Do you have wood furniture in your home that you want to transform? Consider bleaching for a unique look. Wondering how to bleach wood? There may be many questions on your mind. You want to bleach wood when:
- You want to paint wood or wooden furniture in a color lighter than the original
- Stains on wood, such as glass edge stains and water stains
- The wood no longer has a uniform color due to use
Bleaching wood furniture is not a complex process. However, you need to ensure considerable preparation due to the caustic nature of bleach. This article offers comprehensive guidelines along with useful tips for bleaching wood furniture.
Types of Bleaches for Wood
Wondering how to bleach wood? The first thing to decide is the type of bleach to use. Here are the main choices available:
How to Bleach Wood with Household Bleach
This is the common laundry bleach which is used in homes to disinfect and whiten laundry. It is usually either 5.25% “regular strength” or 6% sodium hypochlorite “ultra strength”.
You can use a household bleach by wiping down the wood with it and then letting it dry. Repeat the process as you deem necessary. A useful tip is to leave it out in the sunlight for some time.
However, remember that a household bleach removes stains but will not change the color of the wood. If you want to lighten up the color of the wood, you may need to use stronger chemicals.
How to Bleach Wood with Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a great solution for bleaching wood. But, it may not be suitable for all tree species. When used on oak, the wood may turn a shade of green.
Bleaching is done using a 30% solution. This is the concentration at which the solution is most effective. Want to know how to bleach wood with hydrogen peroxide? First, make sure you prepare the wood adequately.
Before using the bleaching solution, moisten the wood using water and treat it with 10% ammonia. When applying hydrogen peroxide, make sure you are aware that it can lighten up wood intensely.
However, if you don’t want a drastic change, you can use a less concentrated solution. You are likely to find up to 12% hydrogen peroxide solutions in pharmacies.
How to Bleach Wood with Oxalic Acid
Make sure you use oxalic acid carefully because it is extremely toxic. Oxalic acid comprises clover acid and clover salt. It is a chemical solution that is can be used to bleach wood as well as remove rust.
First, treat the surface with sodium hydrosulfate. Next, cover the wood surface with a 10% oxalic solution. Finally, wash off the solution with water after 5 minutes.
Oxalic acid is best for altering the color of light wood such as poplar, linden, maple and birch. Diluting 6 milliliters of oxalic acid with 0.1 liter of water will help you achieve the desired results.
The leftover oxalic acid on the wood is neutralized using:
- 15 grams of bleach
- 3 grams of soda ash
- 0.1 liter of water
Finally, wash the wooden surface with water. The result may not be as strong as that of hydrogen peroxide. Moreover, it is important to note that exposure to oxalic acid can be rather harmful to your health. Once you are done with bleaching, use warm water to wash the residual bleaching.
How to Bleach Wood the Simplest Way
You can surely bleach wood using hydrogen peroxide and oxalic acid. However, using household products is the simplest way to go about it. Here are the supplies you will need for the procedure:
- Household bleach
- Chip brush
- 150 grit sandpaper
- Random orbital sander
- Paint and varnish
- Drop cloth
- Flat sealer
- Safety goggles
1. Remove Varnish or Paint
Firstly, it is vital to get rid of varnish or paint off the wood. It is best to use a proper paint and varnish stripping gel for this purpose. This is because it works well and does not have an unpleasant odor. Make sure you remove varnish thoroughly, especially if your furniture is detailed.
2. Prepare to Bleach
Use mineral spirits and steel wool pads to get rid of any stripper residue. Next, start the sanding procedure. Sanding helps finish off any places that you may have missed.
To start, you can use a random orbital sander along with 150 grit sand paper on flat areas. Secondly, use a sanding sponge for sanding the routered edges in order to ensure no spaces are left.
3. Apply Household Bleach
Here lies the gist of the answer to the question “how to bleach wood?” First, transfer bleach into a compact container. Next, thoroughly apply bleach to all areas of the wood piece. Make sure you apply evenly without letting any areas pool.
You may be tempted to spray the bleach onto the wood using a spray bottle. However, using a chip brush is a much more effective method.
If your furniture contains drawers, pull them out and bleach them individually. Ensure that you cover the underside and legs of the furniture if they are visible. Finally, place your furniture in the sun and keep it there the entire day. You can repeat this procedure several times, depending on the results you want to achieve.
4. Rinse with Water
Once you have achieved the color of your choice, it is time to rinse. Bleach leaves small crystals behind once it evaporates. Make sure you don’t use anything other than water to rinse.
It is best to rinse bleached wood using a spray nozzle and garden hose. Continue to rinse until the water runs smoothly. Next, grab a towel and wipe off additional water off the wood surface. Finally, keep your furniture in the sun until it is dry.
5. Seal the Wood
Seal the bleached wood using clear paste wax. You can use a foam roller to cover the nooks, corners and crevices. Make sure you use a good quality brush. As you apply the sealer, the wood may darken a little. However, it will lighten up considerably once it dries.
You can apply as many coats of the sealer as you prefer. The raw wood would absorb the first coat more quickly as compared to the second one.
If you use clear wax instead of a matt sealer, the wood will give off a slight shine when buffed. On the other hand, a matt sealer is practically invisible. Moreover, it offers much better protection than wax. However, if you want a shiny look, you can seal the wood first and then apply wax over it.
How to Bleach Wood: The Don’ts
Bleaching wood is an easy DIY process. However, there are certain mistakes you should avoid.
- Don’t forget to get rid of protective sealants before bleaching.
- Don’t miss out on research regarding different kinds of bleaching agents.
- Don’t apply the bleach before doing a patch test first.
- Don’t apply all of the bleach at once. Opt for a layer by layer approach instead.
- Don’t touch the bleaching products with bare skin.
- Don’t work in a badly ventilated area.
How to Bleach Wood: Final Word
After reading this article, you are likely to have learned a detailed answer to the question “how to bleach wood?” We recommend carrying out this procedure outdoors along with the use of proper safety gear. Bleaching wood rightly can provide stunning results by transforming your wood furniture.
Looking for more wood ideas? Check out this post on easy rustic wood crafts to make!