Red oak flooring is the go-to option for most homeowners and contractors. Due to its coarser grain, it stains uniformly and easily. This allows you to choose between light and dark colors, which might not be the case with other hardwood floors.

We got you covered if you recently installed new floors or need to inject life into red oak floors. We are DIY devotees who spent hundreds of hours researching the best stain for red oak floors.

We’ve highlighted a couple of stain colors suitable for red oak flooring to help you pick a stain ideal for your project.

Our Top Picks

Best Stain for Red Oak Floors

  1. DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent StainBest overall stain
  2. Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating FinishBest antique stain
  3. ZAR 12812 Wood Stain, Early American, MinkBest stain color for red oak
  4. 1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Wood StainBest minwax stain for red oak floors
  5. General Finishes- Penetrating Wood StainBest brown stain for red oak floors

Best Stain for Red Oak Floors Reviews

1. Best overall stain – DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

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DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, Redwood 1 Gallon
186 Reviews
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, Redwood 1 Gallon
  • Water-Based Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – This water-based deck stain allows the wood grain to show through with a beautiful semi-transparent, natural matte finish. It's great for staining wood decks, fences, siding, playsets, outdoor patio furniture, and more.
  • Fortified With Zinc Nano-Particle Technology – It’s like sunscreen for your wood. Tiny zinc particles dispersed throughout the stain reflect damaging UV rays, preventing premature graying and color loss.
  • Durable Quality That Lasts – DEFY Extreme wood stains are made with the highest quality resins available that have better resistance to fading and darkening.
  • Easy to Maintain - DEFY is easy to apply and maintain by applying a single maintenance coat of DEFY Extreme Wood Stain when the wood starts to show signs of wear.
  • 250 VOC Compliant - Water based and VOC compliant everywhere except California.

Your red oak hardwood floors will wear out with time. The best way to keep them glamorous for a long time is to stain them with a tried and tested stain color.

Defy Extreme is a water-based semitransparent wood stain. You can use it on exterior floors to protect them from UV rays, moisture, snow, rain, mold, and mildew.

It’s friendly to the environment, pets, and kids. It means you can use it without worrying about the safety of your kids or pets. Even so, please keep it away from their reach. 

It is manufactured with the best-grade resins, resisting fading and darkening. As a result, you get a high-quality floor color that lasts two seasons longer than competing brands.

Apply two coats, but you can do more if you need the old wood to look new again. Please do not wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat to stop the stain from repelling itself. 

It dries clear, goes on smoothly just like butter, and dries rapidly. So remember to work faster. And as instructed, do not stop in the middle of your boards, as the line will be visible.

Please continue to the finish of each board while avoiding splashes as they’ll show. This product is for people with a keen eye for details.

What We Liked Most

  • It is a low VOCs formula hence friendly to pets and the environment
  • Dries quickly 
  • You get an excellent color

What Could Be Improved

  • You’ve to recoat after a year or two



2. Best antique stain – Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish

Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish - Antique Brown - Quart
55 Reviews
Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish - Antique Brown - Quart
  • Semi-transparent stain formulated to seal, color, and provide exceptional durability
  • Intended for use on all wood floors coated with a clear unwaxed finish, including polyurethane
  • Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish Wood Stain can be used with or without a finish coat
  • Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish Wood Stain designed to dry in two hours
  • Excellent resistance to water and chemicals

If you need to stain red oak with a product capable of repelling water and chemicals, this is your product. It is a semitransparent stain, meaning that it allows the wood grain to shine through while also protecting it from the elements.

You can use it on all floors and get the same excellent results. It dries in two hours, letting you finish your project hassle-free and focus on other essential things.

The stain is available in different colors, so you can easily find the color that will match your home decor. If you have been using the same color and are looking for something different but effective, this will do the trick.

You’ll absolutely love how your oak floors will turn out, and your entire house will look warm and inviting. The stain dries quickly and is easy to use. One coat is all you need to get professional results.

You can apply two coats or more depending on how darker or lighter you need the floor to be. It’s the best stain for flooring contractors and DIY enthusiasts because it’s durable and gives gorgeous colors.

