From specific products to do-it-yourself solutions, let’s see together which are the most effective and fastest methods to whiten wooden surfaces.
Over time, the wooden surfaces of furniture and fixtures tend to lose their luster and deteriorate, in some cases they blacken, in others they turn yellow or stain; periodically, therefore, it is necessary to carry out a preservative treatment by sanding the surfaces and then painting them, first with the wood stain and then with the most suitable paint according to the case.
The treatment is quite complex and can vary according to the type of surface; in the case of parquet, for example, the preliminary sanding must be lighter than that required to pickle a piece of furniture . The wood exposed to the elements, such as that of the external part of the fixtures, furniture and structures placed in the garden, then needs an even more demanding sanding phase depending on the state in which it is found.
With sandpaper it is possible to eliminate stains, blackening, yellowing or efflorescence due to mold, removing the damaged surface layer and bringing to light the intact wood below; but if this has been attacked in depth, then the use of abrasives could be discouraged as it would end up removing too much material, excessively thinning the thickness of the wood.
In some cases, therefore, especially when it is necessary to intervene on furniture and parquet, it is necessary to know how to whiten the wood by limiting the use of abrasives to a minimum and resorting instead to alternative solutions; so let’s see what are the different methods that can be used for whitening wood .
1. The use of specific products
The first method is to resort to specific products that can be purchased online or in paint factories, hardware stores or stores specializing in products and equipment for building and construction.
The range of these products is decidedly wide both for the type of whitener, which can be more or less specific for certain types of wood, and for its intended use; some products, in fact, are made specifically to lighten parquet , a piece of raw wood furniture , or the fixtures, while others are made for general use.
The whiteners produced by companies operating in the enamels and paints sector also differ in composition; some are water based and others solvent based, therefore they require a different type of dilution depending on the case. The density can also change according to the type of product chosen; on the market, in fact, whitening substances can be found both in liquid form and in gel form, to be applied with the aid of sponges or soft cloths.
The specific products cost a little more than the do-it-yourself solutions, but offer the advantage of being ready to use and having a greater yield on wood degraded by long exposure to sunlight. In fact, some of the substances on the market, such as lightening gels, are able to restore the original color of the wood even after prolonged exposure to UV rays.
Furthermore, the use of specific products is also recommended for the elimination of localized stains; in this particular case, in fact, evenly bleached wood could keep a difference in contrast between the clean area and the one where the stain was present.
2. Whiten wood with bleach
One of the most used do-it-yourself methods to whiten wood involves the use of bleach; as you can easily guess, this solution is among the most widespread because this substance is easy to find and almost never fails at home.
If used for this specific purpose, however, bleach must first be diluted in water in a proportion of at least 30%. On raw wood surfaces the solution can be applied with a brush; if instead you need to whiten yellowed wood , such as that of painted furniture exposed to cigarette smoke, for example, then you can use a soft cloth soaked in the solution of water and bleach, first passing it on the surfaces in order to wet them evenly and then rubbing with light pressure.
However, we must be careful not to rub too hard on furniture decorated with hand paints to avoid irreparably damaging the decorations; reducing the concentration of bleach in the water to 20%, in these cases, could be a good precaution to take.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
Another equally widespread and easy to perform domestic method is based on the use of hydrogen peroxide; in this case, however, the solution must be composed of 5% ammonia added in proportion to the total quantity of hydrogen peroxide.
The advantages offered by this method are two: the first is that it does not damage the wood, while the second is that it is quick and easy to perform. The hydrogen peroxide, in fact, evaporates spontaneously and very quickly, consequently the treated surfaces do not require further rinsing.
In the event that the wood to be bleached is particularly blackened or rich in tannins, it is also possible to use a solution of water and oxalic acid in a proportion of 25%, or a solution of water and sodium hydrosulphite in a proportion of 10%; these are most effective on very dark woods, but both require subsequent rinsing.
4. How to clean old wood
To clean antique furniture, even lacquered ones, without the use of specific products, it is advisable to use the following methods instead. For general cleaning of unvarnished old wood, just use a mixture consisting of a tablespoon of white vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of water; the components must be mixed evenly and then passed delicately on the surfaces of the furniture with the help of a cotton cloth, being careful to follow the grain of the wood.
For antique lacquered furniture, on the other hand, it is necessary to mix two egg whites with a tablespoon of fine salt and then whip them up to obtain a cream to be sprinkled on the furniture with the help of a soft cloth; the cream should be left to act for a couple of minutes, after which it can be removed by rinsing the surfaces thoroughly with a damp cloth.