February 22, 2021

How to remove stain from wood without sanding

Do you have a piece of furniture, wooden floors or wood that is stained and you’re wondering how to deal with it without sanding? Whilst sanding is an effective method, it can sometimes damage the wood more than you need to and you wind up in a situation of cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

closeup of a young caucasian man sanding a wooden board with a sanding block
closeup of a young caucasian man sanding a wooden board with a sanding block

A couple of years back, I moved into a house with wooden floor tiles. The color was horrendous and there was no way I could stomach it, as much as I tried. I was told it was a wood stain and I’d have to cover it instead of trying to remove the stain. 

Of course, I didn’t listen, being the avid DIYer that I am. So I tried to sand the floor down, but this just scratched it and I didn’t like the result. I then had to do some digging to find alternative ways to remove the stain. In this article, we take a look at how to remove stains from wood without sanding. Let’s dive in, shall we?

List of things that you may need to use:

  • Furniture refinisher
  • Stain stripping solution
  • Protective breathable face mask
  • Fine steel wool
  • Plastic scraper with a dull edge
  • Gloves
  • A plastic bag large enough to cover the area you’re working on
  • Spray bottle of water
  • A rag or a cloth to wipe the surface down when you are done

Step By Step Process.

Sanding may be effective but it also leaves a high risk of damaging the wood, whether it’s on a floor, furniture, or countertop. The good news is that with just a few items, you can get the stain off easily. 

  • Prepare the wood, make sure the wood is cleaned and dry before you start the process. If it is furniture, make sure to remove all knobs, or handles, hinges, or decorative extremities and attachments that you will not be working on. Preparation also includes making sure the room has enough ventilation. The fumes can get strong as you work. make sure that your hands and nose are protected. Also, make sure that the stain remover is confined to your working space only and that it doesn’t spillover. If you are working on a large area such as on a floor, then you can use painter’s tape to mark your boundaries.
  • Choose the stain remover that works for you. There are powdered ones and also mixed solutions 
  • Then pour the stain remover on top of the wood. Be generous with the amount of skin that you apply to the wood. 
  • Use a paintbrush, to evenly distribute the wood stain across the wood. You want to make sure that every corner is properly wet. 
  • Let the chemical stripper sit until it swells up a bit. That’s how you know that it is ready.  
  • Then scrape off the residue of the stripper. This is where you use the plastic stripping tool to make sure the wood isn’t damaged.
  • Then wipe the surface with a damp cloth until it is clean
  • The other option that you have, is to use steel wool. 
  • Using steel wool, apply the chemical stripper
  • Distribute it evenly across the wood. 

How Long it will take

To remove a wood stain, takes different amounts of time, depending on the stripping method that you choose. It can take up to 24hours or even as little as 5 to 10 seconds.

If you are using a paste based stripper, then you will need to leave it soaking into the wood, between 15 and 20 minutes. The key is to follow the instructions and make sure you don’t wipe the stripper off prematurely. 

Expected Results

You can expect a clean surface without too much effort. Especially when compared to sanding it down. Using a chemical peel may be an easier option and it also may be easy on your wood.

If you have grain in your wood that you would like to remain visible, then you may find sanding to damage it, unlike chemical stripping. 

Things to look out for

Look out for chemical burns when you are working with chemical strippers. Also, the fumes produced can be quite potent, so make sure that when you work with it, you have protective gear for both your hands and your nose. 

A mask will help you avoid breathing in the fumes, whilst the gloves help keep your fingers safe as you use the chemical stripper. 

When you are using steel wool, you may want to avoid scratching the surface. You can do this by going against the grain of the wood. 

The issue with steel wool is that it cleans better when it is clean which means that you may need to use it in large quantities. The chemical peel clogs up the steel wool, so you may need to switch it out often. Also, you may want to strip the wood in sections.

Once you have put the stripper, make sure that it stays wet. you can ensure this by placing a plastic bag over the furniture whilst you wait for it to be ready to be scraped off. 

Conclusion

Wood stain is an excellent way for getting some color into a piece of wood. But it can be a pain when you want to change the color or if you want a more natural look. 

Sanding is one of the options used to get wood stain out. But thankfully it isn’t the only option. Using chemical peels or wood stain remover offers an alternative that is often kinder to your wood.

We have reviewed the step by step process and we hope that this helps you find the best alternative to sanding for you. The above steps are outlined as a suggestion and alternative to sanding when you need to get wood stain out of wood. 

