How to Get Dark Water Stains Out of Light Wood

By Steve Sloane

Water stains cause either white or black marks. White marks are produced when the water seeps into the wood's finish, creating only a surface mark. Dark stains occur when the water penetrates through the finish and into the wood. Removing this kind of stain requires taking off the finish, then addressing the stain. If working on a tabletop or other piece of furniture, you should remove the finish from the entire top. However, if the stain is on antique furniture, you should take it to a professional wood repair man.

List of Items Needed

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Rotary tool with sanding accessories
  • Oscillating tool with sanding accessories
  • Small house brush
  • Household bleach
  • Glass jar
  • Medium size paint brush
  • Medium brush and finish
  1. Sand the finish with fine sandpaper, a rotary tool with a fine-grit sanding accessory or an osciallting tool with a fine-grit sanding accessory. Sand with the grain of the wood until the finish is entirely gone. Use a small house brush or rag to remove all traces of dust.

  2. Pour some household bleach into a glass jar. Wet the tip of a medium size paint brush into the bleach, and brush it onto the surface of the dark stain. Dip the brush as many times as needed to cover the stain with bleach. Wait two hours for the bleach to seep into the stained wood, while the rest evaporates.

  3. Apply a second layer of bleach on the stain with the brush, and wait for it to dry overnight.

  4. Resurface the wood with the same finish that existed prior to sanding, using a high quality clean medium size paint brush. Wait for the finish to fully dry, and apply a second coat, if desired.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the stain does not disappear after applying two layers of bleach, apply a small amount of commercial wood bleach to the stain with a sponge. Mix the two liquids supplied with the bleach together, and brush a ample amount of the mixture onto the stain's surface. Bubbles will occur shortly. Wait up to four hours for the stain to disappear. Mix together one part household vinegar to two parts water, and apply it to the stain surface with a damp sponge. This will neutralize the bleach. Wipe off the mixture shortly afterwards with a rag.

© Demand Media 2011