How to Make a DIY Gray-Aged White Oak Stain for Hardwood Floors

Did you know that you can stain your hardwood floors using certain household products?

It’s a great way to limit your exposure to VOCs by staining the floor with an all-natural solution, instead of harsh chemicals.

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Here’s how you can easily stain a floor using white vinegar and steel wool to achieve a gray-aged look:

You can give your white oak floors an aged look by staining them with iron acetate. Iron acetate is easily created by soaking steel wool in white vinegar.

Let the vinegar and steel wool sit overnight to three days. (You can also use nuts and bolts instead of steel wool.) Strain the mixture several times. Apply the stain to the floor using rags or a brush.

Because this is a reactive mixture, the effect is dependent on the amount and types of extractives in the wood that you apply it to, but it should result in a gray-aged look.

A floor stained with iron acetate should be finished with dewaxed shellac, oil-modified urethane, or conversion varnish.

This homemade floor stain works best on white oak floors. Before using the stain, remove previous coats of finish by sanding the floors. The results will vary, and depend on the amount of extractives in the wood, as well as the presence of previous stains.

Always test out your stain in an inconspicuous area of the room and monitor the results before applying it to the entire floor.

For any questions, speak with our wood flooring experts at (800) 787-1786 or

2 thoughts on “How to Make a DIY Gray-Aged White Oak Stain for Hardwood Floors

  1. Grace Perez

    I am hoping you guys can give me some advice. I really love and appreciate your tutorial videos and blog! We have 1950’s hardwood floors. Looks like red oak but not 100% sure. They are sanded down and ready to finish. We are looking for gray distressed. Thinking about iron acetate but maybe a white wash on top and then a top coat. Or maybe we will go with a gray floor paint whitewash (gray wash) and a top coat. What are your suggestions. We also need recommendations for the topcoat. Thinking about waterborne poly like Bona Traffic, Bona Traffic HD or Streetshoe?

    1. City Floor Supply Post author

      You can try Iron Acetate in a small area. Typically this solution is used on white oak. It’s a pretreatment that reacts with the tannins and they are most prevalent in White Oak. A DuraSeal Gray style stain may get you to the same result and can be easily coated with the finishes you mention. Bona does have a paint / stain mix typically used on gym floors that you would have to buff in. his could then also be coated with their Traffic HD


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