My Floors… But What Color Should I Go With?

This can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to refinishing your hardwood floors. Take a look at just some of the options you have below. It can be a bit intimidating.

This is the stain color chart from DuraSeal…

DuraSeal Stain Color Chart

And here are the colors available from Bona…

Bona Stain Colors

And those are just the stain colors.

On top of that there are many colored products that can be used from hardwax oil companies like Rubio Monocoat, Pallmann and Loba.

Here is the extensive colored oils Rubio Monocoat has available…

Rubio Monocoat Color Chart

And then, to make the choice even more complicated, there are pre-colors and aging treatments you can apply first before the colored oil. AND, they can be mixed and/or layered for pretty much unlimited color choice.

Below are the Rubio Monocoat Pre-Color Easy colors…

Rubio Pre-Color Easy Colors

And here is there selection of pre-aging treatments like RMC Smoke and RMC Fumed…

Rubio Pre-Aging Colors

And to top it off, here is a small sample from the selection of Pallman Magic Oil colors…

Magic Oil Custom Blends

That’s a LOT of choice!

Unless you have the exact image in your mind of how you want your floors to look, you’ll need to find some inspiration.

One of the best places to see different flooring styles and colors is in that stack of home decoration and renovation magazines you have piled up in a corner somewhere. You should be able to find images of houses with all sorts of wood flooring colors, stains and shades within them.

Websites like Houzz are great for looking at photos too.

What grabs your eye?

Do you like the light, clean open look of a lighter colored modern grey shade…

Rubio Fumed Super White

Or do you fancy the deep, elegant and bold look of dark black floors…

Dark black stained Oak

Maybe your eye is drawn to the brown shades in between these two palates…

Dark Rubio Monocoat

Apart from looking in magazines and online, you can also take a trip down to your local big box hardware store and browse through the flooring isle to see what tickles your fancy.

You should be able to pretty quickly see what you like and even more importantly what shades you don’t like with the big samples they have on display.

You can also check out our own collection of photos from previous hardwood floor projects for some inspiration.

What Style or Theme are You Going For In Your Home?

If you have a certain taste in furniture or a design style you’re going for, it will be a big help to decide on a wood floor stain color.

For example, if you want a country, farmhouse theme in your home, then you won’t want to stain your floors Dark Ebony or Jacobean, you would go for something like Early American or Colonial Maple.

Early American Stained Oak Floors

On the other hand, if you’re going for a more modern contemporary style, you won’t want to put down a color like Sedona Red as it would look completely out of place.

You would go with something much bolder and modern like Ebony, True Black, Dark Grey, Graphite or one of the Rubio Monocoat mixes.

Rubio Monocoat Black with White Oil

Try to find a color that will set the tone for the theme you’re going with.

You want something that will ground your room/s styling and not clash with your décor. Think about the ambiance of the room you’re hoping to obtain when choosing colors.

Should I Go For a Light or Dark Stain or Something In Between?

Again, this will depend on the style you want to have in your home.

When this article was originally written almost 9 years ago, dark colors were all the rage in magazines. Then grey floors came in strong. Now we’re seeing a bit of a swing back to lighter colored stained floors, while still having many clients choose a dark stain.

Lighter Stained Wood Floor

I guess what I’m getting to, is that whatever the current style is, it doesn’t mean it has to dictate your own style. They are your floors and you have to live with them.

Plus what’s in now could be “out of style” soon according to the design gurus.

You have to decide on something you like that will look good with your furnishings long-term.

On that note, red/brown shaded stains like Walnut and Chestnut have a very warming, homey effect in a home and are a very safe bet.

OSMO Polyx Oil Stained

Lighter shades like Cherry and Golden Oak will accent the natural grains and beauty of a floor while still giving it some depth and color.

OSMO Polyx Oil in kitchen

While dark shades like True Black and Ebony will make a grand statement in a home and show off furniture more.

Black Stained Wood Floors

Lighter floors can be better for small dark rooms as they will brighten them up, making them look bigger because they reflect light. Dark floors will absorb light and have the opposite effect.

Light Stained Floor

One reason for going with a dark colored stain may be to hide blemishes or imperfections. If there are large areas of water damage or pet stains, then a dark stain and maybe a pre-color treatment might be able to adequately mask these areas and other imperfections, without having to do extensive repairs (assuming the wood itself is stable).

One other thing to note about dark stained floors is that maintenance will be somewhat more difficult.

Rubio Monocoat Black

Scratches will show through easier and dust will be much more noticeable on the surface. So if you have a full house running through, scuffing things up, tracking dirt and dust in and you don’t want the stress of continually cleaning up, you may want to consider a lighter color.

Lighter floors are considerably easier to maintain and keep looking clean.

What If I Can’t Decide Between 2 or 3 Colors?

If you’ve narrowed your choices down to 2 or 3 colors then you’re well on your way to getting the perfect stain for your hardwood floors.

Dark stain samples

As I’ve gotten a bit carried away with this post, I’ll make that the subject of my next blog post (you can read it here ). I’ll go into detail explaining the best way to make sure you’re completely 100% happy with your decision, before you commit to staining the entire floor.

In Conclusion…

As you can see, the choice you have in stain colors for your hardwood floor is almost unlimited.

After sanding and refinishing hundreds of hardwood floors in the Naperville and Chicago area, we have experience with pretty much every color available.

Tadas Staining Floor

Whatever your taste is, dark, lighter floors, red hues, grey or brown and all the shades in between, you will have no trouble finding a color that fits in perfect with your home. And if you can’t find the perfect color out of a tin, we’d be happy to mix some different stains together for a custom blend that matches your taste and style.

If you need some extra help in choosing a stain color all you have to do is ask us and we’ll be happy to lend our professional help.

Updated Jan 2023

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Hi Tadas, thankyou for this very helpful post. I’m looking at getting my floors stained in the near future.

May I ask, what is the type of wood and stain color used in the picture with you in it at the very top?

Hi there Tiffany,

The floors are Red Oak and they were stained Ebony. It looks good doesn’t it. I hope your project goes well for you when you decide to start. If we can be of any further assistance please let us know.

Thank-you for your detailed article Tadas. You have my appreciation.

Thanks Tadas. Yes they do look good. May be a little too dark for my place though. Thanks for the offer of help as well. I won’t be starting for a little while unfortunately. I’ll be in touch if I have any further questions though. Thanks.

Enjoyed reading your blog. I like the stain color of the picture you have with the fire place. What stain did you use? I love the grain variation look and it’s dark but not so dark like ebony. Thanks.

Thanks Chris. It’s always nice to hear that the effort we put into these posts are appreciated :)

Those plain sawn red oak floors were stained with 50% Rosewood/Natural and then finished with 3 coats of oil based finish to give it a nice deep, rich look. This was the old type of finish before the new VOC laws. You can see more pictures of this floor half-way down the page here:

hi :)

We are sanding and staining our red oak floors in several weeks. We are going to weave together the old floor with a new red oak floor. At that point the entire house will be wood flooring.

I have “colonial maple” color kitchen cabinets, but dont want to continue with the country type look, my style is modern.

I also have a big dog, and dont want to go too dark on account of him scratching up the floor.

I am thinking of going with natural … very light floors with a white wood work. Would that be my best bet to “modernize” the look of the cabinets?

What would your suggestion be?

Hi Mickey,

Sounds good to me. If you go with white cabinets, you can pretty much have any color on the floor and it will look good. Personally I like a floor be a bit darker for a “modern” look than natural, but I understand where you’re coming from with your dog (although you can get extremely durable finishes nowadays).

You can see an example of a stained hardwood floor with white cabinets we did for the Waterson family in Glen Ellyn, Illinois about halfway down the page here:

In the end though it’s up to you and personal choice :)

Good luck with your hardwood floor restoration Mickey!

thanks, nice post.

You’re welcome Sarah.

Great post. Really appreciate this information! Thanks.

Thanks Elaine, glad you enjoyed it!

Ciao Tadas! … recently had our 1920 parquet floors ‘professionally stained’ sadly, as a ballerina I had NO idea the impact a boring medium brown floor would have): Husband has graciously sweated… re-sanded… re-stained …& sweat again to give me the dark ebony of my dreams. No poly applied yet…! The floors now appear wet! black in some areas… & a beautiful dry ebony in other … He generously painted on the ebony stain …, & did not wipe … is this OK ? The floors appear painted black ! Our apt. is 1,200 sq ft ..high ceiling & beautiful light… Afraid to ask …do we need to re-sand): & wipe the excess stain as we apply ?? make spanikopita for Him again too!
Ballerina & Welder at your mercy … Ava SantAngelesa

Hi Ava, sounds like your husband loves you very much :)

Unfortunately, yes, you need to wipe off the excess stain as you apply it. If you leave a thick coating of stain on the floors, the finish won’t adhere and you’ll have a huge mess on your hands.

Try and wipe off as much as you can, leave it to dry out for a few days and then test a spot of the floor to see what happens. If the finish doesn’t adhere properly, I’m sorry to say, but your husband may be sanding all over again :(

If you do need to re-sand, I suggest you waterpop the floors so you can get that darker look you want. I just wrote another blog post about it here:

Good luck Ava!

Thank you very much for writing quality content for people like me to read and research. Very helpful for our upcoming hardwood floor project, thanks.

You’re welcome Lisa. Good luck with your project :)

I recently found your site and have been reading along. We are getting ready to refinish our own hardwood floors. Unfortunately we are a long way from Naperville but I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and tips. Nice blog. Thank you for your help.

I am enjoying it too! Question for you- I’m having a hard time finding a stain and unfortunately my floors are so thin in some places that I can’t test colors throughout my apartment but only in certain rooms and some floors are older than others. I did ask them to put a small sample of dark walnut in the area with thin floors and it looked completely different than in the kitchen and almost had a yellow hue. The room gets a lot of light and I would like a darker floor but don’t know what the heck would look good throughout the apartment. One suggestion was two parts ebony to one part royal mahogany. It looks rather dark in my kitchen (ebony on its own reads green in there) and I’ve been told I can’t try it in my main area. Do you have any advice? I’m at my wit’s end about all of this!

Thank you for taking the time to comment Faviola and I hope your hardwood floor refinishing project goes well!

We have a traditional cherry built in wall unit with an almost mahogany colored stain. Our furniture is similiar in coloring. We are going to install hardwood flooring (select oak). Wondering what stain shade to go with. Don’t want to go too light as it doesn’t match our look & afraid of choosing a color that is too orange. However, need some contrast. Is chestnut too close? & if go with cestnut, do we go with red oak or white oak?

Hi MD,

Thanks for your question. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a little hard to give color advice over the internet without actually seeing your furniture and room where the floor will be.

An “almost mahogany” color is a pretty wide range of shades unfortunately. Chestnut would definitely stay within the realms of the safe colors as your furniture has the redish hues. Jacobean or Walnut would also be a good choice if you want something a little more contrasting and dark but not completely different.

In the end, I highly recommend you have your wood flooring professional make you some samples. Especially on the two different types of oak you’re thinking of choosing between. Nothing can replace a close-up real-life match between your potential floor color and existing furniture like a good stain sample. You might end up with a blend that matches perfectly to what you want. Either way it will make your decision much easier.

Good luck with your hardwood floor staining and refinishing project!


What color should i stain my floors? not too dark or too light. I like more of a brown but not too red or orange… thank you

Hi Rose,

Maybe check out the colors Provincial, Special Walnut or Early American by MinWax and see if they suit your style. All are not too dark and are more brown than orange.

Hope that helps :)


It is highly helpful for me. Huge thumbs up for this site post!

Happy to be of assistance Lawrence. Thanks for the thumbs up :)

I cannot thank you enough for the blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

We are putting down heart pine flooring and have gone back and forth on the finish. We love the natural color but some tell us it will turn very yellow and we dont want that. We thought of staining but then was told dark colors will get darker. It’s a very large room and the ceiling is done with the same wood that is why we thought of staining for some contrast. We were thinking chestnut. Now we have two different scenerios. Can you help?

Thanks in advance.

Hi Teresa,

Congratulations on your hardwood flooring project – heart pine is a beautiful wood!

