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How to Remove Black Stains From Wood

Updated November 21, 2016

Black water stains on wood are an indication that the stain has penetrated through the protective clear coat. This type of stain requires more work to remove it, but it is not impossible. Black stains are often caused by condensation from drinking glasses set on wood tables or from pet urine on hardwood floors. Removing these stains involves sanding, bleaching, re-staining to match the existing stain and applying a clear coat.

Cover the areas around the stain with painter's tape and plastic to protect them from the stain removal chemicals and allow you to work on the stain without fear of spreading the chemicals too far.

Sand the surface of the stained area to remove remaining clear coating and stain. Sanding will prepare the damage to absorb the stain removal chemicals. Sand only in the direction of the wood grain. Sanding against the grain creates scratches in the wood and more work for you.

Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide into a plastic container that you can throw away. Apply the peroxide to the stain with a paintbrush, and allow it to set overnight covered with a rag moistened with hydrogen peroxide. Remove the rag and allow the treated area to dry.

Sand the treated area lightly after it has dried. Apply more peroxide if there is still a sign of black discolouration. Allow the peroxide time to work, and sand it again. Use a wood bleach for a more aggressive approach if the hydrogen peroxide does not work.

Apply matching stain to the treated area when the stain is completely removed. Allow the stain to dry overnight, and apply a clear coat of polyurethane over the stain. It is best to apply two coats of polyurethane.

Tip

Hydrogen peroxide is an inexpensive product that you can try before purchasing wood bleach. Purchase wood bleach in home remodelling centres. Stubborn stains must be sanded out. Sometimes chemicals are not enough.

Warning

Wear chemical resistant rubber gloves and a respirator if you use wood bleach, and work in a well-ventilated area. Sand the entire length of a floor plank, table top or chair arm if you have to completely sand out the damage. Spot sanding creates a noticeable edge between the existing stain and the new stain.

Things You'll Need

  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic
  • Small disposable paint brush
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Wood bleach
  • Rags
  • Stain
  • Clear coat
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About the Author

Based in Oklahoma City, Debbie Tolle has been working in the home-improvement industry since 2001 and writing since 1998. Tolle holds a Master of Science in psychology from Eastern Illinois University and is also a Cisco-certified network associate (CCNA) and a Microsoft-certified systems engineer (MCSE).