What Stain Color Should I Pick for My Custom Floating Shelves?

stain colors for floating shelves

Make J Thomas Home Wood Shelves Your Own; They Fit with Almost Every Design Style!

Ordering wooden shelves online for your kitchen or bathroom can be tricky, especially when it comes to choosing the stain color that will look best in your space.

At J Thomas Home, we want to make your decision as painless as possible. Let’s take a look at the tips and tricks you can use to select the stain color for our custom floating shelves.

Matching vs. Complementing Wood Stains In Your Home

What are the different types of wood floating shelves are made from? Take a look around your home and consider the existing wood colors you have.

Your cabinetry and flooring are both the same type of wood, and a matching color, so should your floating wood shelves be the same, too? Maybe, but probably not! There can be too much of a good thing.

While matchy-matchy is great sometimes - and monochrome is generally on trend - what your room really needs is balance.

For example, if your kitchen has bright white cabinetry and white backsplash tiles with stainless steel appliances, you may want to warm up the space with a medium darker wood hue. This complements your color scheme, while guiding your eye through the space, adding interest and movement. Opting for a complimentary hue also prevents the dreaded “close, but not quite,” when trying to get an exact match.

Break away from the bland, and blend a few woods for balance in your space.

Choose from Our Standard Finish Options for Our Custom Floating Shelves

We offer a few standard finishes for our wood shelves. Remember that the stain color you choose will look different on various wood species. Always check the online swatch to see what you can expect your shelf to look like.

Our stain choices, from lightest to darkest, are:

  • Unstained, with or without a clear coat
    Choose from unfinished - without any treatment, or unstained with a clear satin top coat. Our customers sometimes order raw, unfinished wood if they already own the stain they want to use to match other elements in their space. The clear satin top coat shows off the natural look of the wood, while providing an element of protection.

    Our top coat is water-based so it will not turn yellow over time. Unstained pine, poplar, or maple will have a white or pale yellow finish; alder, red oak, or cherry have a light tan tone with a somewhat pink hue. White oak and walnut are the types of wood most commonly ordered with only the satin top coat.
  • Puritan Pine
    This stain gives a light yellow golden tone to wood.
  • Early American
    Our updated Early American formula is a golden light brown, the perfect way to add a little warmth to a white kitchen or bathroom.
  • Special Walnut
    A “just right” light brown color with a warmer undertone and slightly darker finish, special walnut is a popular stain color. It adapts nicely to nearly any wall color, and looks especially good against blues, grays, tans, or white.
  • Pecan
    Pecan is a medium-brown stain shade that brings out wood grain and character. It blends well with most wall colors, except light yellows.
  • Willowbend
    One of our most popular photos on Pinterest is of our farmhouse pipe shelves stained in Willowbend. It’s a cooler dark brown color with subtle gray undertones that complement blue or gray walls.
  • Espresso
    Choose this warm, super dark brown with a subtle hint of red. If you want almost black, this color is it.
  • Gray Wash
    Our gray wash stain is a weathered wash over the wood, so you see wood and wood grain underneath. It’s an even-toned gray that isn’t too much brown, green, blue, or purple, although it leans toward the cool blue range.
  • Carbon
    A dark, smoky, charcoal gray-black stain color is semi-transparent, so you can still see the wood. We can create a “true black” for you, if you’d like a darker, more opaque finish. Just contact us before placing your order.
  • Shabby white paint finish
    Our shabby white finish is a unique process that actually utilizes two paint colors to create a weathered, rustic look. First, we paint the shelving gray, and then apply the ultra white paint. Once dry, we sand the shelf just enough to allow the gray and wood grain to peek through. The process creates interest, depth, and movement, and no two shelves are exactly alike.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind About Stain Colors

A number of factors can play into how your custom floating shelves look with their wood stain. Keep these in mind:

  1. Allow for variances. Each piece of wood is unique! Different pieces of wood will have naturally-varying grain patterns, knots, coloring, and characteristics. The pecan shade on pine wood may look slightly different than a second piece, simply because of the variation in grain lines. Just know that our shelves are solid, real wood, and unique.
  2. Your computer screen or phone screen can display a slightly different color. Your screen setting and image quality can affect how light or dark you see an image. Lighting differences in photos, too, can affect how they appear. Keep this in mind when selecting a stain color and wood species. That’s why many of our customers select a complementary wood color, rather than attempting an exact match. Otherwise, you could end up with a “close but not quite” situation.
  3. You may wish to leave certain premium woods unstained. Some woods we don’t advise staining because they’re so gorgeous in their natural, raw state. White oak and walnut are two that come to mind.
  4. Maple has a closed grain. This can result in an uneven stain, but it actually looks very cool and weathered. Keep that in mind when selecting a stain for maple shelves.

How to Choose Your Finish

We make it easy to select the finish you want on your new floating wall shelves with hidden brackets. We advise you to look at the digital swatches available on each product listing for an idea of what to expect your new shelving to look like.

You can also take a look at our customer images online, on our portfolio pages on our website, customer testimonials on Google or Etsy, or even Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

If you want professional advice, send us a quick snapshot of your space - wherever the shelves will go - and we’ll provide a recommendation for a complementary wood type and color, or what size floating shelf to order. Don’t worry about cleaning up! We live in our house, too, and know what it’s like.

Still Have Questions?

We’re here to help you! Contact us on our website, and we’ll get back to you quickly to help you select the custom floating shelves to adorn your home.


  • J Thomas Home

    Hey Donna! Absolutely!! :) We’d love to see some photos of the spaces you’re looking to fill with shelves! We’d be happy to offer our recommendations! Feel free to send your photos to customerservice@jthomashome.com and we’ll let you know what we think! :)

  • Donna Novotny

    I just came across your website…. I love it! I need help…. Can I send you a picture of my tiny bathroom…. I need shelves bc I have no room…Also I need some sleeves on each side of my dining room cabinet. I just need advice. Can I send pictures of my rooms & maybe help w my kitchen too🙏. Thank you! Donna N from Lafayette nj

  • Emily, Owner

    Hi Edward! Thanks for reaching out. I’ve just emailed you directly to get a little bit more information (what depth out from the wall you are looking for, in what thickness, and wood type/finish). With that, I’ll gladly provide you with a quote. Thanks so much!! Looking forward to hearing from you, soon.

  • Edward Van. Mierlo

    Can I get a floating shelf 70 inches long

  • Emily Lorg, Owner

    Hi Melissa! Thanks for reaching out! I just emailed you directly, but in case others are wondering, if you are able to snag the shelf sizes you need directly off of our website, and they for some reason no longer work in your space, we do allow returns. Please visit our Shipping and Returns page, here: https://www.jthomashome.com/pages/shipping-returns However, if you need a custom size (not listed on our website) and we send you a custom listing to purchase from, please know those were made just for you and your space and would not be eligible for returns. Thank you!!

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