How To Lighten Wood With Different Methods

There are many ways that you can try to make the stained wood lighten.

You can use chemical, surface, or mechanical methods.

Many people use these techniques to remodel your old furniture to suit your room’s interior and fashions design.

After reading this article, you will learn several tips to make the stained wood appear lighter in color. Please keep reading to find out how to do it.

Is It Possible To Lighten Wood Stain?

Yes, it is. You can make the wood stain appear light by using a thinner liquid. This will decrease pigment on the surface.

As a result, it will make the color appear lighter. For this process, you need to prepare sandpaper, bleach, and steel wool.

Pour the stain into a dry and clean container and use mineral spirits or water, depending on the type of stains.

If the stains are oil-based, use mineral spirits and for stains with water-based type, use water. Stir the solution well before applying it to a wooden surface.

How To Turn Dark Stain Wood Into Lighten Wood?

A dark wood stain might detract from the overall appearance of furniture and decoration. Fortunately, there are techniques to lessen the hue until you are satisfied.

Bleaching with chemicals is one of the most efficient approaches to reducing the tone of stain color. Another one to try is mineral spirits and steel wood that you can apply to adjust the level of color by less amount.

Otherwise, if the stain in the container is too dark, dilute it before applying it to modify the hue.

If your wooden piece has been finished using a dark-colored stain, you can turn the stain into light by using these methods: steel wool, sanding, or bleaching.

If you use the steel wool technique or beaching method, you must scrape off the polyurethane or varnish beforehand since this is the stain protector.

To remove the protective topcoat, prepare these tools:

  • A Scraper
  • A paintbrush
  • paint and varnish stripper
  • Drop cloths
  • steel wool
  • Eye protection
  • And gloves

After you have prepared all the requirements, move the wooden furniture to a place with an adequate ventilation system.

Use drop cloths and put them under your furniture and around it to protect your working area from drips and slashes during the lightening process. Afterward, equip yourself with eye protection and gloves for safety measures and protect your eyes and skin from chemical burns.

Take the stripper product and read the instructions on it. Brush it on all of your furniture areas that you want to turn to lighten. After you’re done using the stripper, leave it alone for a few hours. Read the product’s instructions to know how long you should wait.

Then use a scraper at the angle of 45 degrees to abrade the topcoat that has been softened. You have to be careful while scraping. Don’t let the scraper corner damage your furniture surface.

Steel wool can be used to eliminate the residue properly if you have a hard time reaching the hard-to-reach pace.

Once you have done removing the topcoat, it is time to wash and rub your wooden surface with soap and water. This step will make the furniture clean. Let it dry properly before taking the next phase.

How to get rid of a dark stain on wood

There are several methods for removing black stains from the surface of the wood. You already know some of them from the previous explanation.

Lightening the wood can be done after applying bleach, vinegar, and some solvents with less harmful.

Steel wool can also be used as a substitute. To use this approach, carefully rub the grain in the same direction with wet, heated steel wool. Continue doing this while observing the stain until you are pleased.

Then, using a damp cloth and mineral spirits, remove all of the stains following the wood grain. Continue the procedure by adding mineral spirits and rubbing with steel wood.

You should also change the cloth you wear anytime it becomes filthy, especially if you have a lot of stains.

Using Bleach To Lighten Stained Wood

Allow the finish stripper to settle for 20 minutes on the wood you wish to lighten.

Work in a ventilated space to avoid breathing in dangerous fumes, and protect yourself using safety gloves and glasses.

Using a plastic scraper, remove the finish of the wood. Prepare wood bleach.

When bleaching for wood, you may use oxalic acid for a gentler treatment or a 2-part bleach solution for harsher treatment.

Apply the bleach mixture to the wood. After 30 minutes, add white vinegar to neutralize the solution. Next, wipe down with a damp towel.

Allow the wood to cure overnight before evaluating the color. To seal the wood, apply a fresh finish.

Types of Bleach to lighten wood

You can choose some options when you want to lighten wood using bleach. Many types of bleach are particularly designed for wood bleaching. Here are the details.

Sodium Hypochlorite Solution For Wooden Surface

This solution is like common household bleach.

This type of bleach can lighten a surface that has stains with dye-based type.

However, it is not effective to lighten stains that are pigment based.

