Easy2 Technologies - Bleaching Water Stains from Furniture Product Demo

Bleaching Water Stains from Furniture Instructions

  • Bleaching Furniture from Water Stains

    When restoring older wood furniture you will probably encounter dark rings and black spots, which are caused by water stains. Oxalic acid is a moderate bleach that will remove these stains even if they have penetrated the wood surface. Oxalic acid will also remove finish stain applied previously and lighten the wood for a fresh new look.

  • Overview

    Start with a piece of furniture that is bare wood. Next, sand the piece thoroughly. Then remove any sanding dust that has spread. Make a small amount of wet paste and cover the furniture. Once stains are bleached remove paste with sponge. Then coat the entire surface to remove the stain finish. Rinse again and allow furniture to dry, and you’re done!

  • To Begin

    Start with a piece of furniture that is bare wood. To remove an existing finish, refer to the tutorial on stripping furniture. First, place your project piece on a drop cloth for protection. Next, sand the wood thoroughly to remove oil and debris left from the finish removing process. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain.

  • Prepping Wood

    Remove sanding dust by brushing with a clean, dry paintbrush, especially in the joints and detail areas. Then rub a tack cloth over the entire surface of your furniture. Next, prepare the make the wet paste.

  • Mixture

    Next, make a small amount of wet paste, mixing hot water and oxalic acid crystals. Use a mixture of three parts oxalic acid to one part hot water. Add more water or more crystals as needed.

  • Application

    Apply the paste mixture only to the heavily stained areas and black spots with the tip of a paintbrush or sponge applicator. Avoid contact with metal fasteners and the metal of the paintbrush, but be sure to avoid breathing fumes if you do touch any metal hardware. Allow the mixture to “soak” a few minutes on softwood, such as pine, and up to one hour or more on hardwoods, such as oak, maple and hickory. Check it often to achieve your desired color. If the acid crystals dry before the wood is lightened, remoisten the area with a few drops of water or reapply the paste.

  • Application

    After the stains and spots are bleached, remove the paste with a sponge. Next, use the larger-size plastic container to mix a wash of water and oxalic acid. To work a large area, mix ½ lb. oxalic acid crystals to 1 quart of hot water. For smaller areas, mix 1 oz. of acid crystals to 1 cup of hot water.

  • Application

    Then coat the entire surface of your furniture piece to remove the stain finish and achieve an even color. Be sure to get the bleach into the seams, joints and detail areas.

  • Washing

    Once the surface is uniformly bleached, thoroughly wash away the acid with warm water using a clean sponge and clean water.

  • Neutralize

    Then neutralize the acid bleach by wiping the wood surface with diluted ammonia (1:1 with water) or baking soda solution (one scoop to a quart of water) using a clean sponge. If you don’t neutralize the bleach, it will lighten any stain you apply later.

  • Rinse

    Rinse again with clean water and a clean sponge, being sure not to let the wood sit for too long saturated with water or vinegar.

  • Drying Process

    Allow your furniture piece to dry thoroughly, which will take about two days. After the piece is dry, gently sand the surface with extra-fine grit sandpaper - 280-grit should do.

  • Finishing Project

    Use a clean, dry paintbrush to brush off sanding dust, especially in the joints and detail areas. Then rub a tack cloth over the entire surface of your furniture. If stains and marks persist, you can repeat the process, or try one of the other bleaching methods, either mild bleach or a two-part hydrogen peroxide solution (see our tutorials on these two topics).


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