How to Bleach Wood
If dark wooden furniture is not your thing then you can bleach it. Bleaching wood can improve the color and can also remove some of its imperfections. You can actually bleach wood furniture, floors, and walls. You can bleach wooden planks before you use these to construct furniture and more. Here is a guide to show you how bleaching is done.
Bleaching wood basics
Bleaching wood involves several steps. You must follow these closely to ensure even and well-bleached wood that will suit different projects.
What you’ll need
- Protective gear (gloves, goggles, and mask)
- Varnish or stain remover
- Bleaching solution
- Sandpaper 320 to 400 – grit
1) Prepare the wood to be bleached
Wear protective gear before you start using chemicals to bleach wood. Wash wood thoroughly. Use regular dishwashing soap and water. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a clean and soft towel. Let this dry for at least a day.
Always work in a well-ventilated area when bleaching wood because the chemical bleach can emit dangerous fumes which can make you dizzy and even pass out. You may work outdoors if possible.
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Apply varnish or stain remover on the surface that you want to stain using a rag or brush. Varnish or stain remover will remove paint or finish. The area should be clean before bleaching. Applications could vary according to the type of varnish or stain remover, therefore, you must check the package directions before use.
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Apply varnish with a soft rag. Let this remain on the area for a few minutes (or according to the instructions on the label) and afterwards, rinse it off with water. Dry wood for a day or two after using varnish or stain remover.
2) Using a two-part chemical system
There are different kinds of chemicals used for lightening wood. A two-part chemical bleach is less aggressive and will alter the appearance of wood without affecting its grain or its overall character.
Mix the two bleaches together. You must refer to package instructions for manufacturer’s directions. Usually, equal parts of the two bleaches are used and are mixed in a glass or plastic container. Do not use metal because chemical bleaches can damage metal.
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Apply the bleach in an even manner by dipping a clean sponge in the solution. This will saturate the mixture so you can apply it evenly on wood. Use slow, steady motions to apply bleach. Keep applying until the entire surface is covered in bleach.
3) Neutralize the bleach
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Neutralize the bleach using equal parts of white vinegar and water. After the two-part bleach, mix a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Use a clean sponge and apply it to the wood in the same way the bleach was applied.
After applying the neutralizer, rinse the wood with water. Use a clean sponge dipped in clean water to wipe down the area. Repeat this until the water runs clear. Make sure that all the residue and traces of bleach and vinegar has been removed before you proceed with the next steps.
4) Let wood dry
Let the wood dry completely. Drying times differ according to the type of wood and the bleach you used. Check out manufacturer’s instructions on how long does it take to dry wood after bleaching. Usually, this is stated in the product label. Do not work with the wood until it’s completely dry to the touch.
Use sandpaper with grit 320 and 400 as soon as the wood is completely or dry to touch. This will smooth out any rough surfaces and remove rough grains.
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After sanding, remove all residue and debris with a damp towel.
Neutralize your wood again after sanding the wood and repeat the neutralizing process. Make another mixture of a half and half mixture of white vinegar and water and apply it to the wood.
Rinse with water after you applied vinegar and water solution. Dry the piece once more.
Apply the finish to protect the surface of the wood and to enhance its appearance. After your wood has dried, apply the finish. Follow package instructions carefully.
Bleaching wood is a good way to lighten dark-colored wood furniture, flooring or walls. Bleaching takes several stages and must be followed closely to ensure success. You must choose the right materials and products to efficiently bleach wood.