The Best Stain Colors for Oak Flooring – Sawyer Custom Crafts

The Best Stain Colors for Oak Flooring


Image in blog post for how to stain your oak hardwood floors

Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

     One of the most exciting parts of any home remodel process is finally getting to see the floors come to life. Since this is generally one of the very last processes to happen before the project can be completed, it is filled with lots of excitement. Some home owners will opt for hiring a professional for this part of the project, but others will choose to tackle this job on their own. But where do you even get started with the process and how do you pick the right color for your new oak flooring? Never fear, it is not as hard as it sounds, and with a few helpful hints and tips from this article you will be able to get started and will be enjoying your new hardwood floors in no times.  Here are the steps to staining or renovating your real wood floors. 

How to Choose the Best Colors for Oak Flooring? 



step one in staining hard wood oak floors is preparation

Photo by Jexo on Unsplash
  • Step 1- Preparation

The old boy scout motto "be prepared" not only comes in handy when your lost in the woods, but also when your lost in a wood flooring project. Preparation is the most important part of the process. It is like the foundation that is laid before a building in constructed. Get this right, and you're project will be as beautiful as the Eiffel Tower. Get this wrong, and well, it won't matter what else you do because it will never end as great as it should. (Think leaning tower of Pisa here :) )

     So, how can you be prepared? I'm glad you asked. Here are three tips!

            - A. Fully identify your particular project. 

                   New floor-  A brand new flooring project will be require completely different approach than renovating an older floor. For a new floor, you will want to make sure that the floor has been sanded. (Here is a tip that you can thank me for later- ask your contractor to do a "water-pop" on your flooring. ) This is when water is applied to the wood floor before it is stained. This will cause small wood fibers inside the wood to lift up. It creates a rough finish on the top of the wood. Then, after the water dries, sand your floors once more, with at least a 220 grit abrasive. This will sand away those little fuzzies, and will help keep your floor super smooth. If this is not done, then you will be in for an unfortunate surprise the very first time you mop or clean your new floor. 

                 Older floor with existing stain.

                  If you are working on an older floor the very first think you will need to decide is if you are wanting to simply "refresh" the floor, or if you are wanting to completely "re-do" the floor. If you are wanting to refresh the floor, then Min-wax has a great article HERE on a great product that will add a bit of the shine back to the older flooring. If on the other hand, your project is on the more in-depth side, you will want to sand the floors to remove the old top-coat along with the stain. This can be a fairly labor intensive endeavor, however you can do it. *We did just this in our old home. We had a room that had super old carpet on it, think like pre shag old. We removed the carpet and found even older vinyl. After we pulled that up, we found something we did not expect, Newspapers from the 1930's and 40's. It was super cool, and we still have these today. After that we rented a floor sander from Home-Depot. It made quick work of the floor and then we were ready to "water-pop" and final sand again. You can do this!



Photo by Yoann Siloine on Unsplash


  • Step 2 Application- once the floor has been sanded again, then begin to apply the wood stain color of your choice to the floor. There are many ways to apply the stain. Some have opted to apply it straight from the cans with a rag, others will use a brush and roller, and some will even use spray equipment to apply it. However, you do it, just make sure to follow the manufactures safety guidelines.  

          Probably the hardest part here is picking the actual color. Min-wax has many beautiful colors! Aged-Barrel is the 2023 color of the year! But it is still a hard choice. We offer Real Wood Stain Sample Sets, that you can order that will show you about 30 of Min-wax top Floor stain colors. I know this is a bit of a biased plug for our own products, but, they really do help. Check them out HERE.


          Allow the stain to dry for a bit, (generally 5-15 minutes) then wipe the excess stain color off. Give it a bit and examine the color. If it is what you are hoping for, then you are good to go to the last step. If it's not, then applying another coat of stain will generally darken the color. So just repeat step 2




adding protectant finish to hardwood floors.

  • Step 3 Finish Coat - Your floors are beautiful Now! Your hardworking is paying off. Soon you will be finished and your new home flooring will be awesome! But... there is one last step. With only the stain, the floors will scratch easily and the stain color will not last long. For that reason you will need to add a protectant finish to your flooring project.  We recommend Min-wax products here because they have worked well for us in the past. I will add a link HERE so you can check them out. Follow the label instructions, but most brands request three coats to offer premium protection.

That's it! You did it, you rocked it, and you are a superhero.


* Have you recently completed a flooring project? We would love to see photos and celebrate with you. Send them to us HERE  

Have some thoughts or questions about this article? Let us know. We can all learn better when we share our experiences. Let us know what has worked for you and what did not in the comments. 


If you are a flooring contractor, let us know where your from, so that others can see where some professionals are from as well. 


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