6 Ways to Refinish Orange Wood

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Ways to refinish orange wood
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Today I am excited to share 6 ways to refinish orange wood or red toned wood pieces to make them more neutral.

To watch the entire video click here.

In order to save money I often thrift for furniture, and it is very rare that I purchase something that doesn’t need some sort of makeover. A lot of items can be painted, but there are certain pieces that I prefer in their natural wooden state. Today I want to share 6 ways to refinish orange wood and all the pros and cons of each method.

DIY Rustic Raw Wood Finish
Antique Pine Hutch for Cottage Style Decor and Storage
Refinishing Orange Toned Wood

Refinishing Orange Wood Tones – Citristrip Spray

The first method I have used to refinish orange wood is a product called Citrstrip Spray. This product is considered a safer method of stripping furniture because it has no harsh fumes. I used this product on a side table that I still have in my living room, and I love the way it turned out.

First, my husband took the table into our basement and placed it on a piece of plywood. You will have overspray so you want to be sure the surrounding area is protected. He then held the can about a foot away and covered the entire table with a generous coat of stripper. 

Stripping Wood Furniture

The directions on the can say that you can wait 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. I believe I waited about 6 before I began removing the stripper. But this was the interesting part – rather than removing the stripper with a putty knife like I have in past projects, the directions say to “scrub with a clean plastic stripping pad dipped in soapy water.” Afterward, I wiped the whole table down with a clean cloth.

Honest review of using citrispray on wooden furniture

Finally, be sure to use Mineral Spirits to remove any left over residue. I decided to sand my table to see if it would lighten up a bit more, but I didn’t really notice a significant difference. 

Table refinished using citristrip to strip stain

Overall, I think this product is pretty amazing. I LOVED the fact that it’s safe for indoor use, there are no harsh fumes that burn your nostrils as you apply it, and it was literally so simple to remove! Here are a few updated photos of the table in our living room –

Paint Colors used in Living Room
Simple Living Room Furniture Arrangement

Refinishing Orange Wood – Scrub Brush & Dish Soap

The second method I am sharing with you is fairly simple, although requires a bit of scrubbing- just a scrub brush and dish soap! It will soften up all of the yellow and orange tones in the wood and give your piece a more neutral finish.

I used this method on my living room coffee table, and I am so happy with how it turned out. It is much more neutral tone and the soap really helped so much.

Timeless Cottage Paint Colors for you entire home

Orange Toned Furniture Pieces – Sanding

Sometimes for a raw wood look, simply sanding is all that’s needed! It just depends on the piece. I refinished this pine wash stand and literally all I did was give it a light sanding and it turned out beautiful.

Sanding was all that was needed to get a raw wood look on this pine washstand!

You should, of course, be careful with sanding. You don’t want to go crazy with an electric sander and remove all of the wonderful character that your piece has. For the majority of this washstand we sanded it by hand.

Raw pine washstand

With some pieces, you just get lucky. Again, all we had to do was sand this nightstand and it went from an orange finish that most would pass up, to a beautiful raw wood finish!

Cozy Cottage Bedroom Bed Design

Heavily Lacquered Orange Pieces – Stripping, Sanding & Bleach

Here is a photo of a cabinet I purchased on Facebook marketplace for only $25. You can see that the top is damaged and the color is very orange with a heavy lacquer topcoat.

Raw wood finish tutorial

This is the perfect example of a piece most would pass up, but I encourage you to look at the character and condition of the piece, especially if it is a good price. I loved the look of this and knew I would be able to use it so I snatched it up right away!

If your piece has a heavy lacquer finish or topcoat, I would definitely start with stripper as sanding will just take so long. You may finish stripping your piece and love the result. 

In this case, with my cabinet, the stripper took off the glossy topcoat but it didn’t touch the heavy orange stain. I stripped it once more, and still it was too orangey red. Here’s a screen shot I took of the process while sharing it in my stories on Instagram – 

How to get a raw wood look

The next thing I decided to do was sand my cabinet. Now you want to be so careful with sanding, because if you go too far or press to hard in certain areas, you can damage your piece and lose beautiful details found in vintage and antique furniture. 

Since my cabinet was pretty flat and somewhat square on all sides, I wasn’t worried too much about that. Sanding the orange finish helped tremendously. You can see the difference in the top and sides of the cabinet after sanding, below.

Sanding helps to get down to the natural wood

The next thing I did might sound crazy, but it worked SO well. I had never tried this before so I was a little skeptical, but the results were gorgeous. 

I took a very large paint brush and dipped it into some household bleach that I poured into a bucket. Then I literally “painted” the bleach all over the cabinet while outside in the sun. The heat of the sun really helps to activate and dry the bleach out faster. 

I repeated this bleaching process three or four times until I got the look I was going for, and when the final coat was dry, I wiped the whole cabinet down with a damp cloth.

DIY Raw Wood Finish Nightstand

Isn’t this piece gorgeous?! What a transformation with simple household bleach. I was so excited this simple step worked as well as it did! 

Ways to Refinish Orange Wood – Stripper and Steel Wool

The dresser we have in our bedroom is one of my favorite transformations.

