Those of you with wood floors-Dark, medium or light?

msmagooDecember 19, 2013

We are FINALLY in the beginning stages of a kitchen/family room remodel. Because of the new layout I want to put hardwood flooring thoughout the kitchen & family room. We love the look of Brazilian Cherry, but I am afraid of the darkening due to sunlight exposure and everyone tells me that will be dark. Our house is a traditional ranch, we don't have soaring ceilings. We also like a medium oak color (gunstock, I think). I know a lot depends on the cabinet color as well-dark cabs, light floors? Lighter cabs, dark floors?
Help...any comments on the durability or the overall look would be appreciated.

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I've only had 2 types of wood flooring but in varying colors.

Natural Maple - feels light and open but has enough warmth to stand up to darker wood cabinets or furniture. However, it does show wear, scratches and dings because there is less movement in the wood grain

Natural Red Oak - not my favorite but I've only had it done in petroleum based finish so it ages very yellow.

Light brown stain oak - richer than natural and ages well. Fairly forgiving in showing wear.

Medium stain oak (probably similar to your gunstock although I'm not familiar with that exact stain) - my favorite because it isn't so dark as to show every speck of dust, not so light as to show every tiny spill right away and dark enough to ground a room. VERY forgiving about showing wear - oak grain hides wear like nothing else.

Dark brown stain oak (not espresso dark but dark) - never again. When the sun hits it you can literally watch the dust falling on it.

Not sure about cherry but from my experience, I'd want something with more grain movement.

Hope that helps

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 10:23AM
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I've had lots of wood floors of all colors. I think the best for long term durability and good looks is when you just go with the natural color of the wood vs. staining the wood another color. Stain just doesn't hold up as well as the natural color. I don't care for the dark finish because it shows every spec of dust and a glossier finish is the worst. I personally like a medium, warm color vs. the light wood but that's just my preference. In my current house I have dark baseboards, cabinets, etc. and a medium color floor - minwax early american. It's stained that color. It's the first time I've has stained wood floors and I would try to avoid that in the future since it doesn't hold up as well. Or maybe put more coats of whatever on top of the stain - assuming not prefinished.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:01AM
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I've had dark, medium and light. I love the look of the dark rich mahogany color but you have to dust them every dayâ¦.high maintenance. For me, the best is what I have now. Red oak, no stain, three coats of finish. Low maintenance.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:16AM
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    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Holly- Kay

I have oak in the library in a medium finish. It wears like iron and I love them. We pulled all the flooring out of our lr, dr, and kitchen and replaced it with sapele in a chestnut stain. I love the floors but if I had to do it over again I would use oak with a medium stain. With that being said the chestnut sapele is GORGEOUS!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:43AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Dark shows the dust. Something to keep in mind.

Also think about how gloomy or bright you want a particular room to seem--flooring color affects that.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:53AM
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We had Brazilian cherry in our last home. It darkened a lot more than I expected. It was very pretty and very durable (we had an oil rubbed finish-did not show scratches). But, in the end it showed too much dust and was too red for me that I wouldn't choose it again.

This time around we are choosing hickory. We shall see how that turns out!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 12:48PM
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Our newphew and his wife just built a brand new, beautiful house a little over a year ago. They have dark stained hardwood floors. They hate it. Said you have to dust/clean it every day because it shows everything.

We just had our oak hardwood floors redone this past fall. No stain, 3 coats of finish, we are thrilled.

Here's a peek.....

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:50PM
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I love the look of the dark rich mahogany color but you have to dust them every dayâ¦.high maintenance.

And even when you do, they show dust!

We had fairly light bamboo in our old house - loved it. Warm, easy to keep clean, didn't show dust. In the apartment we rented this year we had dark-stained engineered wood of some kind, and in our current condo before we redid them, we had dark-stained real oak - beautiful in both cases, but as everyone has said, they show every speck of dust, so they're not for me. We refinished the real oak floors in a medium color (custom color - so no name, but it was 4 parts "coffee" to one part "rosewood") and they're both beautiful and practical.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:59PM
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We have Brazillian cherry hardwood floors which are absoulutely gorgeous. However, our 2 dogs (and myself) are blondes and you see every hair we shed! I would only consider nothing darker than a medium color hardwood for my next house because of the need to vacuum every day with my dark floors.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:05PM
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We have umber (now called gunstock) oak through out home for the last decade and are very happy with them. Like Deb (dlm2000) said they are most forgiving. Below is a photo taken in our home shortly after hubby installed them. The foreground is the Ladies Parlor and at the back is our Library.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:20PM
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DD has Brazilian Cherry which is very dark, with red undertones. Her floors are a high gloss, but with only 1 child, no animals , and a housekeeper who comes in and does the floors every 2 weeks, they look great. She had them installed 7 years ago. I have dark hand scraped which I love. They're more of a matte finish, which means dribbles of water don't show as badly, but animal hair.........I don't think dark OR light floors can hide that.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:09AM
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How about a nice medium stained maple? I had dark stained oak floors which, when clean looked fabulous. However, the nice clean look was gone quickly as they showed dust, hair, dirt and everything else. If you have pets I would think about their hair color. If not, then cleaning any hardwood will be much easier!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:18AM
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DH brought home a sample of hickory in saddle stain. I will try to post picture of my choices. It is so difficult, I mean..spending all that money I want to make sure I make the right choice and really like it.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Trying to load photo

