Moving into a house with dark oak wood floor (real hardwood not the
engineered wood with a thin veneer top) and I would like the floor to be a
lighter color like maple. If there a way to stain or bleach the floor to
make it a lighter tint?
Usually the bulk of the stain can be removed with a professional sanding.
This can lighten the color or even revert it to almost natural. Changing the
color may be more of a problem. Your best bet is to get a local refinisher
to look at the job.
Oak by nature is darker than maple. However, any clear finish will
darken it even more. There *is* a way to avoid that surface finish
darkening - I often use it on cabinets but I don't know how well it
would work on a floor. For what it's worth...
1. Sand to bare wood.
2. Apply white oil paint mixed 50/50 with thinner and *immediately*
wipe off all that is possible (I use paper towels). You would have to
work in sections of about 6 -10 sq.ft. and be careful that overlapped
areas don't have more residual paint.
After the surface dries, top coat with a clear finish. The wood won't
"pop" like it would without the thin, invisible paint layer. It will
be approximately the color of the raw wood plus whatever color is
inherent in the top coat. The color also depends upon the smoothness
of the wood...if there are still sanding scratches the paint will
catch in them and the floor will appear lighter. Experimentation is
What's happening is that the thin paint coat is acting as a sealer
preventing penetration of the top coat. That's good since you can
keep a lighter color but bad for adhesion. Which is why I'm not sure
how well it would do on a floor...any scratch, chip, whatever would be
darker if repaired with a new top coat. Works well on cabinets
Also, since the paint is being used just to seal, not to color, any
sealer should work as well.
Another way is bleaching the bare wood with oxalic acid but that isn't
something you should try.
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Take off a baseboard; this should expose some unfinished floor and you
can tell what you have to work with. If you don't want to risk breaking
a baseboard, try sanding off the finish in a spot in a closet, where it
won't show. If you just have finish that has darkened with age, sand
and refinish with whatever floats your boat, or hire it done.
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