5 Things Homeowners Need To Know Before Staining Your Hardwood Floors

Kenneth Wilson

Are you thinking of restoring your old hardwood floors? Well, who doesn’t want fresh and clean floors – right?

Homeowners often have asked questions such as, “Can I stain my hardwood floors?”, “Which stain is suitable for my hardwood floors?”.

If you ever see yourself wondering– we’re here to shed light on everything you need to know about staining your hardwood floors at home.

Keep in mind that not all stains are created equal. Once a particular stain sets, you may only change its hue through re-sanding or restaining. We strongly encourage hiring the right contractor that specializes in hardwood floor refinishing. Doing so ensures your beloved floors receive the best care– and nothing less.

5 Things to Consider in Staining Hardwood Floors


Fortunately, restaining or refinishing hardwood floors is an excellent way to maintain your investment in prime condition.

Hardwood floors not only improve your home’s interior– but also boosts the resale value of the property. That said, here are a couple of crucial factors to keep in mind before you have your hardwood floors restored.

1. Wood Species Matter


Remember, different hardwood flooring species tend to absorb stains in various ways. Keep this in mind before you choose a particular stain color. Red or white oak floors, for instance, tend to be the perfect candidates for staining. These materials are known to absorb stains well, given proper techniques.

In contrast, exotic wood species such as cherry, maple, mahogany, or walnut will prove to be more challenging to stain. These wood types have tighter grains and smaller pores.

Often, flooring professionals may even discourage you from staining them. There’s a great chance you won’t be satisfied with the result. It may be best to enjoy their natural beauty in its unstained state.

Pro Tip: Choose local installers who can provide you with sample stains. Doing so allows you to see for yourself how the stain color will look on your hardwood floors.

2. Consider Your Home’s Interior Decor


The stain color of your hardwood floors can either make or break your interior’s aesthetic. Hence, choosing the right stain for your home needs is essential. You may want to consider several factors: accent colors, furnishing, paint colors, and interior motif.

Homeowners who adore rustic style interiors can benefit from mid-brown shades. This hue won’t clash with your farm-style-themed furniture.

If you want a bold, sleek contemporary design that’s similar to lifestyle magazine features– you may be better off choosing various ebony, grey, or white shades. (Related: Step By Step: How To White Wash Wood Floors)

As there are dozens of stain colors available in the market today, selecting the right one for your home needs can be somewhat overwhelming. It’s why you need to test the stain colors (through samples) to avoid making costly, time-consuming mistakes.

Some manufacturers offer pre-treatment colors (hard wax oils) that can be layered on top or underneath a stain, giving you endless color palette possibilities.

3. Lighting may Influence the Appearance of a Stain Color


Keep in mind that the lighting in your home may influence the appearance of different stain colors. Opting for light-colored stains may effectively brighten a dark room, but it may also show more of the wood’s imperfections. Nonetheless, it’s a great choice if you want to contrast your dark decor and furnishings.

Meanwhile, darker floors give balance to a bright room. It serves as a better base for your room decor. While they conceal the wood’s imperfections, dust and scratches will be more visible.

Suppose you have furry pets or toddlers running around the home– you may want to stain your hardwood floors with a lighter color.

4. Be Mindful of any Previous History of Water or Pet Damage


If your hardwood floors dealt with previous water or pet-related damage, you might want to either:

  • Replace the damaged flooring area
  • Stain the hardwood floors with a darker color to effectively conceal the damage

Wooden floors with surface damage may be stained with a darker color. This is a relatively cost-effective way of solving the problem at hand without opting for a total floor replacement.

5. There are Plenty of Benefits in Staining Your Hardwood Floors


So, why should you consider staining your old wood floors at home? For one, it can enhance its color, depth, shine, and warmth given the correct choice of stain and application.

Here are some other advantages to consider:

  • Mimic the elegant look of dark wood: Several natural wood floors have a light appearance. With a deep stain, you may achieve the elegant look of dark wood. You’ll notice this style is quite famous in lifestyle magazines. If you’re planning to place your property in the market soon– this may just prove to be an excellent selling point.
  • Appear like a particular wood type: Suppose you’re eyeing a more expensive hardwood flooring type without the proper budget for it… In that case, staining your wooden floors is a great option to consider. This helps you easily and quickly achieve the look of another wooden floor type. Case in point: If you stain light wood with a rich cherry stain, it will enhance the depth and dimension of the natural wood. Other light wooden floors such as oak may not be as flexible– making it more challenging to achieve elaborate designs (lattice or herringbone). It’s better to opt for staining to help you achieve the pattern you desire.
  • Accentuate the wood’s natural appeal: One of the most significant advantages of staining your old hardwood floors is to give prominence to the beauty of its natural patina and grain. Doing so adds a cozy, warm vibe to your room as the rich wood floors become more evident.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What if I can’t decide between 2 or 3 colors?

Once you’ve narrowed your options to 2 to 3 colors, you are close to choosing the perfect hardwood floor stain. The next step involves a flooring professional providing you with larger samples. They may give you two options: one is to apply the stain samples on your floor directly, and two is to make large samples of portable panels for you.

What is Clear Coating?

Staining is not the only way for you to achieve the best look for your hardwood floors. You may opt for a clear coat finish to give you a natural and rustic look to bring out the innate pattern of the wood. The clear coating enhances the existing look of the hardwood, unlike staining, which adds pigments to it. The most noticeable advantage of clear coating is its great reflection of light which is exceptionally beneficial for rooms with many windows that may allow more light to pass. The light’s reflection can help add a feeling of size and depth to smaller spaces.

Final Thoughts


Staining your hardwood floors proves to be an essential decision for every homeowner. One, it will affect your home’s overall look. Two, you’re most likely to deal with the specific stain color for quite a while. And lastly, re-doing the stains after application will be costly and time-consuming on your end.

Word of caution: Many things can go wrong if the staining process isn’t done correctly. It’s why we strongly advise hiring a flooring specialist to handle the job.

When done accurately, you can effectively uplift the appearance of any living space as well as boost your property value!

Kenneth Wilson
January 10, 2022
Contractor Tips, Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.

Ask The Author Your Question In The Comments!


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

More From This Author


7 Best AC Drain Line Cleaners & Tools
4 Different Types of HVAC System: Here’s Everything You Need To Know
Best Ways To Cut Vinyl Flooring & What Tools To Use
What Is Forced Air Heating? Here’s Everything You Need To Know
5 Natural Ways To Make Your Tile Floors Shine (A Practical Guide)
Is Groutable Vinyl Tile Right For Your Home? (+ Pros & Cons)
>