Do you prefer Dark or Light?

Do you prefer dark . . .

Or light . . . ?

Images from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

I have less than a week to make this decision and I need your help.  See, I know that dark will potentially show more dirt, dust, and pet hair (of course, we don’t have any pets and we aren’t planning on getting any in the foreseeable future–sorry!).  But I also love the richness of it.  And with the light option, well, considering that our floors are 3/8″ thick red oak, I’m just worried that they’ll end up looking too orange-y over time and I know I don’t like that.  But we had light floors in our old condo, and they did hide dirt pretty well.  What to do, what to do.  Sorry to be going over this again, but it’s a BIG decision, and I don’t want to make it too hastily.

Although, I have made one decision at least–the refinishing method.  Most hardwood floors nowadays get refinished with one coat of stain (if changing the color) and then three coats of polyurethane–that’s called a gym-floor finish.  However, back in the day floors were treated with a penetrating oil and then waxed.  Both are good finishes, but the penetrating oil and wax combo has the added benefit of being especially durable.  For instance, if you have stained floors with polyurethane and you somehow scratch your floors, well, since the stain is only on the surface, you’ll have to have the whole area redone.  However, with a penetrating oil, the stain is soaked deep into the wood, so scratches won’t show.  Plus, if the floors need to be touched up, you just have to buff them with a new coat of wax instead of stripping the old poly and applying new poly.  So, with all that said, we’ve decided to go with a penetrating oil combined with a wax finish.  Sidenote: I wanted to use Rubio Monocoat, a no-VOC one-coat finish from Belgium, but no refinishers in the Buffalo area have used it before, and the Mr. and I are not up to doing something this big on our own.  BUT, with that being said, anyone out there used Monocoat and had success?  If so, do share!

So while making at least one decision is most definitely a step in the right direction, that still doesn’t help me with the color decision.  Luckily, our hardwood guy came over and did up some samples for us:

All three of these were one coat of Duraseal Penetrating Finish with a coat of polyurethane (not quite dry yet, hence the blotchiness and sort of wet look in the dark brown option).  Now, he didn’t have any wax with him (nowadays apparently not many people know enough to ask for it, but he used the stain and wax method in his own home and loves the results), so he just used some poly to show me how that looked (this was before I had decided on wax).

The color on the left is Antique Brown.

The middle is Natural:

And the right is either Golden Brown or Chestnut (I’m not sure which and since it’s definitely my least favorite, I’m not sure it even matters):

Compared to the current shade of varnish orange, all are an improvement.

He also did a patch of just bare wood with polyurethane (instead of first using the Duraseal Natural and then poly):

It’s pretty similar to the current condition of the floor, although not as orange, but more honey-colored.  Still, over time, I’m worried that it will become orange.  UGH!  I can’t decide.  Here are some more angles:

So what do you think?  If you have an opinion, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  I need all the help I can get on this one.

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