Preserving a Bleached Appearance

Keeping the blond appearance of stripped, bleached wood, without ambering, is possible with the right choice of coating. September 18, 2012

I'm working on a solid white oak table top (8/4 thick) for a residential project. The client wants to bleach the table top and clear coat it (flat gloss). Problem is that once I spray it, some of the yellow tone this wood naturally has comes back. Is there any finish or technique I can use to keep the exact tone it has when it's unfinished? The client wants to achieve a "close to the grain" look. My first thought is to oil rub it with Tung oil and wax it. Any more durable options, perhaps something that doesn't need yearly maintenance? Higher gloss/thick coats of finish are out of the question for him. They also have kids, so it is going to get some abuse.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
ICA has a product called Naturwood. It's the closest I've found to a natural looking finish without changing the look of the wood very much. It's almost dead flat and can be catalyzed for a durable finish. I'm using it on rifted white oak doors and cabinets for a project I'm doing right now.

From contributor A:
I think the Naturewood mentioned above would be the best in your case. It is a good product for natural furnishing and shining.

From contributor E:
Find a good water clear conversion varnish in the lowest sheen available. Catalyze as normally required, then make a wash coat of it by thinning with the appropriate solvent. More or less solvent will provide more or less film build. I do about 1 part CV to 4 parts thinner. Spray 1 coat, scuff and spray a second coat. When the coating is this thin, you can get away with a light buff of the second coat with a Scotchbrite to dull it down more if need be.

From contributor Y:
Sounds like you're skipping the bleaching part by pickle staining. You really need to bleach it with hardcore chemicals.

From contributor J:
The questioner is saying that after bleaching, applying a finish that has an amber hue to it like many do, the wood comes back to a more yellow unbleached state. Again, the only thing I've found that will do what the client is asking for is ICA's Naturwood and another product they have called CWA Wax Effect. Both are gonna give you that "no finish" look with a catalyzed protection. I do tung oil and wax on all my distressed antique finishes, but it definitely darkens the wood and it won't hold up to any kind of use like described here.