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Cherry Floors -- Keep, Stain, or Replace?

May 22, 2014
last modified: May 22, 2014
Hi everyone, we recently bought our 1st home, and are having a flooring dilemma! We have these brazilian cherry floors (house is 15 years old) on the main floor which includes the Kitchen, formal living room, and family room. The attached pictures are the current owner's furniture - we will be purchasing all new furniture, so please disregard.

We are looking to install hardwood floors on the top floor (bedrooms) as well, so hardwood floors on the main floor (attached pics) and the upstairs.

While the cherry floors are in good shape, we're not sure about keeping them only because I think red floors are a challenge to decorate/work with over wood colored floors. So, we're wondering the following:

- Stain - we've had a couple of flooring guys come to check our options for staining, and if we stain, it would be darker. However, with darker floors, it seems like scratches and dust is a lot more visible. Would you guys agree? Are they harder to maintain? Also, once we stain, and since cherry floors change color with exposure to light, would that mean we'd have to re-stain a few years later?
- Replace - If staining the wood costs just as much as replacing, we think we may go that route. Seems better to just replace them for oak or walnut floors, instead of staining and having to re-stain later?
- Keep - this would be the most cost-effective, however, red floors are a challenge to work with in terms of decoration (I think) if we have it all over the house? As you can see, our kitchen has a LOT of brown/red and I just don't like that. Also, we will likely have an area rug in the family room, so would that affect the colors of the floors over time (i.e. for those parts that are exposed to the sunlight vs. those that are under the rug)?

We're torn on what to do, so I would love if anyone who has personal experience with Brazilian cherry to give your input. Other feedback is also appreciated! Thank you!!

Comments (182)

  • jingletim

    Sounds like you made a Mocha -I'll bet that took the red out nicely wilson853, without being too black (like the pure Bona Ebony). Thanks to bubbles0208, Barbara Kovacs, mnmamax3 and others for showing us how its possible to love the BC floors in a whole new way!

  • judrand05

    You're putting the horse before the cart and trying to make a decision without a reference point. I suggest you back up and decide what look you want before making a decision about the flooring. Then it will become clear to you what you need to do about their color. HOWEVER: I think your kitchen cabinets have a beautiful soft pecan color that is somewhere between casual and traditional, so you can go either way or combine the two looks into a very personal one. And the pecan color looks so pretty and clean with the gray counters and stainless steel appliances. If it were my house, I'd take that look and continue it throughout my entire home. And use the weathered (grey) stain on your floors.

  • Anthony Contaldo

    Barbara Kovacs can you please tell me if you did a water-based or oil-based finish when you re-finished your brazilian cherry floors?

  • Keith
    @mnmamax3, do you have any “before” pics of your floors? About to purchase a home with Brazilian cherry flooring and two of the rooms have a maple border. Looks like you also have a border, not sure if it’s also Brazilian cherry just laid differently or if it’s another wood type. Trying to determine what effect the stain has on different woods and the outcome of them. Your floors look great!
  • Paige SF
    Hi Keith, I had a light maple border and with the ebony stain, it’s almost unnoticeable but here is a clear pic of the after and before
  • mnmamax3

    The cross piece on my floors was where the floor stopped before we added hardwood to the living room. We could have "feathered" it in, but easier just to add the crosswise board. Looks like Paige has exactly what you need and hers turned out great!

  • Keith
    Thank you both @Paige SF and mnmamax3! I appreciate the insights.

    @Paige SF - beautiful outcome! Did you use Duraseal, Minwax, or some other brand for your floors?
  • Keith
    Thanks again @mnmamax3! (Forgot the @ in previous post)
  • Paige SF
    @keith I used Duraseal. Good luck with yours!
  • matyngalea
    I am also purchasing a house that has Brazilian cherry wood throughout. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for wanting to darken it because according for them they’re so beautiful and expensive. My question is, exactly how expensive is it to stain them? Is it ruining the floors by going with that option? I have a living room, den, foyer, hall and dining room to do.
  • tasslia

    Cherry Floors -- Keep, Stain, or Replace?

