How To Neutralize Red Tones in Wood (360 Guidelines)

We all have unique inclinations when it comes to styling our homes. Wood occupies most of it. And one of the common complaints to face is the eye-catching red tint on them. It looks bizarre in some cases.

So, how to neutralize red tones in wood?

There are a few ways to neutralize the red color of the wood. You can go for painting sanding and painting a different colour to the wood. You can also try bleaching to get a pale colour. But some prefer using green colourant on it. Using sienna or umber is another method to neutralise the red.

Curious how to do it? We’ve covered all the steps you need. So follow us along.

Let’s begin!

Ways To Neutralize Red Tones In Wood

Neutralizing the red tones of the wood isn’t a hard task. But it can be tricky. Knowing a lot of different methods can give you a more pleasing result. 

Depending on the wood type any of the following methods might be useful to you.

Method 1: Sanding & Repainting

Sanding has always been the most common and effective way to deal with wood defections. It works for stains, dullness, colour defections, and even with removing polycrylic finish.

Sanding will take off the immediately upper layer of the wood. So, it would help you to dull the colour.  Unless the colour of the wood itself is red. 

For sanding, you can use sandpaper, a sand block, or sanding machines. If the piece is simple furniture you can go for sanding blocks or papers. 

But for big projects like wooden flooring using a machine would be good. You won’t have to buy these machines. You can just rent it from any local woodshop.

If you are doing it by yourself, then sand block would be a good choice. It’ll keep the wooden surface even.

Step 1: Mark the Area

Marking the surface is necessary to make sure it’s even when you’re working on it. Grab a pencil and mark the areas where you’re about to sand. 

This step is necessary when you’re working on a part of the wooden surface. It’s to ensure you don’t sand unnecessary areas. But if you’re going for the whole thing this won’t be needed.

Step 2: Sanding

Whether you’re using a sand block or sandpaper, start with the lowest grit. Using higher-grit sanding pieces may leave scratches on the wooden surface.

Take the sand block and start sanding the surface in a repeated manner. The direction of the sanding should be maintained. Sand until you get rid of the redness on the wood.

Don’t use too much force while sanding. Use a moderate amount of pressure. Otherwise, it’ll hamper the evenness of the surface.

Use higher grit sandpaper after you’ve removed a layer or two. Keep a wet rag around you as it’s necessary. It’ll help with removing the sanding wastes.

Step 3: Repaint

After you are done with sanding it’s time to repaint the wood to your liking. Choose a colour that’s more on the paler side. So that the redness of the wood wouldn’t surface again.

If possible use a primer before applying the paint it would help with adhering the colour to the wood. Apply the colour in two coatings. Let the first coat dry properly before you apply the second coat. 

Step 4: Refinish

Wooden furniture and artefacts that require a final finishing after you paint them. It is to maintain the gloss of the wood. It also protects the wood from decaying, scratches, and stains.

You can get different types of refinishing products from the market. But using the ones that are polyurethane-based would be better. 

Method 2: Bleaching 

Sanding and repainting are good but it comes with a lot of effort. If you’re looking for a rather easy route then bleaching is a good idea. Although we can’t assure you that it’ll be a lot easier. 

It’ll mostly depend on the wood material. You can achieve a perfect result. But the opposite can also happen. Note that it must be done very carefully. Because bleach can damage or weaken the wood. 

You can use either store-bought or homemade DIY bleach. Store-bought bleach will have the using process mentioned in the package. You can simply follow that for directions.

If you’re going to use homemade bleach you’ll need hydrogen peroxide, lye, and water. Here’s how to do it-

Step 1: Making Bleach Solution

Use a mixing bowl to add all the necessary ingredients. Add the amount of water you’ll be needing to soak all the wood. 

Add some lye into the water and stir the water slowly using a spoon. For a gallon of water, you’ll need 3-4 spoons of lye. 

Step 2: Applying Bleach

Once the solution is prepared, apply some hydrogen peroxide over the wooden surface. Take a foam brush to apply the hydrogen peroxide evenly. 

Make sure it reaches all the nooks and corners. Now, apply the solution you made earlier and soak the wood properly. Make sure no area was missed. 

Now, leave it to dry. 

Step 3: Repeat the Process

The bleach and hydrogen peroxide solution should dry properly for the next step. You can keep them in the sun so that they dry completely. 

After they have dried, apply water to rinse the wood. Get rid of any remaining solution into it. With the solution removing the wood should also lose its redness. The same method is applicable for removing blotchy gel stains as well.

If the result isn’t up to the mark you can keep repeating it. You can bleach the same wood about five times to lose the colour. The process would be the same as before.

