Natural vs. Stained
Every piece of prefinished hardwood flooring is stained with a protective finish. Sometimes, this protective finish is clear, bringing out the natural color and pattern of the wood. Other times, the manufacturer will use a tinted finish to stain the wood a specific color.
Natural coloring is most often used with exotic species. Other species are light or dark in color. The clear coat enhances their natural hues making them look bolder and more attractive. For example, Maple and Red Oak are light in color, while Brazilian Teak and Wenge are dark. These colors remain true to their natural form when the clear protective sealant is applied.
Stains give manufacturers a little more flexibility to offer a full spectrum of color options. Some manufacturers use a variety of species and stain options to give you a wider selection of colors to choose from. These can give a glossy, matter or more weathered appearance.
Some manufacturers will make it easier on the buyer to find the right hue by categorizing the colors into “light,” medium,” and “dark.” Other manufacturers will break it down a little further by categorizing floors into “yellows,” “golds,” “tans,” “browns,” and “blacks.” This categorization approach is often used by dealers to combine the various color choices in a way that makes it easy for shoppers to browse.
Color Changes Due to Light
Wood is sensitive to the light. Over time, the color can darken the more the wood is exposed to sunlight. Some types of wood are more sensitive than others. If you live in a primarily sunny area, these floors might not be on your list.
If you’re concerned about your flooring darkening over time from the sunlight, you might want to avoid these types of wood:
- American Cherry
- Australian Cypress
- Brazilian Cherry
- Brazilian Mesquite
- Brazilian Redwood
- Brazilian Teak
- Brazilian Walnut
- Indian Rosewood
- Santos Mahogany
- Sucupira (the dark variety)
- Tiete Rosewood
The least light sensitive woods include:
Before you buy your wood flooring, consider the patterns of sunlight that enter the room. Chances are some areas will see more sunlight than others. If you choose a light sensitive flooring, you could see a clear discoloration in the exposed areas. It is recommended to use blinds, curtains and area rugs to help protect the coloring over time.