Hardwood Floor Stain Selection

Wendy’s Blog
Stain selection remains the most important decision when refinishing hardwood and refinishers must do their part to help.

Recently we worked with couples who struggled with the stain color decision. Stain selection is the most important decision when people are getting their hardwood floors refinished. And for the refinishing team they need to do their part to help when there is a question or indecision about the stain color.

First off, stain choices should be evaluated in the dwelling directly. Nuances in color can definitely sway ones preferences based upon light, color of the walls, décor, etc. Most of the time it is not sufficient to choose a stain color while in a store. The samples should be taken to the property and studied in a variety of places.

For instance, the color should be evaluated in the day time, in direct sunlight like by the front door, and at night. When deciding the stain color should be evaluated with the interior paint color, the color palate of the existing décor, or new décor as well.

So when the hardwood floor team is working with the customer(s) they should do everything they can to help solidify the selection. It is our policy to show samples on a stain chart or brochure to the customer(s). But for some a stain color chart on a glossy brochure can sway it off enough, and therefore should not be the end all itself.

If we have worked with a particular stain color and have pictures we will show them to the customer(s). Once there are preferable choices we  sand down an area on the floor where the stain can be applied, usually in an area near direct sunlight. And from there we make an actual sample chart on the floor, with the color name written on the sample box, and with the can of stain prominently displayed. We also write the name of the stain color on our contract and get the client to sign off on it. We have also taken a picture of the client pointing to the stain choice as well.

Once in a while we have a customer who is super indecisive, and it can be a difficulty. On a handful of occasions we have had folks ask for several samples. For the refinishers we have to mimic the end result, doing every step on the stain block that would be done when the floor is actually refinished. So when several samples are requested it can be taxing.

But to that it can be said put yourself (as the refinishers) in your customer’s shoes. Years ago I remember when we were looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee we wanted a blue one. The salesman did everything in his power to talk us into a white one, because they had one on the lot. We didn’t want white, we wanted blue. So standing firm we got a blue one making the dealership do a dealer trade. For that impatient and self serving moment we would have had to live with a color vehicle for probably north of ten years. To us, the same applies with stain color selection.

So back to stain selection, we will apply more than a few samples hoping to help our client make their decision. And while we have to have patience, we also understand our clients need to be comfortable with their choice. After doing hundreds of floors I can count on 1 hand the number of times it has become an issue.

The first time the customer insisted we used the wrong color, not what she chose. Along with the color sign off I had to produce the receipt of the stain purchase, to the tune of six cans. Another time the customer tried to say we switched the wrong can, but pointed to the color box that we took a picture of. For that customer once they saw the color in person it grew on her and she loved it. Another customer asked for about 8 colors, chose one that we took a picture and she signed off on, only to text her final color the following day being the first one she had in mind.