Picking Out A Wood Stain For Our Pine Flooring

With the office floor completely laid, it’s nearing the time to buckle down and choose the stain that will not just be for the office, but for the entire wood floor throughout the house…. and that’s a whole lot of floor to look at so we want to get it right the first time.

Aaron and I discussed the tone we’re after, more of a weathered barn wood grey, with absolutely no red tones to the stain. With that, we narrowed the choices down to two shades. One by Varathane called ‘Weathered Gray’, and the second is by Minwax called ‘Classic Gray’. To try them out, I took four scrap piece of our wood flooring, distressed them as we plan to do, and then went about staining them both colors. Here’s how they turned out….

First up, the Varathane….

Weathered Gray Wood Floor Stain

It had low odor, but was heavy, going on like thick paint. It was a bear to wipe off too.

Varathane Wood Stain Sample

We left the stain on one board for a long time before wiping off, and the other board we wiped off the stain immediately….it didn’t make a difference, unlike stains with red tones that get darker/richer the longer it’s left on. Weird.

The other set of boards we applied the Minwax the same way, leaving it on one board for a long time, and the other wiping it off immediately….

Classic Gray Floor Stain

Classic Gray Wood Floor Stain

Just like the Varathane, leaving the Minwax stain on longer didn’t make a difference. But that’s where the similarities end. The Minwax was drastically different from the Varathane….the Minwax stunk to high heaven, as in a headache inducing, blur-your-eyes, high-as-a-kite kind of stink. Blah. It was also extremely watery, and pooled and dripped everywhere.

As far as the look of the stains on the pieces of wood goes, here is what we observed. Right off the bat the Varathane, though we put it on thin, still looked like paint, not stain at all. It was a very dark gray, and though difficult to tell in these photos, it had an almost man-made engineered flooring look to it. Fake. Also it didn’t bring out the wood grain, instead it practically covered it up!….like, well, like paint. So basically, this stain is paint….

Choosing A Stain For Wood Flooring

The Minwax had that mixture of light and dark gray tones, not just ALL dark, and it highlighted the grain, textures, and knots of the wood….

Rustic Grey Wood Floors

The stain from Minwax had exactly what we were wanting for our floors – to look like old weathered, faded barn wood. And seeing the grain and all the natural characteristics of the wood is important to us.

Keep in mind, we applied these stains to New England White Pine floors. Stains can look differently on different types of wood, so if you’re considering staining a wood floor in the future, I would strongly suggest doing what I did and stain a couple of scrap pieces of the same flooring to see which looks best, and then bring those pieces into the room(s) where the floor will be to see how the stain looks in that lighting. Our living room tends be the darkest room in the house, so we didn’t want too dark of floors as well, this is not a cave after all. I be posting our office staining adventure soon, so stay tuned 🙂


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