    Hi Bubbles0208 ( # bubbles0208 ) and all. Thank you for all of your insight! and comments

    Glad others have already concurred my dilemma of the Brazilian cherry wood flooring... but I will kick this up a notch and throw in the fact that my flooring is also a herringbone pattern :-). Not sure how this was envisioned to work well in a beach home, but I just closed on a shore house and hoping to address this flooring throughout. Leaning towards staining as done by many of you. Since it has been quite a few years that many of you have stained your floors, I'm hoping some of you may be kind enough to update how your flooring currently looks. Has the red resurfaced more,..turned darker or lighter, etc? Any other do's and don'ts to share

    Also, curious if anyone found a stain that is a little lighter than the ebony and perhaps more in the walnut / lighter brown family that worked well...or even a gray finish.

    Like matyngalea also interested in how much is a reasonable price for this type of work and did anyone by chance use a floor specialist in the New Jersey Shore area that they would recommend? Thanks again!!

  • jingletim

    In my opinion staining the floors shouldn't cost any more than a regular sanding / refinishing - the stain is just mixed in with the finish. I don't think you can easily go from red to grey, or any lighter colour for that matter. If you look at my earlier post with a sample staining photo, you'll see the "ebony" is actually more of a walnut colour (with the dura seal ebony, but not the Bona), particularly if your rooms have good natural light (as in my sample stains photo). As for herringbone - if your floors are anything like mine were, there is a large spectrum in colour, which emphasizes the pattern (negatively). By staining, the colour will be more uniform, and thereby draw less attention to the pattern. I don't think staining floors "ruins" it - the benefit of the Brazilian cherry is its hardness, durability, and wonderful grain pattern. It will continue to have these attributes, no matter what colour you stain it.

  • Keith
    @tasslia @matyngalea we also have Brazilian Cherry in multiple rooms (living, dining, office, stairs, hallway, 2 bedrooms) and the living and dining room have Herringbone pattern with maple and Brazilian Cherry inlays. We pulled the trigger on this project and the floors should be done early next week. I’ll post the “after” pics when done, but here’s the before pics.
  • Keith
    No “before” pics of the bedrooms
    But here’s some others. Again, will post the “after” photos when done. We went with Bona Ebony/Graphite blend
  • mnmamax3

    For us the staining was a separate process (and done after "water popping") then the finish was applied after a few days of drying. It cost a small amount extra per sq foot - proportional to the cost of the whole job, not a lot. I believe if we or another home owner in the future chooses to sand down the floors, they can return to the original, unstained brazilian cherry. Keith - your floors are beautiful and interesting and I can't wait to see them all done.

  • tasslia

    @jingletim, @keith, @ mnmmamax3 - thank you all so much for your further insight!! I am a complete novice to this entire process, so you and others on this thread are all my first step to trying to become a bit educated. So happy I found you! (1st floorer I called didn't not offer this level of insight to give me the confidence of even moving forward. His stain choices were only Minwax.) Everyone's floors look so great!

    I will run through all your postings again and take notes, and will likely come back with a few more questions, if you don't mind.

    @jingletme - the stain samples also were great to see, and like you I see most seemed to go with DuraSeal Ebony, did you find the DuraSeal Coffee stain too light?

    I think I need to recap a summary of what everyone did as there is a lot of info. here. Did you do multiple layers of staining or just 1? number of coasts of sealant and which is best?... water vs. oil based... and what is water popping. Ughh... pardon my ignorance - I have a lot to reread here.

    @Keith - good luck!!! Do keep us posted. Does the graphite blend add some grayness or more black/darker to the standard ebony?

  • tasslia

    Here are a couple of photos of the floors in the beach house I just purchased. (lighter area is just from sunlight coming in.) Paint and kitchen need a redo. Awful color combos. It's a large open area so want to get this right and shared the same concern as @jingletim if floor is too dark you will see daily dust more.) Also, concerned about proper sealant, since it is a beach home and sand may be traffic-ed in.) Thanks!!

  • jingletim

    For me it was a toss up between the Coffee and Ebony. I thought the Coffee may let too much orange/reds come through, but if you are after more of a chestnut or walnut, it could be a good choice. Bona Ebony was too dark for me as lost the wood grain and I think would just be too dark in our rooms and the graphite had a very clear green tinge that I did not like at all. I recommend you do a sand and apply a few samples so you can see exactly how they look, worth the 15 min. Stains made by other companies are likely fine too, but you'll want to put samples down to test. In my opinion the products that you apply over the stain are more important, as they take all the abuse. I think previously I commented on the products we used which we are VERY happy with, held up to heavy traffic more than 10 years. The stain was just one application, followed by Bacca / Glitsa coats (satin, I am not a fan of high gloss finish). Water popping just opens up the grain to allow better stain penetration. Sanding was done between each coat and overnight drying. Had to be out of house for the Bacca / Glitsa due to fumes, but great products.

