The Best Way to Remove Wood Stain

Written by kay miranda
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The Best Way to Remove Wood Stain
Getting the stain off will not eliminate natural grain discolourations. (wood image by Marvin Gerste from

Whether you are re-staining hardwood floors or restoring old furniture, removing the existing wood stain is essential to creating a neutral material that's ready for new colour coating. Older pieces may have water, grease or ink stains, making the wood blotchy and uneven. Each wood project is different; evaluate whether you need one or more stripping methods to get to the raw wood.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Chemical stripper/solvent
  • Paintbrush
  • Soft-bristled scrub brush
  • Two-part wood bleach
  • Cotton rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator or face mask

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  1. 1

    Paint a layer of the chemical stripper along the surface of the wood stain. Allow it to set in for 5 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's label.

  2. 2

    Scrub the solvent with the brush to pull the stain from deep in the wood grain. Work with the grain of the wood to make sure the solvent penetrates into the wood where stain adheres.

  3. 3

    Wipe away any solvent and stain with a wet rag. Give the wood some time to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply a layer of two-part bleach to the wood to remove any lingering stain deep in the wood pores. Scrub the wood once again with the brush. Let the bleach evaporate before sanding.

  5. 5

    Sand the wood to create a smooth layer free from any stain. Use a fine-grit paper to prepare the wood for a new stain or paint.

Tips and warnings

  • Always use safety equipment when using chemical solvents to prevent burns, eye irritation or lung irritation.
  • Sanding the wood prior to bleach evaporating can lead to bleach particles flying through the air creating a lung hazard. Use a respirator or face mask.
  • Never mix solvents with bleach as you may create a hazardous chemical reaction.

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