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 3:20PM
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We have a wide plank natural maple engineered wood floor (see picture). I love the contrast with our darker furniture and cabinets. The light floor does not show dust, which is great as I'm not the world's most diligent housekeeper. The only issue I have is that as the years go on, I do notice a slight darkening which looks yellowish in certain light. But it's not enough to really bother me.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 4:37PM
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msmagoo - Are those solid hardwood or engineered? I'd love to know what the closest (lightest) one is. It looks like it's from Lowes.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:50PM
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We have two different floors for two different houses. One is hickory with American stain, which makes it a medium rich brown. Love them with our natural cherry cabinets. However, the stain is starting to wear in certain parts of the house - perhaps because they were stained by an inexperienced crew. In the lower part of the house they remain totally gorgeous, but were stained by a different crew and probably get a bit less wear.

In our new house we have wide plank white oak with a light stain - I can't remember the name, but it is pale light brown with some grey. I like them too, though they are not quite as warm as the other floors. It really does depend what you like. But I would never want a stain that covered the beautiful natural grain completely, like a very dark stain, which would also be too high maintenance for me.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:20PM
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I have 5" plank red oak in my kitchen, living room, dining room and hallway. It's unstained and has three coats of oil (I think) topcoat.

It's golden reddish and I like it. It's a warm floor. It doesn't show anything. I'm embarrassed to say how long it's been since I dusted, mopped, anything on my wood floors. They look great. My cats race through the house and do spin-outs with claws out. This is one time when oak grain is really your friend.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Katlan, Is your floor red oak? it's lovely. We have white oak left natural with an oil finish, and it is very similar to yours, but not quite as much contrast.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Msrose, the closest one is hickory with saddle stain, solid hardwood. The other 2 are brazilian cherry naturay and gunstock oak. DH likes the hickory but I am afraid it will look too rustic.
Oh my I am even more confused. Does anyone like their brazilian cherry floors?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 10:41PM
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I have more than 3000 sq ft (site finished) of brazalian cherry floors. I have had them for over 10 years. The darkening occurred in the first six months. I am a fastidious housekeeper, but realize we realize we live in our house! Always, these are the the first thing people say about out our house and want to know the details. They are beautiful and I would do them again in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 4:07AM
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Toni S

I'd do our Brazilian cherry again too. I've learned to be calm on days they need attention and I don't have time for them because when I do have time to shine them up, I'm in love all over. They are a drug. I can certainly understand why a med matte oak would be so much easier in the idea it hides the daily grime.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 5:19AM
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Those floors are gorgeous, but I have almost ruled the cherry out because of the high maintenance. Does anyone have a stained hickory. DH likes the hickory I have a sample of in the pictures previously posted. Is it too rustic?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 6:49AM
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Msmagoo-if you Google hickory flooring there are lots of images of full rooms to give you a better idea of the look. I have always loved the look of hickory with a clear finish but there is a lot of variation in the color and I have always felt it was more rustic. I was not familiar with it stained so I Googled it. It is very pretty, and I think maybe not so rustic.
Fwiw we installed site finished red oak with provincial stain and a matte poly. It does show the dust a little but it is easy to just go over it quick with a dust mop. I have allergies, so glad to be able to see the dust and get rid of it then know its settling into the carpet.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 8:13AM
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I like the floor sample to the far left, the darkest one. Very rich looking but not too dark.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:18AM
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I would do light or medium. We had dark wood floors in our first condo - walnut - it was beautiful but it did show every speck of dust. We keep our floors very clean but the areas around furniture legs etc would always look dusty to me...

