How To Remove Dark Stains From Wood (Step-by-Step Guide)

An unsightly dark stain on wood that refuses to come out can be very frustrating. Whether you’re working on a hardwood floor or trying to give a piece of furniture a new look, removing the dark stain will go a long way towards giving you that perfect look you’re gunning for. What’s the best way to do the job?

To remove dark spots or stains from wood, you can use either a scraper, heat gun or belt sander. However, all of these methods are highly labor-intensive. Using a wood stain remover on the surface before sanding is a more effective method of getting the job done.

The rest of the article will look at how you can get rid of dark stains from wood using a remover. Watch out for tips on how to choose the best wood stain remover.

How To Remove Dark Stains From Wood Floor, Beams Furniture, and Cabinet

If you have a dark stain on your wood floor, beams, or cabinet, here’s how to remove it:

Buy a Wood Stain Remover or Stripper

There are a few options on the market. Choose the best one fit for the job, and you have a good shot at getting rid of the stain. There are a few factors you should keep in mind when buying any of these. We’ll take a look at them later on the article, but some of the top options you can go with include:

Prepare Your Work Area

Wood stain removers often have strong odors, so it’s always best to work outdoors if you’re getting rid of dark stain from a piece of furniture, for example. For wood floors or beams, ensure the room is properly ventilated before you start working. Think about opening the doors and windows and turn on the ceiling fan (or set up a floor fan).

Then, get some protective gear like gloves and safety goggles. You should also wear long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin while working.

Clean It With Water & a Household Cleaning Agent

The next step is to clean the affected area you’re working on with some household cleaning agent in water. Dry it with paper towels or a clean rag. In preparing the surface, you need to remove all materials that can potentially get damaged by the wood stain remover.

If you’re working on furniture, grab a piece of cloth for placing the remover. On wooden floors, make sure you protect the wall close to the floor using painter’s tape. You should also remove all the metal objects around the surface.

Add the Stain Remover With a Natural Fiber Brush

With the surface ready, it’s time to pour out the wood stain remover in any container you can find (ideally metal) and apply it to the surface according to the manufacturer’s directions. The application is best done with a paintbrush that has natural fibers. 

Apply the remover evenly across the surface, ensuring a thick coating. If the dark stain bled into corners, be sure to apply the remover to those areas carefully. With the remover applied. Give it 20 minutes to work and reapply if necessary.

Scrape the Residue With a Putty Knife

Once the wood stain remover has stayed long enough on the surface, scrape the residue. To be sure the remover is ready to come off, check for swelling and bubble. You can work with a putty knife or a plastic scraper, but remember that metal objects or anything with sharp edges can leave deep gouges on the surface. Scrape gently, and ensure the residue goes straight into the trash can instead of sitting on another portion of the surface.

If the residue doesn’t come off in some areas, you can use some steel wool for the job, working in the grain’s direction. Clean the surface using a slightly damp cloth to get rid of any leftover residue on the surface.

Sand the Area With 120 & 180-Grit Sandpaper

Once the area has dried for at least 24 hours, it’s time to sand it. However, you may not have to do this step. The stain may come off completely with the stain remover residue, but sanding can give you a clearer surface.

For this stage, you’ll need a handheld orbital sander and a few 120- and 180-grit sandpapers. Don’t forget to wear your eye protection and a mask before beginning this step. Fit the sander with the finer 120-grit sandpaper and turn on the sander. Apply the right pressure to remove any traces of the stain, and the stain remover applied, but not too much to scuff up the surface badly.

The wood stain remover will get rid of the bulk of the stain, making the sanding process less tasking than it would be if you jumped straight to sanding. Once you’re satisfied with the result, wipe off the resulting dust. Change to 180-grit sandpaper to round off the sanding. The finer grit will remove all marks and give you a smooth surface. If you don’t have an orbital sander, you can wrap a wood block with sandpaper to the same effect.

Clean the Surface With a Cloth & Vacuum

With sanding completed, clean the area one last time, and the pesky dark stain should be history. Clean the surface with a cloth and vacuum all of the sawdust around the area. If the wood floor, beam, or cabinet is made of ash, beech, oak, or gum, you can apply some bleach to the surface to eliminate watermarks and lighten the area.

How To Choose the Best Wood Stain Remover

As the main ingredient needed for the dark stain removal project, you should be careful to choose the right product. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Any wood stain remover that contains chemicals can be harmful to your family. Look closely at the ingredients to ensure the wood stain remover is family-friendly. Most manufacturers offering these products will have detailed warnings on how safe they are, but you can always verify the chemicals listed on the product online.

Check for Effectiveness

Will the remover work for dark stains? An easy way to know is to read reviews of past customers to see what they say about the efficacy. Avoid products without enough reviews relevant to your situation.

Check for Strong Odor

The odors in some wood stain removers are strong enough to trigger adverse health reactions in anyone around. Look for products that don’t have very strong odors. The smell shouldn’t be too strong to cause allergic reactions or linger in the room for days, even with proper ventilation.

Check for Versatility

Some wood stain removers are made for specific types of wood. There’s nothing wrong with choosing one of these if they match with the wood surface you intend to work on, but it’s often best to buy a product you can use on every type of wood in your home. You shouldn’t have to buy a different remover for your cabinet and a different one for your floor.

Ensure Wood-Friendliness

You need to ensure the product you choose won’t damage the wood surface after removing the stain. Some of these products are too powerful, causing discoloration or warping. You don’t want to go from removing a small dark stain to needing heavy repair work on the surface. Again, you can avoid this by checking reviews to see what other people say about the product’s wood-friendliness before buying them.

To be sure, it’s always best to check out the reviews and check out the product information before proceeding with your purchase.


Removing dark stain from wood need not be a stressful process. Applying the right wood stain remover and finishing up with some light sanding is often enough to get the job done. Pay attention to product reviews to get the best stain remover product for your circumstances.

Don’t forget to wear adequate protective gear before you start working on the surface.



I have been woodworking since being introduced to the hobby in High School. I enjoy woodworking as a hobby and would like to share some of what I have learned with the world. I have recently built a CNC router system and I have enjoyed learning this new dimension of the hobby.

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