Wooden furniture and structures have an undeniable natural beauty, but they can develop an unattractive orange hue over time, due to sunlight, chemicals, or just plain aging. The good news is, there are ways to get rid of that orange tone and bring the wood back to its original color.
In this guide, I’ll share tried-and-true methods for neutralizing these tones, whether you’re working with pine, oak, or any other type of wood.
Ways To Neutralize Orange Tones in Your Wooden Pieces
Method #1: Adding stains with blue undertones
One of the most effective ways to remove unwanted orange hues from the wood is to add a stain with blue undertones. This technique works because blue and orange are complementary colors on the color wheel.
When the two colors are mixed, they cancel each other out, creating a neutral tone. To use this method, choose a wood stain along with blue undertones, such as a gray or ash-colored stain. Apply the stain to the wood using a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Make sure to test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area of the wood first to ensure you are satisfied with the color.
Method #2: Adding blue paint or tint
Another effective method I swear by to get rid of those pesky orange tones is applying a bit of blue paint or tint to the wood’s surface. It works wonders for neutralizing the color.
This method functions similarly to using a stain with a cool, bluish tint but offers greater control over the quantity of blue applied to the wood, enabling precise adjustments to achieve the desired color balance.
Here’s how to do this method:
Step #1: Prepare the surface
Begin by getting the surface of the wood ready. Using fine sandpaper, sand the wood to remove any rough spots or debris. Ensure to clean the wood with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.
Step #2: Prepare the blue neutralizer
Next, prepare the blue neutralizing solution by mixing tint with a blue hue and a clear glaze or varnish. The ratio of the blue to glaze will depend on the intensity of the orange tone and the desired color. Be mindful of its mixture process.
Start with a small amount of blue and gradually add until you achieve the desired color. Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure that the color is even.
Step #3: Apply blue to orange tone
When you’re ready to apply the blue neutralizing solution, grab a brush or cloth and follow the wood’s grain pattern. I always make sure to apply an even coat and avoid any drips or puddles. That way, you’re more likely to end up with a quality, polished result.
Step #4: Let it Dry
Allow the blue stain to dry completely. The drying time will depend on the type of paint or tint used and the temperature and humidity of the room.
Step #5: Repeat the steps
If the orange tone is still present after the first application of a blue neutralizing coat has dried, perform the same process again until the desired color is achieved.
Once you have balanced the warm hues of orange, apply a protective finish, such as varnish or wax, to the wood to protect it from further damage and preserve its new color.
Method #2: Aerosol toner with a green or blue cast
For smaller or more intricate pieces like trim or moldings, using an aerosol toner with a blue or green cast can be a game-changer. In my experience, it’s another really effective way to neutralize those orange tones in wood.
Step #1: Get an Aerosol Toner with a blue or green cast
Purchase a spray-on toner with a cool blue or greenish hue from your local hardware or woodworking store. Choose a toner compatible with the wood you will be working on, this must be on the top list in purchasing aerosol pigment.
Step #2: With painter’s tape, prepare the area you'll work on
Using painter’s tape, mask off any areas you do not want to be affected by the toner. This will ensure that the toner is applied only to the areas needing neutralization to achieve the desired outcome.
Step #3: Apply toner at a 12-inch distance
Hold the toner can or sprayer 12 inches away from the surface and spray an even coat of toner onto the wood. Keep the can moving to avoid leaving any heavy spots or drips.
Step #4: Let it Dry
Leave the toner dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The process may take a few minutes to several hours, depending on the type of toner used.
If the orange tone is still present after the first coat of toner has dried, repeat the process until the desired color is achieved. Once the orange tone has been neutralized, you can apply a clear finish or protective coating to the wood to help preserve the new color.
Method #3: Bleach the wood
Bleaching is a method to balance out or tone down the warm orange tones in the wood by removing the natural color from the wood fibers.
To start, you’ll need to prepare the wood. Then, apply a nice even layer of bleach solution and leave it on for the recommended time. After that, rinse the wood thoroughly with water and let it dry completely. This process has always worked well for me in getting rid of those unwanted tones.
Once the wood is dry, it can be sanded and finished with the best clear coat to protect it and enhance its natural beauty. It’s important to wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling bleach to avoid any contact with the skin or eyes.
Bleach Wood with DIY Bleach
Bleaching the wood with DIY bleach involves using a combination of chemicals such as lye and hydrogen peroxide. Using these chemicals helps every woodworker, either beginners or professionals, to break down the natural color of the wood fibers, effectively neutralizing orange tones.
Here’s how to do this process:
Step #1: Prep the tools, materials, and ingredients
Prepare and gather everything necessary for the process, including gloves, eye protection, lye, hydrogen peroxide, water, a container, and a brush.
Step #2: Mix Lye and Water
When you’re working with lye, first dissolve it in water, following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. I can’t stress enough how important it is to wear protective gloves and eye protection for this step.
Taking these safety precautions will make the whole process smoother and safer for you.
Step #3: Apply the Hydrogen Peroxide
Coat the surface with hydrogen peroxide using a paintbrush. This helps make dark stained wood lighter and prepare it for the bleaching process.
