Getting the Red Out of Red Oak

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Sep 28, 2023

For the past 30 years, red oak has established itself as a staple in American homes and buildings. It is extremely durable, with Northern red oak rating 1290 rating on the Janka Hardness Scale and Southern red oak rating 1060. It is widely available in the United States due to its fast growing rate – nearly 1-2 inches per year – making it accessible and affordable. Red oak offers many benefits, but what if red oak’s signature deep red color doesn’t resonate with you? Basic Coatings provides a simple solution rooted in color theory.

Color Wheel Concepts

Red oak’s natural color fills a room with warm hues. However, you can take advantage of red oak’s versatility without resigning to the traditional look of a red hardwood floor. While it might seem more suited to an art class subject, the science of the color wheel provides direction in how to obscure and remove the “signature red” of red oak flooring

Looking at the wheel to the right, take note of the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Follow the arrows pointing directly across from these colors, and you will notice “complimentary” colors. Complimentary colors are capable of masking their partnered primary colors. When working to remove red, green will be your color of choice. 

The depth of HyperTone Stains’ primary colors makes it easy to mix and create a green hue that will conceal red tones. Mixing 1 part of Blue and 4 parts of Yellow creates a green stain, then you take 1 part green and mix it into 140 parts White. This mixture creates an unusual pistachio-colored stain that is ideal for concealing red.

Bleached Appearance

Traditionally, the “bleached look” is achieved with actual bleach. While this method is effective, applying bleach directly to the surface causes a negative reaction with the natural pH of the wood, weakening the cellular composition. To achieve this light look on red oak without using bleach, mix 140 parts White with 1 part green (using the green hue mix formula above). This formula can be adjusted depending on the depth of the red within the oak.

Natural Wash

Mixing 20 parts White, 3 parts Onyx, 1 part Yellow, and 100 parts Clear Base provides a light, natural appearance, stripping the wood of red tones while highlighting the beauty of the grain pattern. 




Aged Barrel

Creating a traditional brown stain without red tones can be achieved by mixing 2 parts Slate, 1 part White, and 5 parts Neutral. The Neutral tone provides a light brown, complimented by the darker Slate hues, which helps mask stubborn red remnants. 




Pale Brown

3 parts Onyx, 1 part Yellow, and 40 parts Clear Base builds a light brown stain that easily cancels out red hues with Onyx and Yellow, leaving behind a light wood with a hint of brown. 




Staining a wood floor requires an understanding of the nature of your material and its qualities. From sanding to water popping, this Basic Coatings blog provides a list of considerations to help stain look consistent across the entire finished floor, including:

  • Sanding technique
  • Water popping
  • Finish application
  • The influence of wood grain

HyperTone Stains

Available in 14 colors for easy blending and color creation, HyperTone Stains' unique water/oil hybrid formula delivers unparalleled pigment quality, no matter the wood species. Basic Coatings' groundbreaking formula is non-flammable, meaning rags can be stored without the risk of combustion.

For more information about HyperTone Stains, click here. If you are considering modifying your hardwood floors with HyperTone Stains or any other Basic Coatings product, click here to connect with a Basic Coatings certified contractor.