Match Wood Stain

As part of the Worn Wood Magic process, we match wood stain, making a custom stain color for almost every floor. This is a vital part of the process. Why is that?

match wood stain on kitchen floor
worn wood floor in kitchen – the light areas have been stripped – we will match the wood stain to blend in

Because we are restoring the wood floor-we aren’t sanding off and irretrievably removing a layer of your floor, we are working with your existing floor color and floor finish. If the floor is being sanded down to bare wood, then there is no need to match wood floor colors, because there is no color left to match anymore.

However, most wood floors have worn areas here and there, and outside of the wear areas the wood is still almost in perfect condition. Why sand down 100% of a wood floor when only 20% or so of it is actually in need of total restoration?

We don’t change the color of the floor from one color to another-in almost all cases that can only be done by sanding the floor down to bare wood. But if you are happy with the basic color of your floor and would like to have it restored so that all of it is beautiful and serviceable again, then what we do as part of the process is match the wood stain that is already on your floor so that when it is restored everything is looking even again in color, instead of being lighter or darker in the problem areas.

When we match wood stain, it is quite a process. Wood floors as part of their aging process gradually change in color. So, even if we had some of the exact stain color that was used originally on the floor, it would not match the installed floor in the home.

It is a common mistake to try using a wood floor stain that the color charts as is the same as the color of your floor. Even if it was perfectly matching, it wouldn’t be the proper color to go into the worn/restored areas of your floor.

The reason for this is that worn areas of the wood accept stain color much differently than non-worn areas of the wood. Worn wood generally is much more open grain than the wood surrounding it, and this is where we match wood stain between the worn areas and the non-worn areas.

Another common mistake with do-it-yourselfers is thinking they have got the proper stain color for a worn area if it seems to match when the stain goes on to the floor. That is not the color you want – you want the color to match once the finish is on top of the stain color that is going on to the floor.

Professional wood floor finish going on top of a new stain color always changes the color of the stain as it goes on. This is another example of why the Worn Wood Magic process is very much an artistic process requiring a tremendous amount of expertise to make the magic happen – we match stain colors, and match them such that the stain stays matched once we start applying finish on top of it.

Another huge difference that is part of the Worn Wood Magic process is that we use true water base stains. There are lots of products on the market nowadays that claim to be water-based stains, but if you take the top off the can and smell it you can smell a lot of solvents still in there. The water-based stain that we use has 0% VOC (volatile organic content) – it doesn’t have any solvents in it.

You know the old saying “oil and water don’t mix”? That is certainly true for wood floors. The entire Worn Wood Magic process is a water-based process. Some people make the mistake of trying to use an oil-based stain on a wood floor because it is a lot easier to find oil-based stains, and then try to put a water-based finish on top of it. That’s a guaranteed recipe for disaster.

One of the biggest reasons why true water-based stains are so hard to find is because water-based stains have to be put on very meticulously, board by board. I’ve heard old school wood flooring finishers complain about water-based stain, saying “I want to be able to put some stain on the floor, go out and smoke a cigarette, and come back and keep on putting on stain without it being a problem”. That kind of slap-happy staining can only be done with oil-based stains, and it is certainly not what we do.

So when we match wood stain, we match the stain of your existing floor with a stain color that is going to blend in with the rest of the wood, such that when coats of finish go on top of it, it stays blended perfectly. It doesn’t matter that the original stain on the wood floor was an oil-based stain, and we are now using a water-based stain. The original stains and finishes on wood floors cure out over the years so that if you know what you are doing and know how to prepare it properly, you can use water-based stains and finish on top of that flooring and it bonds perfectly.

So we match wood stain with every floor that we do, sometimes creating new custom stain colors from room to room, whatever is needed. This is a rare process and requires a lot of expertise, but it produces beautiful and gratifying results.