Step #4: Apply Lye-Water Solution
Using a brush, apply the liquid mixture of water and lye to the wood. Ensure that the solution is applied uniformly is necessary.
Step #5: Let it Dry
Allow the solution to dry on the wood surface for the recommended time, usually around 10-20 minutes. Following the recommended time will ensure the quality of the result.
Step #6: Rinse the Wood
Rinse the wood thoroughly with water to neutralize the bleach, prevent damage to the wood fibers, and maintain the expected outcome.
Sanding the Wood after Bleaching
When the wood has dried entirely, sand it lightly to remove any rough spots or debris. This will help smooth the wood’s surface and prepare it for further treatments or finishes.
It’s essential to wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling bleach to avoid any contact with the skin or eyes.
Bleach the Wood Using Store-bought Bleach
If you’re looking to quickly tone down those orange hues in wood, using a bleaching agent is a pretty straightforward solution. I usually pick up a bleach solution from any hardware or home improvement store, and it does the job nicely.
Step #1: Mix Solutions Using a Bottle
Mix the store-bought bleach solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using a spray bottle or a brush to apply the solution.
Step #2: Apply the Solution to the Wood
Apply the bleach solution to the wood surface using a brush or a spray bottle. Apply the mixture uniformly to the surface and avoid leaving any drips or puddles.
Step #3: Let it dry
Allow the solution to dry on the wood surface for the recommended time, usually around 10-20 minutes.
Step #4: Rinse the Wood
Rinse the wood thoroughly with water to neutralize the bleach and prevent any damage to the wood fibers.
It’s essential to wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling bleach to avoid any contact with skin or eyes. Additionally, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid potential hazards or accidents.
Toning Down Orange Wood Stain
Applying a tinted topcoat or glaze is a technique I often use to alter the color of a wood surface. It’s particularly effective for neutralizing orange tones in wood that has already been stained.
This technique is a lifesaver for those pieces that you don’t want to completely refinish but still need a bit of a touch-up.
This method works by introducing a different color to the wood surface, which counteracts the orange undertones. Choosing a topcoat or glaze with the right undertones, such as blue or green, is important to achieve the desired effect.
Toning down the orange wood stain is a quick and easy way to update the look of the wood surface without having to sand or bleach it. Here are some general steps to tone down orange wood stain:
- Identify the type of wood and the underlying cause of the orange tones.
- Choose the appropriate technique to neutralize the orange tones, such as adding blue undertones or complementary colors, using aerosol toners, or bleaching the wood.
- Prepare the surface by sanding and cleaning the wood before staining to remove debris or dirt.
- Apply the chosen method to the wood and allow it to dry completely.
- Repeat the process until you achieve the desired color tone.
- Sand the wood to smooth out any rough patches or imperfections.
- Apply a protective coating, such as a sealant or wax, to the wood to protect it and enhance its appearance.
Remember that the specific steps may vary depending on your chosen technique and the type of wood you are working with. Researching and following the instructions carefully is important to achieve the best results.
Toning Down Orange Pine Wood
Pine wood is a popular choice for furniture and home decor because of its natural beauty and durability. However, pine wood can also have orange undertones that some people find unappealing.
So how you can neutralize orange tones in wood like pine, to achieve a more desirable color? This method involves applying a tinted topcoat or glaze with the right undertones, such as blue or green, to counteract the orange tones.
Here are the steps to tone down orange pine wood:
- Sand the wood surface: Begin by sanding the wood surface to remove any existing finish, dirt, or debris. Use sandpaper with a grit of around 120 or 150 to create a smooth and even surface.
- Choose a suitable method: Select one that suits your preference and resources. You can add stains with blue undertones or complementary colors, aerosol toners with a blue or green cast, or bleach the wood with DIY bleach or store-bought bleach.
- Test the method: Before applying it, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it achieves the desired result.
- Apply the method: Follow its instructions once you’ve selected the method. For instance, if you’re using a stain, apply it with a brush or cloth, ensuring even coverage. For aerosol toners, spray at a distance of around 12 inches from the wood surface. If you’re bleaching the wood, prepare the solution as instructed and apply it using a brush.
- Let it dry: Allow the wood to dry completely before checking the color. If it’s not the desired tone, repeat the process until you achieve the desired effect.
- Apply a protective coating: Once you’re satisfied with the color, apply a protective coating such as polyurethane or wax to enhance the appearance and protect the wood from damage.
Following these steps, you can easily tone down orange tones in pine wood and achieve the desired color tone.
How Do You Make Oak Less Orange?
Oak wood is a beautiful and popular choice for furniture and home decor, but it can have an orange tone that some people find unappealing. There are several methods to make oak less orange, which involve altering the color of the wood surface.
One method is to sand the surface lightly to remove any dirt, debris, or loose fibers and then apply a wood conditioner to prepare the wood for staining. Another method is to use a stain with blue undertones, which will counteract the orange tones and produce a more neutral color.
Applying a tinted topcoat or glaze can also help make oak less orange by introducing a different color to the wood surface.
