How to Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak

Are you considering giving your home a brand-new look? Are you caught between the distinctive styles of red oak and white oak? It can be a tough decision because both types have their benefits. Some people love the bold grains and deep red tones of red oak, while others prefer the subtly of white oak.

How to Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak

But what if you want the benefits of both? Well, we have good news for you! In this blog, we will be discussing how to make red oak look like white oak. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets of transforming red oak.

Can You Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak?

Red oak and white oak are two popular hardwood flooring choices. Many people prefer the lighter, airy look of white oak over the warm, reddish hues of red oak. However, what if you already have red oak flooring in your home and want to switch to the white oak look?

The good news is that it is possible to achieve a similar look to white oak with red oak. It involves a ” pickling process,” where a special white stain is applied to the red oak to lighten and neutralize its natural color. While it won’t be an exact match, pickling can refresh your red oak floors and make them look more like white oak.

Why Should You Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak?

Red oak and white oak are popular wood types for furniture and flooring. While white oak is often preferred for its light color and consistent grain pattern, red oak can offer a unique and warm look with its reddish hue and prominent grain lines. However, if you prefer the look of white oak but still want to use red oak for its durability and affordability, there is a solution.

By applying a certain type of finish or stain, you can give red oak the appearance of white oak without sacrificing its strength and resilience. This provides you with a cost-effective option and allows you to achieve the aesthetic you desire for your home or business. So why settle for one type of oak when you can have the best of both worlds?

Sand Down the Oak Wood

How to Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak: A Definitive Guide

1. Sanding

Before attempting any staining or painting, it is essential to sand down the oak wood. Use fine-grit sandpaper and remove all the rough spots on the surface. Make sure you create an even surface when sanding the oak. Once you have sanded down the oak, dust off any remaining residue. This step is necessary as any dirt, debris, or old finishing can detract from the polished final result.

2. Bleaching

Bleaching is the most effective way of making red oak look like white oak. Natural oak wood is already porous, allowing the bleach to penetrate the grain structure and change the color composition. Make sure you use a wood-safe bleach, ideally hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate.

Follow the instructions carefully on the product and apply it evenly on the oak, preferably with a flexible brush. Typically, bleach takes a little while to take effect, so wait 10-15 minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth. If you require a lighter tone, repeat the bleaching process.

3. Staining

Staining is another excellent option for changing the color of oak wood. You can choose between a traditional oil-based stain or a water-based stain. The former has a darker and more conservative tone, while the latter has a lighter hue.

Bleaching is the Most Effective Way

Use an applicator brush or sponge when staining the oak, ensuring you apply evenly on all surfaces. It is important to know that staining the oak after bleaching will not give the optimal result. If you’re considering staining, make sure you apply it before bleaching.

4. Painting

Painting may be the perfect solution if you are still unsatisfied with the results of bleaching or staining to make red oak look like white oak. Paint covers all the natural wood features, allowing you to choose the desired color. Choose a high-quality paint that is suitable for wood, preferably white. Using a roller or sprayer, paint the oak in even strokes. The paint usually takes 24-48 hours to dry fully.

5. Finishing

Finishing the surface after bleaching, staining, or painting is vital. A finish makes the surface shiny and protects it from damage or scratches. Use a brush or a spray to apply the finish, and ensure it covers the whole surface. The finish offers additional protection, ensuring your remodel lasts long.

6. Protective Coating

A protective coating is another recommendation for making red oak look like white oak. A protective coating helps reduce the effects of damage, keeping your new look alive for longer. A polyurethane coating will seal the wood and protect it from dirt or debris buildup and UV rays that can fade its color. Apply the protective coating in even strokes, ensuring it covers all oak wood surfaces.

7. Cleaning and Maintenance

Finally, to keep your newly remodeled red oak looking like white oak, you must maintain it properly. Wipe off dust or dirt from the surface with a damp cloth regularly. Use mild cleaning solution if necessary for tough stains. Also, keep the surface dry and away from any liquids or moisture. Follow these steps diligently to ensure your newly remodeled oak looks perfect for a long time.

A Polyurethane Coating Will Seal the Wood

Following these steps, you can easily transform red oak into white oak without too much effort! If done correctly, this transformation should give your furniture and interiors a new look that will be something to admire. So, don’t wait and start your red oak transformation today.

5 Considerations Things When You Need to Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak

1. Stain Color

When attempting to make red oak look like white oak, the first consideration is the color of the stain you use. White oak has a light yellowish hue, while red oak has a darker reddish hue. To make red oak look like white oak, you will need to choose a stain that is lighter in color than the original red oak. Consider using stains with yellow or golden undertones to achieve the desired result.

