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The Best Wood Stains for Oak

Today I want to share with you the best wood stains for oak. There are many different colors out there from many manufacturers. I have examples of top colors on pieces of oak for you to see exactly how they take each stain so you can decide which one is right for your project!

If you are anything like most people you stand at the hardware store trying to decide a color based on a half-inch strip of color across a can of stain. That’s not good!

Stain colors can vary widely depending on the type of wood that is used. Today I have gathered a couple of dozen colors from Varathane (Home Depot) and Minwax (Lowe’s) so that you can see exactly how each color will look on each wood.

I chose those brands because most people have access to them. I also provided links to purchase these colors from Amazon, and their respective stores when they weren’t available on Amazon.

Each photo you will see has not been altered in any way except for me to add text so you know which color is which. I took the photos in the sunshine on a white background so nothing would alter the undertones in the wood stain.

nine of the best stain colors for oak.

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.

Best Dark Wood Stains for Oak

The great thing about oak is it takes stains really well, especially dark stains.

four examples of dark stain colors for oak.

Minwax Dark Walnut and Jacobean are definitely the darkest that you will find for oak. I do also love the other two, Red Mahogany and Espresso.

My husband tore the carpet off our stairs and I refinished the oak treads. I used Jacobean on them so they matched the existing handrail and they look fantastic!

If you like the look of dark wood any of these would be a great stain color.

Best Medium Wood Stains for Oak

This is where the beauty of oak is showcased, in medium stain wood. You will see that you can really see the wood grain come through in these colors.

five examples of medium stain for oak.

All of these colors look amazing on oak. The only one I am not crazy about is Varathane Provincial. It has a little bit of that 90s orangey oak look to it which gives me bad flashbacks to my first house and the kitchen cabinets.

Another thing I want to note here is Varathane Classic Black is a medium color on oak. You would think because of the name that it would be very dark but in reality it doesn’t show that way.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous color. Just not as dark as I would have thought.

Best Light Wood Stains for Oak

As in the medium stain colors, the wood grain is really highlighted in these light stain colors. I think the color of the oak really comes through too.

four examples of light stain for oak.

Weathered Oak and Golden Oak are definitely the most true oak colors. I personally have a special place in my heart for Special Walnut. I like that it’s a touch darker but still showcases the gorgeous look of oak.

Best White Wood Stains

If you are looking for a light wood that has a white tint to it you can try to use a white stain on oak but I think you would be better off going for a pine, poplar, or whitewood for a project.

two examples of white stain for oak.

As you can see, the white stains don’t really show up on oak. There is some in the wood grain but not nearly as much as I had hoped.

Best Black Wood Stains

These black stains did not show black at all on oak. If you want your project to be dark I would go with Minwax Dark Walnut or Jacobean.

three examples of black stain on oak.

Varathane Classic Black is the only one that I can see any black in. The other two just look like medium-toned wood stains.

Best Gray Wood Stains

Like the white stains, I don’t think the grays work great on oak either.

four examples of gray stain colors for oak.

Varathane Gray Stone is the only one that I saw any gray in at all. The other three just look like light wood stains to me.

The Best Wood Stains for Oak

So here we are, the best of the best! Here are all the best wood stains, from my experiment, for oak. I would love to know which one of these is your favorite! Please let me know in the comments!

nine of the best stain colors for oak.

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