11 Best Gray Wood Stain Options in 2023

11 Best Gray Wood Stain Options in 2023

If you are building a new house or renovating an old one, one of the primary considerations is the flooring. And while there are many affordable options, we all love wood flooring. Whether you want interior or exterior wood flooring or paneling, you must also consider wood stains.

Selecting wood stains is as challenging as picking paint colors, sometimes even more difficult. You would be amazed at the many available choices, which may cause you to take too long to decide. So, how do you pick wood stains, especially gray wood stains as they are hugely popular? Let’s look at some excellent ones from Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore.

What Are Wood Stains?

Wood stains are paint types designed specifically to color wood. They are made up of colorants that are suspended in a solvent or vehicle. The term ‘vehicle’ is the better term to use because all the ingredients that make up a wood stain may not dissolve.

Consequently, some of the ingredients become suspended. In such a case, the vehicle, commonly called a solvent, is not a true solvent because it is unable to dissolve all the ingredients. Wood stains come in many colors, almost as many as the traditional paint colors for walls and other uses. Therefore, you are sure to find a color that matches your specific needs.

Wood stains do more than just beautify the wood. They also provide adequate protection for the wood, acting as a layer between the wood and the elements. In other words, wood stains protect wood from too much heat, moisture, and insect infestations in some cases.

Types of Wood Stains

There are seven types of wood stains you will find in the market, whether you are looking for interior or exterior ones. The one you choose will depend on the particular look you are going for and your budget.

1. Water-based

Water-based wood stains are one of the most popular and best-selling because of their ease of use. Such a wood stain is affordable and ideal for beginners because of how easy it is to apply. It also dries very quickly and is easy to maintain. Best of all, it contains little or no volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), so you can use it inside the house.

2. Oil-based

Another popular wood stain type is the oil-based one. Like the water-based type, it is easy to apply but can be more versatile in its usage. This means that you can use it indoors or outdoors, although you may benefit more if used on the exterior. It also provides better protection than the other types.

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3. Gel-based

Gel-based wood stains are excellent on wood with tight grains, such as pine. Because of its design, you can apply it to wood without first sanding the wood and it will work well. This type is also the best for vertical surfaces and hides chips or damage well. Additionally, the stain protects the wood from heat and moisture.

4. Varnish

This type dries as fast as the water-based option and is just as easy to use. Varnish wood stains make for an even and smooth finish, protecting the wood from insects, moisture, and excessive heat that may lead to splitting.

5. Water-soluble Dye

You can easily buy this type of stain because it is affordable, and you will love it because of how easy it is to manipulate the color. In other words, you can still change the color even after application. Water-soluble dye wood stains do not contain VOCs and you can store them for a long time even after mixing them.

6. Metalized Dye

You can modify the properties of this type of wood stain once you change the base solution. That means the product can act differently once modified. It also means you can modify or improve the color if you want. It is relatively easy to use and affordable. In addition, it does not hide the wood grain.

7. Lacquer-based

This type of wood stain does not just stay on top of the wood as paint does. It penetrates deep into the wood to offer treatment and protection. The stain also adheres tightly to the wood surface and you can change the color. Unlike other types, it hardly ever causes blotching. Best of all, it is easy to apply and dries quickly.

What About Gray Wood Stains?

You will typically find water-based and oil-based gray wood stains. If you are going for oil-based gray wood stains, it is best to remember that such stains take too long to dry and may produce toxic fumes. It may be best to avoid using it indoors or ensure the place is properly ventilated. Besides, they ideally protect the wood outdoors from the elements.

However, they last long and absorb deep into the wood. Water-based wood stains, on the other hand, are best for inside the house because they give off less toxic fumes and easily dry. Also, they are easier to clean and maintain than oil-based wood stains. But they do not last as long as the other type, which may not be best for the outdoors.

You must also note that wood stains, whether they are gray or any other color, come in different opacities. There are five of them: solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. This refers to the amount of wood grain and texture that remains visible after painting the wood. The wood stain of choice will determine the result you get.

11 Best Gray Wood Stain Options to Inspire You

The following is a list of some of the best gray wood stains from Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore to guide your selection.

5 Best Sherwin Williams Gray Wood Stains

1. Woodsmoke Gray SW 3010

Solid exterior gray wood stain

This is a mid-tone gray color that gives a solid look. It is best for the exterior of the house, and it holds up well even under the most extreme weather. Woodsmoke Gray is just as the name says, and you can complement it with white trims. It has an RGB color code of 161, 159, and 148 respectively, with an LRV of 34.

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1. Woodsmoke Gray SW 3010
Source: houzz 

2. Flagstone SW 3023

Solid exterior gray wood stain

This is another solid gray stain color for the exterior of your house. It is a beautiful shade that transforms the look of your deck or dock. You cannot go wrong with this color, even if the deck looks worn out and unsightly.

As long as the wood is still intact, trust Flagstone to make it as good as new. It has an RGB color code of 112, 108, and 101 respectively, and comes with an LRV of 15.

