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We picked a stain for our new floors (I think)!!!!

July 1, 2021  —  Written by Julia 

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Almost the entire upstairs of our home now has new 5″ white oak floors, including all the staircases besides the main one. The house already feels so different.

When I first saw the flooring in place, I almost abandoned my vision for mid tone floors completely because I loved the light, raw look so so much. Have you ever been in this position? You have something in mind but then you see it a different way and want that instead? Sometimes I go with it, but usually I go back to my vision board and remind myself why I chose what I chose in the first place.

You can see all of my flooring inspiration photos in this post!

While the floors upstairs are in, the rest of our 5″ white oak floors just arrived yesterday for the downstairs, including the smaller pieces we’ll be laying in a herringbone pattern in the entry. So really all that was left for us to do was choose a stain color!

(Above was from our previous trip)

You may remember that we flew out before we moved here to choose one, but none of the colors were just right. Instead of forcing ourselves and settling on one, we decided to just choose one after we move here since the second shipment of floors was stalled anyway. Earlier this week, the stain guy had about 10 more options for us and they were all really close to what we wanted but I narrowed in on two right away.

I didn’t edit these photos in any way, but it’s also difficult to capture true color with a phone, so just keep that in mind. These two small samples were the top contenders. He said he would happily do a large sample right on the floor wherever we’d like the following day. We chose two rooms facing different directions in the house and when we came back yesterday we were surprised, but in a good way, with how different they looked when the stain color was spread across boards varying in color and tone!

The top one was the lighter one and it was probably originally sampled on a lighter board while the bottom one was originally sampled on one of the darker boards. So sided by side–there were differences but it wasn’t as vast as they looked as small samples. This really proves the importance of looking at a large sampling.

I really liked them both and I knew that I would be happy with either. But after staring at them with lights on and lights off, in both rooms, we decided to go with….

THE BOTTOM, slightly DARKER ONE! It feels so rich and the perfect medium tone. It didn’t have a gray toned to it like the lighter one, which I didn’t really want. After I chose, I asked him if we would let me know the stain colors he used.

The lighter one is WEATHERED OAK 

The darker one is 5 parts natural to 1 part espresso. 

Both are sealed with a Bona XD commercial sealer in a satin finish. 

…he said we still have a few days to change our mind and I told him DON’T GIVE ME THAT KIND OF FREEDOM. But… as of today, we’re excited about our choice.

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What do you think?

  1. Jo Ann says:

    Totally off topic…I love you animal print sandals! Would you share the brand name? Thanks in advance!

  2. Georgia says:

    I voted light but I somehow knew you’d go for the darker. It seems more you. I can’t believe how much I love it unstained though. The light, bare oak is my dream floor 😍 I’m so looking forward to seeing the progression on the house, and I don’t doubt it’ll be incredible

  3. Even though I voted for the lighter Gray tone I truly liked the espresso better. I think you made the correct choice.

  4. Rhonda Martin says:

    Looks great! I noticed Duraseal doesn’t have a color called espresso in all my searches from the internet. Do you think it was another color mixed with natural?

  5. Lydia says:

    I admire how you confidently state your choice. I don’t think people realize what it’s like to be open to input all the time. I could not do it! That said, I love and agree with your choice of stain lol.

  6. Emily says:

    Yes the best choice!!! I adore the warmth of the darker one and I’m excited to see them all finished.

  7. Dawnette Fichter says:

    This is the best timing. We just renovated and the last thing to do was our hardwood floors. They were sanded and looked at samples, picked an English walnut country white mix, looked great on sample and now our floors are pink!!!! The wood just soaked in the brown, leaving the red oak with a nice pink hue. We just want to be done but know that we ll forever hate our floors. So now we’re waiting 3 weeks for the refinisher to come back and we re doing it again. Will be trying BOTH your top two to see if one works on ours. Ia ia ia. . .

    • Christa says:

      Don’t forget that Julia has white oak!! The color of the wood makes a huge difference. As does the sealer in the overall color tones. 🙃

      • Dawnette Fichter says:

        Oh yes!!!! We learned ours is a red oak, white oak mix, which is crazy. So we ll definitely be trying larger areas. Can’t wait to see hers and our floors finished 😆

  8. Susan says:

    When you say “natural” is that the name of one of the Dura Seal Stain colors? These truly are lovely 😍

  9. Katie Algajer says:

    Great choice! When we built out our lower level, I stained our oak woodwork the Weathered Grey which I was happy with for the most part. However there were some areas the stain covered which brought out a pink tone in the wood. I could see on your sample areas the same thing. The darker stain helps minimize that pinkish pop through, I think. Well done!

  10. Michelle says:

    Always so impressed when people can fluently compare undertones like this. TBH these look very different in the sample, but the larger swatch they look, the same. LOL OBVIOUSLY they are not. But I’m nodding along as I read “grey tones” and thinking man I’m glad I don’t do this for a living. Anyway, both are beautiful and I DO think mid-tones are so versatile and gorgeous. The red you took out was certainly dramatic and in a carribean setting would feel spot on, But the red is a lot to live with… And lately – medium seem FRESH (Learned this from you). So bravo!!!

    • Carrie says:

      It’s funny because I also have an art degree, and to me I can also immediately see it. I think it’s all about training your eye! Once you know what to look for (sometimes after comparing it to other colors, and seeing what color it “matches” or “pulls out” more) it becomes almost second nature.

  11. Kim says:

    Love the rich tone for your homes style. But either one is beautiful.

  12. Julie S says:

    Great choice for this house and your intended design vibe. It’s the one I voted for both times :)

  13. Heidi says:

    I originally voted for the lighter one, but I have learned never to question your design decisions. Everything you did in your last house turned out so beautiful, and I loved it all. I am so excited to see these gorgeous floors and the rest of your house as you guys make changes.

