How to Bleach Wood Furniture
Natural wood tones are my JAM! I love the light, raw and restored look. You can use this 'look' in any design style. Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn have got NOTHING on us because I am about to show and tell you (in a few simple steps) how I refinished my husband's childhood oak dresser to look like a pricey piece from RH or Pottery Barn!
1. All purpose house hold cleaner & old rag to wipe down the wood.
2. Rubber gloves, plastic & rag for spills.
3. Striping Agent - I like THIS ONE because it's safe to use indoors.
4. Paint brush or sponge to apply stripper with.
5. Putty knife, I like THIS metal one.
6. OPTIONAL: Metal utility brush for those hard to get places or pieces with decorative designs that you can't get to with a putty knife.
7. OPTIONAL: Sand Paper, to get the wood even more raw.
8. Household Bleach & rag to apply it with.
9. Sponge for wiping wood down at the end.
1. Clean your wood piece, pull drawers out & remove hardware
2. Clean your furniture with any household cleaner
3. Apply stripper (heavily) with a sponge or brush - repeat as needed
Do this in thick heavy strokes, especially in areas where the stain/wood tone seems darker. Let it sit for 20 minutes to 2 hours. I was impatient and started scraping after 20 minutes which I REGRET. If you let it sit for 2 hours, you have way less work ahead of you. Repeat this at least one more time if you feel like you did not get your desired look.
NOTE: Our dresser was only a sealed natural, oak wood - to get that red tone out, we had to repeat the process twice AND SAND.
OPTIONAL: Sand to even further remove the current wood tone.
4. Scrape (OPTIONAL: THEN SAND)
Use your metal putty knife to scrape off whatever the stripper lifted up for you - this is totally therapeutic. Go with the grain of the wood. I was not gentle with this..PUSH down and get rough with it because it gives you that beat up-rustic look.
5. Apply bleach, repeat to get desired look
The easiest part. You literally just take a rag, pour bleach on it and wipe onto the wood evenly; apply it just like you would when wiping down a counter - not heavy, not too light. Let the bleach sit on the wood until it feels dry to touch....REPEAT as many times as you want. Each time the wood will look lighter. For this particular dresser we did 3 coats. Keep in mind, darker woods may take more coats of bleach whereas light toned woods will take less.
6. Wipe down with clean water
Wipe off the last coat of bleach with just a regular old sponge and water - LET IT DRY and you're done...
1. Seal the wood with a clear top coat or wax - we used MINWAX wax to keep it more of a matte, rustic look.
2. Add Hardware
Leave me any questions and comments below.
Shop my favorite bleached wood furniture pieces