The first thing I did to this piece (after removing the hardware) was apply stripper to the dresser drawer fronts. Also, make sure you are in a well ventilated area. We worked on this in late spring so I was able to open all the windows and have fans going as well.

I used a plastic putty knife to scrape off my finish, then I worked my way up the dresser and tried to reuse as much of the stripper as I could.

Ways to Refinish Orange Toned Wood with Stripper

Another thing I like to use when stripping wood is a fine grade of steel wool. I like to pour stripper right on to the wool and work it into the wood, removing as much of the finish as I can. 

Refinishing Orange Tones in wood for a neutral finish

After stripping all of the drawers, it’s wise to clean your wood with something like Mineral Spirits before you do any sanding. That way any residue left on your wood won’t gunk up your sand paper. 

Don’t you love the way this dresser turned out? I love the raw wood finish on the drawers. If you’d like to see what this dresser looks like today, make sure you watch the YouTube video above! I actually ended up staining the drawers and painting the dresser a different color.

Our cottage style dresser all decorated for spring!

Refinishing Wood to Make it More Neutral – Oven Cleaner

Using the oven cleaner method is very controversial, but I did try it and I must say, I’m not a fan. The fumes were so strong that it was almost unbearable, and the oven cleaner only worked on wood that didn’t have a heavy topcoat. I love the way my hutch turned out, but it was quite the process.

I started with a drawer front – I simply placed it in my tub and sprayed it liberally with Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner. I probably waited about 30 minutes or so, and when I came back, the oven cleaner had dried.

Stripped wooden drawer from hutched

I then took my scrubber and some dish soap, and started scrubbing the surface of the drawer where I had sprayed. 

When orange started coming off my scrubber as I rinsed it, I got really excited! It was working, but it was so hard to tell because the drawer was still wet. I scrubbed until orange was no longer coming off as I rinsed, and let the drawer dry. 

Using a brush and oven cleaner to strip old stain from furniture

When I came back, I was shocked. The orange was completely gone!

Once all of the drawers and doors on the hutch were finished, it was time to move on to the body of the hutch. I had a strong suspicion that the oven cleaner wouldn’t work on this portion since I noticed an obvious sheen all over the top and sides of the hutch, and I was right. 

We followed the same steps as before, but the oven cleaner wasn’t able to penetrate through whatever product had been used to seal the wood. So my husband opted to sand the rest of the hutch until the orange was gone. 

Finished raw wood vintage hutch with Pfaltzgraff pieces displayed

Thankfully it turned out beautifully, but man what a job.

BONUS: Neutral Wood Look – Paint and Wax

This little project was one of my first and favorite DIY projects. It’s very simple if you are looking to refinish a small area of orange toned wood like a frame.

How to make orange wood look weathered

First, I dry brushed the orange toned wood frame with neutral paint. Chalk paint would probably be ideal, but I just used white ceiling paint. If you aren’t familiar with dry brushing, you simply dip the very tip of your brush in paint and dab off any excess, then apply over your surface.

Next, I used a chalk paint by Waverly in the color “Mineral” and dry brushed the frame once more. This time I specifically looked for areas with heavy orange tones bleeding through, and focused on brushing those spots especially. I let the paint dry completely before moving on to the last step.

Finally, I painted the entire frame with Annie Sloan Dark Wax. You’ll have to check out her site to find suppliers near you, but this stuff is seriously amazing. It’s like working with butter! I used a larger paint brush for this process and dipped the tip of my brush in the wax and worked it into the frame. You can go heavy or light with the wax depending on the shade you want to achieve.

Refinish orange wood
Weathered refinish orange wood

6 Ways to Refinish Orange Wood

  • Citristrip Spray
  • Scrub Brush and Dish Soap
  • Sanding
  • Stripping, Sanding and Bleaching
  • Oven Cleaner
  • Paint and Wax
Finished raw wood vintage hutch with Pfaltzgraff pieces displayed
Natural raw finish on wood

I truly hope these 6 ways to refinish orange wood have inspired you today friends. Next time, don’t pass by that gorgeous vintage piece while thrifting, antiquing or even shopping on Facebook Marketplace! A little effort can go a long way, and you can achieve a beautiful refinished piece.

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Ways to refinish orange wood

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8 Comments

  1. Such wonderful tips, Andrea! Thanks for sharing! I love that you shared your pieces with the method you used! Pinning so I don’t forget them all!😆

    1. Yes of course! I would suggest the sanding method for cabinets, only because they are used often and will need the extra work! I hope this helps!

  2. Thank you for the tips! Did you leave the wood bare after you used a method on each of these or did you seal the wood? Thanks.

  3. Great post! I’m interested in the dish soap/scrub brush method. However, the narrative stops at the word “To” (“It is much more neutral tone and the soap really helped so much. To”), follow by a photo and an ad. Are there more directions? Can this method be used on a piece that has a poly finish? Thanks.

    1. I apologize for that! That was a slight typo, it really is simple, its just scrubbing your piece with dishsoap and water, I hope this helps!

  4. This article offers six practical and creative methods to refinish orange wood, providing a variety of options for individuals looking to transform their wooden furniture or surfaces. From staining and painting to bleaching and distressing, it’s a helpful guide for anyone seeking to rejuvenate their wood with a fresh, stylish look.

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