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Bleaching to Lighten Wood & Remove Stain

Materials List
Two-part Hydrogen Peroxide (sold in paint stores)
Plastic Pail of Hot Water
Vinyl or Rubber Gloves
Plastic or wood stir stick
Plastic Pail of Rinse Water
2 Sponges
Extra Fine (280) Grit Sandpaper
Tools List (click item to shop)
Safety Glasses
Mixing Container
Canvas Drop Cloth
Dust Mask
Tack Cloth
Paint brush
Varathane Floor Finishing
Varathane Renewal

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


Restoring wood furniture takes time and patience, but the results of your labor can be enjoyed for years, even generations. The restoration process usually involves stripping off old finishes, bleaching, staining and then varnishing. Two-Part Hydrogen Peroxide is a strong bleach that will lighten wood and remove previously applied finish stain, providing you with a fresh new surface to refinish.

Once you have stripped the old varnish and paint from a piece of furniture (see tutorial on chemically stripping wood), you will most likely encounter stains in the wood surface that should be removed before applying a new finish. Bleaching is a good technique for getting out these stains. However, different types of stains require different bleaching techniques. Choose the tutorial that best addresses your needs.

Type of Stain Tutorial
Ink stains, stains caused by chemical refinishers Bleaching furniture with mild bleach
To lighten wood and remove old stain Bleaching furniture with two-part hydrogen peroxide (this tutorial)
Dark rings and black spots, usually caused by water Bleaching furniture with oxalic acid

Skill Level & Time To Complete
• Beginner - 2 hours
• Intermediate - 1-1/2 hours
• Advanced - about 1 hour

Plan quick access to water for rinsing spills or splatters. Wear safety goggles and if your skin or eyes are exposed to bleach, immediately rinse thoroughly. If bleach does come into contact with your eyes, seek prompt medical attention.

Use a well-ventilated work area. Don’t breathe dust from sanded wood and don’t breathe fumes from the bleaching mixture.

Dispose of any unused mixture, used rags, paint brushes and sponges safely.

Store unused bleach properly.

Helpful Tips
Wear old clothes as peroxide does bleach.

1. Start with a piece of furniture that is bare wood and place it on a drop cloth to protect the ground or floor. To remove an existing finish, refer to the tutorial on chemically stripping furniture.
2. Place your project piece on a drop cloth for protection and sand the wood thoroughly to remove oil and debris left from the finish removing process. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain.
3. Then remove sanding dust by brushing with a clean, dry paintbrush. Paying particular attention to the joints and detail areas. Then rub a tack cloth over the entire surface to clean off all the wood dust.
4. To mix and apply the bleach, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions listed on the carton or containers. Some brands instruct you to mix a solution of unequal amounts from bottle A and bottle B. Other brands instruct you to apply each separately to the wood surface. Apply with a sponge on flat areas and use a paintbrush to get the bleach into the seams, joints and detail areas.
5. Also follow the manufacturer’s instructions for neutralizing the bleach and cleaning the bleach from the wood.
6. After you have neutralized the bleach according to their directions, use a sponge to apply a vinegar wash to ensure that all the bleach is neutralized.
7. Follow this by using a sponge to rinse the surface with water. Don’t allow too much water or neutralizing agent to saturate the wood.
8. Allow the wood to dry completely, which will take about two days.

Brush off the sanding dust with a clean, dry paintbrush, especially in the joints and detail areas. Then rub a tack cloth over the entire surface to remove all of the dust.

Now you are ready for our tutorials on stains, topcoats, varnishes!



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