Skip to content

How to Lighten Wood Stain Before Applying

How to Lighten Wood Stain Before Applying is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and may earn from qualifying purchases.

Wood stain is popular to use in furniture, floors, and cabinets. It can also be used as a protective coating on outdoor projects like decks and fences. The problem with stained wood is that it can often times be too dark for the project you are working on.

When this happens, there are several things you can do to lighten your wood stain before applying it to your project! In this blog post, we will cover 5 easy DIY tips that will help you lighten your color stains in wood!

What are The Main Reasons for Lightening Wood Stain?

What are The Main Reasons for Lightening Wood Stain

The purpose of lightening dark stain is to make it more compatible with the desired color. The process can be done by either using a chemical stripper or sanding off the darker layer and then restaining the surface once again in another color.

Another purpose of lightening wood stain is to remove a topcoat from the wood. This is done by using a chemical stain stripper to remove the topcoat and then restaining the surface in another color.

There are also other reasons for lightening an existing stain on wood, such as restoring original colors or changing shades. The process can be accomplished with sandpaper without removing any of the upper layers from the wood.

How to Choose a Stain for Staining?

Before applying a natural wood stain on wood, you need to first choose a stain that will match the color of the wood. You can use either oil-based or water-soluble stains for this purpose.

Use an oil-based stain if your surface is unfinished, unpainted, and untreated with sealant while using a water-based stain on finished surfaces like treated wood, painted ones, etc.

Oil-based stains are more resistant to fading in sunlight whereas water-based stain ones tend to fade out faster especially when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time.

What are The Steps of Lightening Wood Stain?

What are The Steps of Lightening Wood Stain

There are a few methods of lightening wood stain. Now we are going to discuss these methods.

What tools and products we need?

We may need some tools and products to lighten the wood stain according to your applying process. These tools and products are:

  • Wood conditioner
  • Finish stripper
  • Plastic scraper
  • Wood bleach
  • Tack cloth
  • Steel wool
  • Paint brush
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Minwax stain
  • Wood filler lightener
  • Sanding tool
  • A sponge or a rag
  • Plastic container

Bleaching Method

Wood bleach is a natural thing, but not many people know how to use or apply this product. Wood bleach can be found in your local grocery store and will work the same no matter what type of wood stain you are using.

  1. At first, you need to apply a finish stripper to lighten the stain. Then, you need to apply bleach and wait for an hour.
  2. Use a plastic scraper to scrape the stain and then wipe it clean with a cloth. Repeat this step until you see your desired result.
  3. Wear safety equipment for avoiding inhaling or coming into contact with the wood bleach. Apply a small amount of chlorine bleach to an area and then wait for it to dry before applying more. This process should be done in sections until all areas are covered.
  4. Once your desired levels have been achieved, rinse off any excess bleach immediately so that you don’t leave furniture looking overly lightened with streaks like color stains in wood

It’s always best to work outdoors when using this product because there is no telling what will happen if rain falls on unfinished bleached surfaces such as exterior decks, fences, etc., which could result in yellowing or streaked finish.

Thinner Applying Method

One of the simplest ways to lighten wood stain is by using thinner. You can buy it at most hardware stores, or you can make your own thinner solution with a few mineral spirits mixed into some paint thinner.

The trick here is that if you want to lighten just part of an entire room’s wall, then this option may be better because it will blend in more evenly due to its translucent properties.

  1. Apply the lacquer thinner directly over the colored area and let dry for 24 hours before applying lighter paints on top so they do not combine with any existing pigments left behind from the old color coat otherwise, that initial layer will show through even after several coats when we try again!
  2. The next step is to use a drywall sanding sponge for the application. Roll it on over the surface and then wipe off any excess lighter color with a clean cloth.
  3. The final option is to rub some fine steel wool along the area you want to lighten before applying thinners, which should remove much of that first layer and leave an even coat behind as well as break down any paint flakes or stubborn stains so they are easier to work with later!

Clear soap or wood conditioner Applying method

Steel wool is great for lifting stains off of wood. Follow these steps:

  1. Use steel wool on a wet or dry surface to remove the dark areas before staining will ensure that you get an even, more uniform color over your whole project. If there are some stains too stubborn for just steel wool, try using denatured alcohol and water mixed together in order to lift them up easier.
  2. Use clear soap or wood conditioner with a soft bristled brush and clean it away immediately after scrubbing so as not to leave behind any marks from the broom residue when dried out. This can work wonders if used correctly every time by removing absorption of dye onto the wood fibers during prolonged periods of use without washing first (e.g., months).
  3. The last step is to apply polyurethane stain to the wood surface to seal it and make sure that when you do wash your deck in a few months, this time there will be no more dark blotches of dye!

Lid applying Method

There is also a way of adding more lightener to the wood stain without having to wash it, but this will be at your own risk. You’ll need water and an empty container with a lid for this method to work properly.

  1. Mix equal parts of stained water and fresh clean water together until you get some bubbles on top – about one gallon.
  2. Then add one teaspoon per gallon of bleach (to neutralize any odors).
  3. Use a paint brush or sponge; gently rub over the stains so as not to splatter too much onto areas that don’t have them yet. The idea is just to make sure all surfaces are covered equally; not necessarily scrubbing very hard! Let dry overnight before doing anything else with it.

Stain Diluting Method

The process of diluting stain on wood surface is quite simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a brush and clean it with soap or detergent before you apply the stain on your wood surface starting from left to right, top to bottom for best results.
  2. Use the appropriate stain mixture. For new stains, mix in a few drops of water with one cup of stain to thin it down and make spreading easier. However, adding water will make the process take longer as well so in this case patience should be exercised!
  3. If you want to lighten an old dark wood stain, then add some white paint or chalkboard chalks into the dilute mixture as well before applying it on your unfinished surface.

However, if you are trying to tint a color type wood (e.g., red oak), a diluted liquid dye can be used instead of whitener for more vibrant results that will not fade over time like painted mixtures would do so quickly in direct daylight exposure.


How to Lighten Gel Stain?

Lighting gel stain a little is not so difficult. You have to follow the right way. Use mineral spirit to scrub the gel stain with a brush and then wipe it off. Or you can lighten gel the stain with hydrogen peroxide. Pour a small amount of 20 volume (or higher) hydrogen peroxide onto the lightened areas, brush it in and let it sit for 20 minutes before wiping off any that is left behind. Use turpentine to soften some pigment on darker wood stains or furniture finishes.

How To Lighten Wood Stains without Sanding or Stripping?

Apply a light coat of stain to the wood. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then wipe off with a rag or cloth. It seals in any existing color while removing excess, so you don’t have as much pigment on your surface (and therefore less overall shade). Use a water-based sealant after priming or painting to make the stain last longer. This will help lighten any dark areas of the wood surfaces.


The proper care of wood can keep it from staining its natural color. If you’ve got a deck or fence, and want to maintain the original look for as long as possible, we recommend taking these simple steps when cleaning your wood surfaces. Remember that not all stains are permanent!

Few Related Discussions:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *