How to Lighten Wood If Stain Turned It Too Dark

A stain on the wood.

Staining wood can be a great way to give it a new look, but sometimes the finished product can be too dark. If this happens, you may wonder if there is any way to lighten the stain.

Luckily, there are a few methods you can try. This blog post will discuss how to lighten wood if stain turned it to dark too dark. Read on to learn more!

How to Lighten a Dark Wood Stain

To lighten dark wood, start sanding the surface to remove any existing stains. Next, apply a whitewash or diluted paint over the wood. If the wood is too dark, you may need to strip and refinish it.

How to Lighten Wood If Stain Turned It Too Dark

Before you attempt to lighten dark wood, it is important to remember that this process can be damaging. Therefore, test any products or methods on a small wood area before proceeding.

Here are two great methods to use for lightening wood:

Method One: Bleaching the wood

If the wood is still too dark after sanding and applying a whitewash or diluted paint, you may need to try bleaching it. However, this process can be damaging, so test it on a small wood area before proceeding.

To bleach the wood, you will need:

  • A bucket
  • Water
  • Oxalic acid
  • Rubber gloves
  • A paintbrush

Step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Apply the finish stripper

You must apply the finish stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will remove the old finish and stain from the wood.

You will need to scrap the wood with a putty knife to remove all of the old finish. You may also need to apply multiple coats of stripper to remove the old stain completely.

Step 2: Apply bleach

Once the stripper has been removed, you must apply bleach to the wood. This will lighten the wood and remove any remaining stain.

For the bleach, use a ratio of one part water to one part oxalic acid. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling the bleach.

Apply the wood stain lightener to the wood with a paintbrush. Be sure to apply it evenly so that the wood will lighten evenly.

Step 3: Apply a new finish

Once the bleach has been applied, you will need to apply a new finish to the wood. This will protect the wood and give it a new look.

Only apply the finish after the bleach has completely dried. Otherwise, the finish will not adhere properly. You can let the wood air dry or use a hairdryer to speed up the process.

Method Two: Lifting Stain with Steel Wool

If the wood is still too dark after sanding and applying a whitewash or diluted paint, you may need to try lifting the stain with steel wool. However, this process can be damaging, so test it on a small wood area before proceeding.

To lift the stain with steel wool, you will need:

  • A bucket
  • Water
  • Steel wool
  • Rubber gloves

Step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Removing the stripper using a steel wool

Soak the steel wool in the paint stripper and then rub it over the wood area you want to lighten. The paint stripper will remove the top layer of the stain and some of the colors with it.

Step 2: Wiping off the stripper

Once you’ve gone over the entire area with the steel wool, wipe off the stripper with a rag. Dispose of the stripper and the steel wool properly; both can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

Step 3: Applying a light-colored stain

Now that you’ve removed some of the darkness from the wood, you can apply a light-colored stain. This will help to even out the color and give the wood a new look.

Types of bleach for Lightening

Chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach is the most common type of bleach. It is typically used for household cleaning tasks. It can also lighten the wood. However, it is corrosive, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is a less common type of bleach. It’s mostly used for industrial purposes but can lighten the wood. It is less corrosive than chlorine bleach, but it’s still important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Will vinegar lighten wood?

Yes, vinegar can lighten the wood. However, because vinegar is acetic acid, acetic acid can act as a bleaching agent. Therefore, it’s important to note that using vinegar to lighten wood is not a process that should be taken lightly. After all, you are using acid to change your wood furniture or floors.

If you primarily want to lighten the wood stain without removing the color completely, you’ll want to use white distilled vinegar. Full-strength white distilled vinegar is about 5% acidity, which means it will light about 5% of the staining pigment in most woods. If you’re okay with removing some of the stain colors along with the darkness

Will hydrogen peroxide lighten wood?

Yes. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent that will lighten the wood. It’s important to be careful when using hydrogen peroxide because it can also bleach clothing and other materials. Always test a small wood area to ensure that the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t cause damage.

How to Lighten Wood If acrylic paint Turned It Too Dark

To lighten the paint job on your wood, you will use a wood bleacher. Follow the directions on the package, but essentially, you will apply the wood bleacher with a brush, leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse it off. This will lighten the paint job. You can also sand the acrylic paint off and start over if you want.


Now that you know how to lighten wood that has been stained too dark, you can apply a new finish and give the wood a new look. These methods can be damaging, so test them on a small wood area before proceeding.

Now go ahead and try it out for yourself! Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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