Home Build: Hardwood Stains & Finishes

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Stephens Homes, Stephens Living

If you’ve got hardwood floors in your home and are considering giving them a new lease on life, you’re in the right place. We’ve journeyed through the realm of staining and finishing hardwood floors and are here to share some wisdom. Let’s get started!

If you need more information about types of hardwood, please read our Guide to Hardwood Flooring first!

Knowing Your Wood: Which Types Can Be Stained?

First things first, it’s vital to understand the kind of wood you’re working with. The good news? Most hardwood floors are stainable. But, just like every rule, there are exceptions.

Oak & Walnut

These are like the A-list celebrities of the wood world. They take stain evenly and showcase the natural grain beautifully.

Maple & Birch

Here’s where things get a tad tricky. These woods have tight grains which can lead to blotchy stains if not done correctly. Pre-stain conditioner is a good friend in such situations. When in doubt, hire a professional to assist you!

Pine & Fir

Ah, the softwoods. We love their character, but they’re a bit more finicky. Their natural resins sometimes resist stain, so they might need a little extra love and care.


Choosing the Right Stain

Staining is like giving your floor a makeover. You have a palette of colors to choose from, but remember, the type of wood you have plays a role in how the final product looks.

Oil-Based Stains

These are the old reliables. They offer longer working time and penetrate deep into the wood. They’re great for those traditional looks, think deep mahoganies or rich chocolates.

Water-Based Stains

Environmentally friendly and quick to dry. They might raise the wood grain a bit, so a little light sanding post-application might be in order.

Gel Stains

The perfect pick for our tricky-to-stain woods like maple. They’re thicker and give you more control, minimizing blotches.

Remember, regardless of the type of stain you choose, always do a patch test in an inconspicuous area. Better safe than sorry!

Final Finishes

Once the stain is complete, the wood should be sealed with a finish!

Polyurethane: The most popular kid on the block. Available in both oil and water-based variants, it offers a durable, protective layer. From glossy to satin finishes, there’s a sheen for everyone.

Penetrating Oil Sealer: Want something a bit more natural? This sealer dives deep into the wood, strengthening it from within. It offers a more matte, organic look.

Wax: The old-school charmer. It gives a soft, satin finish and feels amazing underfoot. However, it might need more regular maintenance compared to the other options.


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