Engineered Flooring Species: To Stain or Not to Stain?

There are plenty of times in the engineered flooring and solid wood flooring markets alike when you will come across what one might refer to as a “hardwood purist.” These folks do not believe in staining, particularly when it comes to exotic species or species more known for their distinctive colors/grains.

For instance, Brazilian Cherry is arguably the most popular exotic hardwood flooring species on the American market. It is well known for its salmon, red, and brown coloring. So why, some might think, would anyone want to stain an already beautiful exotic flooring species that you’ve already paid good money to have imported to the United States?

Well, as you may have guessed, I am not a hardwood purist. I think that any modifications made to a product give consumers a wider range of options to choose from is always welcome. This allows homeowners to more accurately express their own individual tastes and styles, rather than being boxed in by the color palette dictated by mother nature alone.

So let’s take a look at some stained exotics. (Stained just bears a negative connotation anyway, doesn’t it? Obviously wood experts weren’t thinking marketing, or we would definitely be talking about “color enhancement”.) Here are some stained versions of Brazilian Cherry:

Here’s the natural:

Brazilian Cherry Flooring

Now here are swatches of two different stains.

Brazilian Cherry Cafe:

Jatoba Hand Scraped

And now Brazilian Cherry Caramel:

Jatoba Hand Scraped Caramel

So you can see how the stain affects the coloring of the wood. (Additionally, these swatches are “hand scraped,” meaning hand distressed and therefore have more of a “bumpy” texture for a slightly more rustic look.) As you can see, the stains often show the graining off in a different color palette, but nonetheless one can easily see that we are looking at Brazilian Cherry, just through a different color of lens. Obviously, this is what staining is all about, but I feel its important to stress that stains are not opaque (At least a good staining ought not to be.) A good stain should alter the appearance of the wood quite a bit, but not obscure the graining much. A bit of subtlety is involved, and this separates a good stain from a bad one.

What do you think of staining? Abomination or blessing of artistic license?

3 Replies to “Engineered Flooring Species: To Stain or Not to Stain?”

  1. Hi!
    We just bought a house where most of the rooms and halls have a beautiful floor. Some rooms had a bad stained carpet so we got rid of it. We searched on internet and we bought what was the perfect match. Today they came, and OMG they are way too dark reddish looking compare what we have. Its supposed to be the same floor by the picture but they dont have the same color and black ends as ours. Is there anyway we can stain them clear? Here is the link for the purchased floor so you can see the specifications and the second is the link of the actual floors of the house. Please Help!!

    http://www.floormall.com/hardwood/harris/shenandoah_distressed/he2194wn50

    http://www.visionhomesflorida.com/whgallery/whindex.htm

    1. Sorry for the delay in response. It would be very difficult to try to modify the color of your new flooring to match the existing flooring. Being a 3/8″ product, it has a thin wear layer, which is not conducive to sanding, and a stain job may not match anyway.
      Additionally, the floor you bought is a distressed floor, and if you tried to sand it, you would lose the distressing. If you really want to try and match it, consulting with a local contractor and/or trying to research what the original product actually was is probably your best and only bet. The product you have now will most likely have to be returned or used as is. On the bright side, your house looks gorgeous!

      Take care,

      Evan

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