I'm having problems figuring out what to do regarding finishing a cherry floor I had installed in a house I'm having built. The issue of course concerns how dark the floor will end up. I've also ordered cherry doors and casings. The builder is encouraging me to stain the floor casings and doors, and I'm leaning toward just applying a clear coat finish of some kind, which is what I envisioned in the first place.
One reason the builder is encouraging me to stain some of the cherry is the Anderson 400 series windows. They have a pine wood on the inside of the windows and the builder wants to try to stain the pine to match the cherry casings, which makes sense. His point on that is that if I just clear coat the casings they are going to change color in a way that he can't predict, and therefore he doesn't know how to stain the pine on the windows.
What I'm thinking right now is to just clear coat the floor and doors (any suggestions on whether polyurethane or something like Minwax is better for this purpose would be appreciated), and allow the casings to be stained so that the pine in the window frames can be stained to match. I'm assuming that if the wood is stained it will darken even more over time and would always be darker than the floor will ever get.
Lastly, I've heard various things about how natural cherry darkens. Is it the UV that causes the darkening, or just light in general? If it's just light in general I was wondering if I should leave the lights on for a few weeks (24 hours a day) after the floor is finished, before I move in and put rugs and furniture over the floor, or if that would make no appreciable difference. I've heard various things about how quickly this color change occurs, which range from being noticeable in just a few days (e.g. if you put something on a freshly finished floor like a business card you can see the outline of the card on the floor after it's removed in just a few days time) to months to be noticeable.
Unfortunately there are all kinds of comments and advice out there about this issue and much of it is conflicting.
Comments and suggestions welcome. Also any suggestions on the best finishing products to protect the relatively soft floor from damage (e.g. multiple coats, etc.) would be appreciated.