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Hardwood Floor Species identification

hardwood-species-identification-refinishing-staining-national floors

The first thing National Floors must do is identify the species of hardwood floors that you have.  This is done simply with a smartphone & text.  When we can better understand what you have, we can then discuss your options.  The reason being, not all hardwood floors can be stained.  On the other hand, there are many species that can have their color customized to your liking.  Please take a picture, like that in the example on the left and text it to (510) 468-4165  

Option 1 | Hardwood Floors Natural Color Optionred oak hardwood floor-refinishing-natural color-national floors-fremont CA

Option 1 is defined as a hardwood floor that has been restored by sanding multiple times with (no stain added).  Once a new surface has been created, the hardwood floor is then sealed and coated multiple times with a commercial grade polyurethane finish.  Every hardwood floor species will have a slightly different "Natural" appearance.  Most of the lighter hardwood species, like:  Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, Beech will have a golden tone like the picture on the right.      

Restoring the hardwood floor involves the removal of imperfections (like scratches, gouging or slight color imperfections) that lie in the hardwood floor surface.  An additional benefit to resurfacing the wood floor is making them FLAT!      

The picture on the right best depicts "Option 1", on Red Oak hardwood floors.  This project had Red Oak hardwood floors that were installed over 40 years ago.  After we resurfaced the wood floors, the creation a new surface was complete and we then top coated 3 times with commercial grade finish.  This is the end result.  Beautiful wood floors restored that will last for years to come.   

Option 2 | Hardwood Floors (Adding a Stain Color)

Option 2 if you desire something other than the "Natural" look, then you are a candidate for "Staining your hardwood floors".  It's important to communicate with your hardwood floor contractor the species of hardwood floor that you have.  If you don't know, that's okay.  You can contact us via text with a picture so we can determine your color options. Once we understand what species you have, we can determine whether or not you can stain your hardwood floors light or stain your hardwood floors dark.  The "Hardwood floor Color Chart" is located at the bottom of the page.   

FYI, the sanding process is very similar to Option 1, except we would add then add your desired color of choice.  This stain color not only changes the appearance, but acts as a floor sealer.  After the stain has dried, we then add 3 coats of commercial grade polyurethane for long lasting protection.     

The process of staining your hardwood floors

When a like new surface has been created and properly prepared, a custom stain color of your choice can now be added.  As stated before, there are hardwood species like OAK, that can be color manipulated for a personal fit.  Since all wood comes from different trees, there is always going to be color variations in the floor.  When you hire National Floors, we always recommend a "Stain demo" at the start of the project.  This way you can see first hand what the actual stain color would look like in your home, under your lighting conditions.  This way you can move forward with certainty about your choice of color.  After the color of choice has been applied, the floor will then be top coated 3 times with commercial grade polyurethane. 

Please scroll to the bottom of the page for "Stain color choices".

Hardwood floors | Staining explained

Not all hardwood floors can be stained.  Red oak and White oak floors tend to accept stain better than most other species.  The Stain examples shown "Below" are on Red Oak, but most don't know that red oak has multiple tones.  The picture on the right shows the variation in tones.  We usually find between 6-8 varying tones from light to dark shades along with different grain patterns.  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, which ever color you choose, the stain will appear lighter on a light piece of oak 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. This is why we always demo the color of choice prior to staining the entire floor.  This way you can make a color selection with confidence.

3 phases to Refinishing | Staining hardwood floors

a. The correct sanding sequence, usage of proper grits when creating a new surface

b. The correct application of stain.  The process can vary depending on the color of stain and wood species.  Other steps and preparations may be required.

c. The correct final coating of polyurethane applied to hardwood floors.

How hardwood floors accept StainStaining hardwood floors explained-peaks valleys-sanding-national floors

The "Appearance" and final outcome of staining a hardwood floor is purely determined by the sanding sequence performed by the contractor and the choice of stain color.  The sanding sequence determines the depth of the peaks and valleys.  Under a microscope, you would be able to see the jagged edge of the wood grain.  The rougher the feel, the deeper the valleys are in the wood grain.  The finer the feel of hardwood, the shallower the valleys are in the hardwood floor.  The deeper the valley, the more the wood will accept the stain.  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 understanding 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 stained 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. 

Staining hardwood floors darker

There are those times when a darker stain option is desirable.  It's important to know, that not all species accept darker stains.  Those species that do accept darker stain are usually confined to the brown and black tone colors.  Today, the companies that manufacturer the stain colors have improved their effectiveness.  There was a time when staining your hardwood floors dark required multiple coats or applications of the same color.  Not only is this not advised, but completely unnecessary.  The stains that we use at National Floors are a 1 coat process.  If you take the chance of applying multiple coats of stain with the intent of darkening your hardwood floor colors, the risk are high of ruining your floors.  In most cases, multiple coats of stain will leave the floors blotchy or leaving the floors in a state of perpetual wetness.  We have seen customers over the years attempting to apply multple coats of stain, only to leave the floors wet and sticky. 

Why stain the floors darker?  Whether the darker stain color is purely a designer choice, it very well could be that staining your hardwood floors darker has the intent of hiding flaws, like pet stains.  Pet stains in hardwood floors can be problematic if you don't know how to handle it. 

There are essentially 2 solutions for hardwood pet stains:

Solution 1 is board replacement and Solution 2 is staining your hardwood floors darker.

hardwood floor pet stains repaired with dark color stain-national floors 954x324Here is a great example of a floor that was thoroughly abused by a pet.  The customer was on a limited budget, so in order to save time and money, they opted to stain the hardwood floors with pet damage with the intent of camouflaging the stains.  As you can see, the harwdood floors with pet stains looks like a brand new floor.          

Staining hardwood floors lightersanding-staining-hardwood floors-lighter stain choice-national floors 446x285

Yes, there is an option for staining your hardwood floors a lighter color.  The stain choices for a lighter stain color usually refer to the grey tones or a stain color called "Country White" or "Silvered grey".  Some hardwood floors can be bleached as well.  The example on the right is a red oak hardwood floor that is naturally a golden tone, but the customer optioned for the floor to be stained "Country White".              

Hardwood floor species that can be stained

Hardwood "Custom Stain" Color Choices

What's very important to understand when choosing a stain color, is that the colors presented below will appear slightly different on every monitor or phone that they are viewed on.  If by chance, you find a color you like elsewhere, just know that other factors, not obvious to the viewer come into play.  Things like lighting, the species of the wood, the age of the wood or the floor preparation itself.  This is why National Floors will provide stain demo upon request.    

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