How to Remove Wood Stain From Wood? (3 Methods)

Removing wood stain from wood is usually a problem because wood stains penetrate wood pores deeply. So how do you remove stains from wood?

You can remove wood stains from wood by using a water-based or chemical-based paint stripper. Paint strippers have active ingredients that soak into the wood stain to break down the bond between the wood stain and the wood fibers.

After some time, the paint stripper and wood stain can be scraped off of the wood. You can also remove wood stain from wood by sanding the paint off with fine-grit sandpaper. Using sandpaper will remove the stain and make the wood smooth for a fresh coat of stain.

This post reveals more about removing wood stain from wood including other products that work to remove a wood stain. Let’s dive in.

Is It Possible To Remove Wood Stain?

It’s possible to remove a wood stain. To do this, you need to use a removal method that can penetrate or reach the wood grain. This is because wood stain soaks into the wood when applied so to remove the wood stain, you need to use a removal method that can also reach the wood grain. Common methods and products that can remove wood stain include paint strippers, sandpaper, and stain remover.

To many DIYers, removing wood stain from wood is impossible and this is because many of them go about stain removal the wrong way. Removing stain is very different from removing paints due to the different adhesion methods of both finishes.

When you paint wood, the paint sits on the top layer of the wood without penetrating. This is why it’s much easier to remove paints from wood. Stains on the other hand are a different story. When you apply wood stain, the stain soaks into the wood grain where it bonds to the wood from the inside. This makes it harder to remove the stain since it has bonded to the wood from the inside.

To remove stain, you’ll have to use a method or product that can reach inside the wood grain to dissolve the stain and force it to swell and come out from the wood. Products that can do this include paint stripper, sandpaper, solvents, and stain removers. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any of these products or methods on wood.

Can You Remove Wood Stain From Wood Without Sanding?

Can You Remove Wood Stain From Wood Without Sanding?

You can remove wood stain without sanding. To do this, you need to apply a paint striper directly over the stained wood and wait a few minutes. After a while, the stain will begin to bubble up from the wood and you can scrape the paint stripper and the wood stain off of the wood.

If you don’t want to sand, you can also use wood stain removing solvents like acetone on the stained wood. These solvents are active paint removers and they will remove the wood stain.

Sanding is often regarded as the best method to remove wood stain from wood but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other methods. If you don’t want to sand for any reason, you can still remove the wood stain by using solvents, chemicals, and paint strippers.

However, you should know that using solvents and chemicals to remove wood stain puts the wood at risk of damage. This is because some of these solvents and chemicals can cause wood damage, especially to porous hardwood surfaces including hardwood floors.

The best way to remove wood stain from wood is to sand it. Sanding doesn’t just remove the stain. It removes bumps, paint pimples, and imperfections on the wood leaving the wood smooth and ready for a finish almost immediately.

Next, let’s check out how to remove wood stain from wood easily.

How To Remove Wood Stain From Wood (3 Methods That Work)

There are not many paint removal methods that work on removing wood stain from wood but the 3 methods discussed in this guide will work perfectly. Here, you’ll learn how to use each method, what you’ll need and how each method works.

1. Remove Wood Stain By Sanding

Remove Wood Stain By Sanding

The most common and effective way of removing wood stain from wood is by sanding the wood stain off of the wood.

For this method, the sandpaper or sanding pad will be used to sand the stained wood repeatedly till the stain wears off.

This method is great because it makes the wood smooth and ready to be re-stained after removing the existing stain. The disadvantage of this method is that it takes time and effort.

To sand the wood, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Sandpaper (fine-grit)
  • A duster or vacuum
  • A pair of gloves and a face mask
  • Orbital sander (for large wooden surfaces and floors)

Here is a guide to sanding wood stain off of wood:

  1. Wipe and clean the wooden surface to remove dust nibs and grain. For wood floors, use a vacuum and mop to clean the floor
  2. Attach the sandpaper to the sander if you are using one
  3. Sand the stained wood repeatedly till the stain is off. Always inspect the stain to know if it has come off and when to stop sanding
  4. Remove dust and let the wood settle before repainting or re-staining.

2. Remove Wood Stain By Using Paint Stripper

Remove Wood Stain By Using Paint Stripper

You can also use a paint stripper to remove a wood stain. Paint strippers are active ingredients that dissolve the stain and break down the bond between the wood stain and the wood grain.

This causes the wood stain to swell and come off the wood. However, you’ll need to use a paint scraper to scrape off the paint scraper and the wood stain. You can either go for the chemical-based or water-based paint stripper.

To remove a wood stain using a paint stripper, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Paint stripper
  • Paint scraper
  • Clean rags
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic bag

Here is a guide to removing wood stain from wood using a paint stripper:

  1. Wipe and clean the stained wood to remove loose dirt and debris
  2. Apply the paint stripper over the stain using a paintbrush or plastic putty knife
  3. Wait a few minutes for the paint stripper to dissolve the wood stain
  4. When the paint stripping paste begins to crack, scrape it off of the wood with a paint scraper and the wood stain will come off too
  5. Reapply the paint stripper over the leftover wood stain
  6. Neutralize and clean off leftover paint stripper from the wood using mineral spirits or turpentine.
  7. Leave the wood to dry and settle for about 6 hours before applying a new stain or paint.