These methods effectively transform the look of oak furniture or home decor and can be done without completely refinishing or replacing the wood. Here are the steps to make oak less orange:
- Sand your oak wood surface to remove any previous finish.
- Apply a wood conditioner to the surface to help the wood absorb the stain evenly.
- Choose a stain with a gray or taupe undertone to neutralize the orange. Test the color on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding.
- Apply the stain with a brush or cloth, working toward the grain. Allow the stain to penetrate for the recommended time on the product label.
- Wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth and allow the surface to dry completely.
- Apply a clear topcoat to protect the surface and enhance the color.
What Color Tones Down Orange in Wood?
If you’re trying to tone down the orange in wood, blue is your go-to color. I’ve found that using a stain or glaze with blue undertones really helps neutralize those orange hues, giving you a more balanced and pleasing color.
Blue is opposite to orange on the color wheel, and the complementary relationship between these colors creates a harmonious effect when used together. Applying blue paint or tint to the wood surface can also achieve a similar effect.
Ways To Neutralize Red Tones in Wood
To neutralize red tones in wood, there are several methods you can use. One way is to apply a green-toned stain or glaze to counteract the red tones.
Green is opposite to red on the color wheel, so adding green to the wood surface can balance the red tones and produce a more neutral color.
Another way is to bleach the wood using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and oxalic acid , which can lighten the color of the wood and reduce the intensity of the red tones.
Finally, sanding the wood can also help to remove the top layer of red-toned wood and expose a more neutral color underneath. Here are some steps to neutralize red tones in wood:
- Use a green-tinted stain: Apply a green-tinted stain to the wood surface to balance the red tones. Green is the opposite of red on the color wheel, making it an effective color for neutralizing red.
- Apply a light wash: Dilute a light-colored paint or stain and apply it to the wood surface as a wash. This can help tone down red tones and create a more balanced look.
- Use a toner: A toner is a transparent stain that can be applied over an existing stain or finish to adjust the color. Use a toner with a blue or green tint to neutralize red tones in the wood.
- Sand the wood: Sanding the wood can remove the top layer of the wood and the red tones. Sand the wood lightly to avoid removing too much of the surface.
- Apply a sealer: Once the red tones have been neutralized, apply a sealer to protect the wood and enhance its natural color.
Toning Down Orange Cedar Wood
Cedar wood can also have an orange tone that people may wish to tone down. One way to achieve this is to use a stain or glaze with blue or green undertones, similar to the methods used for pine and oak wood.
Blue or green-toned stains can help neutralize the orange tones and produce a more balanced color. Another option is to use a tinted topcoat or glaze, which can add a different color to the wood surface and tone down the orange tones.
Additionally, sanding the cedar wood lightly and applying a wood conditioner before staining can help to achieve a more even color and reduce the intensity of the orange tones.
It’s important to test the chosen method on a small, inconspicuous area of the cedar wood first to ensure the desired effect before applying it to the entire surface.
How to Stain Orange Wood Grey?
If you want to change the color of orange wood to grey, you can do a few things. Here are some steps to follow:
- Sand the wood. Use sandpaper to remove the old finish or any rough spots. Experts always emphasize making sure that the wood is smooth and clean.
- Apply a wood conditioner. This helps the wood absorb the stain more evenly.
- Apply a grey stain. There are a variety of grey stains available, you should choose one that matches your desired shade. Depending on your preference, apply the stain with a brush, cloth, or spray gun.
- Wipe off any excess stains. After applying the stain, use a clean cloth to remove excess. Make sure the stain is even and not blotchy.
- Apply a sealer. Once the stain is dry, apply a sealer to protect the wood and enhance the color.
Why Does Wood Turn Orange?
Wood can turn orange due to several factors. One common reason is exposure to sunlight. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can break down the lignin in the wood, which causes it to turn yellow, orange, or even red.
Another reason is using certain types of finishes or stains that contain pigments that can turn orange over time. Finally, the type of wood itself can also contribute to orange coloring. For example, pine and oak are known to have orange tones in their natural color.
How to Tone Down Orange Wood Cabinets?
If you have orange wood cabinets that you want to tone down, here are some steps you can try:
- Use a wood stain with blue or green undertones. Applying a wood stain with blue or green undertones can help neutralize the orange tones in the wood and produce a more balanced color. Be sure to test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire cabinet to achieve the desired effect.
- Apply a tinted glaze. A tinted glaze can be applied over the existing finish to add a different color to the wood surface and tone down the orange tones. Again, test the glaze on a small area first.
- Sand the cabinets and apply a new finish. Sanding the cabinets lightly can help to remove some of the orange tones from the surface. After sanding, apply a new finish such as paint, stain, or clear coat. This will give the cabinets a fresh look while toning down the orange color.
Always test any method on a small, inconspicuous area first, and follow all safety precautions when working with wood stains.
If you’re tired of the unsightly hues in your home deco, there are various techniques to neutralize orange tones in wood and achieve your desired look.
From adding blue stains to bleaching the wood, I have elaborated the ways get the job done. Say goodbye to orange wood and hello to your dream interior!