can I have 2 different wood floor colors upstairs and downstairs

maisoui1February 12, 2012

We have wood floors on most of both levels of our house. On the first floor there was some discoloration due to rug placement by the prior owners. Plus the floors in the house are light and we have always liked darker floors. Recently the floor on the first floor has been looking a little worn. We spoke to a flooring guy who says the only option of reviving the floor is to refinish it. Here is the problem. The flooring upstairs is in good shape and doesn't need to be refinished. If I am going to go to the trouble of sanding and refinishing the flooring on the first floor then I would want to change the color and go darker. I don't know if it will be weird having dark color on the first floor and light on the stairs and the upstairs. In addition to the upstairs being in good shape it is prefinished wood (with bevelled edges)so the floor guy says that if they sand for us to change the color the space between the grooves is going to end up being too wide and won't look good so I would be better off replacing it instead of refininshing it. I would prefer to not swap out a perfectly good floor if I could get away with the 2 different colors on the different floors. That said I don't want the house to look schizophrenic. Could I maybe do the first floor darker then keep the color on the stairs and upstairs but maybe do the banisters and the part of the stairs facing you as you go up the stairs (can't remember what you call that part of the step). Any thoughts and or pictures to share if you have done something similar? Thanks.

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laura mcleod

hi there - we did this for the exact reasons you mention. Our downstairs is stained quite dark and we left the upstairs as the older original and lighter wood. I have not found it choppy at all and I am pretty aware of flow.

I do think the stairs are the hardest part. We ended up painting our stairs charcoal grey because in our home (which is quite old) there had been lots of nail holes due to years of on and off carpet. We looked into refinishing them and even with quite an investment, I don't think they would have looked that great. Fortunately, I love painted stairs (I even wallpapered the risers for a bit of whimsy) so I was happy with the paint.

If I were to choose a finish, I would have them match the bottom floor because you will see them when you are on that level. Our bannister was already painted white to match the trim, so that part we left. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:59AM
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I agree with laura. If you can, do the stairs to match the dark wood on the first level.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:32AM
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We have two species and three stain colors of hardwood flooring downstairs; larch with a cinnamon stain in the LR, white oak with a heart pine stain in the kitchen and entry and white oak with a medium/darkish stain in the den. Our stairs are natural cherry and the upstairs is faux Pergo (which we *hate* and hope to replace someday, bad decision when building). We have walnut as the transition points between the different flooring, and all of this is in an open floorplan home.

It all works and adds interest IMO, but we are not matchy-matchy and like to mix things up. We also have a casual home and don't have any formal, stuffy spaces. You have to ask yourself if you have a tolerance for contrast or need seamless flow and if you like casual, formal or something in between.

I could not stand to have everything one color on the first floor, let alone on the stairs too, but you have to figure out your own tolerance for colorative dissonance, then act accordingly.

Good luck-


    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 9:18AM
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We have done just that. We put a 300 sq ft addition on our house and wanted to keep the flooring consistent. To do that we refinished all the floors on the main level and then stained it a darker colour. The stairs and upper level remained the lighter oak colour. The stairs being the light oak are driving me crazy so we have started refinishing them too. So far I have the railings and newel posts painted black , all the risers white and we have the treads left to sand and stain. I think it will be fine but definitely have the stairs match the main floor.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Thanks for your replies. In terms of our style it is definitely not casual but also not stuffy formal. We are more transitional - like clean lines, uncluttered. Some things match but not everything. It's more an issue of being cohesive. In terms of structural chances to the house, which would include flooring, we do want to do what we would like but we also think in terms of resale. That's just us. We wouldn't therefore go too wild with permanent spaces but would be willing to experiment a little ... as long as it is not too out there.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Our last house was a 1920 Foursquare with the original floors. On the main level was an Oak floor with a dark finish and the upstairs had Maple flooring with a light finish. This is very common in older homes because they used to put a more expensive flooring on the main, public parts of the house and put in a less expensive flooring in the private parts of the house. It never bothered us and no one that came to visit ever mentioned it. Usually, the upper floors of a house are a different style than the main level simply because it's used very differently. So, my short answer is I think two different types of flooring is just fine! :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I think having different wood colors on the two floors is fine, but I would stain the stairs to match the 1st floor. I'm assuming the treads are a natural wood and not prefinished?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 2:57PM
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Yes the stairs are not prefinished.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 5:24PM
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I would love, love, love to see any photos you all may have of your transition to the stairway from dark floors to light... I had thought about keeping it dark until you hit the second floor landing since the rooms on my second and third floors have unstained oak. Please post any options you have chosen to use, painted, runners, spindles or otherwise...

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:25AM
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