Hardwood Floor Stain Colors and Trends

Posted by Aaron Schaalma

Elevate Your Home with the Perfect Hardwood Floor Stain Colors

Hardwood floors are the epitome of timeless beauty and durability. They exude warmth, character, and elegance, making them a popular choice for homeowners and interior designers. When it comes to choosing the perfect hardwood floor for your home, one of the most crucial decisions is selecting the right stain color. Here are the most common hardwood floor stain colors for four popular hardwood species: Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak, and Maple.


Hickory hardwood is renowned for its exceptional strength and unique grain patterns. Its striking contrast between light and dark grains offers a rustic and robust aesthetic. When selecting a stain color for hickory, consider enhancing the wood's natural beauty while harmonizing with your interior design.

Hickory's light to medium tones can be accentuated with honey-colored light stains. This warm, golden hue adds a touch of coziness to your space, making it a great choice for kitchens and living rooms. It complements rustic and traditional interior styles beautifully.

For a more dramatic effect, choose a dark stain like espresso or mocha. This transforms hickory into a bold statement piece, adding sophistication to your space. Dark stains work exceptionally well in contemporary or modern settings. For example, darker colors like espresso or walnut create a striking contrast with the natural color of lighter-tone wood.

Red Oak

Red oak is known for its pronounced grain patterns and reddish hues. It's a classic choice for those who appreciate a timeless, traditional look. Selecting the right stain color can bring out its natural charm.

To highlight Red oak's natural beauty, choose a clear or natural finish. This allows the wood's warm undertones and grain patterns to shine through. It's an ideal choice for spaces where you want to emphasize the wood's character, like dining rooms or entryways.

If you prefer a warmer look, consider honey or amber stains. These shades enhance the reddish tones of red oak while adding a touch of richness. They're perfect for creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.

White Oak

White oak is characterized by its pale, creamy hues and subtle grain patterns. It's a versatile hardwood species that can be transformed with various stain colors.

If you want to maintain the light, airy feel of White oak, opt for a clear or natural finish. This preserves the wood's natural appearance, making it a great choice for spaces like bedrooms or home offices.

For a contemporary and sophisticated look, consider gray stains. These tones lend a modern twist to white oak, making it suitable for trendy and minimalist interiors.


Maple hardwood is celebrated for its fine and consistent grain patterns. Its light, neutral color serves as a blank canvas, allowing you to choose from a variety of stain colors to suit your style.

A caramel or butterscotch stain brings out the warmth and depth in maple hardwood. It infuses the wood with a welcoming, golden hue, perfect for creating a cozy atmosphere in living rooms and bedrooms.

The Right Wood Floor Stain Color for Each Type of Wood

Selecting the right stain color for your hardwood floors can completely transform the look and feel of your space. Whether you opt for the warm, rustic charm of hickory, the timeless elegance of red or white oak, or the versatile canvas of maple, the choice of stain color is a reflection of your style and the atmosphere you wish to create in your home. Take your time, explore your options, and enjoy the process of enhancing your space with the beauty of hardwood floors.

More Hardwood Floor Stain Trends

Hardwood flooring trends tend to go in a circle, what was in will be out of style but will be back in style completing the style circle. A couple of current trends I'm seeing are

  • wide plank floors
  • dark stained hardwood
  • penetrating oil finish

Wide Plank Hardwood Floors

What is considered a plank? Any hardwood strip that is wider than 3in is considered a plank. People love the look of wide planks because the grain pattern really shows up in certain species of wood like Ash, Oak, Hickory.

It's great in large rooms because there are less board lines breaking up the sight line giving it a much nicer flow . It also just looks really cool to have a very wide piece of wood down and just marvel and all the interesting characteristics of the wood.

New Ash Floor Oshkosh

Dark Stained Floors

Dark-stained floors have been gaining a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. One person told me that floor colors follow the way people feel about the economy. When it's not doing so well they want their floors to be dark and when it's doing great they want it lighter. I'm not sure how much stock I put into that, but it's an interesting theory. Lately I've stained Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak and a lot of Maple. Dark floors tend to look great when there is a contrast between the floor and the trim. One floor I did was an old Maple floor that got finished with black Magic Oil 2k and the trim was white, which really gave it a stunning contrast.

Dark Stained Red Oak Floor

Penetrating oil

It has been popular over in Europe for 20+ years. Where just a little slow on catching up with trends. Some of the benefits as to why people like penetrating oil are

-low VOC(volatile organic compound)

-color and finish all in one

-hand rubbed oil look

-fast turnaround


Most penetrating oils are made from natural oils which make them very low odor(voc) less harmful to people with allergies because there is no harmful smell.

Hand Rubbed Oil Look

Hand rubbed oil look looks like an older floor that has been rubbed with oil which soaks down into the grain of the wood giving it this beautiful natural matte finish

Fast Turn Around

Most penetrating oils have a very quick turn around, un-like a lot of the typical film finishes(meaning it creates a film on top of the wood and not soaking in) that require you wait 2-3 days before you can move stuff back into the area that's been refinished. Most penetrating oils cure very fast and you can move furniture back in anywhere from 12-24hrs after the hardwood floor has been completed, making it great for people who want a fast turn around.

floor oil re-coat Oshkosh WI

If you need more flooring ideas for your next project a couple of places I'd go for ideas is Pintrest or Houzz. You can find some great flooring ideas on either of those sites.