It is the appropriate stain for other wood species such as maple. Use it on your furniture, and your neighbors and guests will wonder how you managed to pull off that look.

It goes on smoothly and uniformly and will turn out better than expected. For incredible results, thin it with Dura Seal quick coat 110 neutral and finish with top-quality polyurethane.

What We Liked Most

  • Ease of use
  • Has gorgeous colors
  • It goes on smoothly and evenly

What Could Be Improved

  • Pricey but worth every penny



3. Best stain color for red oak – ZAR 12812 Wood Stain, Early American, Mink

ZAR 12812 Wood Stain, Early American, Mink
33 Reviews
ZAR 12812 Wood Stain, Early American, Mink
  • Superior coverage
  • Included in MPI Category #90
  • Stains evenly with controlled penetration
  • Wipes on like furniture polish
  • Produces rich uniform color

Staining a red oak hardwood floor will not cause untold trauma if you select the right food stain. You’ll be whistling and humming to your favorite tunes if you use this product on your red oak floors.

You do not have to break a sweat sanding the floors to remove the old finish or paint before applying the product. It’s designed with controlled penetration to ensure consistent color tone without streaks or ugly lap marks. 

The oil-based stain is perfect for furniture, cabinets, paneling, antiques, wood trim, painted surfaces, etc. It’s one of the best oil-based products you can use to add faux wood grain to a door. 

Zar is simple to apply, dries in the time specified by the product, and looks terrific. It takes some practice to perfect using the readily available wood graining tool.

The color will be a little orange. If you don’t like how it looks, reapply it before it dries. If you are tired of having wooden doors, we have a better idea. Use this product on your metal doors to make them look like natural wood.

What We Liked Most

  • Superb coverage
  • Ideal for multiple surfaces
  • Simple to use
  • Surfaces do not have to be sanded before use

What Could Be Improved

  • You’ve to buy a wood graining tool to add faux wood grain to metal surfaces



4. Best minwax stain for red oak floors – 1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Walnut Wood Stain

1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Walnut Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood Stain
383 Reviews
1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Walnut Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood Stain
  • RICH EVEN COLOR – Minwax Wood Finish is a deep penetrating, oil-based wood stain that provides beautiful color and enhances the natural wood grain in one coat. It’s perfect for interior staining projects such as wood furniture, cabinets, doors and more.
  • QUICK DRYING – Staining interior wood has never been quicker. The special formula allows it to deeply penetrate wood pores within 5 minutes of application, resists lapping, and dries in two hours, making all your wood projects quick, beautiful and easy.
  • EASY TO APPLY – Use a clean cloth or wood stain brush to apply this wood stain in the direction of the grain. Wait 5-15 minutes and wipe away excess stain. The longer you wait, the darker/richer the color. Reapply coats for deeper color.
  • DARK WALNUT WOOD STAIN – This dark wood stain provides a beautiful, rich dark walnut color. This classic brown stain looks great on a wide variety of projects.
  • A BRAND YOU CAN TRUST – Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care projects. Since 1904, we have been inspiring consumers to Keep on Finishing. We offer consumers a complete line of products to meet every wood finishing need.

Sometimes, the best things come in smaller packages. Try not to settle for anything than the best. This oil-based dark stain produces excellent color while enhancing the natural wood grain in a single application.

It’s ideal for interior staining jobs such as wood furniture, cabinets, doors, etc. The package is small, but it is up for its quality and effectiveness. Staining interior wood floors is such a breeze with this magnificent product.

It’s effortless to apply as the unique recipe allows it to infiltrate wood pores in five minutes and resist lapping. It dries two short hours, making staining floors such a joyous experience.

If you need to stain wood and get professional results, this is the right product as it allows you to complete your project in a day.  If you are tired of yellow undertones, try this stain.

Apply the stain in the direction of the wood grain using a clean cloth or a brush. Wait for five to fifteen minutes before wiping away any excess stain. The darker/richer the hue becomes as you wait longer.