2. Flagstone SW 3023
Source: twitter

3. Coastal Gray DB 2114

Semi-transparent gray wood stain

It may be that you do not want to cover the beautiful grain of the wood on your flooring. Coastal Gray is a sophisticated color that is semi-transparent. This means the wood stain reveals some of the wood grain, which only makes the color look natural. You will also find this wood stain in beige, and you can use it for interiors and exteriors.

3. Coastal Gray DB 2114
Source: akdo 

4. Rustic Gray SW 3133

Semi-transparent interior wood stain

Like all great wood stains, Rustic Gray is a striking gray color that allows you to see the beauty of the wood grain under it. This is because of its semi-transparent nature. If nothing else seems to work, it is best to try this wood stain color for your interior wood paneling or flooring. You will find Rustic Gray in Pine, oak, and Birch grains to beautify your house.

4. Rustic Gray SW 3133

5. Gray Birch SW 3013

Solid gray wood stain

This wood stain option is for the exterior of your house, and it provides complete coverage. If you do not mind covering the wood grain but want a total coating over the wood, Gray Birch is one wood stain to try. You can use it on your deck or dock, or switch it up to the exterior walls of a house. This stain has an LRV of 38, and an RGB color code of 162, 166, and 164 respectively.

5. Gray Birch SW 3013
Source: yellowbrickhome

6 Best Benjamin Moore Gray Wood Stains

1. Normandy 2129-40

Semi-transparent gray wood stain with a hint of blue

This wood stain comes in semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid opacities. So, you have the option of picking one based on what you want to see. If you are a fan of seeing some of the wood grain and texture, the semi-transparent option is ideal.

But if you want some coverage or complete coverage, choose the semi-solid or solid option. Normandy has an LRV of 21.73 and an RGB color code of 109, 126, and 137 respectively.

1. Normandy 2129-40
Source: thepaintshop

2. Georgetown Gray ES-77

Mid-tone gray wood stain with a hint of blue

Georgetown Gray is similar to Normandy in that it has a hint of blue and comes in three opacities. However, it performs differently by not showing too much blue and is perfect for the exterior of your house.

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Note that the more opaque a wood stain is, the more the color changes. So, you may find that the semi-translucent Georgetown Gray looks less gray and blue than the semi-solid and solid options. Georgetown Gray has an RGB color code of 127, 135, and 134 respectively.

2. Georgetown Gray ES-77

3. Chelsea Gray HC-168

Gray wood stain with brownish-violet undertones

Just like the popular paint color, Chelsea Gray wood stain is a beautiful shade of gray that brooks no argument. It comes in three opacities: semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid.

You can use it inside and outside the house, although it looks best on deck and exterior walls. Chelsea Gray has an RGB color code 13, 132, and 124 respectively, with an LRV of 23.33.

3. Chelsea Gray HC-168
Source: pinterest

4. Platinum Gray HC-179

Mid-tone gray wood stain with slightly green undertones

If you consider Chelsea Gray too dark or stained for your style, you may want to try Platinum Gray. It is a mid-tone gray that performs well on the exterior as well as the interior.

You will also find it in three opacities as the others on our list, so there are several options. Platinum Gray has an LRV of 39.64, significantly higher than that of Chelsea Gray, with an RGB color code of 169, 168, and 162 respectively.

4. Platinum Gray HC-179

5. Ashland Slate 1608

Blue-gray wood stain color

If you want a bright deck and a crisp look even in the brightest sunlight, Ashland Slate is your best bet. As a slate hue, it has an undeniable blue shade, although it is predominantly gray.

It is a stable color that brooks no argument and looks splendid in every area outside the house. Ashland Slate has an RGB color code of 105, 109, and 114 respectively, with an LRV of 16.12.

5. Ashland Slate 1608
Source: twitter

6. Amherst Gray HC-167

Dark gray wood stain with a hint of green

Although it typically has a slightly green undertone, Amherst Gray does not usually show it. For the most part, it will appear as a dark gray stain with no hues, which is what many of us want.

It is best to use it in the exterior of the house for the most ideal result. Amherst Gray has an LRV of 18.8 and an RGB color code of 117, 118, and 112 respectively.

6. Amherst Gray HC-167
Source: thepaintshop


Getting the right gray wood stain for interiors or exteriors should not be difficult. And that is why we have selected a few trustworthy ones from Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams to serve as a guide to picking different types of wood stains with various opacities.

Wood stains are also available in many colors, from black, gray, and white, to red, orange, and pink. All you have to do is use our guide to find the colors you want from these two brands. Remember that you need to decide the specific look and feel you want inside or outside, and the undertones in the stains. Use samples before making a final choice.

Let us know your thoughts and experience in the comments section.

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Hello, my name is April and I'm the creator of blacksburgbelle.com. I'm passionate about colors and painting, and my website is dedicated to exploring the world of paint and color.

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