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

Whitney Hardy
3 years ago
last modified: 3 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









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