Gray stained floors have been a sweeping trend for the past few years or so. I remember the first phone call we received for gray hardwood. It was a trend that has crept its way up to Westchester from NYC. All the designers were raving about this beautiful gray hardwood. While trends come and go- gray stains have seemed to find a niche of their own and I can absolutely see this becoming a classic staple.
One of the many reasons gray has become so popular is because of the many, many options of staining a floor gray. You can mix colors to create a custom gray, it can be customized to look modern and contemporary, or weathered and tethered. You can have cool tone gray floors or warm tone gray floors. Also, gray is a very versatile color to match vs., say for example, red stained hardwoods.
Before staining your floors gray, there are a few key points to consider.
Not all hardwood species can be stained gray/should be stained gray.
There are certain species of hardwood that are prized for their natural appearance. Santos Mahogany, for example, is variated with beautiful rich red tones. It’s RARELY ever stained another color, let alone stained gray.
Also, it really isn’t worth spending money on an exotic hardwood to stain gray when you can purchase domestic woods(like Oak) for a fraction of the cost and allocate that towards staining your floors gray.
Best to use White Oak instead of Red Oak
White oak is preferred over red oak for gray stain. Red Oak has a pinkish tone to it that sometimes interferes with the gray stain results.
Can I stain my Red Oak Gray? Yes, you can. There are a few methods.
1. Bleach first.
2. Rubio Monocoat Fumed- reacts with the Tannic Acid in Hardwood causing the flooring to turn gray. You are limited to the gray that it turns..
3. Dark Gray. The dark gray will help hide and drown out the red tones.
Best to stain gray on a brand new installed floor
Old preexisting floors are not the best canvas to sand and refinish in a gray stain. Older floors typically have spacing, nail and pin holes, discoloration, etc. Often times, repairs are needed on an older floor and gray stain does not do the best job blending the new age flooring and the old age flooring.
Freshly installed hardwood is the perfect starting point for a gray stain. Hardwood that has just been installed will not have any old finish that can have an affect on the way the gray stain is taken by the wood. Staining a floor gray is best to do so on a new floor rather than an existing floor.
Can I stain my existing hardwood floors gray?
The simple answer is yes. But the more practical questions to consider is should I stain my floors gray and will they turn out the way you want. You'll want to ask your pro whether or not they think the floor is in good enough condition to stain gray. Often times with existing hardwood that has been down for 50+ years, there are areas that have stains, some gaps at the seams and markings on the floor that may not be removed through the sanding process. We often find, too ,that repairs that were done years and years prior aren’t always done correct. Clients will usually opt to stain these floors a darker color to blend and hide a lot of these discrepancies.
The reason gray floors has grown in overwhelming popularity is because of the amount of option there are. The colors spectrum of gray flooring Classic gray, elephant gray(which is a darker gray), weathered gray, light gray, dark gray, GREIGE. Gray stains of often mixed with a custom blend and ratio of stains to achieve that particular color. Flooring professionals, such as us, will swatch the different blends for our clients. Gray stain colors come in a bountiful assortment of options.
When your floor is stained gray, you HAVE to use a waterborne polyurethane.
If choosing a Rubio or Loba, you must use a clear finish. We’ll touch on Rubio and Loba in another blog post.
You have to use a waterborne polyurethane when applying a gray stain. Oil based polyurethane is tinted a yellow tone and it tends to amber more over time. This will affect the color of the stain. Waterborne Polyurethanes are opaque in color and then it dries clear.
Many manufactured of prefinished hardwoods, laminate, luxury vinyls and tile produce gray colored flooring. It was only a matter of time that manufacturers would start producing flooring with the gray color. In the beginning of the gray color trend, options for gray flooring were limited and so was the style of the floor. Now, flooring manufacturers have created gray flooring in many different tones of gray. You can now find prefinished hardwood, laminates, tile, and luxury vinyl with a a gray stain in rustic, modern, textured, sawn, etc options.
How to achieve a gray floor
There are many ways in which to achieve a gray floor stain. It is a matter of your preference in what color gray you like and want your floor stained. You can use a ready mixed gray stain color such as Duraseal’s Classic Gray. Or Rubio’s fuming method. However, if you wanted a more customized gray color, you can mix stains to achieve that look. If you wanted a very light gray you can mix Duraseal’s Country White with Ebony using more Country White and vice versa if you want to achieve a dark gray. It is VERY important to remember the ratio of Country White to Ebony or which ever color stains you blend.
Is staining my floor gray more expensive that choosing a regular stain?
Yes. Staining floors gray are more expensive. Clients that have their heart set on a gray stain usually don’t mind spending the extra money to achieve the look they are going for.
More material is involved with staining your floors gray. In the preliminary stages of picking a color, we have to mix and blend stains to attain the perfect color. Then once that color is found, it must be mixed to use for the entire job site. It is ALWAYS best to have more stain than less. Planning is key when staining a floor gray. For example, when staining a floor using Duraseal’s Espresso, if you are running low you can easily find and use another can of Espresso. However, with a custom blend, you MUST have enough to start and finish. It is not as simple as purchasing another can of the same color. The staining process is very delicate and it must be done continuously.