2. Sanding

The second consideration when making red oak look like white oak is sanding. Red oak has a much tighter grain pattern than white oak, so it may require more sanding to achieve a smooth finish. Be sure to use fine-grit sandpaper and take time as you sand to avoid damaging the wood.

3. Grain Pattern

The third consideration when making red oak look like white oak is the wood’s grain pattern. White oak has a very distinct grain pattern, while red oak tends to appear more uniform. To create an authentic white-oak look on your project, consider using a wood graining tool to add texture and depth to the wood surface before staining it.

4. Finishing

Using a Wood Graining Tool

The fourth consideration when making red oak look like white oak is finishing it properly after staining and sanding is complete. Be sure to apply several coats of clear polyurethane or varnish for added protection against wear and tear over time and an additional layer of shine and luster that will help make your project look even more authentic and professional-looking than before.

5. Maintenance

Maintenance over time is the fifth and final consideration when making red oak look like white oak. Be sure to clean your project regularly with mild soap and water or furniture polish to keep it looking its best for years to come!

5 Benefits of Making Red Oak Look Like White Oak

1. Natural Beauty

One of the primary benefits of making red oak look like white oak is the natural beauty it creates. Red oak has a unique grain pattern that can be enhanced by staining it to look like white oak. This can create a beautiful, natural-looking finish that will enhance the overall look of any home or office space.

2. Durability

Another benefit of making red oak look like white oak is its durability. White oak is one of the most durable hardwoods available, and when stained to resemble it, red oak can be just as durable. This makes it an ideal choice for flooring, furniture, and other items that must withstand heavy use over time.

3. Cost Effective

Making red oak look like white oak is also cost-effective. White oak tends to be more expensive than other types of wood, but when you use red oak and stain it to look like white oak, you can save money while still achieving the same look and feel you would get from using true white oak.

Clean Your Project Regularly

4. Easy To Maintain

Making red oak look like white oak is also easy to maintain over time. White oak requires regular sealing and polishing to keep its natural luster. Still, with a red oak stained finish, this maintenance is not necessary as often because the stain helps protect the wood from damage caused by water or UV rays from direct sunlight exposure.

5. Versatility

The final benefit of making red oaks look like white oaks is its versatility in design options available for your home or office space. Because you can choose from various shades and stains for your project, you can create whatever type of aesthetic you desire without worrying about finding the right wood for your needs.

4 Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Make Red Oak Look Like White Oak

1. Using the Wrong Stain Color

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to make red oak look like white oak is using the wrong stain color. Red oak has a much deeper, darker grain than white oak, and using a light-colored stain can result in an unnatural-looking finish. If you want to achieve a realistic white oak look on red oak, you should use a slightly darker stain than the desired final color.

2. Not Sanding Enough

Another mistake people often make when trying to make red oak look like white oak is not sanding enough. Red oak has a much harder wood grain than white oak, so it’s important to sand it down until it is as smooth as possible before applying any stains or finishes. This will help ensure that the final product looks more like natural white oak than painted red oak.

3. Applying Too Much Finish

Applying too much finish can also be problematic when making red oak look like white oak. Applying too much finish can cause the wood to become overly glossy and shiny, detracting from its natural beauty and preventing it from achieving a realistic white oak appearance. It’s important to apply just enough finish so that the wood still looks natural without being overly shiny or glossy.

Using the Wrong Stain Color

4. Not Sealing Properly

Finally, another mistake people often make when making red oak look like white oak is not sealing properly. Sealing helps protect the wood from moisture damage and prevents it from fading or discoloring over time. When sealing, use a sealer specifically designed for hardwood floors and follow all instructions carefully for best results.

By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can make red oak look like white oak and achieve a beautiful and natural-looking finish for your home or office space! With the right tools, techniques, and materials, you can transform any red oak into a stunning piece of furniture that looks just like genuine white oak. So don’t be afraid to give it a try! You might be surprised by the results.


By following these five steps, you can easily enhance the beauty of your red oak and make it look like white oak. However, it is essential to note that bleaching and staining might not meet your expectations, especially if the red oak is old and heavily distressed. Painting the oak might be the best option if you find yourself in this situation.

It is important to remember that the finish, whether bleaching, staining, or painting, will only be suitable when applied correctly. Therefore, follow all the instructions listed above to achieve the desired result. With some hard work and patience, you can transform your oak and enjoy an entirely new ambiance in your home decor. Thanks for reading our post about how to make red oak look like white oak.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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