  14. Sarah says:

    Love the color! I think it’s about as timeless as it gets. Also, how oddly satisfying is it to see big samples in perfect squares?! I love when a GC takes the time to do that.

  15. Christine says:

    I love your choice!

  16. Jenna W. says:

    I was hoping you would pick the darker one!!! Yay!!! Can’t wait to see it throughout the house. It will be BEAUTIFUL!

  17. Julia N Beckstrand says:

    Love what you chose! What brand of stain did you use for this?

  18. Kate says:

    Woo, I was rooting for darker :) We have an east coast Colonial as well and I felt the same about our floors; they needed to be a richer color to be right for the house. It’s gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your process.

  19. Trudy says:

    I liked the same one you did, for this type of lovely more traditional home. Does it make you nervous that that it is a mix? Even though the formula sounds reliable, I’ve always been scared to choose something that isn’t standard – I fear it will get executed wrong somewhere along the way….that either they didn’t mix it exactly that way for my sample, or won’t for the real thing. You’re going to help me be brave next time if this all works out! It’s going to be beautiful!

  20. Madhavi says:

    Yay!! That’s what I voted for, haha. I really love how rich it is and I think it is going to turn out fantastic. Also, what a transformation has already taken place with the new oak floors being installed! It really brightened everything up. Can’t wait to see how things evolve from here.

  21. Maddy says:

    Yay!! That’s what I voted for, haha. I really love how rich it is and I think it is going to turn out fantastic. Also, what a transformation has already taken place with the new oak floors being installed! It really brightened everything up. Can’t wait to see how things evolve from here.

  22. Nancy says:

    Yes Julia!! Beautiful choice! I love your vision! Stick with it :)

  23. Maggie says:

    This is perfect timing because I’m having my white oak floors refinished next week. I want something mid-tone and not too yellow or red, so these look like some good options to try. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Allison says:

    Stunning! If I may ask, what brand are the stains?

  25. Christina says:

    Hello! Welcome to Cary! Did your contractor tell you the brand of stain? We just had a flood in our kitchen due to a dishwasher leak and now find ourselves having to choose new floors again. The damaged ones are only 3 years old. I love both colors but like the variation in the lighter color. This might be perfect for our space.

  26. Michelle says:

    I am too! Beautiful choice!

  27. Mary Ann says:

    Especially excited to see this process of choosing a color, as we are having the exact hardwood (5″ white oak) laid in a couple of weeks! So torn between ALL the stain looks between light and medium. Our floor guy also uses Bona products and advised against the matte finish as he said it shows water spots more and suggests the satin finish. I would be interested to know how much the style of house you have (modern, traditional, etc.) influenced the color of stain you are choosing? We are remodeling an older home and feel it might look out of character for this house to choose a very light stain.

    • Julia says:

      It 100% influenced the stain we chose. First and foremost, you have to listen to your house.

    • Carrie P says:

      Mary Ann, I don’t know if you will see this, but my floors are sealed with the Bona matte finish and I have two very drooly dogs. The slobber marks definitely show up more than they did when I had a satin finish before I had my floors redone. I like the look a lot but I really should mop more than I do. 😂

  28. Lyla Thomas says:

    Love it! It almost seems like the lighter one was pulling green (maybe from the walls?). The darker one is so rich and feels more comfortable, if that makes any sense ata lol, lol.

  29. Shannon says:

    We had all the hardwood floors refinished before we moved in and I am so glad we made that choice! Also the refinishers tried to talk me out of the color I chose. (I picked a dark brown/gray) I’m so happy that I stuck with it. He wanted to just poly the floors and they would have ended up very yellow and I just personally don’t like that look.

  30. Danielle says:

    I think you made a great choice! Can’t wait to see the floors once they are finished.

  31. Evelyn W. says:

    Stunning!! Great choice, I can’t wait to see the finished project.

  32. Susan says:

    Love the choice! We used Bona XD Matte on my floors this summer and I’m obsessed. Kudos for waiting for the right choice to happen!

  33. Az-Kristin says:

    In Love already! It’s going to be rich and wonderful! 💕

  34. EP says:

    The pressure is real when the natural wood is so gorgeous and you want to do it justice! I like your choice. The lighter one seems to almost have a touch of green undertone, while the darker one is warmer. It will look great.

  35. Mrs. Chi says:

    I picked the second one too. Beautiful.

  36. Lauren says:

    You have SUCH great taste, this place is going to be stunning.

    If you had decided to go with the light look of the raw floors, would you have truly left them raw? Or would you have sealed them in a way that preserved the natural wood aesthetic?

    • Julia says:

      I definitely would have still sealed them. Probably with the Bona XD Matte sealer. Keeping truly raw floor clean is a nightmare!

  37. Stephanie says:

    Excellent choice
    The richness of the bottom one 🥰
    This is so much fun going through the process with you.
    Although I’m sure there are moments of non-fun when you are the one making the decisions 😉
    Keep having fun though😊

  38. Kate says:

    I love being in your head with you as you make a decision. I can’t wait to see it all together

  39. Olivia says:

    I love both options here, but maybe within a few days you’ll decide you do want to stick to a bit lighter oak floors?! Hahaha. They’re so stunning.

  40. Meredith says:

    Great choice! They will be beautiful for sure!

  41. Karen says:

    Shocking how different the stains look from the samples when applied to a larger swatch of boards! I’m glad to see you go with the darker color. Is it me or does that stain minimize the color variation within the floor? Either way, I think it’s a wonderful foundation for your Modern Colonial design.

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