3. Remove Wood Stain By Using Paint Thinner

Remove Wood Stain By Using Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are a mixture of paint-removing chemicals and solvents. Paint thinners are designed to dissolve all types of paints and the thinning medium can also dissolve a wood stain. However, you need to be careful with paint thinner because too much of it can damage the wood.

To use this method, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Paint thinner
  • A pair of gloves
  • Clean bucket
  • Paint scraper
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Mineral spirits
  • A clean rag

Here is a guide to removing wood stain from wood using paint thinner:

  1. Pour the paint thinner into a clean container
  2. Dip a rag into the paint thinner and let it soak
  3. Take out the rag and squeeze to remove excess thinner. The rag should be damp
  4. Wipe the stained wood repeatedly with the paint thinner and leave for some minutes
  5. When the stain starts to bubble and tear, you should scrape it off of the wood
  6. Repeat the steps above if there is leftover stain on the wood
  7. Neutralize the paint thinner using mineral spirits
  8. Leave the wood to dry completely.

Other Products You Can Use To Remove Wood Stain From Wood

Acetone

Acetone can be used to remove wood stain from wood but the solvent will not be as effective as other stain removal products. This is because acetone can’t penetrate the wood grain as deeply as a wood stain so regardless of how you apply the acetone, it won’t remove the wood stain completely.

Acetone is an alcohol-based paint remover and it will struggle with removing a wood stain. You should only use acetone to remove specks of stain on the wood.

Paint Remover

Paint removers can remove wood stain but you need to use the one designed for stain removal. You should also read the manufacturer’s instructions to know if the paint remover can be used on wood.

If you’ll be using a paint remover, ensure to use the citrus or gel-based paint remover as these products have fewer fumes and are safer to use.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a perfect product for removing wood stain. The acidic based nature of the vinegar solution is strong enough to remove stain but you don’t want to leave vinegar for too long on wood because it can discolor the wood.

Vinegar is an acid-based liquid and like all acids, vinegar can also remove a wood stain. To use vinegar, soak clean rags in the vinegar solution and place them on the stained wood. The vinegar-soaked rag will dissolve the stain from the wood. However, you shouldn’t leave the vinegar for too long on the wood to prevent discoloration.

Power Washing

Power washing may remove wood stain from wood but it’s not the best method to use especially on delicate wood. This is because the pressure from the power washer can easily break wood, especially furniture.

If you want to try power washing to remove wood stain, use it on wood floors, doors, and decks. These wooden items are sturdier and more capable of withstanding the pressure from the power washer.

Citristrip

Citristrip is an industrial cleaning solvent that will remove wood stain easily from wood floors or furniture. Citristrip is also safe to use on wood as it doesn’t contain any caustic agent that can damage the wood.

Using citristrip to remove wood stain is safe and the solvent leaves behind a nice citrus scent after removing the stain. So not only does citristrip remove wood stain, but it also leaves you with a nice fragrance to enjoy.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirit can remove wood stain but the solvent can only remove the stain on the top layer of the wood. Mineral spirits can’t remove wood stain that has been absorbed by the wood. The same goes for turpentine.

You should only use mineral spirits if you want to fade the wood stain for paint application. Sometimes, painters don’t remove the entire stain from wood especially when they want to apply paint. By removing the stain on the top layer of the wood, the new paint coating will stick to the wood.

The stain inside the wood will be left there as it also helps to fill the wood pores and make the wood water-resistant. In this case, mineral spirits can help with removing the stain on the top layer but you’ll need to massage the mineral spirit on the wood using a microfiber cloth.

White Spirits

You can’t use white spirits to remove wood stain completely because the solvent is incapable of removing the stain that has adhered to the wood grain.

White spirit is a petroleum distilled solvent commonly used for clean-up and grease removal. The solvent can’t remove wood stain but you can use it to soften the wood stain before using another method to remove the stain completely. White spirits can also be used to clean painting equipment and small stains on wood.

Bleach

You should never use bleach to remove wood stain from bare wood. This is because bleach is an acid that will discolor and damage the wood. Using bleach to remove stain will also make the wood unpaintable as wood stain and paint will not stick to bleached wood.

Using bleach to remove wood stain can also produce paint fumes as the acid (bleach) reacts to the chemicals in the stain.

How Soon After Removing Wood Stain Can You Repaint The Wood?

You should wait at least 12 hours after removing wood stain before repainting the wood. This is to give the wood enough time to dry and settle especially if you used a solvent on the wooden surface. You should know that the stain removal method that you used on the wood determines how long to wait before repainting the wood.

If you removed the wood stain by sanding, then you can repaint the wood in less than 30 minutes because the wood doesn’t need to dry. Also, sandpaper helps to smoothen the wood so you don’t need any extra prep work before repainting the wood.

However, if you used solvents or paint strippers to remove the stain, it’s advised to leave the wood for at least 12 hours before repainting. This is because the chemicals in the solvent need to dry up before paint is applied. If you don’t leave enough time, the chemical residue on the wood will repel the new paint that you apply leaving you with a very amateurish finish.

Final Words

In summary, you can remove wood stain from wood by sanding or using a paint stripper. Sanding produces the smoothest result because the sandpaper removes the sandpaper and smoothens the wood so it is ready to be re-stained almost immediately.

Paint strippers also work but the chemicals in its formula can damage porous and delicate wood. Finally, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any product to remove stain from wood.

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