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  • DC Dave

Why Some Wood Should Not Be Stained

I’ve done some interesting stain jobs in my time. Multi-colored footprints on a staircase. A Jimi Hendrix inspired purple haze checkerboard. Even a yellow brick road. Now those were fun jobs!


Many homeowners ask me to do custom work for them while we are doing their floors. As part of our regular flooring services, we also install custom inlays, update stairs and handrails, fabricate curved nosings, and replace baseboard trim and window casings. We have installed floating floors over concrete. And sometimes we’ve refaced cabinets and refinished antique furniture. And we love to do custom stains—colors, designs and patterns.


Recently a question came up from a customer who wanted to stain a hickory floor. For one thing, hickory is so colorful that staining it is not practical. And because of the flat grain of woods like hickory, birch, cherry, maple, or beech, I do not recommend they be stained because the stain will be blotchy due to the grain characteristics of these woods.


The best wood species for staining is white oak since it changes the color of the stain the least and takes stain well. Red oak can also be stained, keeping in mind that the natural red undertone of the oak will add a reddish tint to the stain. If using a light stain, the reddish hue will be more noticeable than with a darker stain.


However, the blotchy stained floors in the photos below are the result of poor staining techniques.


Uneven and blotchy floor stain

Uneven stain

Dark stains are very difficult to get right.



There is a trick to getting dark stains to look good. Of course, we aren’t going to reveal it here, but a professional flooring company should not have this problem. All these floors were done by do-it-yourselfers.


To learn more about stains, stain colors, and our custom stain designs, check out those pages on our website. We are masters at it.


DC Dave

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