Once you get a satisfactory outcome, you can repaint it. Burnishing the wood will also be a good choice.

Method 3: Applying Green Stain

If the wood is red, a green stain can help you neutralize it. The reasoning behind this is that green is the opposite colour of red. 

Mixing green with red would give a brown colour, losing the redness in the process. If the wood has a glossy finished surface you’d have to sand it first. 

Next, you’d have to pick a green colourant for the wood. Some people use stains that already contain green colourants. But make sure it’s not similar to the faulty vinegar steel wool stain.

You’d see green colourants in different hues. They come with different ranges of greens. The darker ones will give a dull look. Similarly, the light green colour will give a sharp brown look. 

So, before buying the colourant consult with someone who has knowledge on the matter. If you are still confused, give a trial on your wood. See which colour suits the most and then pick the colourant you liked. 

Here’s how to apply it-

Step 1: Applying Colour Stain

Take a paintbrush and dip it into the green colourant. Apply it evenly over the whole surface. Make sure it reaches all the corners so no area remains untouched. 

Once you’ve applied it all over, leave it to dry.

Step 2: Reapply the Stain

As the wood absorbs the colourant into it, it’ll get a brownish look. Once the wood has dried check out the colour again. If you think it still has some red hue on it, reapply the colourant.

Hopefully, this will give you the perfect result. If not, we still have one more method for you. Let’s get down to it.

Method 4: Using Raw Sienna or Umber

Sienna and umber is a powdered pigment that gives an earth-tone yellow colour. It’s a natural pigment that is used to give a yellowish tint to the wood.

Sienna is made from manganese oxide and iron oxide. Due to this, it gives a rather yellowish-brown tint that’s suitable for the woods. Using sienna or umber can give the splendid result that you were hoping for. 

However, applying sienna or umber to woods requires a good knowledge of woodwork. If you’re not aware of the use method of it, it’s best to skip it. Here’s how to deal with it:

Step 1: Making Sienna Paste

Sienna or umber powder can be used as a wood stain if mixed with water. So first, you’d have to make a paste for staining the wood. Don’t mix too much powder at once.

Rather take small portions of powders and mix them with a tbsp of water. The paste should have a thick and creamy texture. If you poured too much water add more powder to keep the ratio right.

Step 2: Applying the Paste

Once you’ve prepared the paste, use a putty knife to apply it. Take some amount of the paste and spread it evenly onto the surface. Make sure it’s reaching all the areas and cracks over it.

One of the good sides of using sienna is that it repairs the damaged areas. Many people use it to cover up scratches or big cracks in the wood. 

So, if there’s any damaged area on the wooden surface apply a thicker coat there. Once you’ve applied it completely, leave it for drying.

Step 3: Sanding

After the paste has dried off it should stick on the surface properly. So, removing the extra layer won’t be possible just by wiping. You’d have to sand the wood surface to get a proper finishing.

Take lower-grit sandpaper or a sand block for this step. Start sanding the surface properly. Keep sanding until you get a smooth and even wooden surface.

Step 4: Finishing

Although the process has neutralized the redness, sanding makes the wood dull. That’s why you’d have to apply a finishing chemical to get back the glossy vibe.

Since you’ve applied sienna you’d have to be extra careful when applying the finishing. So that it doesn’t scrub off the newly applied powder coating.

There are many finishing products you can use for wood. Choose it wisely depending on the level of gloss you want in your wood. 

Oil finish, lacquer, or polyurethane would be good. You can use polyurethane over tacky stains as well.

So, which method seems more reliable to you? All of these methods are suggested by experts in the wood field. We hope this helps you with your project.


How to change the orange tone in the wood?

To neutralize the orange hue of the wood you can use green or blue colourants. A transparent aerosol toner would work great on them. You can also try sanding or bleaching to neutralize the orange tint.

Can wood stain lighten without sanding?

To lighten the wood colour without sanding you can use steel wool. It’s very useful to get rid of stains. Damp the steel wool into warm water first. Then rub it evenly on the wooden surface. Be careful not to leave any scratches on the surface.

Why does wood turn red?

The reason why woods turn red is mainly due to air and light exposure. The ultraviolet ray in the light causes the colour to change its tint. The air exposure works as a medium for it. Once the colour begins to change it can not be stopped.


So now you know how to neutralize red tones in wood. There were four methods we talked about in today’s post. Have you found a method that you look forward to working with?

No matter which one it is, don’t forget to read all the instructions and steps. We wish you good luck with your wood project.

Until next time!

Kevin Smith

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