I understand your finish dilema, it can be a tough decision. If you don’t use a finish with a ultraviolet inhibitor, then yes the floors will change color (darker) with sunlight. Ask your local wood floor refinishing professional for their recommendations on what will work best for your floors under local conditions, they’ll be happy to help lead you in the right direction I’m sure. Most of us a pretty nice guys

As far as color, it’s very tough for us to make a call without seeing your place in person and knowing what your “style” is. Speaking for myself, I like darker colored floors and I think the contrast between dark wood floors and a natural wood ceiling would look good. Kepeing them both the same would look too country themed to me.

Staining pine can be tricky compared to other woods. There is some very good information about staining heart pine flooring in this pdf attachment (from the NWFA) here you should read:

As always, prepare lots of samples to help make the right choice. Once the stain and finish goes on there’s no turning back. Much better to practice on test pieces first.

Good luck Teresa, let us know how it turns out.



I am in Hoffman Estates, planning to put my house for sale. I just got guy installed Red Oak hardwood floor, can you advice what color should I go with should I stain or leave it natural. The guy did Colonial Maple sample but it turned out too light. My curtains are burgundy (maroon color). My goal is it should make statement when buyer walks in the house. I am also planning to get stager decorate the house but I am struggling to select the stain color. Can you please advice me. Wall color will be light tone (cream or very light coffee).

Hi Karishma,

Sorry about the delay in replying, I was at a national trade event with my employees for a few days – keeping up on the latest hardwood flooring advancements.

To answer your question, I always pre-face these type of answers with… it’s tough to anwer without seeing your home in person. But if you really want to make a statement and still have it blend in with your existing colors, I would start with 3 colors – Dark Walnut, Provincial and Jacobean. These colors go with a lot of different styles of decorating so the new owner will be able to picture their furnishings in the space, which will be very important for selling.

Maybe get your stager to pop over to help you with the choice as well, they’re usually very good with colors and style. Hope you sell your house quick Karishma.


Hi tadas
I have enjoyed reading the blog but have a question of my own my husband and I are building a home and I need to pick out the color I want for my floors I really love the darker shades but I am nervous my 115 lb dog is going to ruin them everyone keeps telling me if we go to dark it will show all the scratches is this true?? And does the dark floor show dust alot ?? Thanks

Hi Danielle,

A lot of people have exactly these same questions :)

The basic answer is it depends on the finish system you use. If you put down a “cheap” big box store finish, then yes I’d be very worried about scratches. There are great high-end finishes though that are extremely durable – such as Bona Traffic, Pallman-X96 etc. – you need to ask your refinishing guy about these. I would also seriously look into hardwax oils as these can be touched up very easily if the dog gets out of hand.
We always recommend for clients with dogs to keep their nails properly clipped to reduce damage too.

As far as dust, yes the darker floors will show it more, but that’s a small price to pay for having awesome looking floors we think. Plus the best way to care for hardwood floors is to regularly sweep and clean them – when you can’t see it you can get lazy with this :)

Hope that helps. Maybe I should do a more in depth blog post about this down the road.


Hi Tadas,
I own a sawmill, dry kiln, planer, etc.. I am making some 8″ red oak plank floors for our office and have had others show interest in buying some. I am one of those people who only want to do that if I can make a super product. This is about more than the money. If I pursue this it needs to have alot of wow factor. I feel that our local red oak is great(even if out of favor right now), and since I am used to drying lumber for cabinet makers, furniture, etc. I have no fear in that aspect(or even the machineing). But I don’t have a clue about finishing or staining. Will most people who want a plank floor want it naturally colored? ($4.25/sf range unfinished)

Also if we make some SYP plank floors, in 12′-16′ lengths (so there is no need to end match) do you think that this would be marketable (same price range). I know that this used to be done many years ago.

The floors that we have currently made are pretty much all 8’long stock and we make the blanks oversize through the rip so we can keep them extra straight out of the moulder. The installing people who have laid them have bragged about this aspect.

Also do you think that nailing them every 10″-12″, and glueing the same distance (keeping the glue out of the joints) is enough to hold them down. Or, should we go ahead and make plugs and proceed accordingly? I know that I have asked you alot of questions and hope that I’m not taking too much of your time!

Thank You,

Jerry Richards
Mark Twain Forest Products
Centerville, MO

Hi Jerry,

Sounds like you have quite the set-up there! I think the 12′ – 16′ lengths would definitely be marketable. Us hardwood floor guys love longer length flooring and it’s hard to get. As long as they’re kiln dried properly and aren’t warped you’ll have no trouble selling them I’m sure.

As far as the staining/finishing aspect, I would just start out offering the product raw and un-finished. That way the hardwood professional can sand, stain and finish them onsite to the clients choice of stain color and finish system. Onsite sanding and finishing leads to a much nicer finished product without the bevels pre-finished flooring is known for.

Good luck with your endeavor Jerry. Come back and let us know how you go.


I am not sure if you are still responding to this blog, but I have a real problem I am hoping you can help me with…
We want to stain our red oak floors a dark color. The available colors our floor guy says are out there are simply not what we had a in mind. We want a warm, brown, not reddish, dark, deep color. We tried Jacobean, antique brown, and royal mahogany. None are what we have in mind. He claims it is not possible to change, or tint, the existing stains in any way. Is that true? Or should we go with someone who can?
Any help is much appreciated.

P.S. I really like your first picture at the top of this blog, but you said it’s ebony and that looked really black to us. But in your picture it doesn’t.

Hi Beth,

Yes we’re here :)

If you use the same brand of stain then yes, you can mix colors together to get the look you want. We do this all the time.

Try to find a color close to what you want and then mix and sample colors till you find the perfect one. Can be time consuming and a pain, but you have to live with your floors for a long time so it’s worth the effort.

The picture up top is deceiving… it’s color in the photo looks different because of the suns reflection off the wood outside. That’s why you should never choose colors from a photo :)

Hope that helps. Tadas

Hi Tadas-

Thanks for the great information. Hope you can provide some guidance.

Our house is an old schoolhouse from 1888. It was moved off a farm and into town in the 1940’s and a second floor was added on. In the move, there were renovations done to the main structure as well. We are in the process of renovating and are starting our wood floors now.

Our second floor has 3 bedrooms with red oak from the 1940 renovation. We’re installing new red oak select in 1 bedroom and hallway. Our doors are solid pine 6 panel doors stained with Minwax Early American 230. Our trim is pine with the same stain. The rooms range from 10×12 to 14×16 and have small windows so I would like a light stain on the floor.

Our main floor has a douglas fir floor (original from 1888) in the living room and red oak from the 1940’s in the rest of the rooms. Our doors and trim are solid oak and our kitchen cabinets are birch, all stained with Early American. The floor plan is exactly the same with the rooms ranging from 10×12 to 14×16 – same small windows.

Any suggestion on the stain color for the floors? I’m concerned with all of the different wood and age of wood that we’re going to have a hodge podge of colors so am hoping the floors will tie it all together.

Looking forward to any help.


Hi Carmen,

Sorry for the delay in replying, we’ve had a very busy week sanding and refinishing floors here in Naperville.

Sounds like you have a wonderful house. Plus original 1888 douglas fir floors – wow! Those are vey special indeed. Yes it will be a bit of a challenge trying to tie in all that different wood together. Red oak and fir are very different woods as you know but they aren’t too far apart in the color spectrum thankfully.

It’s always hard to give advice over the computer without seeing your home in person and your wall and furnishing colors as well as your decorating tastes. The way I see it from my very limited view, you have a couple of choices…

1) I know your windows are small, but if you have light colored walls you could blend the two floors all in together with a darker stain. This will give the best “color match” between the different floors but may be too dark for your taste.

2) Keep the floors natural or use a light colored stain (Golden Oak perhaps if your taste is country) and enjoy the difference in the woods. It sounds like you only have the fir in the living room – you could make a focal point out of that beautiful wood if you wanted to and not even bother trying to hide or blend it. Natural colored old fir is absolutely beautiful.

3) Be very daring and become a trend-setter with one of the newest and latest colors coming out for floors – greys and whites. These will blend the floors together very well. You can see some samples here:

Might not go with your decorating style in your farmhouse though, depends on your taste :)

Either way I hope your project turns out well. Make sure your hardwood refinishing guy provides lots of samples for you to choose from. And whoever is sanding that fir, make sure they go easy on it – they’re very soft and you don’t want to take too much wood and patina off.


I am going to have red oak floors put in. I would like to have some differentiation in color, like you get with an exotic. I have been told that the darker the stain, the less variance between the boards. How do you apply stain without losing the natural color variation in the wood? My house is a mix of oaks and cherries and I don’t want the floor to try to match anything.

Hi Ellen,

Yes you’re right about the darker stains, especially if the floor has been water-popped. My suggestion would be not to waterpop the floor so the stain is a bit lighter.

The third floor photo in the post (the one with the fireplace) is a red oak floor and you can still see the natural color variation with the wood there.

Hope your hardwood floors turn out great.


Hi Tadas,

Came across your blog! Thought I’d post a question to you. We live in VA and have a 110-yo farmhouse that we’ve given a complete facelift. It’s still very “farmhouse” feeling, but with a new twist! We have laid 5″ white oak with character everywhere and are trying to decide on a Minwax stain. What is your feeling on a custom stain? And if so, do you have a recommendation for a floor stain that has a mostly brown/walnut feel, but with an added warmth of red/yellow hues? I like the floor a little darker; my husband likes it a little lighter with some red…so I’m looking for a happy medium. Something like this:

Any advice you could give would be great! Thx! Jen

Hi Jen,

That floor looks great. I love the 45 degree angle and the kitchen. It’s very hard to tell with the lighting and shadows but the color looks a lot like Provincial to me.

As far as custom stains, we do it all the time :)

For a “brown/walnut feel, but with an added warmth of red/yellow hues” you’re really going to have to experiment on some sample boards – that’s a tough one. Red and yellow is hard to get on a floor at the same time. You can see it here on this floor but that’s because it’s the natural color of the wood:

Thankfully you can buy small tins of stain cheap. I would get a few red colors and a few of the browns and maybe fruitwood and experiment with mixing them together (the same brand) at different percentages to see what you like. You’ll get a much better idea that way and it’ll be fun to do together :)

Let us know what you decide.


thank you tadas! I love the fireplace room floor above. It is very warm and elegant. You say you used 50 percent rosewood stain. 50 percent of what? You also mention that the materials you used cannot be used anymore. Also, rosewood is not shown in your color palette above. How can I recreate that look with materials available? Finally, what is plain sawn red oak, and how is it different from common or select red oak?

If I get up the nerve to go darker, is there a stain that blends well with light and medium oak as well as cherry? Thank you for your help! You don’t install wood floors, just refinish?

Hi again Ellen,

It was 50% rosewood and 50% natural, I should change that to be more clear… sometimes when you do things so often you forget it doesn’t make sense to others :)

The finish system used on that floor had very high VOC’s and with good reason they are starting to be banned across the country. You can still get lower VOC oil modified finishes though that will give that nice deep amber look. There are sealers too that can be used under water based coatings that offer similar looks.

The color palette in the blog post is just a small sampling of our colors, we have many more and all of them can be mixed and blended to get any custom shade you want. You floor guy should have no problem getting you the color you want.

Plain sawn red oak is the way it has been cut at the mill. It is also called flat sawn by some. It shows more “wavy wood grain pattern” for lack of a better description. You can also get rift sawn which is cut on a different angle from the log and it has a more tight, straight and consistant grain pattern.

The terms “common” and “select” refer to the grade of wood. Common is more rustic and has more “defects” (if that’s how you view them) compared to higher grades like “select”.

And lastly yes we do install for select customers. We don’t go out of our way to advertise it because we love refinishing hardwood floors more, but at least once a month we’ll do the full package and install, sand and then refinish a hardwood floor for a client :)

Hope that helps.


Dear Tadas,

Many thanks for your blog which I have found really useful.

We have just moved into a new home which has untreated light oak flooring throughout. All the walls are off-white and the furniture is a mix between white and black. With these colour schemes the current floor colour seems out of place and I was wondering if you could suggest a stain colour so that the rooms feel warmer and also mix with the black/white colour-schemes for the furnishings. Was considering an ebony, Jacobean or dark oak but would value your thoughts as to what would give a wow factor….

