Cleaning Stain off an Oak Door

A customer changed her mind about the stain before the topcoat was applied. What to do? July 11, 2009

I'm asking this question for a builder I know, who stained a red oak exterior door but client changed her mind and wants the oak natural. No seal coats were applied, just stain.
Is there any way to get that stain out?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Sometimes a rag soaked in Naptha works. It depends on what stain was used.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
If it's a pigmented stain, you can wash off as much stain as possible using lacquer thinner, a Scotch Brite pad, and clean rags soaked in the solvent. The color that's left, and there will be some, will have to be sanded out to get back to raw wood.

From contributor G:
It depends on what colorants were used in the stain. Dark pigments will gather in the open grain and stay there. After the washing with MS (assuming solvent based stain) and scrubbing the grain with a brass bristle brush, a possibility might be to use a grain filler.

If a contrasting color grain filler is used, he can get some nice ceruse-type effects.

From contributor R:
Greetings Bill, You will need to get a hold of a large brass bristled BBQ brush and a few buckets of paint thinner and a lot of rags and perhaps a six pack of your favorite beverage. First off I would set the door on a couple of sawhorses and lay out some paint thinner soaked rags on the face side of the door. Let it sit for a few minutes and keep the rags rather wet so the thinners soak down into the deep pores that the red oak has.

Remove about a two square foot area of rags and dip the BBQ brush into the bucket of Paint thinners, brush in the direction of the grain using a bit of downward pressure. Stop every now and then and wipe the area to see that the stain has disappeared from the pores. Follow these directions for the whole door and you will be able to remove the stain, both from the surface of the door as well as the pores.