There are several easy ways to remove wood stain, from light sanding to strong chemicals. The thing to remember about wood stain removal is that it should be done carefully and gently to avoid changing the shape of the wood or causing noticeable spots where the removal application was too rigorous. Removing wood stain can rejuvenate a floor or piece of furniture, preserve it, or change the color completely.c
Step 1 - Prepare
Spread out old newspapers and tape the edges together to form a solid base on which to lay the piece of furniture. If removing wood stain from an entire floor section, mask off smaller workable areas so you can approach it a little at a time. The idea is to apply chemicals or procedures to the parts of the wood stain that will be removed while protecting other areas.
Step 2 - Wear Safety Equipment
Whether lightly sanding or applying a heavy-duty chemical remover, the use of a respirator face mask is important. Eye protection and gloves are also thoughtful considerations when doing this kind of work.
Step 3 - Remove the Wood Stain
Depending on the task ahead, you can begin by lightly sanding the wood where the stain is to be removed. If it is a light stain, sanding gently will usually do the job. Sand carefully so as not to change the shape of the wood or dig into it too deeply.
If the wood stain is deeper, it may be necessary to use a commercial or household bleach to help remove it. This should be applied cautiously for safety reasons and to preserve the integrity of the wood. Too much bleach will raise the grain and distort the piece.
If the stain is deeply ingrained into the wood, it will be necessary to apply a stronger commercial stain or paint remover. These products are very caustic, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. It will also be necessary to apply a heavier base of newspapers, or even plastic, to protect other areas.
Step 4 - Use Heavy Duty Paint Remover
Using a soft brush, apply paint remover generously over the entire piece, being sure to brush it into the cracks and nooks as thoroughly as possible. Allow the wood paint remover to penetrate the piece according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When ready, scrape the paint remover off the wood by gently using a paint scraper. Use your steel wool and a soft wire brush to get inside cracks and difficult areas.
Wipe the wood with a cloth saturated in mineral spirits to remove the remaining paint remover. For more stubborn spots, carefully use the 100-grit sandpaper and gently try to rub them out.
Clean the wood again with the mineral spirits and then sand the entire area with the 220-grit sandpaper. This will remove the last residue of the mineral spirits and paint remover. It will also remove any tiny raised fibers, making the piece appear smooth and clean.
Removing from Stairs
To change the look of your wooden stairs, you may need to remove old wood stain. Here's how to do it.
Step 1 - Patch Test
Check whether the color of your wooden stairs have been changed by wood stain or tinted varnish at an inconspicuous part of the staircase. Apply a little varnish-removing solution and rub it with a piece of steel wool to see if this changes the color.
Step 2 - Varnish Removal
If the wooden stairs have been varnished, the removal solution can be used on the full stair. Use rubber or latex gloves to protect your skin from the toxic substance.
Step 3 - Stain Removal
In view of the fact that stain will sink into the wooden stairs, it will be necessary to resurface the wood to remove it. The sanding process will be a significant one and will be easier to do with the use of a sanding machine, however, sheets of sandpaper will still be required for awkward corners.
This may not remove the stain completely, and applying whitewash to the wood at this stage can lighten the color further.
There are a handful of other ways you can remove wood stain as well. Here are just a few options.
Types of Stain
You may also be wondering what types of stains are out there. Water-based and oil-based stains are the two you may find. Each has some advantages and disadvantages.
The process for removing each is similar but check the manufacturer's instructions when in doubt.
After you remove stain, you will likely be restaining your wood, which is another reason why understanding the types of stains out there and their advantages and disadvantages important.
Water-Based Wood Stain
Water-based stains are a great option because they are more mold and mildew resistant than their oil-based stain counterparts. If you want to be extra safe, look for a stain that has mildew-resistant, mentioned on the packaging.
Water-based stains also do not produce a large odor the way oil-based stains can. If you are prone to headaches and sensitive to smells, this may make a water-based stain a better bet for you.
Water-based stains are also non-flammable and dry quickly.
The stains also retain color better than oil-based stains do.
Water-based stains are also more environmentally friendly than oil-based stains and do not release volatile organic compounds.
Oil-Based Wood Stain
Oil-based wood stains have some benefits too, however. The main benefit of using an oil-based stain is that it will penetrate the wood better than other stain options and is incredibly durable.
Oil-based stains take longer to try, which some may see as a negative. It means, though, that the end product will have an even finish, which is obviously desirable and worth waiting a little extra time for it to dry.
Just like there are different types of stain, there are also different color options: semi-transparent and solid color. Solid color stains do not penetrate the wood. A semi-transparent wood stain, however, does penetrate the wood.
Which one is right for you depends mainly on what look you are going for. If you want a deep, solid color, a solid color stain is your best bet. If you want something more natural that shows the lines and grooves of the wood, a semi-transparent wood stain is a better option.
A semi-transparent stain is a great way to preserve the wood grain on your wood. If you have a piece of wood with a lot of lines that you hope will show even after you stain the wood, a semi-transparent stain is your best bet.
As a result, semi-transparent wood stains are often used for things like decks and large table slabs.
Semi-transparent stains also have the benefit of preventing mold and algae from forming, again making them a good option for outdoor uses.
Solid Color Stain
Solid color wood stains, meanwhile, are non-penetrating. As a result, they lay on the surface, giving off an appearance similar to a top coat. This type of stain does not show the grain of the wood and should not be used on pieces that you are hoping to preserve the wood grain on.
Solid color wood stains do not usually have an anti-fungal agent in them and are, as such, not as good of an option for certain climates.
Solid color wood stains are often used on trellises and planters that you want to be a certain color.
Wood Stain vs Stains on Wood
Wood stain is a product used on wood to change its color or appearance. Wood is also susceptible to stains from things like food and drinks. These stains can be removed in a way that differs drastically from the way you would remove wood stain. Here are a few.
You can make a paste out of baking soda and water to remove a stain from your wood. Once you have mixed the two together, rub it in a circular motion into the area with the stain.
Once you can no longer see the stain, add petroleum jelly. Let the petroleum jelly sit overnight before removing it, and your stain should be gone.
For tougher stains, you should try using mineral spirits. Rub them into the wood. This may dissolve some of the finish, however, which means you will need to apply wax or polish after to make sure the wood still looks its best.
WD-40 is way more versatile than people give it credit for. It can actually be used on wood to get rid of minor stains quickly and easily.
Wood stain removal is a relatively straightforward process for a DIY enthusiast or novice to accomplish.