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Edward, Handyman
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 7966
Experience:  Handyman, Master Gardener
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I want to lighten my hardwood floor. Someone told me ...

Resolved Question:

I want to lighten my hardwood floor. Someone told me that after sanding off the finish, clorox bleach can be applied to lighten the floor. Sort of like 'pickling' but without applying paint. If I were to do this, how would I neutralize the floor after bleaching it?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Edward replied 8 years ago.

Hello Customer,

Thank you for asking your question on Just Answer. Yes it is true that chlorine bleach can lighten some woods. There are also commercially products on the market that are made for bleaching wood. Using these on a wood floor would depend on the wood floor you have. If it is the new plank wood look floors this will not work. If you have wood veneer floors the sanding of the finish would likely damage the floor beyond repair. If you have solid wood floors it may be possible but the process could damage and warp the wood floor. If you can provide more information about the type of wood floor you are wanting to lighten I may be able to provide you with more information on the process needed. The links below has some information you might find useful.


Lightening The Color Of Wood

Understanding and Using Wood Bleaches



Edward, Handyman
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 7966
Experience: Handyman, Master Gardener
Edward and 6 other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Rich replied 8 years ago.

Hi .. please a couple details .. is this a solid wood floor ?? how wide are the boards ??

or is it a laminate flooring .. or a vineer flooring .. ??

Thanks .. Rich

Expert:  Edward replied 8 years ago.

If you need additional information, I will be pleased to answer your questions.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to electricaldick's Post: Solid birch flooring. 5/8" thick, 5 1/4" wide planks. Rustic grain & knots. I want to lighten it.
Expert:  Edward replied 8 years ago.

Bleaching birch will destroys it's distinctive color. See image below of unfinished birch.


You may find that after the finish is removed the wood will not need to be lightened. Chlorine can be used to solve most refinishing color problems. It works well for overall lightening of the wood, but will not change the color of the wood drastically. Chlorine bleach can be applied to the wood full-strength. Brush it evenly over the entire surface. Wipe the bleach off with a damp cloth. When the wood has lightened you are going to need to neutralize the wood. This is done using a solution of 1-cup borax dissolved in 1qt of hot water. The two-part bleach is commercial bleach is used to lighten or remove the natural color of wood. These two-part bleach are very strong, so use them carefully. The two-part bleach are easy to use and they work quickly. Make sure to read and follow the manufacturers instructions and follow them exactly. Normally first solution is applied and has to work for about 20 minutes before the second solution is applied. Wipe the bleached wood clean with a damp cloth. Neutralize it with the same solution as the laundry bleach. After treating the wood with bleach, the grain of the wood will raise. The raised grain must be re sanded to the level of the wood surface after it has dried completely. Be careful as to not roughen the surface. Vacuum and remove any dust from the surface. Wipe the wood clean with a tack cloth before refinishing.Should you require further clarification, never hesitate to ask. It would be my pleasure to clarify my answer to your question. My goal is your 100% satisfaction with all questions I answer.

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Expert:  Edward replied 8 years ago.
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