How To Lighten Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets? (Bleach or Stain)

Cabinets with dark stains look absolutely stunning, but sometimes they get overly dark, and it becomes necessary to lighten them.

And if you happen to own dark wood kitchen cabinets and looking forward to getting them a bit lightened, then this article is for you. 

You can lighten your dark wood kitchen cabinets using a lighter stain or bleach. Sanding may also be necessary!

Also, the look of your kitchen is destined to go dull after a certain period. And naturally, you would feel the instant need to reinvent its looks. And you can do it easily by focusing on certain elements, for instance, lightening up the dark cabinets. 

So, if you are up for it, here is how to lighten your dark wood kitchen cabinets. 

How to Lighten Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets? [Bleach / Stain]

You can easily lighten the dark stains using bleach or stain. You need to choose which agent you want to use. 

Do not worry. Using bleach or stain won’t harm the cabinets; these will lighten up the cabinets and preserve their authentic look. But, you will need to use the appropriate product to get your desired results!

You may choose bleach if you are looking for a more cost-effective option. Also, it helps you preserve the actual appearance of your wood cabinet. Not just this, it may also help you eliminate stubborn stains and spots.

But, the issue with bleach is that sometimes it can show adverse effects.

For instance, the bleach you are using might be too strong, which can change the cabinet’s appearance. And it is also a fact that there are types of wood that are not bleach-friendly. 

The other option for you is to use stain. Staining the dark cabinets will accentuate its overall appearance and offer extra protection. 

However, not all stains will work on every stain. Furthermore, the effects of staining will fade much faster than bleach. 

Lighten Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets Using Bleach

So, if you are using bleach, here are the steps you will need to follow. Follow, and do as directed:

Tools Required

  • Bleach with oxalic acid or household bleach
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Cleaning Rag
  • Safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, and mask

Bleaching Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets

  1. To start, you need to determine which bleach you will use. Using different products will give your different results. Strictly do not use 2-part wood bleach as it can cause adverse effects. The best bleach would be the bleach that contains oxalic acid. You can also use your household bleach. And get all your tools ready!
  2. Get your screwdriver and remove the cabinets. If you remove the cabinets first, it will be easier for you to work on them. 
  3. Now, prepare the bleaching formula with bleach and water. Then soak your cleaning rag in it. Don’t put too much bleach all at once, as you can later.

Now, gently wipe down the cabinets using the rag. Make sure to apply the bleach evenly all over the surface. This will prevent streaks.

Apply as much as you want to achieve your desired look. And make sure that it dries off between coats. 

  1. When done, you will need to clean the cabinets by wiping them with water. Later sand it gently to get a smoother finish. 

Also, you can use a seal to preserve its look. 

Lightening Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets Using Stain

And if you wish to use stains, here is the set of steps that you will need to follow. Follow, and do as directed:

Tools Required

  • Determine the type of stain (Step 1)
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Dish wash
  • A set of brushes
  • Rags
  • Safety equipment such as gloves, mask, and goggles

If you choose to use stains, you will certainly need to work more, but the result will be worth it.

Staining Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Before you start, determine the type of stain you plan on using. Not all stains will work on every type of work. So, you need to know the type of wood and then pick the stain. 

You will get options like lacquer, gel, varnish, metal dye, water-based, oil-based, and water-soluble stains. Oil-based stains are the most commonly used stains and even last way longer. 

  1. After fixing the stain, gather all the necessary tools mentioned above. 
  2. Remove the cabinets from the wall.
  3. After removing, clean the cabinets using soapy water and a cleaning rag. If you feel the cabinet is greasy, use vinegar to get rid of it. When cleaning, let it dry for at least 20 to 24 hours. 
  4. Prepare for sanding. Gently sand every inch of the cabinet’s surface. This will allow the wood to absorb the stains perfectly. 
  5. Now, it is time to apply the stain. Simply take a brush, dip it in, and apply. 

When applying the stain, ensure you start working from the top edge and then go downward. Also, maintain motion as it prevents the stain from settling over a spot. 

  1. Keep applying the coats until you get your desired finish. Once done, let it dry completely and install it back. 

Safety Measures

Before you work on the cabinets, it is very important to have the safety gears on.

Wear a mask if you cannot remove the bleach smell, and put on goggles and gloves. Do not rush while working. 

The Bottom Line

So, what are you planning to use? Is it bleach or stain? So, now that you have read this entire article, I hope you know how you can lighten your dark wood cabinets. 

It is a great way to alter your kitchen’s appearance without having to renovate the kitchen completely! Pick the agent that works for you, and follow the steps! You will get the result you want! Good luck!

If you want to paint your cabinets, chalk paint is ideal because it requires no preparation and no priming. You can read more in our guide on painting kitchen cabinets with chalk paint

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