How to change wood color from dark to light

Have you wanted to lighten up the color of your wooden furniture? Do you want to brighten up your rooms with lighter hues? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Believe it or not, changing the color of wood is a breeze.

We’re all about decorating and that’s why we’re here to give you the best tips for lightening up the color of your wood. So, let’s start updating your furniture and brightening your spaces. These techniques for lightening wood are sure to come in handy, so pay attention!

Change the color of the wood

Suppose you want to learn how to change the color of wooden furniture correctly with any technique. In that case, you must consider two fundamental steps that we recommend you carry out before getting down to work.

We talk about cleaning and sanding the wood. Next, we give you the steps you need to know before changing the color of the wood.


Step one in lightening up the color of a wooden piece of furniture without sanding is to give it a good cleaning. A thorough cleaning is necessary, especially when dealing with older or neglected pieces.

Not only will a good cleaning help prepare the wood for the color-change process, but it’ll also give you an idea of the piece’s overall condition. For instance, you’ll see if it has multiple layers of varnish or wax.

There are products specifically designed for cleaning wooden furniture, but you can also make your solution using water and neutral soap. Here’s how to clean your wooden furniture:

  • Soak a cloth in the water and soap solution.
  • Rub the wood with the soaked cloth and rinse with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Finally, dry the wood completely with a dry cloth. Make sure it’s completely dry before moving on to the next step.


The next step in changing the color of your wooden furniture is sanding. Sanding the surface helps remove any remaining dirt, varnish, or paint that wasn’t removed during the cleaning process.

This will leave you with a smooth surface ready for painting, whitening, or lightening. Here’s how to sand your wooden furniture:

  • If the piece has multiple layers of varnish, start by stripping it with a specialized product.
  • For larger pieces, it’s best to disassemble it and sand each piece using an electric sander. Fine-grain sandpaper will do the trick without damaging the wood if the surface is small.
  • After sanding, clean up the dust and wipe the wood down with a damp cloth.
  • Let the wood dry completely before moving on to the next step of lightening the color.

Don’t forget that good sanding will ensure the best possible outcome when changing the color of your wooden furniture.

With bleaches

You can use a wood bleach, a light-colored wood stain, or a whitewash to lighten the tone of a dark wood piece of furniture without paint. Cleaning the wood thoroughly is an important first step, as is sanding the surface to remove dirt and varnish.

The bleaching process involves applying the bleach to the wood, letting it dry, and repeating it if desired. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective product for whitening wood, with a concentration of 110 to 130 in volume recommended.

Mixing hydrogen peroxide with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate can enhance the whitening effect.

Follow these steps to change the color of wood with hydrogen peroxide :

  • Before applying hydrogen peroxide to the wood, clean and sand the furniture.
  • Rub vigorously, let dry, and repeat the action after 2 or 3 hours.
  • Then, clean the furniture with a rag soaked in alcohol.
  • Once it has completely dried, prepare the hydrogen peroxide mixture and apply it to the furniture when it bubbles.
  • Finally, let it dry so that the product works properly and whitens the wood.

With oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is a perfect chemical compound to treat wood, restore furniture and change its color. Although this product is less powerful than hydrogen peroxide, it has a whitening effect that will allow you to remove the color from the furniture.

Of course, when working with this compound, it is very important to use the appropriate protection: work glasses, gloves and a mask, since it can have an irritating effect. Before use, read the product instructions.

To change the color of wood with oxalic acid follow these steps :

For oxalic acid to have its bleaching effect and to give the wood a natural color without ruining or damaging it, it must be previously diluted in water or alcohol. It must be hot to achieve greater discolouration.

Then, apply the mixture to the wood with the help of a brush and let the product take effect. You will see how the wood clears up in just a few minutes.

with bleach

Although the bleaching power seems incredible, it can also be useful to lighten a wooden piece of furniture. It is the cheapest and easiest bleach to find, but it is also quite effective for this purpose.

Of course, you should remember that using pure bleach to treat the furniture in question is not convenient since it could cause it to turn yellowish.

To change the color of the wood with bleach and make them lighter, follow these steps :

You have to dilute the bleach in water, keeping in mind that the more water you use to dilute, the less bleaching power the product will have.

Then, apply the product using a brush on the wood. You will see how the wood lightens in a few minutes, losing its dark tone.

You can repeat the process as many times as necessary to achieve the lightening tone you want; however, you should bear in mind that with bleach, you will not be able to turn the dark furniture into white furniture but lower some tones.

To finish the process, clean the wood with a mixture of vinegar for two water. You will achieve an optimal result.

With paint

How to change the color of wooden furniture to white? The best option is to use furniture paint. Chalk paint is a great ally for furniture , especially if you want to renovate it or change the color, leaving it with a natural air.

However, it is also recommended to use enamels and lacquers if you want to achieve a brilliant white and a perfect finish. This product is mainly for doors.

Also read: How to refinish furniture step by step.

To change the color of wood with paint, write down these tips

To achieve the desired effect, it will not be enough to paint the surface of the wood with a dark finish since you will not notice much of the difference.

The process of whitening, lightening or painting your white furniture consists of removing the existing paint using a petroleum-based solvent.

In addition, you must clean and sand the furniture beforehand, so the wood is prepared to receive its new paint color.

If you want the finish to be uneven on the furniture to give it a rustic touch, opt for liquid paints for hardwoods. If you want the color to remain uniform, choose paints such as lacquers or enamels to achieve the best results.