When it comes to updating the look of wood floors, homeowners are embracing ash blondes, driftwood grays, and transparent, whitewashed tones. These popular pale hues have a practical side, too: They’re better than dark wood finishes at hiding dirt and crumbs. If you aren’t in the market for new flooring, you can get the look by refinishing—and any species of solid-wood flooring is a candidate. Sanding off the old finish is the starting point; then you’ve got two choices. The easy route—and one you could do yourself—is to apply a pigmented penetrating oil like Rubio Monocoat. This kind of oil needs only one coat, is walk-on dry in 24 to 36 hours, and dries to a matte finish. Durability depends on usage, but expect to go a year or more before adding a new coat to maintain the finish. The more involved option—generally best done by a pro—is a multicoat system with water-based pigmented stain or sealer, followed by two or three coats of water-based finish. It’s more labor-intensive, and, while the coats are fast-drying, it’ll be a few days before you can walk on your floors. The upside? Longer-lasting protection. To ensure finish compatibility, just be sure your floor refinisher sticks with a single manufacturer. Bona and DuraSeal are two that offer myriad options.
Shown: Starting from scratch? Engineered wood flooring with a driftwood finish is a popular choice.
Thanks to: Brent Miller, vice president for education and certification, National Wood Flooring Association. Katie Allen, director of marketing, Lumber Liquidators. Zack Clavin, strategic product manager, Bona.