Many thanks,

Hi Mark,

Glad you found the blog useful. Congratulations on the new home. I can see how you would want to change the hardwood floor color from natural. I think you’re right on track with the colors you suggested. Ebony floors definitely have the Wow factor if that’s what you’re after. Your white furniture will definitely stand out. If that’s to dark try mixing Jacobean and Ebony if you want to take the dark edge off the Ebony. Good luck and let us know what you decide.


Hi Tadas! Thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge and info… it’s very helpful. I am currently having my floors sanded and there are some dark circles left that are probably old pet stains. The floors are oak… not sure red or white, but the house was built in the 1950’s if that helps. Anyway, I’m not sure how good these guys are and they tell me that dark stain will cover them. They are pushing me for the stain color and want to start even before they finish sanding my closets. I think all the sanding needs to be completed before going to the staining phase don’t you agree? I would like a dark expresso color and am wondering if I need to mix ebony with dark walnut? I love your first photo… does it look like a black brown in real light? Is water popping the only way to achieve the deep stain? I doubt I will be able to get them to do it and I don’t know if I can do it on my own? Any suggestions on the very quickest, easiest way to water pop? Sorry for all the questions, but I’m really desperate here! I greatly appreciate your help.

Hi Gabby,

Glad to be of help. Without actually seeing the stains and floor it’s hard to say if they’ll be covered up by staining or not unfortunately. Usually, if we are not 100% sure, we will replace the boards in that area to make certain they “disappear” for good.

Many times however, staining will allow the pet stains to blend right in and become unnoticable if you go dark enough like you’re thinking. And yes we would water pop the floor to make the floor take the stain darker still. Here’s a blog post I wrote on water popping to help you out on this subject:

As far as choosing the stain color, we usually do that before the job has begun. In your case we would have sanded the pet stain areas and tested a few different colored stains to see what worked. Once you had decided on a color you were happy with we would then start the job. And yes you’re right that the sanding has to be completely finished before the stain is ready to be applied.

For your dark expresso color try mixing Ebony with Jacobean or Dark Walnut like you said. Experiment with a few colors to see what you like. The guys you hired should have no problem with this, it’s part of our service. I’m sure they would have no problem water popping the floor for you either (unless they are extremely under-qualified, but I’m sure they’re not or you wouldn’t have hired them.)

Hope this helps a bit Gabby. I’m sure they’ll look great in the end. Come back and let us know how they turned out.


Tada, Thank you so much for taking the time to help. They’ve already got a coat of stain on. I chose a mix of a gallon of dark walnut to half gallon of ebony. The temperature has dropped here to the 40’s at night, so I don’t know how long it will take before going to the poly phase which I’m doing the mid range shine… not flat and not high gloss.

Tada, also, on another forum they were saying that unless you change out the boards of the urine stains, in the hot weather you will smell it… is this true? Even with one coat of stain and two coats of poly? It was hot while they were sanding and I didn’t smell anything. And one more question… do you think two coats of poly is enough for a rental with dark stained wood floors? I will be renting the house and really hoping I don’t have to redo the floors down the road when I sell. Again, thank you mucho mucho!!!

Hi Gabby,

They must have had some pretty serious urine damage to be able to smell it after it was coated. You really shouldn’t have a problem if its only in a smaller area. As far as number of coats, personally I would put on 3 thin coats for a rental.


ps… I’m sorry I misspelled you name above.

No problem :)

Love your blog!! Can you please help? I am after a Pottery Barn/Ballard Design look with neutrals and seagrass/sisal rugs. My goal is to create a warm cozy feel. I am refinishing the floors of my newly purchased 1965 ranch home. I read somewhere (can’t find it now) that you can mix walnut (or dark walnut…I can’t remember which) with english chestnut for a really nice look. I can’t recall what percentage of each to use in the mixture or whether it was dark walnut or just walnut. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t want it to be too red or brown…just a happy medium…or more brown. What do you think??? I am in Georgia or I would just hire you : )

I forgot to tell you that the floors are white oak.

Hi Kandy,

Your “cozy warm feel” idea sounds nice. Yes you could definitely mix Dark Walnut and English Chestnut together to get a great red/brown look. As my advice is always… test a few mixes on a scrap piece first. I would try half and half first and if that’s too red for you try 3/4 walnut and 1/4 chestnut. I’m sure you’ll find a great hardwood floor refinisher where you are in Georgia. Good luck with your project!


What is the color of the floor in your first picture dated May 26 2011. What kind of wood. We are deciding between ebony and Jacobean on an oak floor thanks

Hi Matt,

The color is a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany on red oak. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you will need to water pop your floor.

Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.


I like your fantastic web site. Just what I was searching for!
Best regards

Love your site! About the type of finish used on dark floors to avoid seeing scratches- you mention using a higher end finish. If I were to use Minwax Satin finish would that be protective enough or should I use something better?

Hi Rivki, I would definitely use something better for your floors. You can see what finishes we recommend in our article here:

Hope that helps.

Hi Tadas
Great info! We have a problem don’t know if you can help. My contractor hired a floor guy to come refinish my oak floors. I wanted a dark brown – we did a mixture of Provential and dark walnut. He put one coat on and it wasn’t dark enough so he added another ( he may have tweaked the formula a bit not sure) and the color was perfect; however after a few hours – of course after he left, lines started forming in between the cracks of the wood, (lihter in color). After it dried it looked horrible. After researching I think it may be called “bleed back”. He resanded and started over saying in 20 years he had never seen this – was thinking it had something to do with my subfloor and the air underneath. I think that he used too much stain. What are your thoughts and how do I get that perfect very dark color again without the lines?

Sorry my name is Michelle!

My son and I are redoing a cottage it has pine floors. Some of the pine is very yellow in the very middle is reddish and some is discolored do you to carpet being there a long time… We had a hardwood company come and sand to go back natural will be coloration throughout the floors especially around 8 to 10 inches around the outside walls. Do you have a suggestion of a stain that we can put on floors that have been sanded that can blend these three rooms together two rooms open up to one another the third room has no issue. Need your help please !
I can send pictures

Hi Michelle,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. It’s never fun when things go wrong :(

Without looking at the issue in person it is hard for me to say exactly what happened, but I think you are heading the right way in thinking that there was too much stain added to the floor. That would be my first assumption. It’s never a good ideas to fix a stain problem by adding even more stain.

It looks like this contractor
A) Did not wipe the 2nd coat of stain.
B) Put stain in the finish and applied too thick.

It definitely has nothing to do with subfloor and air. Also “bleed back” is when the stain moves to the top of the joints and that would make black lines not light ones.

To fix it you’ll need to allow sufficient time for the stain in the gaps to dry and then start over. I would recommend finish sanding to 80-100 grid and slowly buff with 80 or 100 grit screen, not finer. To get a dark consistent look we would water pop the floor first. You can read about that process here: Apply stain one line at the time and start wiping after 5-7 minutes if using quick dry stain and 10-12 min if using regular dry stain. If using regular stain do not apply the finish the next day, let it dry out sufficiently first.

Hope you get them sorted out Michelle.


I recently refinished my 50 yr old red oak floors with minwax english chestnut in a satin finish. Way too much red tone for me. My floor guy didnt do any samples for me. Very disappointed in that. I wanted a medium brown stain without red or orange. I want to know what my options are? Do they have to fully sand down the floors and restain another color to achieve the color I want. Also I am interested in provencial minwax stain. Is it darker than EC? And will I get any red tones which I dont want. HELP!

Hi Janice,

Sorry about your bad outcome with your floors :(

As you can see providing samples is a very important step in choosing a stain color, otherwise you find yourself where you are right now. Unfortunately you have no other choice but to sand the floors to bare wood again and start from scratch if you want to change the stain color.

As far as your other question, Provincial will not be darker than English Chestnut normally, but if you water pop the floors (see this post here ) then you’ll be able to get it darker. Also look at Jacobean for a mid-dark non-red stain color. Colors can be matched as well if you want a custom color.

I hope you can get it sorted out Janice so you can enjoy your floors.


Very well written article and very helpful. Thank you very much Tadas

You’re welcome Ray. Glad to help :)

Hi Tadas,

Thank you so much for being so professional and sharing your expertise on flooring. It is greatly appreciated! I am just about to move into my new home and wanted to stain my hardwood floors before I move in. The flooring is white oak and I was looking to go with a dark stain? The dark flooring that has really caught my eye happened to be Brazilian cherry flooring with walnut stain to tone down the red.

What combination of stains would you suggest so I could get the same type of look with white oak flooring?

Thanks in advance for your time!


Hi there Brian,

Sorry you had a bad experience with the first guy you hired. That’s a story we hear a lot unfortunately :(

At this very moment we’re salvaging a floor that a “professional” company messed up big time. There will be plenty more too unfortunately.

As you found out first hand, the guys out there that are cheap are usually cheap for a reason. There’s no way you can have professional results without well trained employees, spending the proper amount of time on each job and using high-end equipment and products – all which cost more money unfortunately.

I hope this new guy can get you sorted out Brian. Thanks for coming back and giving us an update with your experience, we appreciate that a lot.


Hi Tadas,

Thank you for your time and replying back to me. After reading your reply and realizing the challenge I was up against with trying to make three different types of woods match, I decided to play it safe and keep all the floors their natural color.

Unfortunately, one mistake I did make was not doing enough research on the company I hired. I’m mentioning it, just in case one of your website visitors happens to read this. I ended up hiring the company who had the lowest price, and I got what I paid for. Since I decided, JUST to have the floors sanded and polyurethane, I thought any floor guy should be able to do that. I was wrong!! I ended up with uneven floors, grit marks all over the floors, lines in the poly from the roller, and a cloudy poly finish. Complete nightmare!

Fortunately, I found another floor guy who’s been doing floors for 24 years and he will be able to repair the mistakes. He’s not done yet, but I have confidence in this guy. So my point is, make sure you get references and pay the extra few dollars. You’re paying for guys like Tadas professionalism and expertise! I really wish you were in the Boston area.


Hi Brian,

Congratulations on your new home!

Just so you’re realistic and don’t get your hopes up too high… it’s pretty much impossible to make oak look like exotic wood because of grain patterns and different colorations in the same piece of wood.

To be honest Brian, I’ve never seen Brazilian Cherry stained with Walnut myself. I can’t really tell you what colors you would need without seeing the actual board you want to match in person and doing some experiments on sample boards. There are way to many variables that come in to play, some that come to mind are:

– Was the Brazilian Cherry water-popped first before the walnut stain was applied?

– Is it new Brazilian Cherry or has it had time to age? Brazilian Cherry darkens as it ages and changes color quite substantially after a few month and years.

– What kind of white oak do you have, plain sawn or rift cut?

I would get your hardwood floor guy to mix up a bunch of samples for you. Start with all of basics like royal mahogany, ebony, walnut and chestnut and go from there adding more or less and then different colors as you go. You won’t get an exact match but you’ll definitely get something you’ll be super happy with.

Sorry I can’t give you an exact formula Brian. Unfortunately that’s not how matching wood colors works. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Pop by and let us know how you do if you get the chance.


I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles here. You obviously know what you are talking about!

Thank you Mathen. We are definitely trying :)

We have just installed red oak floors . Cabinets in kitchen are a darker tobacco stain. We are thinking about duraseal cherry stain but may be too light. How would you darken it up a bit? I like the look of a lighter color for our small space. Any ideas/suggestions?? Our second choice probably is nutmeg.

Hi Judy,

Sorry for the delay in replying… it’s been a very busy week here. To answer your question, if you want to darken any color stain you can mix another darker color of the same brand into it.

Try a small amount first and make sure you record how much you used of each. Then take some scrap wood or a section of the floor that will be covered (like under the fridge) and test them out. You’ll eventually find the perfect color.

Gook luck Judy, I hope it goes well.

Love your web-site! Very helpful. Thank You for the information!

Help! I’m going to be refinishing floors on Friday (May 24) and still struggling to find a stain color. I found the below project and the image is perfect. Can you give me the specifics on the stain used called “Golden Brown”??? I’m having a hard time finding it.

