Learn How To Lighten Stain In Wood

Learn How To Lighten Stain In Wood

Finding the color of your wood furniture too dark? Lightening the color can be more difficult than you think.

How To Lighten Stain Image 1

Stains are made partly transparent in order to keep the wood’s natural grain visible. Covering a dark stain with a lighter one won’t work; in fact, it may darken the wood.

In this article we’ll talk about some ways for how to lighten stain in wood.


Method 1 – Strip and Replace

One option is to totally strip and replace the existing stain.

Apply a varnish remover to the wood and rub it in with steel wool or a wire brush.

Once you’ve removed the existing stain, the dark color will likely be gone. If not, you can sand down the wood to remove the rest of the color.

Now you can reapply the lighter stain that you prefer. This is the simplest and most effective method, but it can be time consuming.


Method 2 – Pigmented Overlap

If the above method is too aggressive, you could try applying a pigmented stain (1) over your existing stain.

Pigmented stains are less transparent. They contain some opaque coloring, like a thin paint. This helps to block out the darker stain, leaving only the newly-applied lighter color.

This will, however, obscure your wood’s grain, so be sure you’re okay with that before going down this path.

This method is effective if you want only a small change in shade.


Method 3 – Bleaching

How To Lighten Stain Image 2

Finally, you can try lightening the shade of the stain by applying bleach.

This is the most difficult method; if the bleach is applied (2) unevenly, it will lead to spotty results, which will look terrible. Too much bleach could strip areas of stain entirely or even damage the wood underneath.

For lightening an existing stain, use chlorine bleach. Using a small brush, first apply a test amount to a less visible part of the wood. When you are happy with the results, apply the same consistency to the entire surface.

Keep reapplying to keep the surface wet while the bleach is working. Then scrub off the remaining bleach, and wash the wood thoroughly. The color of your stain should be lightened to your liking.


Remember to go slowly and use appropriate safety gear such as gloves and goggles. Bleach can easily burn skin, as well as damage your wood.

If you want an exquisite, precise cut for your wood in addition to a lighter stain, you can look into this great CNC router option that’s really cheap.

Best of luck with your stain lightening project!

I hope you found this instruction helpful. Feel free to leave a comment below!

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