Do you have a piece of furniture or wood that is stained and you’re wondering how to deal with it without sanding? Whilst sanding is an effective method, it can sometimes damage the wood more than you need to and you wind up in a situation of cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

A couple of years back, I moved into a house with wooden floor tiles. The color was horrendous and there was no way I could stomach it, as much as I tried. I was told it was a wood stain and I’d have to cover it instead of trying to remove the stain. 

Of course, I didn’t listen, being the avid DIYer that I am. So I tried to sand the floor down, but this just scratched it and I didn’t like the result. I then had to do some digging to find alternative ways to remove the stain. In this article, we take a look at how to remove stains from wood without sanding. Let’s dive in, shall we?

List of things that you may need to use:

  • Furniture refinisher
  • Stain stripping solution
  • Protective breathable face mask
  • Fine steel wool
  • Plastic scraper with a dull edge
  • Gloves
  • A plastic bag large enough to cover the area you’re working on
  • Spray bottle of water
  • A rag or a cloth to wipe the surface down when you are done

Step By Step Process.

Sanding may be effective but it also leaves a high risk of damaging the wood, whether it’s on a floor, furniture, or countertop. The good news is that with just a few items, you can get the stain off easily. 

  • Prepare the wood, make sure the wood is cleaned and dry before you start the process. If it is furniture, make sure to remove all knobs, or handles, hinges, or decorative extremities and attachments that you will not be working on. Preparation also includes making sure the room has enough ventilation. The fumes can get strong as you work. make sure that your hands and nose are protected. Also, make sure that the stain remover is confined to your working space only and that it doesn’t spillover. If you are working on a large area such as on a floor, then you can use painter’s tape to mark your boundaries.
  • Choose the stain remover that works for you. There are powdered ones and also mixed solutions 
  • Then pour the stain remover on top of the wood. Be generous with the amount of skin that you apply to the wood. 
  • Use a paintbrush, to evenly distribute the wood stain across the wood. You want to make sure that every corner is properly wet. 
  • Let the chemical stripper sit until it swells up a bit. That’s how you know that it is ready.  
  • Then scrape off the residue of the stripper. This is where you use the plastic stripping tool to make sure the wood isn’t damaged.
  • Then wipe the surface with a damp cloth until it is clean
  • The other option that you have, is to use steel wool. 
  • Using steel wool, apply the chemical stripper
  • Distribute it evenly across the wood. 

How Long it will take

To remove a wood stain, takes different amounts of time, depending on the stripping method that you choose. It can take up to 24hours or even as little as 5 to 10 seconds. If you are using a paste based stripper, then you will need to leave it soaking into the wood, between 15 and 20 minutes. The key is to follow the instructions and make sure you don’t wipe the stripper off prematurely. 

Expected Results

You can expect a clean surface without too much effort. Especially when compared to sanding it down. Using a chemical peel may be an easier option and it also may be easy on your wood. If you have grain in your wood that you would like to remain visible, then you may find sanding to damage it, unlike chemical stripping. 

Things to look out for

Look out for chemical burns when you are working with chemical strippers. Also, the fumes produced can be quite potent, so make sure that when you work with it, you have protective gear for both your hands and your nose. 

A mask will help you avoid breathing in the fumes, whilst the gloves help keep your fingers safe as you use the chemical stripper. 

When you are using steel wool, you may want to avoid scratching the surface. You can do this by going against the grain of the wood. 

The issue with steel wool is that it cleans better when it is clean which means that you may need to use it in large quantities. The chemical peel clogs up the steel wool, so you may need to switch it out often. Also, you may want to strip the wood in sections.

Once you have put the stripper, make sure that it stays wet. you can ensure this by placing a plastic bag over the furniture whilst you wait for it to be ready to be scraped off. 

Conclusion

Wood stain is an excellent way for getting some color into a piece of wood. But it can be a pain when you want to change the color or if you want a more natural look. 

Sanding is one of the options used to get wood stain out. But thankfully it isn’t the only option. Using chemical peels or wood stain remover offers an alternative that is often kinder to your wood.

We have reviewed the step by step process and we hope that this helps you find the best alternative to sanding for you. The above steps are outlined as a suggestion and alternative to sanding when you need to get wood stain out of wood. 

Chemical strippers aren’t the only alternative to sanding. But I find it an easier one. Ultimately the choice is yours, but it’s often helpful to come up with an informed resolve

David D. Hughes
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