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Bleached Desk Refinish

I love the way this bleached desk refinish turned out! I had been looking for a small desk that I could add to our guest bedroom to give an extra work space outside of our office for when my husband and I are both working from home.  

This small desk was listed for free on Facebook Marketplace. 

There were only a couple things I really like about this desk; it was free and it was small.  Aside from that it really didn’t fit my décor but I knew, or I hoped, that I could refinish it and make it into what I wanted!  

furniture refinish

Step One: Strip Furniture

removing furniture finish

To refinish this desk, I started by stripping the old finish.  I used Citristrip Stripping Gel to remove the thick layer of varnish that was on the desk. 

Once the varnish was removed, I then used my palm stander sanded the entire desk to remove as much of the dark red stain as I could, without sanding too much.  I started with 180-grit sand paper and then 220-grit sandpaper. 

Step Two: Apply Bleach/Bleach Solution

Since this desk had such a dark red tone to the wood I knew I would have to bleach the wood to get the color and finish I was hoping for.

There are several different ways to bleach wood, for all the different methods check out our full post here!

For this desk, I used household bleach to bleach the wood.  That said, It took quite a few coats of bleach to get the wood to a color I was happy with.

Bleaching this desk took me a long time.  Each time you do a coat of bleach you need to set the wood out in the sun to dry.  I did a total of 7 coats of bleach on this desk allowing it to dry between each coat.  

Step Three: Neutralize the Bleach

After reaching a color you are happy with, make sure to neutralize the bleach by wiping on a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. 

Step Four: Prepare the wood for Finish

You will notice after bleaching the wood there will be a slightly rough feel to it.  Before applying a finish you will want to be sure to lightly sand with 220-grit sand paper.  I hand sanded my desk with a 220-grit sanding block.  After sanding, I then wipe the whole desk down with denatured alcohol to clean it of any dust.

Step Five: Apply your Finish

This desk is a cherry wood, which is very red in color even without a red hue stain.  Even after bleaching the wood there was still noticeable red tones, so I decided to stain my desk by layering different stains to even further drown out the red tones in this wood.

I started with a Weathered Oak stain and then layered a Early American stain on top of the gray.  

Once the stain dried completely, I then did a white wash over the whole desk (1 part white paint, 3 parts water).  

Lastly, I applied a top cost.  I used General Finishes Flat out Flat topcoat.


how to bleach furniture
home improvement

Links to Get Started

how to bleach furniture

DIY Bleached Desk Refinish

Prep Time 2 hours
Build Time 5 hours
Dry Time 3 hours


  • Palm Sander


  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Disposable paint brush
  • Household Bleach
  • Weathered Oak Stain
  • Early American Stain
  • White Paint
  • Matte Topcoat


  • Strip old finish and stain from furniture.
  • Apply bleach/bleach solution.
  • Neutralized the bleach.
  • Lightly sand the wood to prepare for finish.
  • Apply finish.

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