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How to Remove Oil-Based Stain from Wood

If you would like to stain wood a lighter shade or paint it an entirely different color, you may need to learn how to remove oil-based stain from wood. When it comes to restoration projects, removing the stain from wood gives you the blank slate to make the magic happen.

In fact, you probably won’t be able to get the results you have in mind unless you ensure any previous stain is gone first.

Keep reading for tips from the experts at Five Star Painting for how to remove oil-based stain from wood furniture, siding, or floors.

7 Steps for Removing Oil-Based Stain from Wood

While there are different solvent products and chemical stain strippers you can use to remove oil-based stain from wood, these are the basic steps you will take, along with the materials you will need:

  1. Prepare the workspace.
    1. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, avoiding strong wind and direct sunlight if you choose to work outdoors. If your workspace is inside, put down drop cloths to protect the floor.
  2. Protect yourself.
    1. Wear old clothes with long pants and sleeves, protective gloves, and safety googles to stay safe.
  3. Prepare the wood surface.
    1. To prepare the wood surface for stain-stripping, clean any dirt and debris away with soapy water and then use a cloth to dry thoroughly.
  4. Apply the wood stain remover.
    1. Carefully read the instructions on the label of the chemical stripper or citrus stripper product, which you can purchase from your local hardware store or home improvement store. Then, apply the product as directed. In most cases, you will pour the solution into a metal or glass container and use a paintbrush to paint a thick layer of the stripper on the wood’s surface, taking care to apply evenly. Work in small areas of about one square foot at a time when working with large furniture pieces or wood flooring.
  5. Allow the stain stripper to sit on the surface for approximately 15 minutes, but reapply as necessary to ensure the surface doesn’t dry-out during this time.
  6. Remove the stain.
    1. When the stripper product begins to cause the surface to bubble or swell, that’s your signal it’s time for removal. Use a putty knife or plastic scraper to gently scrape away the stripper residue and stain layer from the wood’s surface. If necessary, use a steel wool pad to scrub on areas where the stain layer is not falling away with scraping. Make sure to go with the grain of the wood when scrubbing or scraping.
  7. Clean away the stain particles.
    1. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining debris or stain on the surface and allow the surface to dry for 24 hours.
  8. Sand the surface if necessary.
    1. Once you’ve arrived at this step, you may discover you don’t need to sand if the stain is gone. However, if you can still see the oil-based stain on the surface, you’ll need to sand the rest of it away. As long as you have allowed the area 24 hours to dry, you can begin sanding with a medium-grit sandpaper or sanding block, or you can use an orbital sander.
  9. After sanding, remove dust and any existing grit with a clean cloth and mineral spirits. You will now have wood furniture, siding, or flooring that is ready for a new stain or paint color.

What’s Next? Your Trusted, Local Painting Team Can Help

If your home is ready for new stain after removing oil-based stain from wood, and you’d like to let the experts handle the job for you, call on the team at your local Five Star Painting.

Although we don’t service wood furniture, our experts can put a new coat of stain (or paint) on your kitchen cabinets, trim, or wainscoting. Call (888) 261-3633 to speak to our experts or request a free estimate online.  

In some cases, replacing the wood may be more cost-effective than removing the stain. If you need help replacing wood siding or floors, call Mr. Handyman, one of our fellow Neighborly® brands.