  • tasslia

    @jingletim - thanks! This is so helpful! and I will def. take your advice and sample the stains. Likely just a choice between the Ebony and Coffee, taking into account that many here have chosen Ebony and it looks great. Also, appreciate the fact that you have had a number of years of wear on your Bacca / Glita coats. I too definitely will go with a satin finish. Now I can figure out what I am going to do with the kitchen, (which I guess I will need to do first,) with the confidence that I can change the flooring to something similar to yours :-)Thanks again!

  • Keith
    @mnmamax3 @tasslia @jingletim here’s an update after day 1. Very exciting times. Using Bona 50/50 blend of Ebony and a Graphite. Although they turned out darker than what we were shown in the sample mix, we are loving them. This is stain plus first coat. 2nd and 3rd coats of finish to be applied Monday. Only can post main floors since stairs are being done and we can’t get upstairs.
  • Keith
    Whoops! Realized first pic is before any finish (stain only).
  • jingletim

    Keith, did they do a sample right on your floor or bring in a sample? If brought in, was it the same wood? Certainly more uniform in colour now!

    Are they going to trowel in some filler? I notice in the third pic what look to be some gaps. I think they did ours before the stain. They wiped the entire floor with it (same as when it was first installed). As a result, there is no place you could stick a credit card between the boards.

  • Keith
    @jingletim they did. That’s why that one pic with no finish isn’t as relevant to how it looks post. No gaps. And yes they did do the samples right on the floors beforehand. Guessing the guy who did the samples poured a little more graphite than ebony so it wasn’t a true 50/50 blend.
  • Keith
    Here are some other pics with finish where you can tell the gaps are gone
  • Keith
    The sample color is next to my wife’s bottom foot in the pic (4th from top). Slightly lighter than how it turned out
  • jingletim

    Here are a couple pics of the product that was applied to my floors - it went on after sanding, before staining. They covered the entire floor with it, let it dry, then sanded. If you want to clean the stain off the baseboards, around the stairs etc, it comes off easily with methyl hydrate (photo below)

  • jingletim

    Keith that is a nice photo of the sample stains - likely others considering stains would appreciate if you identified the various stain colours. The pic also shows how variable the colour of the natural wood can be, and how much more uniform it is after staining. Its going to look great once the finish is applied.

  • Keith

    Bona stain samples going from top of pic to bottom:

    1. Aged Pewter
    2. Graphite
    3. Ebony
    4. Ebony/Gray (50/50 blend)
    5. Graphite/Gray (50/50 blend)
    6. Aged Pewter/Jacobean (50/50 blend) (bottom left)
    7. Graphite/Antique Brown (50/50 blend) (bottom right)
  • tasslia

    @Keith. They look great! Nice job! Much more modern than our lovely orange/red herringbone :-). Happy you are pleased with how it turned out.

    Love the dark rich color! For me - it's a shore beach house, and fearing the likelihood of sand coming in, I will need to sample stain a bit lighter options and maybe even the Coffee stain Jingletim provided a picture of.

    -- I'm assuming they used a standard sanding machine on your floors, but do let me know if otherwise. Did anyone tell you that you needed hand sanding for the herringbone? One floorer advised me that he needed to do hand sanding to go with the grain or it would show scratches. He wanted triple the amount!! Figured it would take him months. lol Hoping that is not the case.

  • Keith
    @tasslia Herringbone does take more effort to sand bc they cannot just go with the grain, however, 3X seems waaaay above what it should be. Our crew used modern big sander machines plus a couple special items. They definitely did NOT do it with a hand sander. Make sure whomever you go with is NWFA Certified. But all in the per square foot was (maybe) 15%-20% higher. Keep us posted.
  • jingletim

    Tasslia, you can see the equipment used for sanding my floors in one of the pics I provided above. Only the stairs and edges involved some hand/smaller tools. The orbital sanding is circular, so not with the grain for any wood pattern! They simply used increasingly fine grit sand paper such that in the end the scratches are too fine to see by eye. I can not detect any scratches or scuffs anywhere on the floor. Don't see why it would be any different of a process for herringbone, but admittedly not an expert.

