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How To Lighten Dark Wood

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How To Lighten Dark Wood, Siding, Paneling, Cabinets, Logs, Etc

So you would like to know how to lighten your darkly stained cabinets, siding, antique furniture, log home or log house. There are several ways to do so depending upon how dark the wood is, how light you wish the wood to be and if it has been previously stained or painted.


Strip and re-stain (easy / moderate)
Wood grain (difficult)

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Strip and re-stain (easy / moderate)

To stain dark wood a lighter color use a high quality stain, varnish, and paint remover such as Strip-X® Stripper Klean-Strip® Strip-X® Stripper removes latex & oil-based paint and varnish from wood, metal and masonry in 30 minutes or less. It also removes pigmented wood stains from wood, restoring the wood’s natural color. The thick paste formula clings to vertical surfaces without runs or drips.

• Wash the wood surface down with mineral spirits, or water according to material specifications. Use steel wool, scrub brushes, and scrub pads, make sure to scrub with the grain never scrub or sand wood against the grain. The washing process will remove any of the paint and varnish remover that may still be on the wood. Let the wood dry thoroughly.

• Sand all the wood the appropriate grit of sandpaper, dust and wash your wood with a bleach and water mixture, if you wish the wood to be lighter still. Let the mixture set on the wood for about five to ten minutes or per manufacturer's directions.

• Neutralize the wood with a neutralizing solution or a mixture of vinegar and water. Let the surface dry completely.

• Condition your wood

• Stain the wood your color of choice, apply sanding sealer, sand, and varnish two – three coats, sanding in between coats.

Quick Guide

How to Wood Grain over Previously Stained Dark Wood for a Lighter Wood Finish

Also see here for wood graining techniques and finishes

Wood graining (difficult)

Whether the wood is painted, stained, or varnished with the correct professional wood graining techniques and procedures you can simulate the look of a natural wood finish on just about any surface.

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• Prepare all wood with sandpaper and or a liquid de-glosser. If you use sandpaper make you to sand with the grain.

• Caulk and or wood fill any unsightly areas.

• Chose the stain color you like. You can imitate just about any wood grain and finish you desire some techniques may be more difficult to accomplish than others.

• Apply the wood graining base coat. This is the base color or background color for the look you ultimately desire. The surface will look as if it has been painted after applying the graining base.

• Apply the gel stain with a foam brush, have a spare rag near by to dab your brush onto to remove access gel stain from the surface. Spread gel stain light and evenly working towards a dry brushed tight finish.

• Drag the wood-graining tool with the grain to achieve the wood grain affect. Let dry 24 hrs

• Apply additional coats of gel stain as needed. You can use an oil based glazing liquid to tone down the color of the stain.

• After you achieve the look you desire apply sanding sealer, sand very lightly (using 220 grit), and varnish two – three coats, sanding or use steel wool lightly in between coats.

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