Choosing the perfect wood stain color for floors can be difficult. Here’s a little bit about the process and how we came to a stain color decision!

A dining room with a white table and wood stain colored chairs.
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It’s official, the stress has gotten to me! Whatever you think your stress level will be during a home renovation, multiply it by two three.

I thought I had it all figured out. I knew I wanted a warm, medium stain for our new hardwood floors, but I completely underestimated how difficult that would be.

Sure, I could spend all day pinning and dreaming of what the color will look like, but colors vary from brand to brand, different species of wood and even one board to the next. Ugh!

Wood stain colors for white oak hardwood floors

For the last year, I’ve been pinning hardwood floors I love, recognizing that some are pre-finished. I want a classic, timeless and traditional look.

Unfortunately, so many colors have red and yellow undertones that it was more difficult than I had imagined. These are the wood stain colors we tested for our floors.

Choosing wood floor stain color on white oak | golden brown and special walnut

Wood Stain Colors for Hardwood Floors

We didn’t test Provincial, one I have always loved. I really loved the special walnut {top left} because it was truest to color without undertones and doesn’t highlight the grain as much, but also liked golden brown {bottom left}.

The golden brown definitely emphasizes the grain, giving it a slightly more rustic look. What to do? Blend them.

Choosing wood floor stain color on white oak | golden brown and special walnut

Floor Stain Colors

Well, we tried. I found that blended they can be a little unpredictable looking far more yellow on the left and picture perfect to the right.

{From left to right – blended, golden brown, blended, special walnut}. You can see how when the color is blended exactly the same, it differs from board to board.

We have white oak, which tends to be grainier, but truer to color.

Choosing wood floor stain color on white oak | golden brown and special walnut
We liked olden brown {left} because it’s slightly darker than the special walnut. Unfortunately, it’s rare to see these colors used in larger spaces, especially on the same species of wood.

Our Hardwood Stain Color

At the end of the day, I want to be extremely thoughtful about my decisions because they can be very costly and I want to love them 10 years from now.

So where did we end up? Here’s our final floor stain decision.

A white foyer design with a Dutch door, box trim moulding on the walls and hardwood floors.

Our Floor Stain

Our final decision! We ended up doing golden brown, but added a little coffee into the clear coat to calm the orange tones down.

Come see our full before and after!

A white entryway with window box moulding and a wood bench in a guide to How to Sell a House Fast.

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  1. Blending them was an interesting idea. I hadn’t thought to blend hardwood flooring stain before. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t workout for you though, at least you didn’t do your entire floor before figuring that out though. Hopefully you are still happy with your choice of golden brown, it looks really pretty with these samples!

  2. There are so many wood stain colors, and I’m impressed you were able to narrow it down! I think I want some sort of gray toned stain, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten in my elimination. I will have to choose a few of my favorites to sample and see how it goes!

    1. It’s so hard, but I’m just happy that solid stain is now an option. You can’t go wrong with grey or greige! I’d go slightly darker than you want because in the sun it appears a lot lighter and brighter.

  3. We are also in the midst of choosing a stain color for our floors too and they are white oak as well. It is such a hard decision! have been wracking my brain over countless internet pictures, houzz pics, touring model homes, etc. We live in Texas so the hand-scraped hardwoods are a very popular look..whether we scrape With the Grain or Against the Grain is the first decision, then choosing how light or heavy to scrape and then deciding on the stain color–it is a lot to consider! I would like some depth of color that will par with different furniture pieces and am also partial to the Walnut color. I am looking to maybe blend the Special Walnut color with Medium Brown or another close shade. I’ll let you know what we decide!

    1. Keep me posted and share photos! I love special walnut, but it felt really light on white oak. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do walnut, but I’m happy with our floors.

  4. Thanks for documenting your decision making process. I am trying to make the same big decision. Provincial or Golden Brown. I told them I decided on Golden Brown but I’m searching blogs tonight for validation. The Golden Brown just looks richer and I hope more classic. We are covered in dust, tired, and wrangling three dogs outside while they work.

    1. That was my hope, too, but it was a little more golden than I liked. If I had to do it over again, I’d do walnut. We ended up doing golden brown, but added in coffee into the clear coat to tone the orange tones down.

  5. So happy to see this post, we are getting ready to embark on a huge flooring project and I’m so undecided!!! I also looked at special walnut, but our floors are red oak, so not sure how I will like it. What size boards to do you have? Good luck and can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

    1. I did 3″ boards for a classic approach. My neighbor just did dark walnut on her red oak and they weren’t too dark at all. They are gorgeous!