Reapply coats as needed to achieve a richer color. Patiently wait for four to six hours before applying a high-quality wood sealer topcoat. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated environment as it produces a strong odor since it is oil-based.

What We Liked Most

  • Has spectacular uniform coverage
  • Effortless to use
  • Nice, even colors
  • Works as advertised

What Could Be Improved

  • produces strong fumes- wear protective gear



5. Best brown stain for red oak floors – General Finishes Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stain

General Finishes Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stain, 1/2 Pint, Warm Cherry
342 Reviews
General Finishes Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stain, 1/2 Pint, Warm Cherry
  • Oil based stain penetrates the grain of the wood to promote uniform acceptance of stain
  • Prevents streaking and blotching to help ensure a beautiful, even stain
  • Brush, Wipe On with Clean Rag, Wipe Off
  • Clean up with mineral spirits
  • Can be top coated with oil or water based products such as General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, Gel Topcoat, High Performance, or Flat Out Flat

At times you do not know just what stain color to go for due to hundreds of options in the market, each promising heaven. However, you can never go wrong with this product.

If you want a stain that beats HD brands and you see it immediately after the initial application, this is it.

Before applying the stain:

  1. Sand the surface with 120-180 grit sandpaper to ensure effective stain absorption into the wood fibers.
  2. Make sure the wood is free of grime and all manner of dirt.
  3. Apply three coats or more to achieve the desired color, and you can mix depending on the wood species.

The stain is simple and a good match for kitchen cabinet touch-ups. It gives them a brand-new appearance even if you’ve had them for ages. You’ll see no pink or red undertones.

Please keep in mind that this is an oil-based product! Make sure you have mineral spirits to clean up surfaces and brushes when you finish the project.

Wear protective clothing such as gloves, goggles, apron, etc. This is one of the best oil-based products for all your flooring needs. The stain goes on uniformly and has a beautiful dark brown color.

What We Liked Most

  • Effortless to apply
  • Applicable on different surfaces and very durable
  • Works as marketed
  • Superior coverage

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s too thick and covers the wood grain just like paint



Best Stain for Red Oak Floors Comparison Table

Education: Choosing a Stain for Our Oak Floors

Staining your hardwood floors is a critical decision for three reasons because: 

  • Your selection will have a significant impact on the general appearance of your home 
  • You will live with your stain color choice for an extended period
  • Once you apply the stain, it is costly and time-consuming to reapply it. 

Do you see? It would help if you got it right the first time. Furthermore, there’re hundreds of colors, tints, and combinations to pick from.  Consider the factors below before buying a stain for oak hardwood floors. 

Your home decor and style

Keeping a unique furniture taste and interior design style in mind help can help you determine the perfect stain color for your project. If you plan to preserve your present furniture, pick a color that complements it.

You’ll have more options if you buy new furniture. If you need a rustic farmhouse interior, you won’t go for a gray stain. Pick Mid-toned brown colors instead.

The bottom line is to pick a color that grounds your living space and blends the decorating style cohesively together.

Get a photo guide from interior design magazines. Show it to your flooring contractor to help you pick a color palette that matches your preferences. 

Your Budget

You get what you pay for most of the time. Sometimes the price of a product determines its value and effectiveness.

Nevertheless, you can buy a great product affordably and be happy with the results. Do your homework well, and you can find a high-quality product without breaking your bank.

Transparency

Do you need the wood grain to show through, or do you want to cover it completely? If you’re going to see the natural beauty of wood, pick a transparent stain.

If you’re going to conceal the wood grain, buy a stain that covers the grain like paint.

Staining Red Oak

Red oak flooring is a durable material that gives a gorgeous surface that is simple to clean and maintain when professionally stained or sealed.

Red oak’s open pores absorb stains better than other wood species, that is why it is considered one of the best wood for staining. It enhances the wood’s warm, elegant color and distinctive grain pattern.

Purchasing unfinished red oak flooring is time-consuming. However, staining the wood floors saves you money. It enables you to choose a suitable stain color to compliment your home decor. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to stain red oak.