Distressed Random Width French White Oak Floor:

THE CLIENT: Arch Remodeling – Orland Park, IL

THE JOB: This was another project for Arvydas. These floors are beautiful random width french white oak. They were distressed and then stained before being coated. The project was about 400sqft comprising of the kitchen, dining room and living room.

THE SPECIFICS: The floors were stained with Golden Brown and then finished with OSMO Hard Wax Oil.

Thank you!!!

Hi Katie,

That Golden Brown is a Duraseal color. You can find it here:

Your flooring guy should be able to get it for you. Good luck :)


Could you tell me the wood type and stain color in the photo with the fireplace? Thanks, you have so much helpful information!

Hi Kelley,

You’re welcome, glad to be of help. The color is a mix of Rosewood and Natural – 50% of each. Then it was finished with an oil based polyurethane.


Tadas your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!

You’re more than welcome, happy to help.


Tadas, I loved your article and your comments! Really helped me understand staining a little more! I saw that people asked what the stains were in the first and third photos of your article but nobody has asked about the second photo. That’s my favorite one and I’m VERY curious to know what the wood and stain is!

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for the compliments, glad you enjoyed it. To answer your question – that’s a Maple floor stained red mahogany (Bona brand stain).


Hello Tadas,

We just bought a colonial in Connecticut. They’re sanding today and we have to choose the color by tomorrow! Our current house is a ranch, the main level is Red Chestnut throughout – bedrooms, living room, and dining room. We love it. The kitchen is cheap natural colored pergo, which looks fine against the Red Chestnut. For our new house, we were thinking of putting Red Chestnut upstairs in all four bedrooms, the hallway, and on the stairs down to the main level. Downstairs, we’re thinking of putting a light color, and a Red Chestnut single border around the living/family room which would tie in the color on the stairs. What do you think? Unfortunately we have three different types of wood downstairs – oak in the dining and living/family room, spruce in the kitchen, fir in the sun room. I’m thinking maybe the Golden Oak downstairs on all floors, but I don’t want it to be too yellow. Can you recommend a color for downstairs, and what do you think of the idea of two different colors in the house? It’s a pretty typical colonial, in the woods with stone walls and white picket fence outside. Our style is cozy and comfortable – not too contemporary and definitely not modern.

Sorry, I should have said the kitchen cabinets were installed in the 1980’s, and they’re that medium oak color, similar to golden oak I think. The kitchen floor is spruce. The entire house has wood floors except the bathrooms and closets and one small hallway. So the stain color is a very big commitment.

Sorry. Kitchen is cypress not spruce.

Hi Amy,

I think two colors should be fine. I like the idea of the same coloured border in the living room to tie in the stairs, especially if it has a built in border already.

As you know, it’s going to be a little difficult tying in all 3 different woods downstairs. The best way is by staining it all dark but that’s not an option as you mentioned. Instead you’ll need to think in terms of highlighting the beauty of each one and enjoying the differences between them.

I would do a test patch of Golden Oak like you suggested and also one of Natural. Do the test patches on all 3 woods as close to each other as possible so you can see how they look together. The issue will be with the fir and cypress, the oak takes a stain well but the other two are more challenging to get even coverage. Make sure your contractor water pops them all.

Hope you find a color you love Amy. Let us know how it goes. Remember… test patches are your friend :)


Thanks for your quick reply, Tadas. The original post and everyone’s comments were super helpful. I found some beautiful images of Golden Pecan floors online. We’ll try out Golden Pecan, Golden Oak, Puritan Pine and Natural. We found some pieces of the cypress in the basement, and our contractor should be able to give us a piece of oak. Not sure about the fir. Maybe he can apply a stain on a small patch of the floor, let us look, and re-sand if we don’t like it. Thanks again for helping out from so far away. You helped to calm me down. I can tell you really love what you do.

I’m having a hard time deciding whether to stain my floors. My home has original oak floors from 1885 that are very thin at this point. It may be there last time being sanded. I have a ton of sunlight and feel they are too yellow. I had some area sanded and tested some colors, special walnut, cherry, dark walnut and golden pecan. None of which I am excited about but selected golden pecan becAuse it seems the safest. I don’t want any reddish hues and the dark stains made it look grainy and sort of dirty. I would love a light chocolate hue but don’t know if it possible. What are your thoughts. I definitely want to warm up the floor.

Hi Katie,

If you’re not happy with any of the colors out of the can, maybe try blending a couple together so you get a custom color.

Since your floors are so old and you may not be able to sand them again, I would also suggest looking at a hardwax oil like Rubio Monocoat. You’ll be able to get the color you want as well as having the finish be repairable and if looked after well you will never need to sand them again.

You can read up about Rubio Monocoat and see the huge range of colors here:


Hi Tadas, Awesome blog! What’s the easiest way to get a nice espresso finish? Seems like the good brands of stain do not carry it. Thanks

Hi John,

Have you looked at Duraseal Coffee Brown color? That may be close to what you’re looking for. If not you may have to get a custom blend mixed. Hope you find what you’re looking for.


Hi John,

Thank you so much for the information. Can you tell me your opinion between the Dark Walnut and the Jacobean? We are having our red oak floors done Monday and I am torn between the two stains. It seems every picture I see of floors that I like is a custom stain that was done on site. I wish I had come across you earlier!

Hi Mary,

I think this comment was for me,Tadas, right? I’ll answer anyways :)

Jacobean is a bit more coffee brown color than the Walnut. Both are very nice colors. Make sure your floor guy puts down both colors in a test patch for you though so you can be 100% sure about which one you like better.

Good luck tomorrow!


We had red oak floors installed and are having other rooms’ floors sanded and re-stained. Original owners had a medium-dark dull brown. I want to go a little lighter for easier maintenance and to brighten the home.

Style of decorating will be contemporary/classic. Paints are beige (Grant Beige, Dove White), phillipsburg blue, etc. Furniture will be neutrals with grey or blue accent pieces and chocolate brown dining room set.

Was thinking of going with 3 parts early american and 1 part english chestnut for a richer tone and depth. Do you think this might work or do you think the two should not be mixed together?

Thank you!!

Thank you!

Hi Catherine,

I say go for it. At least test it out on a small area to see if you like it. The worst that can happen is you don’t like it and you choose another blend. The neutral colors of your place allow for pretty much any color to look good though.

Good luck and have fun experimenting!


Hi Tadas,
I currently have a floor that is a custom stain (Duraseal 50% ebony; 50% antique brown). It was only stained in the last year but an accident on the floor (an acetone spill) has prompted us to reconsider the colour which we have discovered is very high maintenance. I would love to have the floor done in Rubio Monocoat in one of the natural light colours. I asked you about this earlier as I have red oak floors and was concerned about the outcome. Largely, on your very positive response I’ve decided to go for it.

I hired a flooring professional and he felt uneasy about going from dark to light. He therefore experimented in a small bedroom. What we found was disheartening. After four passes (starting at 40 ending at 100) the original stain was still creeping through the pores of the soft grain and between the planks in a number of places. He is now recommending that we change route and go with a medium brown colour to hide this problem. I would really like to go light (RM 5% Smoke or Vanilla). Have you encountered this problem? If so, is there a way neutralizing or bleaching the remnants of the original stain? Surprising, I haven’t come up with any reference to this problem online.

Thanks so much with any advice with this.

Hi Lorena,

To be honest I haven’t come across this issue myself. We’ve sanded dark stained floors back to natural before and never had a problem. You definitely need to sand more wood off the floors in these cases though.

Without seeing the floors in person, my suspicion is that he hasn’t sanded them aggressively enough. I would call another professional to come around to have a look and give you a second opinion, it can’t hurt.

I hope you can get this sorted out Lorena.


Thanks Tadas. Took your advice and you are dead on (again). He didn’t sand enough. Btw, really wishing I lived in Chicago, so you could do my floors!

Hi Tadas. One more question re. refinishing dark floors. Is there anything that can be done about some of the dark stain remaining between butt joints of the wood? If the joints were tight to begin with, could aggressive sanding get rid of the remaining stain or is it something that you just have to live with? thanks again, Lorena

Hi Lorena,

Yes there might be some stain that has soaked down between the butt joints if it was applied quite liberally. If it’s soaked in deeper than a few aggressive sanding passes will take out then it might be something you’ll have to live with… you really don’t want to take all the life out if your floors this soon so you have nothing to sand years down the road when they need refreshing.

Hopefully there aren’t too many dark joints. Sorry you have to deal with this, I know it can be frustrating when you invest a lot of money and things don’t turn out exactly how you want them to.

One last resort thing you could do if you decided to go with a 3 coat surface finish instead of Rubio is to carefully paint the joints out between the first coat and second coat. Then you’ll have 2 coats of finish to seal the ‘cover up’ in. You’ll have to have some painting and graining skills though to blend them in so they’re invisible. Just a thought and another option.

Good luck, Tadas.

Thanks Tadas. Great idea. I was thinking-as a last resort-to take a thin blade to the dark joints; open them a hairline and then very carefully apply wood putty (not filler). In order to match the various colourings in the grains, I thought of investing in several different colours of putty. This would be done when the floor was completed. Thought of this after reading the following article about various ways to fill gaps:

Hi Tadas,

Can I pick your brain. Just installed white oak in my 100 year old farm style house. I’m going for a transitional rather than traditional look and was going to use Jacobean thinking it was a medium stain but it looks a bit dark and flat in my rooms. I still want the coffee brown tone but want a lighter brighter look. Any suggestions?

Hi Zo-An,

Sorry for the delay in replying, another busy week here! If Jacobean is too dark you can mix it with another lighter color to come up with a blend. Start with Natural to make it lighter and then experiment from there. You could also try colors like Provincial and Special Walnut to lighten and lift the color a bit but still retain the “coffee brown tone” you’re after.

Spend some time and have some fun experimenting and you’ll soon come up with the perfect color for your floors. Make sure to do a big sample area too with finish applied (that will change the color) so you’re confident that’s the final look you want.

Good luck Zo-An!


Thanks Tadas,

I did experiment with a natural mix but the color was a bit uninspired. Stuck with Jacobean. Thanks for your advice.
This blog is terrific and you are very kind to share your knowledge so generously!!
Warm Regards, Zo-An

Hi there, we recently sanded and stained our oak floors. I had a hard time deciding on a colour, we wanted to go with Gris beige from Monocoat. But we only had 3 days to get the floors done. So the floor guy mixed grey with Cherry. The first coat was so pretty. Then he put 2 more coats and it’s dark now. I’m not loving the colour:((((( any suggestions?

Hi Jean,

Unfortunately once the stain is down, plus 3 coats of finish on top, there’s not much you can do other than sand it off and start all over. I’m guessing it must have been an oil based finish applied because water based wouldn’t make it darker.

Sorry for the bad news. Is it really that bad? Hope you can get it sorted.


We are getting ready in next few months to tear out carpet and put down red oak wood floors. We have got a sample piece of wood and have stained it. My sister in law did Red Oak stain and I love the darkness but it has a little too much read. On our sample we did Red Oak and Red Mahogany, I am really drawn to the darkness of the mahogany but I am thinking about mixing a stain in to give it a little more brown tone. Any suggestions on what would be a good stain to try and mix with it!? Thank you

Hi Christie,

You could try Jacobean. That will keep it dark but add the brown that you want. Try adding a quarter first and then half and half if its not brown enough.

Hope that works for you.


Hi Tadas,

I love your blog and have found it really informative. My contractor is putting in new red oak floor in my bedroom and refinishing the existing red oak floors in the living room/kitchen (its a small 650 sq ft apt). The previous color on the floor was a deep ebony (I don’t know the actual color from the previous owners)that I would like to replicate but maybe a little lighter. A 50/50 mix of dark walnut and english chestnut was recommended to me. Any thoughts on that combination and what brand of stain to use (my contractor doesn’t like minwax). I really like the look of the darker colors and don’t love anything “reddish”. Thanks for any advice.

Hi Robyn,

I would stay away from English Chestnut if you don’t want a reddish hue. Maybe try Jacobean or even an Ebony and Natural blend. I would go with the brand of stain your floor guy is familiar with as you don’t want him experimenting with unfamiliar products/systems on your floor.

Good luck with your floors Robyn.


