We're Testing Stains Again?

Yup. That's right. We're testing floor stains again. It's not like I haven't already tested dozens of colors and combinations or anything when we started working on the kitchen over 2 years ago. But we've been really unsatisfied with the coverage of the water-based Varathane floor stain (very inconsistent color)

And the Minwax sealer is just ridiculously terrible. I mean, your toenail can scratch the shit out of it. Seriously

Now that we're ready to stain the floors in the front room we figured we might as well get the stain situation straightened out now.

I headed out to our go to hardwood store and resource, MacBeath in Berkeley for their advice. The guys who worked there all were not a fan of Minwax and said that they would never use it in their own homes. They said it was poor quality, uneven, and didn't give great coverage or protection. I hear lots of homeowners using Minwax, so I didn't know if we'd just had a bad experience or something, so I felt better when they said they didn't like it. I mean HATED it.

I asked what products they had and which ones they liked. We headed down the aisles and started talking about Zar. The salesman said the oil-based stain provided even, saturated and long lasting color. After talking with the sales guy for a while I decided to get a sample size of the Mocha stain and took it home

The first coat went on super smooth and even. I was immediately impressed

Our poor experience with Minwax and our Oak floors was that the grain soaked up all the pigment in the stain, and the rest of the wood didn't really take to the stain at all. This resulted in uneven color and a really jarring difference in color between the grain and the rest of the wood. But the Zar stain really coated the wood evenly and had a really nice saturation of color (BTW, no perk or anything from Zar or MacBeath, we just wanted to give our honest opinion).

I let the first coat dry and actually really liked the quality and color of the stain after just that one coat

But I figured I'd try a second coat to see what it would look like

I brought the sample inside to see what it would look like against the original stain in the house (top) and the Gunstock we used in the kitchen (bottom)

In the end Chris and I both liked the color with just one coat as opposed to two coats, so I think that's what we'll be going with when we stain the front room (and down the line the rest of the house which will include re-doing the kitchen).

As for the sealer, Chris has heard some really great things about Fabulon products, so that's what we'll be going with when we seal it. Hopefully this round goes better than Round 1 with Minwax and Varathane.


Robin @ 3 acres & 3000 sf said...

Yeah my father who owned his own custom milwork shop for years refuses to even use a Minwax, Varathane, or any thing of the sort. We're probably going to be using Old Master's wiping stain, along with their sanding sealer, and possibly their poly too. You can find them at Hallman Lindsay stores among other places. He swears by the wiping stain if you want to match a color (between different ages or pieces of wood you'll get different colors, or trying to blend different types of wood).

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

This is good to know. I don't have a lot of experience staining, so Minwax is all I know. Next time I'll search my area for the product you recommended. Your sample looks fantastic.

meryl rose said...

Thanks ladies! And glad to know your dad doesn't approve either Robin! :)

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

I actually had good luck with Varathane, and Old Masters was very good as well. Not sure what our floor guy used, but it was all water-based I think. There are just too many choices...