The Types of Wood Stains Suitable for Interior Wood Flooring

Interior Wood Flooring

In a home, the real heart is often right under your toes – in the wood flooring. How? It brings warmth, personality, and that timeless vibe to any room, unlike any other flooring. But, like anything else, your wood floors can lose their shine, get worn out, fade, or just need a pick-me-up.

That’s where wood staining and finishing swoop in to save the day! They give your floors a fresh look and make them feel brand new again.

Whether you’re in the mood to start a DIY project or seeking professional wood floor refinishing in Naperville, IL, choosing the right stain is the crucial factor. It not only improves the aesthetics but also protects the floors for years to come.

This guide is your ticket to exploring the world of wood stains. We’ll show you all the different types out there so you can find the perfect one for what you need. Plus, we’ll give you the lowdown on what to think about when you’re picking a stain and some handy tips for applying it like a pro. Let’s dive in!

Different Types of Wood Stains

Picking the perfect wood stain isn’t just about choosing a color but also about knowing how it works with your floors. Here’s a simple breakdown of the three main types of wood stains that are great for indoor floors.

1. Oil-Based Stains

Unique Features: Being oil-based, these stains soak deep into the wood, giving it a rich color and a shiny finish that really pops. But be prepared to wait a bit as they take about 24 to 48 hours to dry, which is longer than other options.

Advantages: Oil-based stains are pretty easy to put on, and they give you a nice, smooth finish. Plus, if you mess up, they’re forgiving, and you can fix it later on without too much trouble.

Things to Keep in Mind: The smell of oil-based stains is pretty strong, and they take a while to dry, which can be a pain. Plus, cleaning up afterward means using stronger stuff like mineral spirits, which isn’t great for the environment or your health.

2. Gel-Based Stains

Unique Features: These stains are thick, gooey, and pudding-like in texture, which makes them perfect for bringing out the beautiful natural grain of your wood. They work great on bumpy surfaces and add a cool textured look to your floors.

Advantages: Because they’re so thick, gel-based stains are super easy to put on, especially if you’re new to staining. Plus, they won’t drip or run all over the place like other stains might.

Things to Keep in Mind: While gel-based stains give your floors a unique look, you might need to do a bit more sanding beforehand. Also, they don’t come in as many colors as other stains, so your options might be a bit limited.

3. Water-Based Stains

Unique Features: These stains are pretty cool as they mix with water, so they dry really fast (usually in 1 to 2 hours) and don’t smell too bad. That’s why they’re a hit with people who like to do DIY projects and care about the environment.

Advantages: Water-based stains are the superheroes of stains. They work great on all sorts of wood and are super easy to clean up. How? Just use some soap and water. Plus, they’re really versatile, so you can use them for all your staining projects without any hassle.

Things to Keep in Mind: Even though water-based stains are awesome, they do have a few downsides. It might take a few extra coats to get the color just right, and they might not give you that deep, rich color you get with oil-based stains. But overall, they’re still a great choice for most staining projects.

How to select the right stain for your needs?

Now that you understand the main types of wood stains, how do you choose the best one for your specific project? Here are some key factors to consider.

Desired Color

  • The kind of wood you have affects how the final stain looks. Lighter wood species like maple will readily accept stain, while darker woods like cherry may require multiple coats or a pre-stain conditioner to achieve the desired shade.
  • Think about what’s in style and what’s timeless. Light and natural tones are popular choices for creating a contemporary and airy feel, while richer, darker stains can add depth and warmth to
    traditional spaces.

Wood Type

  • Different types of wood absorb stains differently and have unique colors.  Understanding the characteristics of your specific wood flooring is crucial for choosing a compatible stain. Consult a professional or look it up online if you are unsure about your wood type.


  • Consider the level of foot traffic your flooring receives. For high-traffic areas, oil-based stains offer superior durability, while water-based stains might require more frequent reapplication but still work well for recoating wood floors.


Drying Time and Ease of Use

Drying time can significantly impact your project timeline. If time is of the essence, water-based stains offer a quick solution. However, for a richer finish, oil-based stains might be a better choice for experienced DIYers.

Additional Tips for a Successful Wood Stain Application!

  • Always test the stain on a hidden area of your flooring before full application. This allows you to assess the final color and ensure compatibility with your wood.
  • Proper surface preparation is key. Ensure your wood floor is clean and free of dirt, debris, and any existing finish. Sanding is often recommended to create a smooth and even surface for better stain absorption.
  • Safety first! When working with wood stains, proper ventilation is essential. Utilize gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask for your protection.


Final Thoughts

Choosing the right wood stain is akin to starting a creative journey. It’s your chance to show off your style and turn your indoor space into something incredible that shows who you are. By learning about different stains, thinking about what matters, and getting help when you need it, you can do this with ease and make a floor that’ll be cherished for years.

Remember, for professional assistance with wood floor refinishing or expert advice on stain and finish options, don’t hesitate to contact Big Bro Hardwood. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to helping you achieve your vision and breathe new life into your beloved wood floors. Additionally, we offer expert wood floor installation services. To explore our full range of services and the locations we serve, click here.