Hi Tadas,
Have you ever worked with Australian Blackbutt hardwood flooring? I currently have my kitchen and dining in this wood in a honey colour and want it to be more Jacobean 2750 in colour, but I have concerns it’s not suitable to stain and the current floor’s sanding marks may stand out from the new wood. Looking forward to any feedback you may have.

Hi Deborah,

Sorry for the delay… been a busy month here. Unfortunately no, we haven’t worked with Blackbutt yet. I did some quick research for you and it looks like it will take stain ok though. How bad are the sanding marks in the existing floor? It might be best to re-sand the entire floor – old and new – to make it the same color and sheen.

Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance.


Hi Tadas;
Does Bona Provincial have a orange / red undertone? Looking for a mid-brown stain without orange or red tones. Jacobean and Medicum Brown are to dark for our house with limited natural light. Thanks.

Hi MaryAnne,

Yes it does have orange/red undertones. If Jacobean and Medium Brown are to dark why don’t you try blending them with Natural to lighten them up but still keep the tones you want. Start with 50/50 and go from there.

Hope that works for you.


I should mention it is white oak quartersawn and rift. thanks.

Thanks Tadas. What, if any, is the difference between Bona stain colors and Minwax stains with the same names? i.e. is one more red or yellow than the other?

Hi MaryAnne,

Not 100% sure as there are a lot of colors. We tend to blend most of our stain colors as well so most of our floors are custom colors. Best bet would be to get some samples of each so you can see for yourself.

Stain colors will look different depending on the type of wood too so make sure the sample is the same wood as your floor. For example red and white oak with the same stain color will be a very different look.

Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, its a bit hard to show and describe colors through a computer compared to in person with large samples :)


Hi I have an entire house of 6inch hickory and trying to decide on stain color for floor and stairs / handrail – about 3500 sq/ft of wood so I need to get the color right… what color would be more timeless in your opinion? I have white cabinetry (BM white dove) cabinets and trim throughout the house with an espresso island and butler pantry. Should I do ebony, jacobeen, antique walnut, ebony with some red mahogany? please help any advice would be appreciated. Going for a “costal” look Hampton’s style / or southern costal – also have a wood front door that i need to stain the interior of.. do I go lighter darker or the same as the floors for the door? do I go darker lighter or same on the stair treads and handrails on the staircase? ~ thanks!

Hi Megan,

I’m very sorry for my delayed response. For a timeless color I would suggest Antique Brown or Spice Brown. They looked nice 20 years ago and still look nice today. In between those 2 decades there has been a lot of different looks from very dark floors, to red floors up to the grey floors that are popular right now. These extreme colors tend to go out of style quickly though, the two colors above won’t.

I would do the treads the same color as the floor. As far as the door I would stain or paint it a different color. The wood most likely will be a different type and it will not take the stain the same as your floor. Then it looks like you’ve tried to match it but missed the mark :)

Hope that helps.


Helllo I was wondering how you achieved the dark stain on the first picture on this blog? We recently had our red oak floors sanded and asked our contractor to stain them dark prepared to see a color like in your above pic, unfortunately they tried a dark walnut and Jacobean and both looked to light even the ebony was pretty light with greenish tint. They said that’s the darkest they could go is there anyway you could tell me how to get them as dark as your pic and what product to have them use? Thank you so much for you help! The products they used were minwax oil base

Hi Sammy,

If I recall that floor was stained with a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you’re after you will need to water pop your floor.

Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.

Hope that helps.


Hi, we are in the process of laying white oak in our home and I am wanting a medium brown color (want a warm feeling). Which colors should I try to achieve this? Thanks

Hi Rose,

Try Jacobean and then 50% Jacobean and 50% Natural. That is a nice warm medium brown color that will look good and in style for decades.

Good luck with the project.


Hi Tadas,

We are currently planning to stain our oak hardwood floors. The floors are currently stained with a neutral color which has turned to a yellowish color. I am debating whether to go with Jacobean, English Chestnut, or Dark Walnut. I went to see a neighbor’s floor that our current contractor recently finished. He chose the Jacobean but it sure looks like Ebony to me. It is really dark!! I liked it but I think it may be a bit too dark for our home. (He uses the DuraSeal brand). Our kitchen cabinets are the same color as the floor, neutral. If we use these darker colors I am wondering if they will clash or if it wood be a nice contrast. I have yet to see a hardwood floor that features our color of cabinets with the darker wood stain. Most are either white or cream colored. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

Hi Kelsi,

I don’t have any pictures of dark floors with neutral cabinets, but on our ‘Photos’ page we have a few pictures of a project (2nd one from top in Orland Park) that has dark cabinets and neutral floors. It looks good and I think the reverse would look fine as well.

Make sure you get hold of a large sample and keep it up against the cabinets for a few days so you get a good idea of whether you like the look or not.

I hope you find something you love.


What color stain should I use on my refinished douglas fir basement steps?

Hi Dale,

That’s very subjective :)

Fir looks great with either an oil-based finish or natural stain and waterbased. Don’t just use waterbased finish though as it will look very washed out. If you want a darker color then you could stain it any color you choose. I guess it depends on your taste and furnishings.


Hi Tadas,

Thank you so much for all of your expertise you share on this blog. Wish we lived up in the Chicagoland area so we could have you guys do our floors! Since we don’t, we ended up going the DIY route. We have installed #2 common red oak, 2 1/4″ planks, throughout the house & plan to finish them with Rubio Monocoat. We’d like to finish them in a light, natural color that doesn’t hide all the grain & interesting burls, etc., but that also brings a little uniformity to the sometimes wild tonal variation between all the planks – without looking like we just painted the floors. Do you have any experience with and recommendations of a Rubio color that might accomplish this, or are we asking for the impossible? We have created samples on our scrap wood, but for some reason they keep turning out looking like we just painted the wood with whatever color sample we used – none of them look beautiful & natural like your photos of floors you’ve done in RM. Is this because we hand buffed the samples vs using a machine (as we will for the actual floors)? Any input you might have would be very, very appreciated! Thanks so much and hope you are doing well!

Hi Ly,

Sorry you’re having trouble. Yes you’re going to have a hard time getting a color that “doesn’t hide all the grain & interesting burls… but that also brings a little uniformity to the sometimes wild tonal variation between all the planks – without looking like we just painted the floors.”

These finishes accentuate the character of the wood, so if you have a lot of variation then it will be hard to mask that with a light color unfortunately.

Have you tried 5% White or Vanilla yet?

Also make sure you really buff off all the excess oil otherwise it will look like it was painted. It will also be impossible to live on if there is still excess oil on the floor.

I hope you can find something you like.


Hello Tadas,

We have red oak in our home and are in the process of refinishing them. Our floor guy put samples on our floor and we originally wanted the ebony yet it didn’t have the rich color I was looking for. I came across your site and saw the above picture you are in and that is exactly what I’m looking for. What was the process you used?

Keep in mind, we are finishing them off with a water base matte finish…I hope that doesn’t effect the final outcome…Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Hi Deanne,

I’m going to quote from a former reply above to save some time if that’s ok…

“If I recall that floor was stained with a mix of 75% Ebony and 25% Mahogany. I’m pretty sure it was Duraseal. To get the deeper darker color you’re after you will need to water pop your floor.

Also when looking at that floor remember you’re not seeing a real representation of the actual color. The picture was taken with lots of shadows and it will always look different on your computer depending on your screens color settings. The actual color can be seen closer to the door in the strip of light.”

The sheen of the finish won’t effect the color. Hope that helps.


Have an older 1924 home with lots of stained trim and cabinets..darker color..likely mahagony or dark walnut…likely, not cherry, since not as reddish tint. which color stain of the two is most likely the color(Milwauee), and do I use varnish or poly on top of it for protection?

have to redo some areas near the windows, etc.

thank you! Keith

oh, which is the best stain you would use..ZAR, etc.

Hi Keith,

To be honest I couldn’t tell you the color unless I had a look at it in person. It would be best to get a couple of sample tins of both color stains and see if you can match it. Sorry I can’t be of more help here.

For your second question, yes you will need to apply a finish over the top of the stain to protect it.

As far as brand of stain, we use a few different ones depending on what look we are trying to achieve. Duraseal is a good brand we can recommend though.

Hope that helps Keith.


Hi Tadas,
My floors are oak in a golden color with wider planks and the room is an L shape with the dining room. I want a warm rich feeling and I am tired of the golden yellow color. I want a warm color with no red. The room doesn’t get much natural light and we have high-hat lighting. My friend has provincial 111 and I loved it in her house. Do you think it will work well for me? As for the finish I have what I believe is a matte finish now not to shiny like a high gloss. I have a small dog whos nails leave tiny scratches so I need a good finish. I like matte would you recommend that again or would I be better with a different finish? Thanks so much:)

Hi Jen,

If you love the color your friend has I say go for it. You can always paint your walls a lighter color down the road if you need to :)

Yes I would recommend a matte finish with a dog as it won’t show scratches in the finish as much. More important though is the quality of the finish. I would suggest a high quality 2 component water based finish in a matte sheen.

Hope that helps.


Hi Tadas, were redoing our floors and walls we want to do the the walls edge come gray (light gray) and the floor we want to do darker but not very dark like ebony or jacobean a b;t lighter and not red or orange… what do u recommend that will compliment the walls and vica versa?thanks!

Hi David,

Sorry, I missed your comment. Are you open to using a hardwax oil? If so have a look at some of the colors in this post:

In the third image/chart there is a color called Monsoon Grey that has some cool looking variations of the color. That would look great with light gray walls if you want something different and trendy.

If you want to stay with the traditional stain colors then you could use Ebony or Jacobean and mix it with natural to the lighter shade you’re after.

Hope that helps.


Hi Tadas — I wish I had read your blog before I refinished my floors. I have 2 questions for you:

1) The polyurethane has started to peel up along the edges of the boards. What do you think could have caused this?

2) My floors are red oak and I would like a nice medium to dark brown with no red/orange. Can you recommend a couple of colors?

Thank you so much!


Hi Karen,

Is the peeling happening after a recoat or after the floors were stained? If it was a recoat it sounds like you have a contamination issue. If it was after the floors were stained it could be that the excess stain wasn’t removed before applying the finish.

I would recommend Jacobean or Dark Walnut.


Hi Tadas,

Great article, very informative! We are re-finishing white oak floors that were hiding under carpet for many many years. Surprisingly, the wood floor is in great shape! The oak is light in color and unfinished: [email protected] /17032866066/ [email protected] /17057383652/ [email protected] /17057383682/

We have been looking for a Minwax stain for a while now. We want to go with a medium brown-yet-warm stain. We do not want really dark floors. We have dark blue curtains in the room and the staircase wall is painted with a plum hue. We would like the hard wood floors to brighten our living area and help make the room feel larger. What stain would you suggest for us if we would like something just a shade darker and warmer than the current state, and absent from red/orange tones?

Warm Regards,


Hi Amanda,

I would start with colors like Special Walnut. Or you could do 50% Provincial and 50% Natural for a nice “shade darker and warmer”.

Good luck with the project!


Could use your expertise on stain color, as we are finishing our new hickory floors soon.

We’re working with DuraSeal and expect to coat with oil based polyurethane. Can you suggest a mixture of DuraSeal stains to get close to the look of these floors? Here are the links:

We want to look fairly contemporary and like the color of these photos. I’ve seen DuraSeal Special Walnut on our actual sample boards from our hickory, for example, but the floors in links here look a little darker and warmer to me.

I appreciate the help!

Hi MZ,

Sorry for the delay, we’re crazy busy at the moment and at times I’m finding myself without enough time at the end of the day to reply to these messages. Excuses, excuses :)

Both of those floors are quite different in color on my computer and because colors show up differently in photos I can’t be sure of the actual mix unfortunately. To start out, I would use Special Walnut as the base color like you suggested and then start experimenting with percentages of Jacobean or a similar shade. You can also use Neutral to lighten the shade if needed. As always to lots of testing on sample boards first before going ahead with the whole floor.

Hope that is of some help.


Need to make a decision soon. Any ideas? Thanks!

Just had our red oak floors refinished and stained with dura seal coffee brown. The sample on out floors was a perfect espresso brown with no red undertones but the end result is very red. Was told we will have to resend and start over but am not sure how to avoid the redness. Thinking of adding some ebony? We are also refinishing cabinets to white and looking for a modern, but rich deep contrast. Thoughts!