  • tasslia

    Ok. Thanks Keith and Jingletim. As always, much appreciated!

  • matyngalea
    Hello all!! I just wanted to share my results, I previously posted about my Brazilian Cherry wood floors, here is a before and the after with the Ebony Stain. We are so thrilled with the results!
  • mnmamax3

    matyngalea - those turned out beautifully! So happy you got the result you were hoping for!

  • Keith
    Some final post-stain pics of going from natural Brazilian Cherry to stained 50/50 Ebony-Graphite
  • emcare

    I found this post helpful when deciding what to do thought with our Engineered Brazilian wood. We wanted to get rid of the red too. We selected the middle stain Bono antique brown. Thought I’d share.

  • wozkap


    Your floors turned out beautiful! May I ask exactly what process you did in exact steps with products? Also approximately how much per square foot did you pay? I have both engineered brazillian cherry downstairs and non engineered upstairs. Does anyone know if I would use the same process for both? Thanks all!!

  • Michael D

    I've been reviewing many of these comments and have seen some conflicting comments regarding the transition of color of Brazilian Cherry. We have Indusparquet BR111 Jatoba Brazilian Cherry Pre-finished floors (see photos of spare box) that were laid in 2006 throughout the 1st floor (750sqft). In the foyer (250sqft) leading out to the backyard, the sun shines thru the sliders and around the flooring where some area rugs were laid the flooring has SIGNIFICANTLY lightened. My understanding was exposure to light would darker the floors. We did have some flooring people assess the situation and short of being told a total replacement or refinishing of all flooring for consistency, we are trying to determine best course of action (or non-action) as the house is being sold and we want to assure new buyers that if rugs are removed, the color is supposed to re-balance. We had removed the rugs earlier this year for about 4 months and saw no difference.

    I've included some photos of the area right in front of sliders that have lightened and then about 10ft into the foyer where there is a much less color change. The rugs did have a visible non-slip mat under them. Would appreciate any thoughts or comments based on similar experiences

  • Michael D

    I have been following the comments and suggestions made to different inquires regarding fading of Brazilian Cherry. In 2006 we laid 750 sq ft of pre-finished Indusparquet BR111 Jatoba PFBC3 Brazilian Cherry. We noticed that areas in the foyer near slider doors have SIGNIFICANTLY lightened even though most comments indicate the flooring should darken. I have included photos of a spare box of flooring as well as areas between floor rugs directly in front of the sliders and then further in the interior of the house showing less color change. We have had some contractors assess the situation and have been told to consider either refinishing or replacing the entire 1st floor vs attempting to refinish or replace just the foyer area that is affected. Since the house is being sold, if in fact the color will re-appear, we want to provide that option to the potential buyers, or just consider leaving the rugs in place. Any thoughts or comments are appreciated.

  • cm2529
    Hello. Great thread! I’ve got a home with 3000sf of Brazilian cherry. It’s in great shape. We’ve had it 15 years. But we are tired of dark and want to go light and more modern. We’ve been talking to contractors for a while and I wanted to get your opinions before taking the big dive. The contractor are leaning towards is recommending we bleach, 2-3 layers. Then seal (considering bona Nordic) 2-3 coats. Then 2-3 coats of bona HD. We are going for a Modern beach Scandinavian look. He has great reviews and they’ve been in business over 40 years. I just want to make sure our floor doesn’t turn pink, red, yellow, etc since it’s Brazilian cherry. You think we can achieve this? Pls help! I’m trying to do as much research as possible so we get it right. I’ve seen so many horror stories online. Thx!
  • mnmamax3

    Michael, sorry this is late. Not sure what you did. indeed brazilian cherry will darken with exposure to light but it will also became lighter (fade) with excessive light exposure. Our interior kitchen area darkened but our bump out dining room with two walls of windows faded (and I actually liked the faded color). When we decided to refinish our floors darker, we also added 3m window film on all the windows to try and alleviate some of the inconsistency. A full sanding of the whole area (including the newly added floor left it all consistent and perfect.

