Choosing the Stain & Hardwood Floor Finish for Custom Milled White Oak Floors New Build with Bona Certified Craftsman – A Series – Part 3


Hello.  I am ‘Just Being Jessica’, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the word Connoisseur.  Now- typically when you or I would hear the word Connoisseur- it would be safe to say that what immediately comes to mind is someone who really Really REALLY enjoys their wine.  Now, I am NOT a wine connoisseur (please continue reading and don’t unfollow me! Ha!) and chances are I probably never will be (hope this doesn’t disappoint you!).   I realized though, that after working with Bona and Wood Floor Designs for the past few months of our hardwood flooring project at our new construction, #thelaydenlegacy, that a Hardwood Flooring Connoisseur is what I have actually became.  And surprisingly- the hardwood flooring installation and refinishing process DID NOT require me to drink more wine- I know–even I was so surprised that it was actually a seamless process from start to finish, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

You see, before my hardwood flooring project, the only kind of “stains” I was even generally interested in were Lip Stains from Sephora, Ulta, and Walmart– but people can change (I’m living proof of that!).  When I started working with Bona, Wood Floor Designs, and Scalese Millworks to install and refinish our hardwood floors- I dove right in and learned everything I possibly could about hardwood staining.  Along the way I learned to appreciate the artistry that goes into crafting amazing wooden floors.  It truly is a work of art from start to finish, and it is a process I was so humbled and privileged to not just witness but fully immerse myself in!

Now, I’m sure you probably did NOT stumble upon this post in search of my favorite lip stains- I’ll be sharing those in a future post…. and I’m pretty certain that the fact that you arrived on my space  in the first place is because you are looking for help in regards to reviving and refinishing- or installing your own real hardwood floors– and if so, this post is going to help you A LOT.  Frankly- I did ALL the work so you don’t have too.  Prop up your feet, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, and as you read the remainder of my hardwood flooring journey, I hope you will find the answers you’re looking for.


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  1. Choose a Custom Mill to manufacture the product. I share my process of finding a custom mill in this post.
  2. Select Wood Species, Sawn Cut, and Width Size.  I go into detail about hardwood in this post.
  3. Find a Bona Certified Craftsman (BCC).  You can find a contractor through this link.
  4. The BCC will sand, stain, and finish the hardwood floor.  You can find inspiration for your floors through this link.


  1. Find a Bona Certified Craftsman.  You can find a BCC through this link.
  2. The BCC will sand, stain, and finish the hardwood floor.  You can find hardwood flooring inspiration through this link.


For what my opinion is worth, these are the factors I kept in mind as I made my final stain and finish selections. When selecting your hardwood species, select your species based on what wood you like without any kind of stain applied.  Hardwood is a lifelong investment, and it’s best to consider what the wood color is in its’ natural state.  A question I’ve been asked a lot is why did I choose white oak over red oak?  Red oak has a pinkish tint whereas white oak is a bit browner and more yellow.  If you stain them, the difference does decrease so if you definitely want a stain, it may be more economical to choose red oak over white.  Red oak also has a more character than white oak which means it can conceal imperfections better over time. White oak has a smoother less busy look and feel.  White oak is currently a bit more expensive than red oak.

  1. Light wood is less maintence than dark wood.  I think it’s safe to say that most people that have lived in homes with both dark and light hardwoods would confirm that light wood is easier to maintain.  It shows less dust and dirt.  Scratches, dents, and imperfections are also more concealed over time.
  2. Lighter neutral wood is timeless and never goes out of style.  I am currently living in a home that is over 50 years old!  It still has original red oak flooring and it’s still beautiful.  My sister built a home over 15 years ago.  She also chose to install an oak floor.  It is still as beautiful and timeless today!  My point is- light floors are classic, timeless, and neutral.  They add value and appeal to a home, and never go out of style.
  3. It is easier to go darker than lighter.  Now, say you’re on the fence… I will equate this next statement to hair dye.  Once you go too dark, it’s so difficult to go lighter.   The same applies to hardwood.  Yes, it can be done but it is not an easy process.


So I’m sure you probably won’t believe me if you’ve been following my blog for awhile (because you know how hard it is for me to make any decision house related), but I seriously made the decision regarding my hardwood stain color in 10 minutes. (Okay– I may or may not have made a lifeline call to my interior designer Andrea West Design in that ten minutes. Ha.)  But really- this was something I stressed and stressed over prior to starting this entire hardwood flooring process.  AND… this is where the professionals came in and truly took the stress away.  Wood Floor Designs provided swatches on the stain colors I was interested in on my 5 inch oak floors.  From those samples, I was able to decide rather quickly the look and feel I was going for.

Now I’m sure you’re probably wondering if you’re just getting started in this process where do you go for inspiration.  This is where Bona Inspiration is useful.  By going to this page you can see a sampling of what colors of Stain bona offers.  As you can see the sky is the limit regarding the stain colors you could choose.

If you hire a BCC for your hardwood flooring project, they really do all the work so you don’t have too.  In the end, I decided to go with one coat of Bona Natural Seal.  It gave my white oak a fresh and modern look, yet is was still a timeless sealer that really showcased the beauty of the wood.  I have no regrets.


After using the Bona Natural Seal, my floors were finished with two coats of Bona Traffic HD.  This really wasn’t even a question as there is no other comparable product on the market. It is simply the best product made for protecting your hardwood flooring investment.  It is wonderful for low or high traffic areas… homes that have pets and/or kids.  Because the Bona Traffic HD is a waterborne based product, it keeps your wood or stain the closest to its’ natural color, and it is safer for your family and the environment because it has a low VOC.  Because your hardwood encompasses the most square footage in our home, a safe product for my family was a number one concern!


Wow! I can’t believe that my hardwood flooring project has come to an end.  Please stay tuned to see the completion of the #thelaydenlegacy!  I’m so glad you’re following our journey home.  I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.  And in case you’re just joining me now- please check out my other posts in my Hardwood Floor Series.

Part 1

Part 2 










































This post was written in collaboration with Bona and Wood Floor Designs.  As always, all opinions are my own.  Some photography was was provided by Planful Marketing and Photography by Amanda Wilson.



  1. Bonnie
    January 9, 2020 / 10:49 am

    What stain did you pick?

    • Heather
      July 16, 2020 / 12:26 pm

      She selected Bona Natural Seal topped with Bona Traffic HD water based polyurethane. But I need to know what finish she chose for the poly, is this semi-gloss? (It also comes in ultra matte and satin.)

      • Jessicalayden
        September 24, 2020 / 7:24 pm

        I believe it was the Satin Finish. I need to check with the company.

  2. kristin m dickinson
    December 12, 2020 / 1:34 pm

    IS this the Traffic HD Satin or Matte? I need to decide today for our floors.

    • Jessicalayden
      January 28, 2021 / 3:07 pm

      Satin! Follow me on instagram @jessicalayden to get a more prompt response to your questions!

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