Hi LU,

Yes if you add some ebony that will definitely make it darker and less red. You could also look into fuming the floors first to turn them grey and then stain over the top.


Hi Tadas,
I recently bought a condo. I’m thinking of sanding and staining the hard wood floor. the current stain is ebony, almost black (my flooring guy said this is not even a stain and the floor has been painted black) on red oak had wood. I wanted a light grey so I started testing Ribio Monocoat. Put the fumed stain on first and and then the white oil on top. It didn’t look good as there are gaps between the planks (and the gaps are very dark from the previous staining) and they are showing a lot.
So I went for a darker shade grey and tested Duraseal satin. I mixed %50 ebony with 50% white. it didn’t give me a nice grey. Then mixed half Jacobean and half light grey but it’s still light. I tried half Jacobean and half weathered oak, still light. and the last one was half antique brown and half classic grey, still the same tone. Do you have any suggestion about what to mix to give me a nice dark grey wood stain? thank you

Hi Sanaz,

It’s hard to tell from just a picture on the internet but I think Rubio Monocoat Monsoon Grey Pre-Color Easy + Black could be heading in the right direction. You could also try Mystic Brown.

Have a look at the color charts here:

Hope you find what you’re looking for. It’s not always easy to get the perfect color is it.


Hi Tadas
Love your advice. thanks so much.

Having floors stained 75% dark walnut and 25% english chestnut. My contractor plans to use Street Shoe brand water based sealant. I read this is durable but not recommended for dark stained floors.

he will seal the floors this thursday…..would really appreciate any advice. we wear shoes in our house and have a large dog. plan to do a satin finish unless you advise against this.

many thanks

Hi Meg,

Street Shoe is a reputable brand of finish you you can rest assured knowing your floors will be fine. And yes satin is a good choice for sheen :)

Hope they turn out well!


Hi, Tadas.

I just refinished my 60-year-old oak hardwood floors. They had been stained originally, and it took quite a bit of sanding to get down to pure oak again, but I was careful to remove all evidence of the old finish. I applied 3 coats of waterborne polyurethane. Looks pretty good, except in a few spots I have what appears to be bleed back in the joints between boards. To be clear, I did not apply stain. Is it possible that the 60-year-old stain pigment left submerged in the cracks has bled out via the polyurethane? After much research online I can’t find any reference to bleed back of OLD stain in this way. Ever heard of such a thing? I’m considering whether to resend and refinish, but what can I do to ensure I don’t get the same outcome again?

Hi Frank,

How frustrating! It is definitely caused by some sort of contamination. I would not be able to guess what it is from behind my computer though unfortunately. I would suggest getting a pro to come out and have a look for you in person.

How wide are the cracks? If they’re quite wide then you could use wood flour cement or even hot glue to close them up.

I hope you can get it sorted. If you find out what was causing it please come back and let us know.


Hi, I am refinishing my staircase which is red oak and want a warm brown color. Can I mix 2 parts red mahogany and 1 part dark walnut? or 50/50. I appreciate your response.

Thanks, Carla

I would like to add we had them stained in a dark walnut and Jacobean mix which was ashy and to dark. and now we have to sand and reapply. I don’t want to make another mistake. thanks so much. Carla

Hi Carla,

Yes you can mix at any ratio you like. Always make sure you do a sample piece/section first though as you have found out. Not only a sample of the stain, but also with the finish applied as the color will change again.

Sorry you have had to re-do them. Hopefully this time you will get them the perfect color :)


I have just had my cypress pine floors sanded and stained walnut by a professional company and there are marks along the edge of the boards where the stain has not fixed, leaving very light marks.

Please see here:

The company has told us that this is because there is oil in the pine and it cannot be helped. Is this right? – it looks terrible! How can this be fixed? We don’t want to add another coat of stain because then the floor will go too dark. Any advice would be appreciated.



Hi Rod,

You have beautiful floors. What a shame this has happened :(

From my very limited observation, it seems like there is some sort of contaminate in the gaps between the boards. Did it look like this after the stain, before the first coat? Are the floors quite old? Do you know the history of them?

You won’t be able to stain again anyway as it looks like there is already a finish coat on the floors. Either way it wouldn’t fix the issue.

You could try re-sanding the floors back again and making sure the contaminates are removed between each board. That is a huge job though and you’re not even sure that’s the problem. Plus you will lose more wood from your floors which is a big issue if they’re old already.

There is another possible option that is a bit out there but could work if done well. You could get some paint in the same wood/stain colors – and an artist if you aren’t artistic – and paint out the light lines to blend them in with the surrounding dark areas. In effect applying a faux finish. If done well you shouldn’t be able to notice from a standing height. Then apply another top coat or two over the top and the faux touch up will be sandwiched between the layers protecting it. Just a thought but worth considering along with the other options.

Hope you can get it sorted out to your satisfaction.



I recently got my wood floors refinished. Originally, they were a natural light color, and I went with a Golden Brown color. I’m not totally convinced I made the right decision since I did like the ligher color better, but I still believe this one looks good. Could you give me your assesment? On the link below you’ll find the pics (the very first one is when it had the lighter flooring before I purchased the house). Also, I wanted to ask your opinion and suggestion on what color I should paint the stairs or the rail? Or if you think it looks good at it is.


Hi Pedro,

They look great! From the photos it looks like the floor guy did a great job as well. Color is very subjective, what one person loves another may not. If you are happy with them then that’s all that matters :)

As far as the rail and trim, I think it looks good how they are. The trim matches the rest of the trim in the house and a black rail is a very clean classic look.

Enjoy your beautiful new floors Pedro and thank you for sharing them with us. If your floor guy was great and you’re happy with his work do him a huge favour and write a nice review on Google for him. It means a lot to us floor guys :)


Hello Tadas,
I have new 7″ plank Select White Oak that was stained with water based Duraseal Coffee Brown. They were water popped, too. Unfortunately, it is much, much to light. I thought from the samples taken it would be darker. Now I want to use Ebony or True Black stain on top of the Coffee Brown. I want them very dark but not a shoe polish black. Do you think think this could work? Thanks!

Hi Patricia,

Sorry it didn’t turn out as you wanted them to. To be honest, it will most likely not be dark enough still if you try this. Give it a go anyways in a small out of the way area and see for yourself.

Personally, I would suggest sanding them back, water popping and staining again. I know it’s not the easiest way, but it will definitely get you the darker color you want.


Hello Tadas,
I could really use some advice! I have 9 year old Brazilian cherry floors that were originally left untainted and sealed with a polyurethane satin finish. The floors are varying shades of orange, a typical aged Brazilian cherry floor. At this point, I hate them. I would like a warm brown, something to cut the red. I have read that duraseal spice brown or antique brown might get the desired result. I know from experience now how much the wood changes- I am afraid of it progressing to a purple or burgundy if I try a walnut or a Jacobean. Any thoughts? There is not much info out there to reduce the red without going very dark-I just want a warm brown.

Hi Tiffany,

Yes they can be stained, but it can be tricky staining tropical wood because of the natural oils in them. Most people keep them their natural color. But if you really hate it, I would get your floor guy to do a few test spots with some different colors so you can see what the outcome will look like. We have done them with ebony but it will be too dark for you I think.

Hope you get what you’re looking for.


Hi Tadas,
I never knew picking a floor color would be so difficult.
I want the modern look but my house is small. We have natural white oak floors currently. My furniture is all Dark Cherry wood. My husband doesn’t want red and my kitchen cabinets are also white oak. Sanding is happening today, tomorrow it will be stained. Maybe by the time you reply the job will be completed, but I still want to know your input.


Hi Adriana,

Sorry this is a little late, you most likely have the floors done now. The latest “modern” look is grey stain, some with pre-treatments like fuming etc. Not sure how long this look will last but it will be around for a while. A few years ago it was very dark floors. Many years before that it was bleached white floors. Like all things what was once modern is now outdated. Your husband is right about red floors being out at the moment.

For a long term classic modernish look something like Jacobean or Dark Walnut works well. Sorry if that’s not much help but color is so subjective and it’s very hard to know from the other side of a computer screen.

Hope you love what you chose.


Hi, we have #2 red oak floors, that we will be refinishing.
The last house had #1 red oak and we stained in with Jacobean and loved the color. I was worried it might be too dark and when sampleing they mixed in natural to lighten it, but then the red showed more. So we stuck with 100%.
This house with the #2 I am worried will be too dark and I would rather have it lighter anyhow, because the Jacobean showed more dirt and scratches.
Do you have another suggetion to a lighter non red stain? They use bona colors. It was thought to add gray to the color?
My cabinets have a reddish ton to them and I don’t want them to clash either.

Hi Sara,

Have you seen Bona Graphite? That might work well.


I bought a house. It has natural oak flooring with that typical yellowish hue. I’m buying new cabinets and granite and want to go with dark cherry and a traditional look. Is it ok to mix dark cherry with natural oak floors?

Hi Darlene,

We have seen quite a few .kitchens with this combination over the years. So yes, it’s definitely an acceptable mix. In the end, it comes down to personal taste and what you love.


My kitchen cabinets are a yellowish/orange maple. I am refinishing my floors next week. What color stain do you recommend to complement the cabinets but not exaggerate the orange hues? I am thinking chesnut or medium brown. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

Hi Gena,

Either of those would look good. Jacobean could be another option too.


Hi Tadas! Great site!
I am very committed to using healthy finishes in our home. I had decided on Rubio as a finish but we cannot seem to find a color that’s “right” for the handscraped walnut floors we are getting. Walnut is so lovely on its own, we wanted something that stays true to it, maybe deepening it just a bit, while minimizing the sharp contrast of the white/yellow sapwood so the floor color is a little more consistent. We have tried a handful of Rubio colors- castle brown, Ice brown, dark oak, and pure – and can’t seem to find something we like. Several, even the Pure- seem to tint the walnut a bit reddish- which we don’t want. The Pure made it a bit reddish and did nothing for the sapwood. The Castle brown was too dark. Some of them looked a bit muddy, as far as obscuring the grain. We want to keep that nice medium cocoa brown of walnut and see the lovely grain lines but are stuck on how. What do you recommend? Is there a great Rubio color for walnut or another finish you’d recommend for someone very health/safety conscious? Would like to avoid a coating that’s paraffin based. Many thanks!!

Hi Kate,

Yes any product like that will darken the floor. If you want the matte look and keep the original color, then a low VOC water-based finish like Loba Invisible Protect would be best. It is only 130 VOC and has a slight smell for a day.


we just installed red oak flooring want a medium brown no red or orange. Thinking jacobean, dark walnut or coffee brown. Afraid to be too dark as of nightmare stories of maintenance. what do you suggest. Wall are all painted edgecomb gray and repose gray Matte or satin finish for best look and care?
thank you

Hi Colleen,

Either of those colors would look good. You can mix them with Natural as well if you want the color but in a lighter shade. Do a few samples to see what you like best.

Hope it goes well.


Hi Tadas,

I have a builder installed engineered Acacia 3/4 inch. We took on a 94lb Akita who has made some scratches so we need to sand it down. I would like to stain it in a Jacobean Blend with gray 75-25, Dark Walnut or Espresso but I am not seeing many examples out there of Acacia being used or re-stained.
Any experience or advise with this? Also wondering if there is much difference between Bona Jacobean and DuraSeal?

Kind Regards,

Hi Susan,

Yes Acacia can be stained. And yes there is a difference between the two different stain manufacturers. Best to test a sample of each first to see which one you like best.


Hi. My question is that I just had red oak flooring put down in my master bedroom and upstairs hallway. but not stained just yet. I’ve noticed that some of the planks have some areas where the wood has split or chipped off. Some of the wood planks are not even where the ends meet. Slightly raised. Will the floor guy need to replace the wood planks in these areas?

Hi Mimi,

Has it been sanded yet? That might explain the raised boards. Talk with the floor guy about the splitting planks. They may be able to be fixed, or worse case, just replaced.