Calcium Hypochlorite Chlorine Solution

Calcium hypochlorite or chlorine is usually added to a swimming pool.

This chemical is more powerful than the bleach product above (sodium hypochlorite).

When you want to lighten stained surfaces, however, this chlorine-based bleach type is not suitable for lightening the stains that are pigment based.

This solution is usually powdery, and you need to mix it with water before using it.

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is quite distinct from those two solutions mentioned above as this oxalic acid is a type of organic solution.

It is usually used for bleaching and cleaning. This product is in the form of a crystal and dissolves easily when having contact with water at a warm temperature until it is saturated. It means that the water is no longer able to absorb crystals.

This product is sold as a bleach for woods. It can remove the color from wooden surfaces well.

But it is not suitable to use on a surface with stain.

Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is a common item in a household used to clean appliances, laundry and white objects. This type of bleach won’t remove wood pigment. However, it will remove wood dyes instead. Thus, ensure that you read the product before using.

Chlorine bleach is used more for cleaning, but it can also be used to bleach wood. To clean wood furniture, use a cup of bleach and dilute it with water to clean your wooden furniture.

Although chlorine bleach can be used for wood bleaching, it is not recommended to lighten wood with this type of bleach as it doesn’t give a lightning effect on most woods. To achieve the optimal result you can use other types of bleach for that purpose.

Wood Bleach

This is the most suitable product for wood bleaching purpose as the product’s only function is to bleach wooden surfaces. Wood bleach product usually has two bottles.

One bottle has A and the other has B written as labels. One bottle contains lye while the other has peroxide substance.

Mix them together to make a wood bleach. Follow the instructions on the bottle to learn how to use it.

How To Use Bleach To Lighten Wood

  • Because you are dealing with dangerous chemicals, you must follow preventive measures before working to protect your body from harm.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves to protect your body from these chemicals’ splashes and other dangerous effects. You also need to work in an area with an adequate ventilation system.
  • You need to use a safety mask to mix oxalic acid. If you don’t, you are more likely to inhale the acid into your lungs, which will be dangerous for your body. Moreover, do not pour these products into metal containers. Use plastic or glass containers only!
  • A synthetic paintbrush is needed when you want to apply a bleaching solution to the furniture surface.
  • Ensure you cover all surfaces with the agent and don’t let the liquid on one spot. Wait 8 hours until it dries, and add a second top coat if necessary.
  • After that, let the last top coat dry by leaving it for 4 hours before neutralizing.
  • Now, to neutralize the wooden surface wipe it down using a rag (preferably a cotton rag) that has been drenched in water. Then wipe it dry using another cloth.
  • You can repeat the process if necessary. Finally, let the wood dry by leaving it alone for 24 hours or more.
  • It is important to note that vinegar is dangerous when mixed with bleach. So, if you combine vinegar with bleach or acid, it will produce chlorine gas, which is very dangerous for humans!
  • After you are done bleaching the wooden stain.
  • Now you can decide whether you need to use a stain with a lighter color or stop with the bleached look.
  • Once you get the desired color, use clear varnish or top coat to re-apply protection to your wooden surface.

How To Use Steel Wool To Turn Wood Lighten

If you are looking for a way to make the stain lighten just a little bit, you can use steel wool to do the job.

Steel wool should be rubbed on the wood along the direction of the grain. If you brush against it, you will detect scratches on the surface.

Use mineral spirits to wipe the stain on the wood.

Avoid overlapping the strips with the steel wool since you may remove too much discoloration or material.

To lighten the wood, scrape away small quantities of stain and finish with steel wool. Alter mineral spirits and steel wood till you’re satisfied with the result.

It can scrape off the old stain glued on the wooden surface and make it look lighter. However, you need to remove the transparent topcoat beforehand, and then you can proceed to use steel wool.

You will need mineral spirits, eye protection, steel wool (superfine grade quality), water, rubber gloves, and cotton cloth.

