Staining white oak floors with dark cabinets?

sue_ctMay 1, 2008

I have very dark cabinets with white oak floors that have not been finished yet. I had originally planned to stain them, but not go too dark. The kitchen installer (Oh no, you have such nice contrast, why would you want to do that?") and floor finisher ("I saw a kitchen where they did that and to be honest it just didn't look right to me"), as well as seeing a couple of floor photos here where they had darkened naturally, convinced me that it would be better to leave them natural. They have darkened noticeably since I installed them at the beginning of my remodel last Oct./Nov. They are still pretty stark in contrast, however. My brother said yesterday "you mean your not going to stain them"? and he has me rethinking my original plan to stain them again.

Can anyone share pictures of white oak floors with dark cabinets that were left natural verses stained? What if I stained them a light brown, so I still have contrast, but it would tone it down a bit? Any suggestions?


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you should certainly seal them even if you're not going to stain them.

i agree with your installer and floor guy that matching the floors to cabinets won't look as nice. not sure i'd go natural either, though. maybe just a light stain, like you said in your last paragraph.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 11:31AM
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I have white oak floors, in my whole house. I had them stripped and stained natural (they were very, very dark before and I hated them). I had it added to the kitchen and stained to match the rest of the house. My cabinets are medium stained. I must say, I don't even notice the floors, unless something spills. I do have rugs on the floors, too.

I did notice my awful vinyl floor that I had before because it was just so awful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinets and white oak floors

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 12:58PM
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Thank you both for responding. I guess most people are using prefinished now and not many are staining the floors unless its very dark. So I am just going to have to wing it. Don't think I would like staining them to match the cabinets, either, and although the natural is nice with medium toned cabinets, I think it would be too stark a contrast with the dark cabinets. I was just hoping to see a picture or two who had done a light stain.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 3:03PM
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sue_ct, my oak floors were sanded and stained today. When I saw your message, it got me into thinking that they may actually be too light (they are stained natural). I am getting cherry cabinets and I REALLY hope the contrast will not be stark...why didn't I think of this before?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:37PM
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Oh, don't let me make you crazy! They do naturally darken, but it just depends on exactly how dark your cabinets are, and just how much contrast you like. I do like contrast, but I have found that when I see really extreme contrast, I tend to just see the colors and not the details of the cabinets or other design elements. I notice the details more when contrast is toned down just a bit. You really won't know how much they will darken for at least 6 months to a year. I found mine without finish on them have darkened noticably in just 3-5 months. So since they already finished, just wait and see how you feel in a year. Real wood can always be refinished, one of its primary benefits!


    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:32AM
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Sue - Can you post pictures?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:44AM
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Great thread....I am facing the exact same problem right now!! I want to leave the floors natural with waterlox finish and I want the cabinets dark. I was at the cabinet shop this weekend with a sample of my flooring (with finish on it) and tried it against several different shades of stain. What I found it that it looked best with stain that had no red tones in it. The darker true browns, chocolates, etc looked fantastic, but the reddish tone of cherry stain or even a brown with a hint of red did not compliment the tones in the floor well at all.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:12AM
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This was taken right after I installed the wood in the kitchen (I am doing the install myself and having someone finish it), so it has darkened some, but it gives you an idea:

I will see if I can get a better photo of how much the floor has darkened later today. Regardless, you can be sure it is still pretty light.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:14PM
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My white oak floors were installed this week. I had them finished naturally. The cabinets with go in later this week. They are walnut and they are stained VERY dark. I love contrast and I am hoping everything turns out the way I am envisioning it. Once the cabinets go in, I will post photos for you to see.

I am already a bit nervous because the white oak floor is not as uniform as I hoped. I think the installer had a different vision than me. I just assumed he would not put the darker boards in the middle of the room (I hoped he would not use darker boards unless necessary). I paid more for select wood because I wanted a uniform look. I guess that shows you can't assume anything.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 1:21PM
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Everyone probably differs in what they like in a wood. I don't mind the differences in color, I kind of like that, but I don't like the heavily grained boards that scream "oak", so I put the boards with the more consistant grain in the midde rather than all the light ones. Some people probably love the grain. It just goes to show how different it can be depending on who is installing it. I probably would have preferred maple, but some people think that looks like a gym, it is more modern, and it would not have matched the rest of house as much, or the cabinets, since it is even lighter than oak. You might have liked that better, though, since it tends to be lighter and more consistent in color, I think.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 1:51PM
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I love contrast but I agree with you. I would put a little color on the floors. If you have a minwax or other stain chart test it near your cabs. I think you will find one lighter than your cabs but a little warmer, that will blend very nice. Buy a pint of a couple of choices and test on a scrap piece of white oak. Maybe like the second or third board from cabs or first past range. Beautiful cabs.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:25PM
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