December 11, 2021

Variations in Finish

In order to enjoy and appreciate the finished wood in your new home a basic understanding of the characteristics of wood is helpful.
Every piece of wood is distinct and there are many factors that influence this. The most important is the growing conditions, such as moisture, soil and exposure to sunlight. These factors influence the colour and grain pattern in wood. Different types of wood have different grain patterns. For example red oak has a prominent open grain while maple is a closed-grained wood.

These natural variations in wood can cause colour variations when stain finishes are applied and are part of the natural beauty of wood and are normal. For purchasers who want a more uniform finish (i.e. want to minimize the visibility of the variation in the natural colour of wood) we recommend either a solid colour finish or a wood type with a more uniform or closed grain appearance with a stain finish such as maple. For those who prefer the look of wood in a more natural form we recommend a wood type with a stain finish such as oak.

Combining Site and Factory Finished Wood

Some hardwood products are finished in the factory (floors, cabinets) while others are finished on site during the construction process (mantles, staircases). This is important to understand because stain variations will occur in a factory finished product compared to a site finished product. For example, an oak hardwood floor in a medium stain that is factory finished will not exactly match an oak hardwood stair in as medium stain that is site finished. As such, site stain and factory stain matches are not exact but they can complement each other. However, do not be discouraged by this. The variance in stain appearance on different products of the same wood material (e.g. maple hardwood staircase and maple hardwood floor) is what makes a home unique. A hardwood maple staircase in your home will look different from your neighbour’s hardwood maple staircase. This element of variance provides a unique flare and style to interior feel of every home.

Staining Maple on Site Finished Product

Many of the flooring samples in the Design Centre are prefinished maple where the stain is applied in the factory (not site finished). Pre-finished maple floors are very popular due to the look and durability. While maple floors are beautiful one has to consider the finish and appearance of the other hardwood items in the home such as railings, spindles, hardwood stairs and fireplace mantle. Remember, Tartan’s hardwood floors are factory finished whereas hardwood stairs, railings and mantles are site finished.

Current Trends

Hardwood floors with a rustic look with a hand scrapped or wire brushed appearance are very popular. However, one must understand a factory finished hardwood flooring sample showing a hand scrapped finish appearance cannot be duplicated on the staircase, railings or spindles. The variance in wood types and finishing applications make an exact duplication impossible.

There is no set “rule” that applies to the finish of wood products. Some may choose maple hardwood and a maple staircase with oak railings and spindles and fireplace mantle. Others may prefer the look of an all maple finish and select maple floors, maple hardwood staircase and maple railing and spindles. It simply comes down to individual preference. It is important to remember is the following:

  1. Different woods have different grain patterns and characteristics
  2. When stain is applied to different wood types the look can vary as different wood types receive stain in a different way
  3. When the same stain is applied to the same wood type but the wood finish is different (i.e. a maple site finished hardwood staircase and a factory finished maple flooring) the appearance of the stain will vary.
  4. The variance in stain finishes is what makes a home unique.

We encourage you to discuss this matter with your Design Centre Consultant.



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