Instructions To Lighten Wood Using Steel Wool

  • Take the new steel wool you have prepared and soak it in water.
  • Rub that steel wool with medium strength on the wooden surface according to the grain direction.
  • Use light pressure only; do not use it to rub across the grain as it will create scratches. Scratches are difficult to remove.
  • If your current steel wool collects stain and dust, dip it back into the water. Do this every so often. Make sure you use it to scrape off all surfaces evenly.
  • Please don’t focus on one place only; don’t do much overlapping as it will give an uneven finish result.
  • After using steel wool, wear your rubber gloves and glasses and clean your wooden surface using mineral spirits.
  • Pour the mineral spirits on a cloth and then wipe it along the wood grain. You will notice that the cloth will pick up color from your wooden surface and make the surface appear to lighten.
  • Continue this process until your entire surface is wiped down. If the cloth gets dirty, use another cloth.
  • You can stop wiping when the stain’s lighter level has reached your desired result.
  • If it is still not lighter enough, repeat the process, starting from scraping using steel wool to wiping using mineral spirits.
  • Do this until you are satisfied with the result. After you’re done, use a new dry cloth to wipe down the surface and wait for it to turn dry properly.
  • Now, apply a lighter stain if you need it and apply a clear coat of polyurethane or varnish.
  • Enjoy the new lighter appearance of your surface.

How do lighten wood stain before applying the stain?

Thinning the stain is the best approach to lighten it before applying it.

This implies you’ll have to dilute the stain using paint thinner. Diluting the solution increases the concentration of solvent in wood stain.

This enhances the solvent-to-paint color ratio. This will lighten the wood stain. Remove the lid from the staining jar. Fill a bucket halfway with wood stain.

Calculate the correct amount of paint thinner.

You should be aware that the thinner you use, the lighter it will be. Stir the stain and thinner together for 10-20 seconds to ensure adequate mixing.

Test it on the wood to determine if the stain is light enough. Using vinegar to lighten the wood. Vinegar can lighten the stain on the wood; however, it is more suitable to smooth water-based solvent.

Although vinegar will not lighten an oil-based stain, removing grease and some oil leftovers is useful.

Pour vinegar straight over the wood surface and spread it evenly with a brush or cloth to apply it. Allow the vinegar to rest for some minutes before wiping it away. After this, the finish will appear lighter.

When the surface is dry, apply a top coat to seal the stain. Top coats lighten the appearance of the wood stain. For top finish, you should apply 2-3 layers of sealant.

Does polyurethane lighten stains?

Polyurethane can aid in the lightening of wood stains, but only water-based product can do so.

Oil-based solvent cannot lighten the wood since the sealant contains a high concentration of oils, which make a yellow hue over time.

Water-based one, on the other hand, is reliable to make stains look lighter.

This is due to the fact that water-based polyurethane is transparent and enables light to penetrate the finish. Because it can reflects light, lighten the surface of wood becomes practical.

The stain will brighten with time, especially if it is exposed to the elements. When the stain, particularly oil-based, comes contact with UV radiation, dust, and oxygen, it begins losing its color.

However, it requires some time, and the stain will seem blotchy as a result.

How to lighten the wood with sanding

The woodworkers who have worked in the business are familiar with “sanding.” It is the process of removing the top layer of a piece of wood using sandpaper.

In addition, sure, that’s precisely what you will have to do to lighten the dark-colored wood. Nevertheless, keep in mind that if it is about a wood floor, the sanding will much time, even days.

A lot of time, smooth hands, and talents are necessary to sand anything well without deepening the wounds. If you are a beginner, you should start with a scrap piece to see how things go. After you have rehearsed, you may begin with the furniture, floor, or project you wish.

It is preferable to use 60 grit sandpaper. Just be careful not to use much pressure, or it may damage the entire piece of wood. Sanding will remove the top layer of the surface. It will also dissolve the finishing coat, which is often varnish added by woodworkers.

When this layer is removed, you will notice a color variation. If you believe the color is too dark, continue sanding the one you want to appear.

Boiled linseed oil and hydrogen peroxide to lighten the wood with no sanding

Using boiling linseed oil over dark-stained wood is another option that can work properly with an oil-based solvent.

Using a cloth or brush, add the boiled linseed oil and allow drying for 24 hours before applying the next layer of paint without priming.

You may consider using hydrogen peroxide. It is especially beneficial if the dark-stained wood comes from a pine tree.

Make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and water, then apply it to the wood. Allow it to settle for five minutes before scrubbing away any residual finish without damaging the stain.

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