The Great Floor Debate Part III


Otherwise entitled "Maple or Oak, Gloss or Semi-Gloss?". So, the Great Floor Debate (Part 1 and Part 2 here) is not totally solved...but we have a plan. And thanks for all your great feedback when I posted some inspiration photos of dark hardwood floors here.

To review...our downstairs currently has 4 different types of flooring. Like so:Not good for consistency, flow or making the space seem larger. Humph.

What has finally spurred us into action is the NASTY CARPET in the living room and family room. It has to go. To be replaced with hardwood. Soon. So, we must make a to unite all these spaces when we already have 2 other different hardwood floors going on - old skinny oak floor with a natural finish in the dining room and newer wider maple floors with a cherry finish in the kitchen and foyer.

We've thought about it, done some research, gotten some quotes. The most important component in this whole thing to us is color...we want a consistent finish in a color we like. So here's what we've decided to do:

1. Living Room and Family Room: install new unfinished hardwood floors (same width as the kitchen and foyer), stain new dark color that we like

2. Kitchen and Foyer: sand and re-stain (with our new darker color) existing maple hardwood floors

3. Dining Room: sand and re-stain (with our new darker color) existing oak hardwood floor

This way we will have one consistent stain color (that we've picked) throughout...and the same width boards in most of the rooms (except the dining room). So, like this:

***Cue angels singing!!!!*** We think this is the best decision for us at the current time. If we were starting from scratch, I would love to install really wide distressed planks, but it would turn out way more expensive than the unfinished wood and the labor for installing and staining it. And if we did that in only the 2 rooms, we'd still have inconsistency with the width of the boards and look of the other 2 rooms. And I would hate to tear up or go over the kitchen and dining room floors (which are completely in good shape) with the new stuff.

This leaves us with a couple of decisions still to make:

1. Which stain color to go with? Our floor guy is currently making us some samples of wood with more of a dark walnut vs. ebony stain...we already axed the red mahoganyish color because we felt the red undertones were too close to our current cherry finish that we don't want. I have a feeling I'll like the dark walnut (lighter) and Paul will like the ebony (darker) better, but we'll see:)

2. Should be put new maple (to match the kitchen) or new oak (to match the dining room) in the living and family room? The grain in maple is much more flat and smooth, so when stained the color is more consistent. This is what we have in the kitchen and foyer (the boards we are matching the new width to). Oak shows much more grain. The oak is way cheaper than the maple. Any thoughts on how the 2 hold up with wear compared to each other? Do you think its worth the extra money to match? Maybe the oak will give me more of the distressed look I like?

3. Should we go with a high gloss or semi-gloss for the poly/sealer? Any thoughts on this? Which finish shows less dirt/dust/scratches/wear and tear?

Would love to hear your advice on those last 2 questions! Thanks, guys! And steps. That's how I roll.


  1. Best of luck to you. I know its a big undertaking. I am a no shine type of gal so I alway go for Satin finish, but its a personal preference.

  2. Such a great idea, and it's kind of "green" too since you aren't ripping up perfectly good floor. I would go with a dark walnut, it sounds warmer than an ebony color, that's just IMO. I would think to go with the maple that is already in your kitchen so that it is more consistent since the two rooms are more adjoined. Plus I know different woods take stain differently and the same color might be a bit different looking on oak vs maple. My pick would be a semi-gloss, just so it wouldn't blind you in the sunlight. I can't wait to see how it turns out!!

  3. Congrats on getting closer to a resolution to your debate!! One thing that I would encourage you to consider is that maple is a harder wood than oak - what that means is that it will be more resistent to scratches etc... BUT, and this is a HUGE BUT, since it is harder, it is also more resistant to your stain and finish. So, while it won't scratch/dent as easily, when it does, you WILL see the blonde maple finish under the scratch/dent. With a new addition being added to the family, I think it would be important to balance these two things. For me, I'd choose the oak, I'd prefer a slightly scratched but uniformly finished floor over a harder but lightly speckled floor. I hope this makes sense. If not, shoot me an email at amanda DOT shaw DOT clark AT gmail DOT com and I'll attach pictures to help make it more clear. My husband makes fine furniture so we've got lots of samples :)

  4. Wow -- I think your solution is fabulous! I think your other commenters are giving you some great suggestions! Hope you have a fun weekend!


