How to Pick an Appropriate Hardwood Floor Stain Colour

October 20, 2022

Whether you are deciding on a design for the first time, or looking for change by remodelling a pre-existing floor, hardwood floor staining is a worthy consideration. It can be a daunting process to choose a colour, but with the steps below the it can be made much simpler!

What is Staining?

Staining a hardwood floor, as its name suggests, includes painting a coat of colourant over the hardwood floor. First you must sand the wood down to ensure the stain penetrates the wood effectively, remove the dust, and then you can begin the procedure. Subsequently, a top coat finish is added for protection of the colour. The aim of this procedure could be to entirely change the appearance of the wood, or simply to enhance the colour further. You could also hide the damage of scratches and stains.

The reason this decision is so significance of this is that the stain is strong and completely changes the tone of the floor. As a result, removing it becomes difficult and therefore it is important to be certain of the stain you choose.

Should I Stain My Hardwood Floor?

Once you understand what hardwood floor staining is, you should consider whether this is the best option for your floors.

If you have common hardwood floors such as oat, walnut or hickory, it is a great idea to stain them. These are popular options because they are affordable, durable and retain their colour. They are also of good quality. However, eventually they will start to light due to sunlight. Additionally, scratching can be seen after they have been around for a while. Therefore, staining them will help them develop a richer colour, which portrays a more expensive feel.

On the other hand, hardwood floors made of cherry or ebony should probably not be stained. These types of wood are expensive, and therefore you may wish to avoid staining them. This is because they have a rich colour, and so the stain chosen may actually look cheaper than the wood itself. Additionally, every hardwood floor reacts different to staining. Whilst most common floors take well to the staining, some do not distribute it evenly no matter how excellent your application technique is. This is because their fibers resist the properties of the stain used. Hardwood floors you should avoid staining include pine, birch and maple.

Which Colours Should I Consider When Staining?

Scratched Floors

If you are staining your hardwood floors because they are damaged or scratched, it is worthwhile considering a darker colour instead of lighter. This is because even after sanding, there may be some visible dents or marks left. Furthermore, if your floor is very damaged, it may not be possible to sand it due to fragility. When this is the case, you should opt for a colour a few shades darker than the one you own now. Jacobean, cocoa, and onyx are good examples.

Light or Dark

Generally speaking, lighter colours reflect more and therefore more movement is seen from them. If you are looking to create a lively, airy ambience, you may wish to aim for glossy colours which demonstrate this. Classic example of this includes golden oak, natural and maple. On the other hand, you may wish to induce a cooler, calmer atmosphere. When this is the case, deeper colours should be considered. This could be walnut, brown and ebony.


The most popular colours of hardwood floor stain are undoubtedly the classic tones. They exude elegance and style as they do not follow the trends, but instead have been popular for a long time. These traditional colours are ideal if you are unsure of which tone to go for. People tend to gravitate towards rich colours such as cherry and medium brown, because they are neither too light nor too dark. If you prefer to go lighter, you could try birch, but it is essential to apply proper protective coating as this is more prone to scratches. For a darker feel, you could opt for red mahogany.


Modern styles of hardwood floor stain colour are becoming increasingly more popular. Especially if you are living in a space which is filled with dynamic colours and modern contours, you should aim to reflect this in your flooring as well. The most popular contemporary stains are usually grey, with a cool tone. Classic grey is a great example, as it is the ideal balance of light and dark. Alternatively, if you are looked for a heavier tone, you could opt for weathered grey or carbon grey.


Some people opt for colours which are unusual and unique. Whilst this may not be the best idea when considering stain colours for homes which will be temporary or rented, it is a great choice if you are captivated by bolder shades.  A classy example of this is jade, which is a beautiful light green hue that would compliment a home with plants and natural light. More shades to consider are woodrose or cherry blossom, which have a pink or purple tone respectively. These will certainly catch the eyes of visitors!

Existing Interior of Home

One of the most significant factors to consider is the interior of your home. This includes the walls, shapes, and furniture. Subsequently, this will aid you in choosing a colour which compliments the pre-existing tone of your home. For example, if you naturally have lots of space and natural lighting, opting for floors which catch this light would further brighten the room. In the same way, if you have a certain shade of wallpaper, you could replicate a similar tone of stain.

In conclusion, there are a range of hardwood floor stain colours available to consider. Once you choose your top favourites, you can sample stains out until you decide on the perfect colour.


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