Getting the Perfect Hardwood Stain the First Time
Photo credit: Article from FORBES
When refinishing old hardwoods or simply staining new hardwoods on site, there is one designer trick you must know!!
Most folks know before old hardwood floors are refinished that they are sanded down to bare wood. Even newly installed hardwoods must be sanded down before finish is applied. This is a wonderful opportunity to try multiple stains on your actual hardwoods and assess the stains with your wall colors and your lighting. It’s going to be sanded off anyway why not take advantage of this chance to dial in the perfect stain color. Sure you could stain a small single board but this is misleading. Many times wood boards vary in tone and grain. Why not do large samples that include several boards?
And... stains vary greatly depending on the species of wood they are applied to. The same exact stain will look completely different on oak compared to walnut or hickory. You need a game plan for understanding what stain will look the best on your floors.
So here is the plan....ask your floor finisher when they plan on finishing the floors. If it’s a older floor that’s currently finished get the finishing crew to sand down and remove all finish down to the bare wood in a small area. If you have new hardwoods you might want to light sand the area just to get the grain open to receive the stain.
Next grab plastic gloves, several disposable rags, the multiple stains you want to try, and a pencil or piece of chalk to mark the names of the stains by the samples. Trust me it’s a nightmare to find the perfect stain and not remember which stain it was.
Then use a new rag to make large (at least 24x36) sections of stain on the freshly sanded hardwoods.
Assess the stains at different times of day to be sure to understand the stain as it changes through the day with the lighting. Even feel free to assess the color next to rugs or fabrics or cabinet door samples to represent the other finishes that will be involved in the design of the home.
So whether your refinishing old hardwoods or trying to find the perfect stain for your new hardwoods, don’t guess what your stain will look like. Take a few minutes to test some samples on your actual floor to understand the results you will be getting.
Happy Building Folks!