How to fix water damage on stained wood

Written by andrea campbell
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How to fix water damage on stained wood

Water is one of the most destructive elements in both houses and furniture. It is especially damaging to wood that is highly polished or has a stained finish. There are a variety of "fix-it" solutions---from ingredients found in your refrigerator, to homemade concoctions, to complete wood system refurbishment. Let's take a look at a sampling of suggestions. Start with the most benign and then try the others. Follow each method with a complete soft furniture waxing using either polish or paste wax.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Iodine for cherry finish
  • Walnut stain
  • Mayonnaise
  • Toothpaste
  • Paste wax
  • Fine steel wool
  • Soft white cloth
  • Furniture wax
  • Feeder wax or equal parts of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and vinegar

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  1. 1

    Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into a white ring and apply it to wood with a white haze or stain that indicates the water has got into the wood finish but not deep into the wood. Follow this with a wood polish and soft cloth. For furniture that has a light stain, you can try to rub a cut walnut or Brazil nut into the finish. The oils from the nut are most likely to match blond-stained finishes.

    How to fix water damage on stained wood
  2. 2

    Make a paste of mayonnaise and toothpaste and apply it with a soft cloth in a circular motion to a mark or water ring. The ring should dissipate. Follow this with a fresh coat of table wax. For cherry stained wood, another medicine cabinet fix is to gently rub in iodine dabbed onto the a soft white cloth. It will actually dye the furniture darker with each application. Allow to dry completely and follow with a waxing.

    How to fix water damage on stained wood
  3. 3

    Mix a solution of equal parts boiled linseed oil, turpentine and vinegar, or use commercial feeder wax to clean persistent marks. Dip a very fine steel wool in this solution and rub on the furniture lightly, following the grain of the wood. If the finish has a gloss, use the solution on a soft white cloth and apply with a cloth-covered finger. (This is a flammable solvent, so be cautioned.)

    How to fix water damage on stained wood
  4. 4

    Bleaching black stains--which generally mean that the water has sunk past the stain and gone into the wood--with household ammonia. Follow this with a full waxing.

    How to fix water damage on stained wood
  5. 5

    For warped or very dark wood damaged from water, your only option may be to strip the entire piece of its finish, fully sand past the stain, and refinish with a completely new stain product. To seal this, you may want a topcoat finish made especially for wood---perhaps a polyacrylic---and, when dry, follow it with an application of furniture paste wax.

Tips and warnings

  • Lemon oil and orange oil products made specially for furniture can limit the white haze caused from water damage. Let the oils sit for several hours so they can sink into the wood; wipe off the excess.
  • • For gouges or dings, a quick cheap fix may be in your child's crayon box. Choose a colour that most closely resembles the wood finish, heat the crayon a little in the microwave and fill the dent. Follow with good-quality furniture polish.
  • Before you spend a lot of money refinishing a wood floor, check the prices for new flooring.

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