    Cm2529. Would love to see how that comes out. I would ask for References and pictures. When I researched this (and some of it maybe on this thread) a lot of people wishing to go lighter also utilizard a green toned stain to off set the reds. Good luck and make sure to post pictures!!

  • moneymm

    bubbles0208 , can you post some updated pics/feedback. would love to see how the stain held up as many have said the red comes back or they lighten or darken with time. thanks!

  • Connie Greene

    We want to go forward on staining our brazilian cherry floors (13 years old) but have been told that the bleaching process - peels. So now we want to go darker and we are told "it all goes back to the reddish color anyway". Does anyone have any ebony colored brazilian cherry that lasted? And does anyone know a vendor in Chicago? Thank you!

  • bubbles0208
    Hi everyone, I’m so glad to see that this thread has offered so much help to people! Love seeing the before and after pictures! It’s been 4 years since we’ve done our floors and they still look great. The color is still the same as when we got it done, and I haven’t noticed it get darker or lighter with time. Our family room gets a lot of sunlight during the day and the color hasn’t faded / gotten darker. We still love our floors!
  • mnmamax3

    We're on two years and counting. We added 3M window treatments to all our windows to help with fading/color change. There is (and always will be) some reddish/golden undertones, but overall my floor appears dark brown.

  • lena2019

    Not sure if you'll see this, @Keith, but I'm wondering what coloured walls you have? I like the look of that grey with the cherry wood. Thank you in advance!

    Our new place also has Brazilian cherry wood, and I'm trying to find a grey that will go nicely with those floors without making them look too red.

  • Carolyn Scher

    My son is purchasing this apartment. We don't care for the coloring of thr wood floor, although they look like beautiful floors it's just to orange. not sure I'd these are Brazilian solid cherrywood or something else. Are they engineered? I love the pictures with the ones that were redone with the darker stains. The Ebony looks nice. Sadly these cabinets seem to match but I'm thinking he can just do the floors before he moves in and leave the cabinets for a bit and then maybe paint them eventually. Any info or thoughts would be appreciated.

  • felizlady
    Don’t paint your beautiful cabinets! Staining your floor should be less expensive than installing new flooring throughout the downstairs. The issue is the multiple shades of your cherry floor. The new stain may not make every board match because they don’t match now, but multiple browns will coordinate better with your cabinetry than multiple reds. A professional floor stain person with more than five years of experience should be able to handle the job. A light sanding to remove the existing top finish, a coat of brown stain, and a new coat of top finish.
  • ltuck1

    I just purchased a home with cherry floors. Pictures from the listing are attached. They are more red in person. Closer to the stair picture. Significant worn spots on stairs and lighter in the sun. Advertised as Brazilian cherry, but who knows. I knew I would have to go darker. I really wanted a timeless color like french oak wine barrels. I don’t think that is possible. The floors are across two stories of the home. I dislike the red (understatement). I want something timeless. I am worried about getting an inexperienced floor refinisher or someone who doesn’t know the nuances. It’s making me really anxious because of the investment and how irritated I would be every day looking at a bad outcome. It sounds like people used the dura ebony. I didn’t catch the sealing recommendations because they were pretty diverse. Also, what is “water popping”? I am considering putting carpet over the floors in the bedrooms, except the master suite and common areas. I heard it may be more cost efficient than sanding and staining.

  • mnmamax3

    ltuck1 - What do you plan on doing with the doors you have the "match" the cherry? We ended up painting ours. Have a refinisher come out and give you some estimates. I see a lot of striation in your floor that makes me think it might be something other than cherry, but it might be the picture. We have white tiger wood downstairs that looks similar.

    Waterpoppping is literally water wiped across the newly sanded floor to bring out the grain. It keeps the stain particles from sinking into the wood and giving you uneven staining. We did the Duraseal ebony stain with Bona Traffic HD Satin and loved the result. Some of the other posters had luck with dark brown stains. Traffic is a commercial grade finish that dries quickly with very little odor (though the smell from the stain is horrible - plan to be out of the house for a few days) and has a beautiful satin finish, not glossy. There will still be an undertone of red, but overall the effect is a rich dark brown. We also added 3M window film to help with fading and so far it seems to be working.

    Maybe do the main level first and then decide if you want to carpet the stairs all the way to the bedrooms. Properly done wood floors are beautiful! I really like the railings you have too.

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