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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Lighten wood color

    Have natural redwood paneling in the dining room, was hoping someone may have an idea on how to lighten the color of it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago

    Default Re: Lighten wood color


    What kind of finish, if any, is on the redwood? If there is a varnish type finish, it would have to be removed to truely lighten the wood. Was the redwood stained darker, or has it just naturally darkened. Any wood will darken with age, even under varnish. One purpose of stain is actually to hinder such darkening. If there is a dark stain and it has penetrated deep into the grain, you will probably not be able to drastically lighten it.

    If there is varnish and you have removed it, you could lighten it be significant sanding. Not fun! If the environment allows t, a deck cleaner containing oxylic acid could be used tolighten it also. However, this reuires a fair amount of wate and this might not be practical indoors, certainly not if there is finished living space under the floor. You don't want water stains on the dining room ceiling downstairs!

    If you are down to the bare wood, you could also use a brushing stain. Brushing stains are heavy bodied and are meant to be brushed on very evenly and left without wiping. The heavy pigmentation would allow use of a lightening stain. This is essentially what a pickled oak finish is. A white stain is put on the red oak to mask the red color and give it a whiteish look.

    One final alternative: A brushing stain can actually be put right over the old varnish and left to dry on the surface. After a thorough drying, it can then be varnished over. This is essentially more a glaze than it is stain. The downside to this treatment is that it can easily be scratched and is then difficlt to touch up. If you go this route, I would consider using a natural varnish rather than a polyurethane. Urethanes are touchy about getting a good bond over heavy stain pigment on the surface. I learned the hard way to never put even painters tape on heavily pigmented stain finishes. Up comes the varnish AND the stain when the tape is pulled!

    What ever you choose, you are in for a lot of work!

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