3 tips for choosing wood floor stain colors
There are many choices when deciding what color to stain a wood floor. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Sebastian A.)
When it comes to wood floors, there are many stain colors from which to choose. They generally fall into three ranges:
Light colors, which add brightness and a sense of cheerfulness to a room.
Midtones, which are more traditional and help cover blemishes in the wood.
Dark colors, which are somewhat dramatic and tend to combine dark browns and reds.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing what color to stain a new wood floor or a refinished existing one:
1. Don't be misled by the sample
Be aware that it may be challenging to recreate the look of your favorite sample. Many factors go into a stain's final look, including wood type, room lighting, and wall and ceiling colors. An experienced, reputable hardwood flooring contractor should suggest testing a small area of flooring, usually after the second sanding, before you make your final stain choice.
2. Consider a custom stain
If the standard options don't grab your interest, ask about custom stains. This is an involved process, so make sure there's a detailed record of your chosen stain's recipe that your contractor can use to produce large enough amounts. Also, be sure your contractor avoids mixing products from different manufacturers.
3. Sanding affects final stain color
Talk to your contractor to be sure he or she knows how to avoid or minimize a "halo" or "picture framing" effect, the result of differences between sanding depth in the floor's center and the depth at the edges. Scratch patterns from buffer or edger sanding can add to a halo effect.
An experienced contractor should know how to apply stain to minimize such effects. Ask to see photos of floors from previous clients' homes. Ask, too, for references and take the time to contact them.
For more information, see the Angie's List Guide to Hardwood Flooring.
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