Hardwood Floor Species Identification

Species Identification

Step 1:  Take a clear close up picture of your floor.  This close up picture should be a vertical shot that shows the grain pattern enabling us to identify the species.  Once you have taken the correct picture, you can "Text" that pic along with "Approximate" square footage of the entire project to (510) 468-4165.  Please understand, in order to speak with you about your options, we require this information.     

Hardwood floors | Color options

 red oak hardwood floor national floorsOption 1 | "Natural" Color - Red Oak

Option 1 | "Natural" colored hardwood floors

This is the fastest and most affordable option.  It's when we sand the floors multiple times to create a new surface.  We would then top coat the floor 3 times with polyurethane.  This produces a "Natural" wood appearance.  In the case of red oak or white oak, a "Natural" appearance is a golden tone.  The example picture on the right shows the expected variations in wood tones.  We usually find between 6-8 varying tones from light to dark shades along with different grain patterns.  Regardless of your choice of "Natural" or "Stain", the lighter boards will always be lighter and the darker boards will always be darker.     

Option 2 | Staining hardwood floors | Customizing Color change. 

If you have Oak hardwood floors and the "Natural" option is not for you, don't worry because there are a few dozen colors to choose from.  To see "Stain colors", scroll down.  Custom staining your hardwood floors to the color scheme of your choice is a popular option.  You may remember that when dealing with Oak floors, a lighter board will always be lighter, even when you apply stain color.  The pictures below represent a "Single shade" of what the actual stain could look like on your hardwood floors. What does all this mean? For red oak, it means that the stain choice will vary depending on the original tone of the hardwood.  The fact is, whatever color you choose, the stain will appear lighter on a light board then a darker piece of oak and vice verse. In "No Way" should you expect a pastel or even shade of stain when having your floors stained. Wood is an imperfect material and these differences can and will be amplified when staining your hardwood floors. 

If you have trouble deciding on the color you want, don't worry.  Just try to narrow it down to 3 colors or less.  It is common practice for us to perform a "Stain demonstration" when the work begins.  This stain demo is really important.  When it comes to PC monitors or smart phones, the photos can possibly be slightly off compared to what it looks like in real life.  The stain demo gives you the opportunity to see your choice of colors on your own floors so you can choose with confidence. 


Stain Colors | Hardwood floors


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3 phases to Refinishing | Staining hardwood floors

a. Sanding the hardwood creates a new and flat surface.  The correct sanding sequence and usage of proper grits prepares the floors for staining

b. Adding a color of your choice with hardwood floor stain.  A quality "Quick dry" stain is applied.  

c. Application of 3 coats of professional/commercial grade polyurethane.    

Staining hardwood floors explainedStaining peaks valleys2

The "Appearance" and final outcome of a stained hardwood floor is determined by the species, sanding sequence performed by the contractor and the choice of stain color.  The species density can be a factor for staining expectations.  A maple floor compared to an oak floor is much denser and thus has a tighter grain.  Therefore the same stain on maple will appear lighter than that applied on an oak floor. 

The sanding sequence determines the depth of the "Peaks and valleys", which determines how much stain is absorbed by the hardwood.  The rougher the floor, the deeper the valley's in the grain.  Under a microscope, you would be able to see the jagged edge of the wood grain, like the picture on the right is depicting.    

The deeper the valleys, the more stain is left behind after wipe up.  This equates to a darker floor.  The finer the feel of hardwood of sanding, the shallower the valleys are in the hardwood floor.  You see, when staining a wood floor or project, the stain will "Fill" the valleys, not the peaks.  So if you purchased a dark color stain and it appears lighter than the example the manufacturer shows, it is probably due to incorrect procedure of how to stain hardwood floors.  In our industry, the sanding sequence must be correct so we only have to apply one coat of stain to get the desired look. 

We have seen and heard many sellers of wood stains and DIY contractors say it's okay to add a second coat of stain.  That is not true if you want an even application of stain for professional results.  If you apply more than one coat of stain, it's usually because you are not satisfied with the initial outcome and want a darker appearance.  The misconception is, the stain purchased is too light, but it's not the stains fault, it's usually due to improper sanding sequence.  What professional wood workers find is that there is a high probability of a blotchy appearance once the second coat of stain is applied and wiped.  Some people have low expectations or lack the eye to catch the blotchy issue in the floor.  The only way to fix this blotchy mistake is to start over by sanding the floor.              

Hardwood floors that can be stained

  • Red Oak hardwood floors accept all stain colors

  • White Oak hardwood floors accept all stain colors

  • Maple is a tight grain floor, but can accept stain.  It is not uncommon for the floor to be a little blotchy.  

  • Walnut is dark, but can accept a "Darker" color stain or the opposite, country white color.  

  • Brazilian cherry hardwood floor is naturally red/orange and can be stained darker in color.

  • Bamboo flooring, which is technically not a hardwood, can in fact be stained to the color of your liking