I am refinishing a floor, but there is new maple being installed alongside 20 year old maple. The problem with this that the old maple, even after it is sanded, will probably be a little darker than the new maple. Is there a way to tint the new maple to more closely match the aged patina of the old wood, so that when we refinish everything comes out the same shade?

  • Is my answer helpful to you?
    – Volfram K
    Oct 26, 2021 at 6:49

1 Answer 1


I think you are right, the old maple will be darker than new maple after refinish. Problem will be less with water-base finish than with oil-base.

I have faced this problem many times on restoration of ash and beech wood. If I add patch of new wood colors can be similar after sanding but old wood is darkened much more by finish, even shellack. Linseed oil darkens much more.

Dye or stain is immediate fix, maybe you won't like it in some years. If you dye new wood to color of old wood new will become darker in 5-10 yrs: dye + age + finish vs. age + finish. And I understand that maple dyes unexpectedly.

Possible solution

Solution when you cannot wait for light to have its effect naturally which takes too long, you can age the new wood.

Antiques books speak of using wood ash water to make new wood look old. Also sometimes used to make fakes! You cannot buy wood ash any longer I think and making from scratch is not reliable. But chemistry informs us this makes alkali solution so we may use sodium carbonate Na2CO3 instead and it can be purchased anywhere.

I don't know how effective this works on maple you will have to test on scrap pieces. I have used it on pines, fir, oak and some type of mahogany and all become darker. Works better on hardwoods, and bonus for mahogany it becomes more red. Dilution or number of coats control effects.

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    As some experimentation will be needed, it seems appropriate to apply the finish to some scraps of the old wood that were removed, then test the dying process on new flooring and apply the finish to it. This will allow comparison of apples to apples - final finish to final finish.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 21, 2021 at 17:57
  • Are you talking about ashes from burning wood? You can buy that at any garden center or scoop some out of your fireplace. Mixing wood ashes with water makes lye, which is highly caustic. Sodium Carbonate is also known as soda ash or washing soda.
    – gnicko
    Oct 25, 2021 at 13:08
  • Here's somewhat limited instructions and a recipe. newengland.com/today/living/home-decor/age-unfinished-wood
    – gnicko
    Oct 25, 2021 at 13:14
  • @GregNickoloff yes, ashes from burning wood. Is wood ash not clear? To give advice to make wood ash at home I decided is not practical when it is not known the person uses fireplace or wood stove already and 100% burns hardwood + quantity needed for floors is v large! I did not know you can buy this from garden center because I live in apartment lol I joke but I thought modern potassium fertilizer all had addition of sulfur, which is not suitable.
    – Volfram K
    Oct 26, 2021 at 6:49
  • @VolframK "Wood ash" is very clear but the statement that "you cannot buy wood ash any longer I think and making from scratch is not reliable..." is somewhat confusing. How is it unreliable? Also, lye (which is what you end up with when you mix wood ashes with water) is widely available. Pretty easy to source.
    – gnicko
    Oct 26, 2021 at 14:41

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