Design

The Stain we Decided on for Our White Oak Floors

August 3, 2021  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Back in May I shared a list of all the projects we wanted to have done before moving into our new house. At the top of that list?–replace all the flooring with stain in place white oak. The main level was wall-to-wall Brazilian cherry (the reddest of reds), and upstairs was all carpeted that needed replaced anyhow. To avoid living amongst contractors and sawdust indefinitely, we hired contractors to tackle that beast before moving in and it’s been the greatest gift to have such a clean slate right off the bat.

Getting to this point has come with its own set of hiccups, just like most projects amiright? In this blog post I shared all my inspiration and thoughts about selecting a stain for the floors. I envisioned a rich, medium, classic wood-tone–something that felt timeless and true to the house’s colonial style. Well, there was a bit of miscommunication with the color of stain we wanted, and how many samples we wanted to see. We went back and forth a few times until we finally landed on these two stain options.

I had selected what I thought was going to be the color of our floors (the bottom one above), but when I was shooting this campaign for spoonflower, everything changed. I brought all of my fabric and wallpaper swatches into the new house to start dreaming up a palette, imagining layers of textures and patterns — steeped in tradition. But next to all of these swatches, the “winner” was pulling too… red. And the grain was popping too much. I was sure it was THE ONE, but it was a good reminder to slow down and, pull in some patterns and color palettes you love before pulling the trigger.

As soon as I laid a few samples on the other floor color, everything felt really harmonious.

Honestly I couldn’t be happier with where we landed. I feel like these floors are timeless, yet effortless. The medium-light wood tone is striking all the right chords with warm undertones that don’t read too red or too yellow. And not gray at all, but definitely neutral. And the slightly smaller (than the modern cottage) 5¾-inch engineered white oak floor feels like it’s just always been this way.

Pulling in those fabric and wallpaper samples reminded me that I don’t want the floors to be the show-stopper in this house. I want the hardwood to be the Best Supporting Actor to all of the traditional, colonial design elements we’re leaning into in this house. I didn’t want them to stand out and distract from the patterns and textures that make my heart sing.

The floors are looking quite different than they do in these photos because they’re now holding our furniture and boxes (both empty and yet-to-be unpacked) and it’s really nice to see our floors already doing so well in their “Supporting Actor” role.

For those who will ask, our contractor used the Duraseal Weathered Oak Quick Coat Stain (2 coats!), finished with Bona Traffic HD Satin. Deciding on a satin finish vs. a matte finish is definitely contributing to these floors looking like they’ve always been here–the goal all along.

Still to come–the entryway herringbone flooring has yet to be installed, as well as the grand staircase in the entry. Peek our staircase inspo here and get ready for what’s to come.

What do you think?

  1. Mallory W says:

    Hi love you work! Quick question these are the original wood floors that you had a team re sand and stain? Or was this new flooring put in? Thanks again!

  2. Lisa Quigley says:

    The new floors are gorgeous. The after pictures of the floor boards appear to be wider than the before pictures. Did you refinish the existing floors, or are these floors newly installed?

  3. Molly says:

    Well, you may not have wanted the floors to be a showstopper, but they absolutely are! They are BEAUTIFUL! I am hoping to start on a renovation soon and so hope I can get my yellowy/orangey floors closer to this color. Just gorgeous.

  4. Nicole says:

    We refinished our wood floors a few months ago and went with Weathered Oak in a satin finish. I loooooove them—and wowsers, I feel so on point! Ha Ha! Love following you guys!

  5. Nancy says:

    In the post, ( that I saved!) cuz I loved what you picked. You said you went with the darker one? 5 parts natural 1 part espresso? Did you change your mind? I want to make sure I pick the one you did!!

  6. toni says:

    What is the thickness of the floors?

  7. Julie S says:

    They look terrific! I thought the other initial stain choice was the best fit, but I can’t find a thing wrong with the color you actually went with! Great choice. The whole house looks fresh yet timeless.

  8. B.R. says:

    Will you be using the same 5in planks for the herringbone or will you use a smaller width?

  9. Cassandre Cheung says:

    Can’t wait for you to update the light fixtures!!!

  10. Megan P. says:

    so is it a satin or a matte finish? hard to interpret in your post. blog makes me feel matte – but a comment said satin.

  11. Courtney says:

    I love that you went with a satin finish and your reasoning behind it. I love a matte finish as much as the next person, but satin truly does make the floors feel like they’ve always been there.

  12. Amanda says:

    Curious if your contractor had to, or chose to, remove baseboards to install the new flooring? And if so, did they replace with new or re-use existing? Love the stain choice you landed on. Looks gorgeous!

    • Julia says:

      We didn’t have to remove the baseboard because our home has shoe molding. So that came off and was replaced with the new floors. It’s not my favorite thing, but it did save us on baseboard!

  13. Lara says:

    The floors look phenomenal, they totally change the look of the room. I have one question. You said you used 5¾-inch engineered white oak floor, can engineered wood floors be sanded? I was under the impression they couldn’t be because of the layers. We are looking into redoing the flooring in our home and I absolutely love what you have done.

  14. Rachael says:

    Looks beautiful! Did they have to re-level the floors at all before installing?

  15. Erin says:

    Love the floors! I’m in the process of deciding on new floors right now. What size planks are your new floors? I love white oak!!!

  16. kathy says:

    Your floors are beautiful! Can you tell me what grade of flooring you used and if they are plain, rift or quarter sawn? Thank you!

  17. Where did you purchase you white oak engineered unfinished hardwood floors? Or what is the brand. I’m having trouble finding this flooring.

  18. Martha says:

    Did you prep the wood with alcohol before the stain? Just wondering as this is optional but impacts how the wood absorbs the stain color.

  19. RACHEL says:

    So pretty! We are headed into a similar remodel and debating white oak stain in place or prefinished (like stuga at your old house). Can you share why you didn’t use stuga or prefinished this time? Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      I wanted more control over the color and wanted the ability to sand and refinish down the road if we wanted or needed to!

      • Nitasha says:

        I thought the Stuga can be refinished 2 times as well? We are currently thinking of installing Stuga in our house based on what you used in the modern cottage.

      • Chris Loves Julia says:

        We love Stuga, and we’re working on developing a new floor color with them based on this stain!

  20. Margaret Ray says:

    The change is so dramatic it almost looks like you painted the walls!

  21. Emily says:

    Hi CxJ team! Just a minor note – since the site redesign (which is lovely!) on desktop the ads pop up covering the blog post text. It makes it hard to read!

  22. Natalie Berthiaume says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I would love it if you were able to share the hardwood floor source. Can’t wait to see what else you do to this lovely house!

  23. Adrienne says:

    Changing the floors brightened up the house. You really see it in the before and after shots. It made such a difference in how much light bounces around the rooms.

  24. Brie says:

    Love the floors!! Biased because we also recently picked the weathered oak stain and satin finish for our older colonial – but everyone assumes all of the wood floor has always been there when we tore up so much tile to make it happen 😂

  25. EP says:

    They’re gorgeous. I would have loved to see the other stain option with the fabrics to see how it was pulling red. Crazy how much colors can change in different contexts.

    Do I spot a coat of primer on the master bathroom floor?😉

  26. Freemagine says:

    Wow! The results are amazing! I love how you put before and after pics from the same angle. The new look is definitely more spacious. I especially liked your analogy of the hardwood floor being “Best Supporting Actor”.

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