  5. Great choice! I've actually been dealing with this in a home, and getting everything consistant throughout has made a big difference. I wouldn't be scared to go with a darker color - with that much continuity through the rooms, it can provide a fabulous contrast with lighter furnishings. Makes everything pop (of course, not a great idea if all of your current furniture is really dark!)

  6. I'm a fan of oak floors (which is what we have, stained in ebony). If you go with a darker finish, the grain won't be especially noticeable anyway.

    As for sheen -- I prefer a matte or satin finish (which I think is more current) than either gloss or semi gloss. This is what I have currently and it's holding up beautifully.

  7. Thanks, guys!!! Glad to know other people are dealing with similar problems. So, so far we seem to have more of a consensus on the semi-gloss, huh? That was my initial thought...but the floor guy is going to do us up a sample of each type of sealer, so we'll see how they look.

    Great points, Amanda!! Thanks so much for the warning about the blonde maple showing through on scratches...good point, we actually have this already with the cherry maple in a couple of places:(

  8. Here's my 2 cents! We were told by our floor guy to avoid ebony since it shows dust, etc. like crazy (a more mid-toned stain won't be as bad). (My husband was sad b/c he wanted ebony, but we've been really happy with our medium stain.) As for wood type, oak is very hard and should wear beautifully - we have it and love it. I would go for semi-gloss rather than high gloss, otherwise that darn dust will make things look dingy (but I'm also not a very big fan of shiny). :) Can't wait to see what you do!

    ~ Liz

  9. Yay for a solution!! My two cents - we have white oak floors stained dark brown and I love them. I absolutely love that they show so much grain - I think it makes for a great look. And our floors have a satin finish. The higher the gloss, themilee dirt you see. Since we have a dog, we went as unglossy as possible and I'm very happy we did. :)

  10. We have a satin finish as well and it holds up great and doesn't show a ton of dirt. No matter what you choose I'm sure it'll look great - doesn't it feel accomplishing to finally make a decision?!

  11. Check out lumber liquidators "cambridge oak". It's a dark stain done on red oak. I hope to do the same at my house.. ripe up carpet, lay new unfinished and sand and stain existing to match. Would you mind letting me know what I can expect to spend on this type of project, since you're already there? Thanks

  12. And so it continues . . . I can't wait to see the end result. I know it's gonna be wonderful!! cheers & luck, -s

  13. Can't wait to see the end result and what you select as well! My advice would be to go with the oak flooring. I personally love seeing the grain in wood and maple just doesn't have enough IMHO. I'd also lean to the walnut stain which is still darker but will again show the grain better than the ebony. I have to agree with Liz's flooring person who also stated that ebony only exaggerates the visibility of dirt. I have that in my living room and it drives me bonkers. If we ever redo them, I'll definitely go with something a bit lighter. I'd also either go with a Satin (lowest dirt show) or a Semi-gloss finish. Personally even though I do think Satin is more "current", I'd lean to the Semi-gloss... it's so classic.

  14. Hi Sarah: I just came upon your blog and definitely want to participate in the next Mood Board Monday! What a great idea. I'll subscribe right now so as not to miss anything. Thanks!

  15. We just re-did our floors last summer. We did a natural stain in our living room which had oak floors, and a darker mahogony in the rest of the house, which had fir. Since then, we have discovered that the darker stain shows dust like crazy! But I still love it. We had originally used a gloss finish, but when it was too shiny, we went over it with a satin and it looks perfect.


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