In the top picture where you are pictured on red oak floors with straight Ebony stain, were the floors water popped before you applied the Ebony stain? If not, how many coats of stain did you apply to achieve such a dark finish? I have red oak floors and want to choose a color and finish that will show very little of the wood grain.
Your blog has been very helpful! Thank you.

Hi Laurie,

Yes they were water popped. We only ever apply one coat of stain. You can use dyes as well as stain if you want a darker floor. These are much trickier to apply evenly though and are not really DIY friendly.

Glad you enjoyed the blog :)


Hi Tadas,

Just found your blog – great information. I’m thinking of refinishing my 32 year old oak floors (kitchen, great room-open floor plan). They are stained with Minwax Provincial – satin polyurethane finish. I’ve had kitchen cabinets refaced with a Dark Italian Walnut finish, white/grey backsplash/countertop.

I’m curious as to what color floor stain I should apply? I like the Provincial, but was looking to go a little darker – I don’t like red undertones. Is Jacobean too dark?


Hi Teri,

Jacobean sounds perfect for what you want :)


Hi Tadas. So need your advise. We have all Golden Oak trim and solid doors throughout our home. We are getting ready to install hardwood floors in our entire 1st floor. Approximately 1000 sq feet. My husband already stained our oak staircase with a very dark stain, my guess it’s Jacobean /Espresso. It looks very nice. He is wanting to do the entire 1st floor with that color. I’m ok with it, despite the dust and extra cleaning…….ugh. But the main issue I am having, and maybe it isn’t even a issue… the doors and trim. I prefer to not have to paint or stain them. There is so much trim work, includubg around the windows. Could I leave all the floor, door and window trim the golden oak? Will it look okay if we go with a very dark floor stain? Our kitchen and family room open up to each other like one great big room. The kitchen cabinets are also golden oak as well has our fireplace surround and mantle. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Hi Kim,

Yes we’ve seen this quite a bit. It looks fine. Much better to have dark floors with lighter colored trim than the opposite. i say start doing it this way and down the road, if you really don’t like it, you can paint it then :)


Hi Tadas,

I live in Washington state and am in the process of getting my red oak floors professionally sanded and re-stained. I’m just curious if you have heard of Glitza products (for stain and sealer/finish). The color I chose from the samples on my floor is Medium Brown. Do you happen to know if that color is in the same range/tone as Provincial and or Spice brown?

Hi Carol,

Yes I’ve heard of them but we don’t use them here. We use DuraSeal stains. But having a look, yes they are pretty much in the same range. A lot will depend on if the floor is water popped, the grain of the wood, it’s age and the brand used.

Hope you get the color you want.


Hi Tadas,

Great website, wish you worked in Mequon Wi!
Would love it if you could answer a few questions if possible:
We are having our entire first floor redone for the third time in Jan 2020, whole home (3500sq ft) 4 inches, white oak, 50:50 ebony: jacobean, matte finish, new construction (late 2017)

1. Any suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded “white line syndrome”? We have been told it was from water popping, humidity, the floor color (50:50 ebony and jacobean mix). At this point, I just don’t want it to come back so open to any tips!
2. We have been told we have a humidity problem (was anywhere from 19% to 65%), so we bought an induct whole-home dehumidifier and a humidifier and were told to keep the humidity level at 35%. We have been unable to achieve this (hovers around 42-43%). Still running the dehumidifier (December 2019 in WI). Can a wood floor “survive” with a floor at this humidity level (42-43%)?
5. What type of topcoat am I looking for (shoes off, no pet, no kids household) I read your blog but didn’t see anything about avoiding the white line syndrome. I also want to go all Ebony, the current 50:50 mix looks like Walnut brown to me personally.
6. Any suggestions on how to fill gaps? They are visible in high and low humidity. We have a few gaps that I can see the floorboards, it’s glaring with a dark floor another was filled with some filler but it looks cakey, these are in main areas that can’t be covered by a rug.
7. Overall looks like a hot mess, with white lines, gaps, parts are glossy others matte, shoe prints from the topcoat, buffer marks. Just looking for tips on how we can maybe fix this:)

Thank you,


Hi Katie,

White lines can be caused by a couple of things. The main ones are…

1) Stain in the gaps between the boards isn’t dried properly. It may be dry on top so the contractor coats the floor and seals in the wet stain. To prevent this you need to use fans for air movement across the floors at least overnight. We always do this hand have never had an issue with white lines.

2) The other cause can be from using 2 component finishes in multiple coats over a floor vs using a sealer and the 2 component finish for top coats. Doing it the first way makes the finish too rigid, and when the floors move (as they naturally will), they are not flexible enough and so the finish stretches and stresses in those spots, causing white lines. Just like when you stress or stretch plastic.

If you’re really worried about white lines then a hardwax oil finish like OSMO or Pallmann Magic Oil would be a good option.

As far as humidity level, 43% is great. Anything between 30-50% is good.

For gaps, make sure they aren’t seasonal. If they are there in the winter and you fill them, the floor won’t have any room for expansion when the humidity rises in the summer. If they aren’t seasonal then the best product we have used is a filler called Timbermate.

Hope this helps.


I am in the process of staining my red oak hardwood floors. I have a foyer and dinning room that is heart pine floors that we pulled out of an old house and redone. What color do you suggest we stain our red oak floors to get the same affect or close to same color? Please help so confused.

Hi Camme,

Unfortunately we don’t have heart pine floors here so I’m not experienced enough to give a professional opinion sorry. I would get a few stain colors and do some testing on a small area first. Hope you can find a shade you like.


Does floor stain color need to match baseboards? We have a home that is full of golden oak and don’t want to paint or replace at this time. The dining room has red oak floor with golden oak stain and all the baseboards, window trim and casing are also stained with golden oak stain. I’m not a fan of the golden oak. Do we need to re stain with the same golden oak to match the baseboards, window trim and casing or can we go a shade or two darker on the dining room floor? Maybe early American?
Thank you in advance

Hi Donna,

Nope, no need to match. A shade darker would look perfectly fine. Plus it’s your house and you can do what you like :)


Does special walnut minwax over red oak select leave a medium brown overall look without seeing so much graining? I also don’t want to see so much red or gold like you see in Early American. SCARED, they are beginning to stain Friday.

Hi Cynthia,

I think I may be too late with this reply sorry. Yes that will be a medium brown look. But it’s always best to do a sample patch on the floor in an out of the way spot first if you’re concerned about the color.

Hope it turns out how you want it to.


We are getting our red oak refinished & I don’t want shades of orange or red coming through so we picked half Duraseal Jacobean & half neutral what do you think as far as being a medium brown?

Hi Barbara,

I think you’ll like it. It’s a popular shade. We do quite a lot of this color mix.


Hi Tadas,
Your site is fantastic and hope you can advise us. We are looking to stain our red oak floors a dark grey. Our flooring guy has done two samples so far, one us very light (he said that was just grey over the red oak) and the other was darker when he first applied it but as it dried it lightened up and picked up a bluish tinge (that was called Slate). He says that doing a second coat of any stain won’t darken the appearance. We are trying for a dark grey, we don’t mind a little variance showing between the grey and red oak as he says it’s impossible to not have the red show through, but since we are also having barndoor siding done to our island that is a grey/brown mix, we don’t want that competing with the floor – so the closer we can get the floor to a true dark grey or pewter, the better. What are your suggestions? Thank you so much!

Hi Nikki,

Yes grey floors with red oak can be difficult. Most of the grey floors we have done over red oak have been treated first. We usually use a product like Rubio Fumed or Pre-Color Easy. Then a grey or white on top. You can see some of them here:

And here’s another on red oak:

Unfortunately red oak is difficult to get an even grey color as you’ve seen.


We just purchased a home and wish to stain our golden oak floors daker. We were thinking of choosing Espresso. Our trim and doors are also golden oak. I am not a fan of the golden oak color. Would the espresso floors and white trim + doors look nice? I love the dark floors…but I don’t want it so dark that it looks black. Most of our furniture are in the dark brown category. I was thinking light sitting pieces with a pop of color to keep the home nice,warm,and inviting, We have large windows therefore we get alot of natural light.
Thank You

Hi Lynn,

I think that would work great, especially with the trim and doors white. And having lots of natural light will help too.

Good luck.


P.S. I love your article.

Thank you :)

Hello, great article and suggestions in comments. We are getting our White oak floors refinished and really like the look of the natural white oak, maybe slightly darker but not grey/not brown/not Orange/not yellow…

Suggestions for a stain and finish to use? I like a lighter, cool-ish vibe not warmy brown tones.

Also what color should quarter round be? Same as floors or same as white trim?

Hi Lesley,

Take a look at Weathered Oak or Rustic Beige from Duraseal. They’re lighter and don’t have the yellow, orange or brown tones you don’t like. Either of those could be mixed with 50% of Neutral as well to lighten it even more.

For finish, if you want a clear finish that won’t yellow, I would suggest a two component water-based finish. You can read more about the different types of finishes here:

As far as the quarter round, that’s really a matter of personal taste. But for me, I like white trim.

Hope that helps.


We are having our red oak floors in the whole house refinished. There are some brand new sections and sections that are 44 years old with some staining. The family room was stained dark walnut color and has the dark pegs in the nail areas of each board. We would love the house to be somewhat consistent and know we have to hide some age flaws. We were thinking 1/2 special walnut/ 1/2 chestnut. There is a lot of white and neutral gray paint colors in the whole house. What do you think is a safe bet. We like provincial too. What might be a good blend that’s not too reddish and would look good with all the dove white and neutral gray paint?

Hi Lianne,

Either of those colors would look good. Also consider Jacobean on it’s own, or mixed with Neutral. That’s a nice classic shade that will always look great.


Hello Tadas,
Thank you for your valuable knowledge. Very helpful!!!
May I ask what type of wood and stain color used in the first pic and the one used as a background to show three wood samples in the 2nd picture from the bottom?
Thank you in advance

Hi Abir,

The first pic is white oak. No stain, just natural. Finish is Loba Invisible Protect. The other pic with the samples is natural, only sanded with no finish.


Thank you so much for your reply… what is the best stain for red oak floor to keep it light or close to the above mentioned pictures?

You’re welcome Abir.

Red oak is tough to make it look like white oak. It will always have that pinkish hue. But if you want it light there’s a couple of options. You can bleach it, stain it white, use a pre-treatment like I talk about here: or you could use a whitewashed colored finish like Bona NordicSeal. The last one will be the easiest.


I’m doing white oak floors with dark (European) trim and trying to find something not too gray and not too red. Suggestions?

I love the stain shown in your photo above – the paragraph below it starts with…
“One reason for going with a dark colored stain may be to hide blemishes or imperfections”

Thank you!

Hi Kathy,

That color is Rubio Monocoat Smoke 5%.


We just purchased a home with oak wood floors and will be adding some new areas so that the entire floor is wood. (taking out the carpet parts) We have hired a man whom is comes highly recommended. Problem is we want to get the floors stained before we move in and I am very confused as to what color to stain them. We have a LOT of antique furniture. Mostly tiger oak and some mahogony pieces and I don’t want the floor to be “matchy”, but rather complement these pieces and our style. Can you recommend a stain (our guy likes MinWax) that would be good with lots of mostly oak antiques?

Hi Bonnie,

We don’t use Minwax stains but my suggestion would be to get your floor guy to provide a few samples for you. Bring in a smaller piece of furniture so you can compare it against. I’d consider some lighter colors like Early American and up to something like Provincial or Dark Walnut. I think that range of shades will work well with your mixed furniture. The can be made lighter by adding a Neutral stain to the mix as well if need be. A good floor guy will always help you with a range of samples and colors so you can make a great choice.


Hello! This post is super helpful- thank you! Wondering what is the stain color of the image under your text “…lighter colored modern grey shade”? Thank you so much!

Hi Jen,

You’re welcome :)

That color is Rubio Monocoat Fumed + Super White.


Hi Tadas,
I really hope you can help us. We hired a well know local flooring company to sand and stain our red oak living room floor to match our adjacent white oak dining room floor. The stain they chose is very red and does not match our existing floor.
We are trying to get them to agree to resand and stain another color. Is there a way to send you a picture? I don’t know the name of the color of either floor but think the (prefinished) white oak floor stain may be Bruce gunstock.
Can you help?

