How to Return Color to Faded Oak Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

To return wood to its original colour you need to sand off the surface layer. By using heavy grit sandpaper you can bring oak back to its original colour by removing oxidisation, which is a major culprit in faded oak. After sanding, add natural Danish oil to the oak to bring it back to life.

Place 80-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. Begin sanding the oak with the grain in short strokes progressing about 3 inches forward and 2 inches back as you move forward in a steady pattern. Work across the surface of the oak, overlapping the previous path by about 50 per cent.

Take the 80-grit sandpaper off the block and replace it with 100-grit. Sand the oak again in the same manner as before. When you are done, sand again with 180-grit paper until the oak has a natural pinkish, amber colour. Dust off the wood with a soft cloth; if any fibres of the cloth stick to the wood, sand again.

Pour a small amount of natural Danish oil on a soft cloth. Begin wiping the surface until the surface of the wood looks wet. Let the oil dry for one hour.

Wipe off any remaining oil. Apply another coat and wipe it off immediately.

Apply another coat of oil to darken the oak if needed.


For a more colourful oak, Danish oil is also available in a variety of colours.


Always wear a protective mask when you are sanding or finishing wood so that you don't inhale the fine particles.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper, 80-grit
  • Sandpaper, 100-grit
  • Sandpaper, 180-grit
  • Soft cloth
  • Danish oil, natural colour
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About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.