How to Repair Water Stained Wood

water stained wood
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-75
What You'll Need
Cotton cloth
Hair dryer
Furniture polish
Peanut butter
Wood restorer

If a piece of wood furniture, such as a tabletop, is water stained, you may think the piece is ruined. To the contrary, water stains can be fixed within a matter of minutes using supplies that you already have around the house. Try one of these methods to easily fix water-stained wood surfaces in your home.

Method 1: Hot Iron Method

If you have a water stain on a table top, you may think the table top is ruined. However, the hot iron method has repaired many badly marked wood tabletops. Turn the iron to medium heat and let it warm up. Put a cotton cloth on top of the water stain and rub the iron back and forth. Do not let the iron rest in one spot. Check occasionally to see how the removal process is working. The heat from the iron will dry the mark. The cloth acts as a wick for excess moisture and protects the wood from the heat of the iron. If the wood looks dull after this process, a coat of furniture polish or wood restorer will make the area shine like new.

Method 2: Hair Dryer

The hair dryer method is very similar to the iron method. Turn the hair dryer on high and move it back and forth over the water stain. Hold it at least 8-inches from the stain. You will see the water stain disappear right before your eyes as the wood dries. Follow with a good shine treatment with furniture polish or wood restorer and your piece will be as good as new. This method works well not only on new stains, but also on surfaces that have been water stained for a long time.

Method 3: Old Fashioned Methods

Many people swear by using mayonnaise or peanut butter on water-stained wood. Scoop out enough to make a solid coating on the stain and let it sit for an hour or so before wiping it away. One treatment is usually all that is needed. The oil from the peanut butter or mayonnaise will penetrate the wood, restoring the finish. Another old fashioned treatment is to buff the area with toothpaste. Use paste, not the gel type. Apply a bit to a soft cloth and buff the water-stained area lightly. Doing so will buff away the water stain, as long as it isn't too deep.

Method 4: Wood Restorer

If the above methods don't work, you may need to use wood restorer. This product is sold in home improvement centers and paint stores under many brand names. It usually contains some tung oil. Pour a bit of wood restorer onto the extra-fine steel wool and gently apply it to the entire surface that is water stained. It will appear the entire surface is being lifted. You are actually just placing on a new topcoat. Once it is completely dry, buff it to a gloss. Your piece will look like new.

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