When and why to use Black Japan stain or Limewash


Staining timber floors dark or using a lime wash paint on wooden floors will never cease to be an exciting experience for both — the home-owners and the floor finisher. Beautiful outcome at the end of the hard work is rewarding and worth all the noise, dust and smell. The flooring Industry offers a range of options and techniques on how to improve appearance, mood or colours of the floorboards.

In this article let’s see why and when staining or lime whitewashing of wooden floors makes sense.

1) The most common requirement

for a lime wash wood or chocolate floorboards is the bad appearance of an existing floor. The floor shows a number of defects, damages caused by everyday usage or it has natural marks such as gum veins, large knots and distinct grain.

Owners, bored with the old floor presentation are expecting the dark hardwood floor will solve most of the aesthetic issues. In this case, using a darker stain for example Feast Watson Black japan will develop floor into much better outcome.


2) Under similar category falls the situation

where the majority of the floor boards has been well-preserved, but the quality of the floor has been diminished by some unskilled repairs in the past. Variety of materials including plywood, wrong board sizes or species were used ( usually to replace termites affected planks.) If the budget is tight and will not allow for replacing all wrong species, then sanding and staining and creating beautiful dark wood floors could be a much cheaper way of repairing.


3) In another scenario, 

homeowners decided to remove an existing carpet in one part of the house and the exposed floor displayed different wood. Keeping the old floor boards appeared to be a great idea, but the wood grain was completely different to the adjacent lounge room floor. After finishing the floor with a clear varnish, the visual effect of two areas would have been just not good.

So instead of replacing a large section of the floor boards, using the lime wash paint or black Japan finish stain was a much cheaper alternative.

After sanding and finishing with a clear varnish, the visual effect of two mismatched floors would have been just not good. The lime wash paint or dark staining could be used instead of replacing the floor. Finish the entire area with a couple of protective coats.

4) Make limewashed floor  or dark flooring samples first.

Very good idea is to get your floor sander person to prepare your boards for staining and ask him to apply a small range of colour options directly onto your floor. Then wet a rug by adding a bit of moisture to your stained board. Instantly you will see the colour intensity very close to the one you will reach after the final coat. Then discuss with the tradesmen the possible outcome again.

Royal or French oak ?

Limewashed flooboards or dark wood floors ?

Beauty of limewashed floors

  • 5) The flooring guys often face challenges

    from their customers asking to colour match two relatively close wood species. Australian hardwoods like Blackbutt and Tallowood, Cypress pine and Kauri pine or Jarrah and Sydney blue gum are very similar in appearance. Sometimes the colours are so close that mixing a comparable stain would take a lot of effort.

    Every solid timber flooring darkens under the sunlight. Your perfect colour match today will not be the same in 18 months due to exposure of UV light. Unless your tradesman has years of experience producing a decent result would be the hardest task.

    6) We frequently come across situations in old buildings

    and heritage houses when one or several damaged boards have been replaced with non-matching wooden flooring. Some species are very hard to obtain these days such as King William Pine, hoop pine or imported timbers. Using the correct floor stain and close relative timber with similar grain is the best alternative.

    In the past 10 years we have been seeing people falling in love with the dark floorboards. Australian native timber doesn’t display dark brown tones. The import of exotic timbers like walnut or Wenge are sparse, infrequent and expensive. We often see our clients purchase brand-new tongue and groove Blackbutt or Spotted gum floors and turn them into dark timber flooring or lime washed timber. 

7) Easy to limewash timbers. Simple wood for dark oak flooring

Some Australian hardwoods are coping with the Black Japan stain or lime wash from Bunnings better than others. Amongst the most popular timber species in Sydney are Blackbutt, Spotted gum, American oak, Tasmanian oak. They accept stain easily and they result in stunning royal oak floor, black hardwood floors or dark grey flooring.

Dark wood floor

What are the most popular species for to stain?

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The Baltic pine, Black butt and Spotted gum are the most popular species in Sydney

Limewashed floor


What is the easiest timber to limewash?

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American oak, European oak Australian black butt are excellent hardwoods to produce a stunning white lime wash finish

Thist is a job in Newtown. The customer requested filling gaps with white filler before the limewashing

8) Difficult timbers

Cypress pine and Radiata pine on the other hand belong to more problematic species handling the stain or limewash. The high content of resin or extreme absorbency creates uneven finish. However, every popular paint manufacturer has a solution how to create beautiful white lime washed floors or dark walnut floors. The high quality and popular products are the limewash from Bunnings, or Porters and Feast Watson’s Black japan or Prooftint.

Everyone loves staining ! The black Japan goes absolutelly everywhere !

9) Cheaper alternatives: dark wood laminate flooring or limewash laminate

If everything fails, your existing floor has been too damaged for re-sanding and re-polishing and the repair would be to costly, a cheaper option may be installation of pre-finished floating floor ( laminate or engineered ).