If you are planning to install hardwood flooring in your home – or perhaps you have wood flooring already and are looking to refresh it – you will need to consider which kind of finish and wood floor stain colors there are and which one will suit your home best.
For many the preferred choice is to leave the natural hue of the wood to shine through by simply applying a clear polyurethane sealant or varnish, or an oil or wax finish.
However, leaving your floor “au naturel” is not the only choice. Staining your floors with hardwood stain colors is an alternative worth considering, and can be especially interesting if you are looking to enhance the grain of your hardwood floor, or to refresh old flooring, or to give your home an entirely new look.
There are many different stain colors for hardwood floors to choose from, so it’s important to think about the overall look and feel you want to have in your home, as a guide to choosing the right color. For example dark stained floors can add drama and sophistication, whilst lighter stains can help make a room feel larger and more airy.
Below we have selected six key wood floor stain color styles and chosen perfect examples to show you what can be achieved. As well as stain we will also look at whitewash and colorwash – this is where you dilute dyes or floor paints that are absorbed into the wood like stain (rather than undiluted floor paint which will simply cover the wood and wont necessarily allow you to admire the grain).
But before we explore these floor stain color ideas, remember that the result will depend on several factors. Every piece of wood will accept color differently – humidity levels, species of wood, type of stain and what grade of sanding you did during preparations will all affect the finish. So always do lots of testing before you attack the whole project!
And like everything flooring related, only attempt a DIY staining project if you are fully confident that you understand the techniques involved – otherwise you will end up with patchy, blobby results that are the exact opposite of the stylish flooring you want!
For all hardwood you’ll want to know the best way to shine wood floors
Honey and Red Stain Colors
Choosing wood floor stain colors that have orangey, honey or red tones is a great choice for subtly adding depth and enhancing the grain of the wood.
Honey toned hardwood floors create rooms that are warm and welcoming.
The look is just as easily paired with classic furnishings as contemporary ones, though arguably the look is best suited to the modern chic farmhouse trend.
White walls and white painted wood furnishings are often chosen to compliment the look – the inviting honey toned flooring keeps the white from becoming clinical and cold.
White oak warmed with a honey-toned stain is paired with contemporary furnishings in this Massachusetts home.
This classic interior design features lots of white wood and walls and a gorgeous red oak floor finished with Minwax Provencal stain.
Here a white farmhouse style kitchen beautifully compliments the white oak planks that have been finished with Minwax Golden Oak stain.
This red-toned hardwood floor stain is the perfect match for the exposed terracotta brick walls, mixing a comfortable contemporary look with a loft-style vibe.
Mid-Brown and Coffee Stain Colors
Opting for mid-brown, roasted coffee floor stain colors is a very classy choice for a home that is grown-up, refined and chic. It’s also a very versatile tone that you can match with all kinds of looks and serves as a neutral background color – so a good option if you envisage frequent redecoration. It pairs particularly well with blues and grays, allowing for a more cool and relaxed feel to pervade your space compared to the cozy honey tones described above.
Effortless chic prevails in this classic home, where gray-blue accents are highlighted against a red oak floor that has been stained Walnut brown.
Here white oak has been stained with a medium brown stain providing a neutral background that shifts focus to the interesting fixtures, décor and tiles.
Red oak with Jacobean stain allows for beautiful grain to come through in an almost black tone that reflects the black window frames and curtain rails.
Very Dark Brown and Almost Black Stain Colors
In my opinion, hardwood floor stain colors are at their most impressive when the result is a deep color that is a million miles away from the actual color of the wood. Very dark, almost black wood stains can completely transform naturally light white oak or beech so that it nearly looks like ebony. The resulting aesthetic fits broadly into two camps: ultra modern with contemporary or minimalist furnishings, or ultra traditional with fittings and furnishings that take their cue from historic decor. Either way, opting for very dark wood stain is a bold choice!
In this minimalist home the hardwood beech floor, stained Charcoal, dominates the room and draws your eyes to the windows with their amazing leafy view.
Again the dark Ebony stained white oak flooring here is very dominant, but it is lifted with quirky contemporary décor accessories and light fittings.
Jacobean stained white oak, exposed ceiling timbers, dark wood cabinets, winged dining “thrones” and that incredible light fitting creates some serious period drama!
Gray Stain Colors
Gray flooring is very on-trend at the moment, so worth considering if you’re building from scratch or refinishing an old floor and really want an updated look. Gray floors have the advantage of being a more interesting neutral than medium brown, but unlike medium brown – and perhaps because they are so trendy right now – they tend to be paired with mostly modern, contemporary décor. Gray is tricky however because of the variety of gray tones – opting for a warmer taupe gray will give your space a more natural feel, whist a cooler blue gray will create a fresher vibe.
Calm, neutral sophistication is what this space is all about – beautifully enhanced by the warm taupe gray hardwood floor.
Another white oak floor stained warm gray here – this time serving as the perfect neutral background for the eye-catching artwork and furnishings.
This white oak floor has been stained in a custom mix of Gray Ceruse; the result is cool, controlled, modern and rather chic!
Patterns Using Wood Floor Stain Colors
Amazing patterns can be created on hardwood floors when you combine expert stenciling skills and in depth knowledge of stain applications. Please note – you really do need an expert for this sort of thing! But once you’ve found one, the sky is the limit as far as what kind of pattern to go for. On the whole this stain idea is currently mostly seen with traditional home décor, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t translate to modern interiors too.
This very precise checkerboard effect created using different toned wood stains on white oak adds interest to a traditionally furnished home.
Stenciled stain has been used here to cleverly create a pretty pattern that mimics a rug.
Whitewash and Colorwash (with paint)
If the typical honey and brown stain colors are not to your taste but you also don’t really care for the natural look, then there is another interesting option: whitewash or colorwash. As described above, this is where you use a diluted paint or dye to color your flooring. Whitewash is often chosen to enhance a light and airy design or for a coastal or Scandinavian vibe; whilst brightly hued colorwashed floors are a great look for homeowners that want to break away from classic design tropes and get a completely personalized and unique look. For more on white wood flooring click here.
Whitewashed oak floor paired with clean lines and contemporary décor adds to the light and airy feel of this home.
This home picks up a subtle coastal aesthetic with whitewashed floors, colored glass, and shell and starfish décor details.
Wow! Aquamarine colorwashed hardwood floors pop against white walls and bring out the warm tones in the tan leather couches.
Classy cornflower blue is an inspired colorwash choice for this eclectic Greenwich apartment.
Yellowy-greeny chartreuse is a truly bold colorwash choice that makes perfect sense in this contemporary home combined with gray and white cabinets and fittings.
Great Wood Stain Resources:
- Sherwin-Williams – Lots of great wood stain color charts
- The Modern DIY Life – Make your own wood stain colors
- Pete’s Hardwood Floors – Why it’s a good idea to leave wood staining to the professionals.
- Home Flooring Pros – And if you are prepared to undertake the work yourself here’s our DIY guide to refinishing hardwood floors
You may also like our post on hardwood flooring trends.
Do you have favorite wood floor stain colors that you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.