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Special Walnut Vs. Dark Walnut: Which Stain To Choose?

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Determining the right stain color for your wood furniture can be tough. It's almost as if all stains match your project, and they all have their own unique charm that can improve their look. So, how do you choose between two great stain options? Should you choose special walnut or dark walnut? We have researched the answer for you!

Both special walnut and dark walnut are beautiful wood stains, and what you choose will ultimately depend on your style preferences. Special walnut has a warm, medium brown tone that will pair excellently with rustic and homey designs, while dark walnut has a sleek dark brown color with golden highlights that makes it perfect for a sophisticated and timeless aesthetic.

There are many things to consider when deciding what stain goes best in a specific piece of furniture. Although both stains look good, they will pair better with specific styles in certain interiors. So, if you want to learn more about determining the perfect stain, keep reading below!

Collaged photo of special walnut and dark walnut, Special Walnut Vs. Dark Walnut: Which Stain To Choose?

Benefits of Dark Walnut Stain

Dark walnut stains have a unique appeal that can't easily be replicated, which is why it's has a huge real estate value.

Modern contemporary kitchen with hardwood flooring and white cabinets and matching white granite countertops

Although the trends today lean towards more neutral stains, you can't deny that darker stains have a more opulent appeal that reminds you of huge and elegant ballrooms in antique mansions. 

Here are the benefits of opting for dark walnut stains on your project.

Read: "What Color Furniture Goes With Wood Floors? [11 Options]."

Masks Stains and Dirt Better

Whether you're staining furniture or flooring, dark walnut stains are better at camouflaging dirt and stains. This is ideal if you have pets or toddlers who often have messy paws and hands--your fixtures will remain looking polished and neat.

However, you still need to clean them regardless of how well they hide dirt so they won't get damaged.

Elegant and Timeless

White countertops and dark walnut hidden cabinets

Dark walnut stains have a timeless appeal that cannot easily be replicated by other stains. After many years, they will have an elegantly aged look that will further highlight the natural beauty of the wood.

This is because darker colors emphasize the wood grains better, making them look more sophisticated. Having dark wood stains is essentially an investment since they eventually sell for more compared to lighter stains.

Read: "What Color Dining Table For Dark Wood Floors?"

Does Not Fade Easily

Dark walnut stains do not fade easily, even if you put them against large windows where sunlight can easily penetrate. This is ideal if you live in a sunny area and would like to utilize natural light.

This is also one of the reasons why they have a bigger value compared to other stains. The stain can withstand wear and tear, and the color will retain its rich hue even after years of heavy traffic.

Drawbacks of Dark Walnut Stain

Of course, even the most popular stains have their drawbacks that you need to consider. Weigh each factor and see if it fits your lifestyle. Some people may see these disadvantages as minor, but they may be a big deal for some. 

Here are drawbacks of dark walnut stains to think about.

Prone to Scratching

Worker vanishing the walnut cabinet

Scratches are visible against any dark finish. Dark walnut stains are prone to them, as well as sole marks and fingerprints. If you live with pets or toddlers, this is something you need to consider. 

To reduce this, you can apply a satin finish over the dark stain. Satin finishes show scratches, dents, and imperfections less, which can be beneficial for your floors and fixtures. 

Makes the Room Appear Smaller

If you plan on applying dark walnut stain on your floors, this can make the space look smaller. This may not be ideal in small rooms and apartments. However, this can be beneficial if the room has a large space. The dark wood stain is grounding, making the space seem more intimate.

Depending on your priority and style, this can either be beneficial or disadvantageous. 

Doesn't Hide Light-colored Dirt Well

Although dark stains hide stains and dark-colored dirt well, they show light-colored dirt fairly easily. This includes spills, dust, and food flakes. 

However, this can actually be advantageous if you want to make sure your floors and fixtures are really clean, and they don't just look clean. 

Benefits of Special Walnut Stain

Luxurious huge kitchen with off white cabinets, white countertops and hardwood flooring

Special walnut stains have a warm brown tone that is reminiscent of country homes. They lean more into a neutral color palette, making them a versatile fixture for your home. Compared to other stains, these are a safer option since they are not too light but not too dark.

Here are some benefits of incorporating special walnut stains. 

Fits Any Color Scheme

Different textures of walnut laminated flooring

Special walnut stains are lighter than dark walnut stains. This makes them more aesthetically versatile as they can accommodate a wider range of color schemes.

You can go for this stain if you want to have more options about the design you want. Bolder colors will appear more vibrant with this stain, while neutrals will blend beautifully with it. 

It is easier to create a cohesive design with special walnut stains. Although it may be not as opulent-looking as darker stains, you can design the space in a way that makes it appear elegant. 

However, you can lean into its effortlessly comfortable appeal and opt for more cozy designs.

Has a Rustic Appearance

If you plan on applying this stain to your flooring, special walnut stains can give your space a cozy and rustic look. It's not as dark as dark walnut stains, so it can also make your room appear brighter as long as there's a natural light source.

One of the aesthetic advantages of special walnut stain is that it doesn't have red or orange tints that can sometimes look dated. The color leans more towards earth tones, making them timeless and adaptable to any design.

This is perfect if you want your home to look cozy but without the visual warmth that some wood with red undertones has.

Increases the Value of Homes

Special walnut stains increase your home's real estate value. Because of its aesthetic versatility and durability, special walnut will only look better as it ages. 

Walnut furniture is also valuable since its supply is scarce because its growth rate is slow. Of course, you still need to maintain it to retain its value. 

Drawbacks of Special Walnut Stain

A special walnut dining table with green Nordic chair at a spacious kitchen

Of course, advantages come with disadvantages as well. Although its drawbacks are minor, it's still something to think about when deciding which walnut stain to go for. 

Looks Less Polished and Elegant

Compared to dark walnut stains, special walnut has a more rugged look by itself. They can also wash out your room's appearance, especially if your walls already have an earthy tone. 

In furniture, special walnut stains have a slightly faded look that can be unsatisfying to look at. However, this can be remedied with a satin finish. 

Requires a Sealant

After years of usage, you'll need to apply a sealant over walnut wood--especially lighter stains such as special walnut. The color of the special walnut needs to be retained, and a sealant is required for this.

Although the stain can be considered as the first coat, you still need to apply an actual sealant so that the wood panels won't get separated. 

Is Walnut the Strongest Wood?

Minimalist inspired TV console with white top

Walnut is a highly durable wood that creates strong furniture and flooring. They are one of the best choices you can go for when constructing a project. However, some types of wood score slightly higher than walnut wood.

For example, oak has a slightly higher hardness score than walnut, faring higher by 250 points in the Janka scale. However, walnut wood is more sought-after because of its rarity and straight grain. 

How much does Walnut wood cost?

A dark colored dark walnut chair inside a living room

Walnut wood slabs can cost you around $3,000. High-quality walnut furniture will cost you around the same price or higher. The flooring costs around $9 per square foot, totaling for around $2,600. 

The high cost is essentially an investment because walnut is prized for its workability, aesthetic, and strength. They have a very smooth finish, making them ideal to use for furniture, flooring, and even musical instruments.

Final Thoughts

Collaged photo of special walnut and dark walnut

Choosing the right stain for your walnut furniture or flooring can be tricky, but knowing what design and atmosphere you want will make the process easier.

As with all projects, maintenance is key to retaining its luster and consistently letting it add value to your home.