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. I recently purchased a 1968 house with golden oak kitchen cabinetry, which is in excellent condition, however the wood floors are also golden oak and in poor condition. I would like to replace the wood floors (I can’t afford to re-stain the cabinetry as well), but can’t figure out how to choose a stain color that will compliment the floors and add a nice contrast to the dated golden oak.

  2. 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?

  3. I think I like the golden brown stain the best. Like you said, it’s slightly darker than the special walnut, which I find appealing. However, in the end it’s your decision; I’m sure the hardwood floors will look great no matter which stain you choose! Thanks for sharing.

  4. The red oak floor in my grandmother’s old house appears never to have been sanded since the boards were originally laid and later covered with carpet. In the high traffic areas, the stain is completely worn away, but around the perimeter, the stain is a deep orange-red. Before I sand away past stains and paint drips, I decided to test out Old Masters Special Walnut and Dark Walnut. Unfortunately, the red in the oak gave both a strong orange undertone. I would prefer a rich medium brown with the natural wood grain showing through. Since you added coffee to tone down the orange in your floors, how do you think coffee might do as the primary stain color on red oak? Also, may I ask what brand of stain you used? I have not seen any stain colors named Light or Medium Brown, but I would love to look at them!

  5. These are some really excellent tips on picking out the proper flooring for your home. This will definitely come in handy when we move into a place of our own.