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whithardy

Red Oak Floor Stain: Go Lighter! {Classic Gray & Special Walnut blend}

Whitney Hardy
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

When we bought our house 15 years ago, the stain on the 60-year-old red oak floors was a dark Burgundy color. It was obviously a fairly recent DIY job and the stain was a dark almost Burgundy color. After years of wear and tear (more than 10 years of renters), it was time for a redo. I scoured Houzz, Pinterest and the entire internet looking for pictures to help me decide which stain color to choose. I wanted a light color that would brighten the space and also one that would downplay (although not completely eliminate) the red tones of the red oak floors. I felt like the WWW was failing me! I saw gorgeous WHITE oak floors exactly the color I had in mind, but found very few pictures of red oak floors stained with anything other than a dark stain. The dark colors were beautiful, just not what I had in mind.

After deciding that I was probably going to want some sort of blend, our flooring company talked me through some options. They recommended a 50/50 mix of Minwax Classic Gray & Jacobean, but because I didn't want the floors to be too dark, I asked them to also put down a 50/50 blend of Minwax Classic Gray & Special Walnut.

Once the two stains were down, my decision was easy. Our red oak floors really absorbed the stain colors, making the Jacobean blend far too dark for what we were looking for, but the Special Walnut blend was absolutely perfect!

I am including several different pictures of the finished product, which turned out even better than I had imagined. Our final choice was the 50/50 blend of Minwax Classic Gray and Minwax Special Walnut in a satin finish. The flooring company we hired uses a water popping process for every job so the stain stays consistent throughout. The result was a timeless, light neutral brown, with slight gray undertones, highlighting the beautiful natural grain of the wood floors. The color works perfectly with the current gray trends, but will age well as styles evolve. As with all red oak floors, you can't completely eliminate the red undertones, but I am absolutely in love with the finished product. The new flooring color made our space seem larger and more polished looking. I could not be happier!

The last photo in the series is of the two samples on the freshly sanded, unfinished floor. On the left is 50/50 Classic Gray & Jacobean, and on the right is 50/50 Classic Gray & Special Walnut. This photo was taken at night in artificial light. In daylight, the color was slightly lighter, but the Jacobean blend was still VERY dark.

I hope this post is helpful for those of you looking for inspiration for your {gorgeous} red oak floors!


Floors finished by: Floor Coverings International Birmingham {Alabama}

Floor type: Red Oak

Stain: Minwax 50/50 blend of Minwax Classic Gray & Minwax Special Walnut

Process: Water pop

Finish: Satin

Wall color: BM Revere Pewter at 50% strength

Trim color: BM White Dove

Front door color: SW Cyberspace

Dining room chandelier: Home Depot - Home Decorator's Collection, Boswell Quarter 14 in. 3-Light Brushed Nickel Chandelier with Painted Weathered Gray Wood Accents









Comments (28)

  • PRO
    Oak & Broad
    4 years ago

    Whitney Hardy , thats an excellent write up!! The floors look great.

  • PRO
    HALLETT & Co.
    4 years ago

    Congratulations on the new floor. Was hoping for a photo of the burgundy- it sounded dreadful!

  • C B
    4 years ago

    This is so helpful! Thank you!!

  • Karen
    4 years ago

    Wow. Beautiful! Actually just did a similar stain job on a bench for my nephew. Same combo of stain but layered the stains instead of mixing them together. I'm not sure what type of wood the bench is but definitely no oak. I figured I'd throw these photos out there to Houzzers so they can see this stain combination on a different species of wood.



  • drfairley75
    4 years ago

    beautifu;! I'm trying to make a decision on my stain for red oak now! Did you use an oil based poly for the finish?

  • Melanie Mathews
    4 years ago

    I love the color of that stain! You my friend are an artist!

  • Whitney Hardy
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    @drfairly I’m not sure! The professionals who refinished our floors didn’t give me an option. I do know it took several days for the whole process to “cure.” Not sure if that’s the right word, but after they sealed them, no one could go in for about 4 days.

  • Jennifer Lynn
    4 years ago

    @drfairley75

    My guess is a strong ‘water based’ as oil would make them yellow.

    BEAUTIFUL

  • Jennifer Lynn
    4 years ago

    Whitney. Is the first photo the same as the finished job?

  • muellerkm
    4 years ago

    THANK YOU for sharing such detail here. I’m currently researching stains for my red oak floors, and think you may have found it for me.

  • Geena O
    3 years ago

    I love this mix Whitney, thank you for the write up!

  • Melissa Kempton
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! This was very helpful!

  • jenliu611
    2 years ago

    Hi Whitney, do you mind sharing if the finish was oil based polyurethane? Or water based?

  • bassyfriedman1
    2 years ago

    Does the finished product have a honey tinge? Doesn't seem like it in the pictures but special walnut usually is..

  • HU-593683530
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    We just did a 50/50 blend of the classic grey and special walnut, too. I love how it looks. the 30 year old varnish that was on the red oak had turned so orange. So we had that sanded. They applied the stain by hand and then did 3 coats of water-based semi-gloss poly on top. The water based poly is less shiny than oil based so it looks more like a satin finish.


  • Karen V
    last year

    Love it! Any more pictures?

  • MariaK
    last year

    We used this stain too and loved it! Next step is painting our first floor - currently have revere pewter but want to go lighter. Any recommendations with this stain color?

  • Amy Molina
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I just did a 50/50 blend of Classic Gray and Dark Walnut. It was not dark at all, and I found that it was less red that the Special Walnut and Classic Gray blend. I will post a photo, but I still need to paint the MDF and the trim white. I just did my staircase.


  • Renée Soronen
    last year

    Thanks Amy Molina for posting that photo and the specifics. Very helpful and your stairs look great!

  • HU-807313974
    last year

    Hi thank you so much, will copy your colors , can you tell me what kind of top coat did you use , poly?, glossy semi glossy etc, i am newbie

  • sprrkls
    last year

    @Amy Molina yoir stain combination looks great! is the dk walnut/clasic mix on red oak?

  • Amy Molina
    last year

    Yes, it is on red oak. That's why it was so challenging for it not to look pink. I will take another photo now that it has had a much longer time to dry.


  • sprrkls
    last year

    @Amy Molina thank you for advising. your color really is beautiful!!! i just selected last monday chestnut/classic. it did not appear to have any of that red orange showing through - just a nice neutral brown color. in my opinion, it is like a special walnut but greatly improved. special walnut was a yuck! color on my floor showing orange and the grains too bold. classic gray is the ticket to modernize a color if looking for a brown. its just finding the right brown that is tricky. now i am just hoping i selected a dark enough brown - yoir looks great! they come and do ours tomorrow in the official color.

  • Amy Molina
    last year

    Make sure to post a photo when you are done! Can’t wait to see it!

  • Amy Molina
    last year

    More current pics

  • Michelle
    last month

    @sprrkls Did you end up with Chestnut/Classic Gray? I'm looking at the same combo and would love to see a picture!

  • ecgb
    yesterday

    @sprrkls, how did your floors turn out? Can you please post a photo?