We love prefinished engineered hardwood. There are so many color choices and widths available and once it’s installed, it’s finished! But what if you have stairs?
There are solutions for stairs like using pieces the prefinished flooring to cover each step. If done correctly, this can look very nice, but we still prefer the look of a solid tread.
If you go the route of using solid unfinished treads paired with your prefinshed flooring, it can sometimes be tricky to match them. However, we’ve done this several times and had great results.
In this article, I’m going to share my experience and some tips that will hopefully save you some time and headaches.
Choose the Right Species of Wood
The first step to matching stair treads to prefinished flooring is using the same species of wood. This is very important because stains can look very different on different types of wood.
For example, in our new house, we are using Sea Smoke from ADM Flooring. It is a beautiful European White Oak. So we made sure and order white oak stair treads. If we would have ordered red oak treads, it would be impossible to hide the pink color of the red oak unless I used a really dark stain. Since our flooring is light-colored, this was not an option.
Choose the Right Stain
Finding the right stain is the most difficult part. When we were building our current house, I think I bought every small can of Minwax stain I could find at Lowe’s. And I think I tried every possible mixture and combination. But nothing was coming close to matching our flooring.
So I took a closer look at a piece of our Padua flooring from ADM Flooring and noticed that the finish and protective layer on top had a bit of opaqueness to it. That’s when it hit me! I needed a semi-transparent stain.
Back to Lowes, I went. This is a common occurrence for me when we’re building a house.
I located a line of semi-transparent stains by Olympic and chose one called Pearl Gray. After applying it to one of the treads, I could see that it was adding the right amount of opaqueness, but Pearl Gray was too light for Padua. So, back to Lowes, I went one more time. I found another color called Driftwood and it was a near-perfect match!
And turns out, I didn’t waste any money by purchasing that can of Pearl Gray. I discovered it is a perfect match for the flooring we put in the new house, which is Sea Smoke from ADM Flooring.
Apply the Right Amount of Stain
With semi-transparent stains, it’s important to control how much you apply. To do this, it’s best to apply the stain with a cloth. That way you can wipe off excess if you see that you are putting on too much.
Sea Smoke has a whitewash look. By using a cloth, I was able to wipe the stain on and achieve a very similar look. Some of the stain gathers in the grain and on the smoother parts of wood, it wipes off.
Once I had the right amount of stain on the treads, I applied a coat of polyurethane, lightly sanded, and then applied another coat of poly.