Step 1: Vacuum the floor

Vacuum the red oak floor to remove dust and grime, giving particular care to the room’s corners. To ensure the floor is spotless, use a clean cloth to wipe it down.

Step 2: Stir the stain

Shake the can thoroughly before opening it to mix the stain properly. Open the can with a screwdriver and gently stir the stain with a stirring stick.

Step 3: Apply the stain

Dip a clean, dry, lint-free cloth or a dry sponge in the stain to apply your favorite stain. Slowly rub it on the red oak floor. To uniformly blend the paint and minimize the appearance of streaks or blotches, use lengthy, straight strokes.

Apply coats as needed to achieve a darker, richer finish. Wipe away any remaining stain with a clean rag. Repeat until you cover the entire floor.

Step 4: Wait for the stain to dry

Let the stain dry for twenty-four hours, or until the floor is dry to the touch, or as directed by the manufacturer.  In general, most stains dry entirely in a day or two.

However, you may have to wait longer, perhaps three days or more, before applying the polyurethane and finishing your wood project. Dry periods vary depending on the brand, type of stain, and temperature and humidity of a locality.

Learn more on How to Stain Oak Wood.

How to Stain Red Oak to look like White Oak

We got a spoiler alert if you wonder how to stain red oak to look white. You can’t! It’s challenging to make Red oak appear white entirely because the two wood species are very diverse and look differently with different wood stain finishes.

Do not be discouraged, though. You can make the red oak appear white by mixing other stains. If you desire light floors it’s advisable to use a light stain.

It’s challenging to pick the right stain, and you may need to engage the services flooring contractor. Also, you can make red oak look like white oak by using store-bought two-component wood bleaches.

It’s practical and effortless. Here’s how you go about it. The oxygen bleaches are available in most hardware shops near you.

Step 1: Prep the surface

Sand the surface with 180-220 grit sandpaper, an excellent scuff, to the floor.

Step 2: Mix equal parts of both components

When the products get activated, you’ll see some bubbles, and the product will be ready for use. 

Step 3: Apply the mixture

Using a high-quality synthetic brush, apply the mixture to every area you need to turn white. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles. Apply nice uniform coats and do not leave any puddles. 

Step 4: Allow the Wood to dry

Let the wood dry undisturbed for three hours. See whether you are satisfied with the amount of lighting the wood has received at this point.

If you want the wood to be lighter, apply more bleach as before. However, if you are happy with the lighting, neutralize the bleach.

Step 5: Neutralize the Bleach

Mix two parts of ordinary vinegar with two parts of warm water. Mix the products extensively. Apply the vinegar solution to every area you need to neutralize.

Step 6: Let the Surface Dry

Allow the area to dry for a day. The floor will be rough because the grain will be raised. Sand the wood with fine-grit sandpaper.

 Step7: Apply a Topcoat

Apply a top coat of your choice and be keen to follow instructions from the manufacturer to the latter.  

FAQs

What stain goes well with red oak?

Red oak takes most stains well. Just pick some from a reputable brand and follow the instructions on the can when using the product.

What color should I stain my red oak floor?

Stain your oak flooring one shade lighter if it was stained a medium brown to reduce red tones. You can never run out of options with red oak because it takes stains well.

How do you make red oak floors look modern?

Try colors like antique white or light grey colors if you need light floors. If your red oak floor has been stained with darker colors, opt for antique white walls or grey cabinets to keep the room a bit lighter.

Can red oak floors look modern? 

Yes, they can. You can make floors appear white by bleaching them with oxygen wood bleach available in hardware stores. You can also borrow ideas from decor magazines and mix different stains to give the floors the look of your dreams. Refinishing floors regularly helps to make them look modern.

Conclusion

Never rush when selecting a stain for oak floors. Take your time before settling on any stain because once you apply it, it’ll stay with you for a while, as removing it takes effort.

The best stain stains for red oak floors should keep the floors looking elegant and allow the wood grain to shine through, revealing the wood’s natural beauty.

Our top pick is DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain. It’s effortless to use, dries quickly, is affordable, and gives you excellent colors.

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