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 12:12PM
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I agree with the pp's about a light colored floor. I love the looks of the dark floors but you see all the dust, even with a medium stain. We had a builders grade oak floor that were pre waxed in our house that is 28 years old. We lived with them until they needed to be redone. In 2000 we had them stripped. We wanted just the natural color with just poly on top. She suggested we actually put stain on them but a natural colored stain. She said it sealed the wood better with it. Fourteen years later they still look good.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:21PM
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I've had natural red oak, natural maple, natural Brazilian cherry and now I have natural hickory. I loved them all! Each floor matched the style of room/house they were in. Here's my opinion on each: Red oak seems to meld easily with lots of different decor styles. It's easy on the eyes and it does not show dirt or scratches too much and it takes a stain well, unlike all of the others I mentioned. Brazilian cherry and Hickory are statement floors. You have to really consider your decor when using those floors. Hickory and Brazilian cherry are very hard, dense floors which is good and bad. I find slippers and rugs are required to cushion your feet. My Brazilian cherry floors were installed in an urban townhouse with ten foot ceilings and long tall windows. I think dark floors look best with tall ceiling heights. As others have said, there's lots of maintenance with dark floors. I have new hickory floors in my lake house. I sort of have a swedish-modern-country thing going on in that house. The wide variation and light color of the hickory floor is just what that house needed to make the best of low eight foot ceilings and to brighten up some dark corners in that house. If you seal hickory with a water base sealer it looks more contemporary and less rustic IMO. Unstained hickory is not formal in any way; it's a very happy floor. Hickory expands and contracts a lot so be aware. Maple expands and contracts a lot too. What maple has going for it, is that it has little character and it is a very light flooring, good for contemporary settings.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 5:09PM
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What's behind and to the left of the reddish brown (cherry?) cabinet door? - It looks like another door except its top doesn't look square to its side.

I don't think the hickory color goes that well with the darker cabinet door in the picture. It looks like it has too much grey.

We did natural maple floor with natural cherry cabinets. I prefer the contrast, but I've also seen kitchens with cherry floors and cherry cabinets and that looks very good too.

I don't know if Brazilian cherry darkens to the same degree as regular cherry, but here is a picture of our floor with new cherry family room cabinets:

And here it is with our kitchen cabinets which had been in for around 5 years when the floor was put in so they are fully darkened:

Most of the color change happens in the first 6 months.

We got the second grade of maple floor. They had something a grade called select and better which is very uniform. Since it is for a kitchen, we got this which has more variation making it less likely to show any minor imperfections that use adds.

It has held up very well.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:57PM
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I have medium kind of cherry stain floors that are high gloss. If I had it to do over again, having a few pets, I would have gone with a wide plank pine that didn't show fur and wear and tear and had a more rustic look.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 7:23PM
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We went with Acacia and we love it. It is a very hard wood, it stands up to our dog with no problem!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 9:32PM
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What color are your cabinets? I am leaning towards the hickory or the oak. Then a darker cabinet. Maybe I am over thinking all of this, I seen all types of floors with all different types of cabinets.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 10:45PM
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Not sure if who you were asking about cabinets but here are a few pictures of ours.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 1:36PM
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i love my floor even tho its on the dark side..have no small kids or pets..every couple of days i use a dry dust regrets.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 10:22AM
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We did an engineered bamboo floor stained cherry and we love it.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Cindy Noll

Here's a vote for natural hickory (probably not what you want), because it shows nothing. I have character grade however & that covers up everything. We've had it for 1 1/2 years & it's great hiding the scratches from our now deceased older dog that lost all coordination in the end. Without that problem we would have had few scratches from out 40 lbs dogs.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 11:11AM
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i have red oak floors, and they are stained dark. jacobean by minwax. i cannot tell you how many compliments we receive on our floors. everyone notices them! the grain shows beautifully and the dark stain is so current. the light oak seems to be out. we are more than pleased!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:47AM
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I'd definitely go with medium for two reasons. 1) Almost any decorating scheme will look nice with it, and 2) Medium won't darken a room.

We have dark hickory and I wish we'd gone up a couple of shades. I love my floor, and I don't mind dust mopping it either, but they really darken the room, even with large windows.

Our room was so bright until the shutters and floor were put in. It's a good thing that rooms on the darkish side don't bother me.

I do like the hardness of hickory though, with big dogs and their nails, it never scratches.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 7:19AM
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another pic of my "dark" floor..which i LOVE!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 6:23PM
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springer - What is character grade as opposed to any other type of hickory?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 8:59PM
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