Hi Laurie,

You can send me an email with a photo to tadas [@]


Hello Tadas, not sure if you are still answering questions but if so…I need your advice… We have red oak floors that have turned the very orangey-yellow color you talked about …We are having them sanded and also new floors being added to the kitchen as well…I’m so confused on which color stain to pick. My kitchen cabinets are maple with a cider color…as of now…they almost match the hardware floors…what color stain would you recommend to change it all to? The kitchen floors will abut the living room and sitting room floors, so they will all be changed to the same color stain. Can you give me advice as to matching or contrasting floors to maple cider cabinets?

Hi Kelly,

This is a very individual choice and a lot will depend on the style of your house, furniture etc. But if you want to go lighter, a stain like DuraSeal Rustic Beige, Silvered Grey or Weathered Oak would work. If you want to go darker, either Jacobean or Spice Brown would be a good option. Make sure to put samples down to see what it will look like on a large areas first before committing.


Hi Tadas
Working on a historic 1890’s home. The floors are mostly red oak. The trim is a mix of red oak and pine and they are stained/faded to the typical yellowy honey tones. I am not sure my budget can handle changing the wood trim, bulit-ins and stair railings/details. However I am looking to change floor color. Debating between a super dark like ebony, pure black or super light bleached look. I need to get away from all the red yellows…I also do not want to see the grain too much as it is too much for the eye, way too busy. Also, oil vs. bona (water based)????

Hi Ferdinanda,

If you don’t want to see the grain then going dark is your best bet. Just understand they will take more to look clean vs lighter colored floors.

As far as finish, if it was my house I would apply Pallmann Magic Oil over the stain:

Second choice would be water-based finish.

Hope they come up nice for you.


Thank you for all the great information. We just had local (Northern Wisconsin) red pine floors installed. There are portions that are blue, called denim, throughout the wood. I would like to stain them a medium brown so you don’t see the contrast from the blue and non-blue parts of the pine floor as much. Have you ever worked or seen pine with denim coloring? Do you have any recommendations for stain colors?


Hi Krystle,

I haven’t seen pine with denim coloring sorry. We don’t do many pine floors at all here in Chicago. May be better to ask a local flooring professional who deals with this regularly.

Sorry i couldn’t be of help.


Hi – I will be white washing my wood wall paneling in my den. What type of wood floor won’t clash with the wall paneling?

Hi Debbie,

If you’re whitewashing it then almost any contrasting color should look good. It will depend on the furniture you have too so don’t forget to include that into your decision. I would start with a medium brown shade like Jacobean or Antique Brown and see whether you would rather something a bit lighter or darker.

Hope you can find something you love.


HI Tadas! I cannot thank you enough for all this information. You are so kind to do this and reading this was a huge help. We have maple flooring, or at least my husband thinks so….. It is the yellowy orange color and I’ve not enjoyed it the entire 10 years we have been in the house. We are remodeling our kitchen and having all floors redone. :-) YAY!!! Our plan for the new cabinets is all uppers and lowers will be Sherwin Williams Repose Grey with Sherwin Williams Iron Ore as a glaze in the crevice/designs on the doors. The island which is huge, will be in the dark Iron Ore color. I need your advice on what color for the floors to match the new kitchen etc. We also have plans for the built in cabinets on the side of the fireplace to be repose gray with glaze again. The fireplace mantel, bar area will match the bar in the Iron Ore/charcoal color.

Please help! Two contractors told us we cannot go dark at all because the maple flooring will look bad… ??? What did they mean in your opinion? Cannot thank you enough and so looking forward to your advice!

Hi Debi,

Yes maple can be a tough wood to stain, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. The grain can end up very blotchy looking depending on the cut of the wood. That’s why many people steer away from staining it. You could go natural and use a water-based finish with good UV protection so it doesn’t go the yellowy-orange color you have right now. Both of those grey colors would look great on a natural maple floor. Otherwise something like Heritage Brown or Provincial (maybe a 50% mix with Natural) would be a good place to start. I personally wouldn’t go much darker with maple.


Hi Tadas,
First of all thank you so much for replying to all people. Its so much help.
We just got a house with an older dark prefinished hardwood (oak or maple not sure, very white looking wood inside). we decided to refinish it. we would like to create light cool natural look but not too white yellowish.
Question is what would you recommend to put on it. We heard that we can just put tinted finish on it, without staining it. Please give us some ideas of what product to use and where we can find it.
Thanks a lot in advance.
Also with Bona sealer and bona finish. do we need to use them both? Or there are other products we can use. We are very beginners here)

Hi Yuliya,

You’re welcome :)

To keep the light natural look I would go with a commercial grade waterbased finish. It will go on clear and not yellow like oil based finishes. Have a look at this series of posts I wrote here for some more in-depth info:

With Bona finishes, yes you need the sealer and then the finish. Bona Traffic is the best option of using this brand. You can see other brands we recommend and use in part 4 of the blog series above and on our photos page.

Hope it works out well for you.


Hello my name is Spencer I am a handyman and I have been for 6 years now but I’m running into a bit of an issue with my girlfriend’s grandmother’s wood floor!!! :/…… Okay so long story short if there’s anybody that can help me figure out if the steps I’m about to take are the exact correct steps to do when trying to repair a wood floor color due to mold from water. So currently I have already removed the sealer that was on the floor so that I could get to Bearwood and put down oxalic acid to bleach the wood back to the original color at which I then sanded back with a fine grit a 220 to be exact and I’m just about ready to start staining it back to the original color to match the whole floor BUTTTTTT I’m seriously concerned with the line of where All the spots that I have sanded are… Is it going to blend right back to the floor color because I don’t really think it will and I’m afraid that I’m going to stain the floor but you’re still going to be able to see the outline of the area that I sanded in each spot…. If anybody that can give me any helpful tips that will help me understand how to blend something like that better or a better process or steps please help me as soon as possible for I need to get this done yesterday… Lol

Thanks!!! -Spencer (Arkansas)

Hi Spencer,

When we repair water or pet damaged areas in a floor we usually remove the damaged wood and replace it with new wood. Most of the time the damage is through the entire wood and can’t be sanded or bleached out. It’s a fair bit more work, but the only way to do it properly. You can see and example here:

The other option is to stain the entire floor dark and try to blend it in.


What about chemically stripping tannins from wood for a Swedish-type look?

Hi William,

Yes we do this often. There are many reactive products available to do this in different shades. One of the reactive products we use is Rubio Monocoat Fumed. You can see some photos of this process here:

Ciranova has a nice range of reactive stains as well:


Hi Tadas and team,

your blog and experience are great! I’d like to ask for your opinion regarding an issue with Rubio Monocoat. We’ve had our floors sanded down and finished with Rubio Monocoat Dark oak oil. After almost two months when I enter the apartment, I can still feel a sharp smell lingering in the air. Rubio is advertised as a low smelling product, is there reason to suspect that the product was not applied properly? Do you have any ideas how to mitigate the smell?

Thanks so much in advance!

Hi Simona,

Hmm, it shouldn’t still smell after that amount of time. Possibly they left too much product on the floor and didn’t remove all the excess, not sure. I would open windows and air out the house really well for a few days. Fans will help if you have some handy too.


Your article was very informative. Thank you for posting!
We are looking to redo our floors throughout our house. We have natural hickory cabinets and are thinking of doing a provincial stain or antique brown in the bona stain. Do you have any pictures of work you’ve done with those type of cabinets? What are your thoughts on those two stains?

Hi Julie,

You’re welcome :)

I don’t sorry. But either of those two are quite neutral colors and will match well with the varied colors in hickory. Make sure to do a sample test first of each and then decide from there.


Thank you for the informative post. We have white oak floors and looking to resand and finish them in a light modern grey. We also want to prevent them front yellowing over time. What product/products are recommended to help minimize this issue with white oak?
Thanks, Tina

Hi Tina,

Once you have chosen the grey stain you like, apply a high-quality two component waterbased finish on top. They dry clear and have good UV protection compared to other finishes.


One of your pictures says Early American or Colonial Maple. Which one is shown in the picture?

Hi Roy,

Is that the photo with the fireplace? If so, that is 50% Rosewood mixed with 50% Natural.


Hi Tadas- Great site! I have original red oak floors in the original part of my house (now very orange’y) and am installing new red oak floors in a kitchen & tv room reno. I want to then finish all of them the same stain. My new kitchen cabinets are natural rift sawn white oak. Should I try to bring in a warm brown? What might be a good fit with the cabinets? I’ve heard one with a green tone lessens the red. Thoughts?

Hi Audrey,

Take a look at Jacobean if you want to go slightly lighter you can mix it 50/50 with neutral. That will give you a warm, but not red shaded brown.


Wonderful post. Wish I bumped into it lot sooner. Even more, wish we could reach out to you for our flooring. As it is, we are having our new home built and the builder handles all the sub contracts. Most of the choices are fixed but we still could choose hardwood stain and the wall colors. And hence started our stressful search.
We went with White kitchen cabinets for the perimeter with Rye (dark grey) island. Lafata cabinets with simple shaker style doors. Both perimeter and island will have calacatta Laza countertops. I was very inspired by the lighter wood floors from the beginning and the counter and cabinet choice was in line with that inspiration.
Fast forward to present situation only to know that the Hardwood floor is of red oak and any lighter stain will bring out the red/pink tones. Weathered Oak was something I had in mind but after knowing and seeing a small area on the floor, dropped the idea of weathered oak. That’s a bummer cause I had this vision of lighter, breezy look.
The home has an open floor plan, we have good natural light and a dark floor might look stunning with the white walls that we have in mind but, dark floors are high maintenance. I want the home to look beautiful and functional. We have friends with pets and they are always welcome in our home – the dark floor in our friends’ home shows lotsa scratches and hence we dropped the idea of choosing dark colors.
The second bummer is again to know from our builder that no mixing of stains is allowed. I was hoping to still get lighter shades while keeping the reds/oranges/pinks under and not turning into blues and purples but with the no-no of mixing stains, this seems like an almost impossible task to achieve.
With your experience, can you please suggest a few things? We are very desperate as we need to choose a color, time is running out and we are no where close to finalizing the stain. our builder already warned us of delays added because of the time taken in decision and this adds to the stress. Appreciate your response.
Thank you!

Hi Tina,

Sorry for the delay in replying. There is a product called Pink Blocker by Ciranova. That will remove the red/pink color in the red oak. There are other finishes like Bona NordicSeal that provide a whitewashed look as well.



We have hickory floors. Is that wood more similar to red or white oak? Looking at dura seal products and they reference red/white oak. Nowhere do I see anyone talking about hickory tho.

We(my wife) selected rustic beige. Any experience with that particular color? Will my floors look pink?

Hi Keegan,

It’s not really too similar to either. Maybe a mix of both, but it has a lot of color variation between boards. We haven’t used rustic beige on hickory sorry, so I can’t give you a solid answer. Always best to get a small can to test on your flooring to make sure you like to color before committing to the entire floor.


We have the ugly golden oak cabinets from 1997 and all the trim is the same
Our red oak hardwood is the natural color which since has turned yellow. I want to refinish the floor with a color that looks well with the trim/ cabinets. Can you give a few suggestions?

Hi Debbie,

Colors like Walnut, Ebony (or ebony/Neutral mix), Spice Brown and Jacobean work well with the old golden oak color. They give enough contrast, but stay within a similar color scheme and aren’t too red.


Hello! We have red oak floor and put samples down of Minwax Dark Walnut, Ebony, Jacobean and all mixed 50/50 with classic gray. We do not have a lot of natural light and the Dark Walnut looks really dark but I like the color. The 50/50 classic gray made all of the colors look almost muddy. Do you suggest doing 50 dark walnut and 50 provincial or is there a color that is just slightly lighter than Dark walnut for homes that do not have much natural light?
Thank you!

Hi Amy,

Yes I can see how they would have all looked muddy. Browns and greys don’t usually mix that well in stains. If you like the dark walnut, try mixing it 50/50 with neutral. Or 75/25. That will lighten it up but keep within the same color range.


Your insight is amazing and so valuable! Thank for the kind assistance. I love the floors in your picture of the kitchen with I think a bluish color island. I tried to figure out the color and hoped someone asked it within the thread. Hope you can provide insight.

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