Have you ever wondered how to bleach and age a wood table?

It is surprisingly easy.

A little background…….

My wood patio table refresh was a very necessary DIY.

old wood table with six chairs on patio - J Dub By Design™
Before the facelift!

We love to dine outdoors the bulk of the year when the weather cooperates.

However, our table and chairs had seen much better days.

The table has consistently been covered in dirt and grime due to the never ending construction.

And, the sun had faded the table and chairs and left them blotchy.

I decided it was time for a major facelift.

Thankfully, the table was still in good shape and I did not need to repair any split wood or damage to it.

First, I decided to get rid of the red/orange tones of the table, and bring the table down to its natural rustic state.

This was the perfect DIY to try my hand using plain old household bleach.

But, I also wanted to highlight the elm’s natural character.

So I created my very own stain/topcoat combination to age, as well as, protect the wood.

For the chairs, I wanted to make a huge contrast with the table. So, if you want to see how I tackled the chairs, I wrote a separate blog post.

This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on certain links and purchase a product I recommend, I will receive a small commission.

Materials Needed

Dawn Dishwashing soap



disposable gloves

Scotch-Brite Pad (non-scratching)

Drop cloths

lint free rags

3 inch foam brush to apply topcoat

2 inch synthetic paint brush to apply bleach, stain, and feather in topcoat

shop towels (lint free)

General Finishes 450 Topcoat in Flat

General Finishes Black Walnut Exterior 450

80 grit sandpaper or sanding block

orbital sander


Chip Brush to apply Citristrip

220 grit sandpaper or sanding block

Denatured alcohol

Spray bottle

seran wrap or plastic to cover Citristrip

1/2 cup baking soda

metal bowl

household bleach

Steps to Strip Table

  1. I liberally brushed Citristrip over the entire top of the table and then covered the top with plastic to prevent it from drying out.
  2. By dividing the table into 6 sections, I could apply and remove the Citristrip without it drying out on me.
  3. After I had covered the entire table with citristrip and plastic, I placed a large drop cloth over the table to keep the wind from blowing the plastic off.
  4. I let the Citristrip sit on the table top overnight.
  5. The next morning, using a putty knife, I ran it along the top of the table following the grain of the wood.
  6. The putty knife lifted the red/orange stain off the table.
  7. As I scraped the stain and Citristrip off the table, I wiped the putty knife on a paper towel.A
  8. After I removed the stain from the table top, I repeated the entire process on each leg and the underside of the table.
  9. For the remainder of the table, I only needed to allow the Citristrip to sit covered with plastic for 4 hours before I scraped the stain off.

Photos of Stripping Process

Citristip sitting on table with areas covered in plastic - J Dub By Design™
I divided the table into sections and applied the citristrip.
applying citristrip to top of table - J Dub By Design™
Using a chip brush, I brushed the Citristrip onto the table top.
placing plastic sheets over citristrip on top of table in section - J Dub By Design™
Next, I covered each section with plastic wrap after brushing on the Citristrip.
table covered with a drop cloth - J Dub By Design™
I covered the table with a large drop cloth to prevent the wind from blowing the plastic off the table. I allowed the table to sit overnight.
Citritstrip removal using a putty knife on table - J Dub By Design™
The next morning, I removed the Citristrip using a putty knife and wiping the Citristrip and stain into a paper towel.
dry and wet areas of the table after applying Citristrip in stages - J Dub. By Design™
I then began the process of stripping the stain off the legs and side of the table.

Steps to Clean Table

  1. After removing all of the previous stain, I then sanded the table gently using my orbital sander and 80 grit sandpaper.
  2. I used an 80 grit sanding block for any hard to reach corners and small trim pieces.
  3. I wiped any residual dust off the table using a lint free cloth.
  4. Next, I gave the table a good cleaning with dawn dishwashing soap and water mixed in a 5 gallon bucket.
  5. I liberally applied the soap and used a Scotch-Brite pad to remove the dirt and grime.
  6. I rinsed the table off and allowed it to dry.
table cleaned after citristrip removal - J Dub By Design™
This is the table after I completely removed the stain, thoroughly cleaned it, and then let it dry completely.

Steps to Bleach the Table

  1. After the table had dried completely, Poured some bleach in a metal bowl.
  2. Using a foam brush, I wiped bleach over the entire table.
  3. I allowed the table to dry completely for 1 hour.
  4. Then, I wiped bleach onto the table again and allowed it to dry a second time.
  5. I repeated this process one more time and then allowed the bleach to remain on the table overnight.
  6. The next morning, to neutralize the table and stop the bleaching process, I mixed 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl of water.
  7. I liberally brushed this mixture over the entire table and allowed it to dry.

Photos of the Bleach Process

pouring bleach into a plastic container to apply to table - J Dub By Design™
I poured household bleach in a plastic container.
painting bleach on the table top - J Dub By Design™
Using a synthetic paint brush, I liberally applied bleach to the top of the table. I allowed the table to dry and applied bleach three separate times.
wiping bleach on the sides of the table - J Dub By Design™
I also applied bleach to the sides and legs of the table.

Steps to Prep Table for Stain

  1. Next, I gave the table another good cleaning with dawn dishwashing soap and water mixed in a 5 gallon bucket.
  2. I liberally applied the soapy water and used a scotch brite pad to scrub the table gently.
  3. I rinsed the table off and allowed it to dry.
  4. After I allowed the table to dry, I then sprayed it with a 50/50 mixture of denatured alcohol and water.
  5. Using a lint free cloth, I wiped the table down again to remove any remaining residue that might hinder the staining process.
  6. I allowed the table to dry and then sanded it down with a 220 grit sanding block.
an elmood table that has been bleached - J Dub By Design™
This is what the table looked like after being bleached and cleaned again.

The Dry Brush Staining Process

I had previously mixed 1 cup of black walnut exterior stain with 7 cups of Exterior 450 Clear Topcoat in Flat.

This custom topcoat was what I used to seal and protect the chairs that go with this table.

You can see that DIY here.

This process is called toning.

I did not want the table to be dark. I only wanted to highlight some of the naturally dark areas in the wood.

Steps to Dry Brush the Stain

  1. I very lightly dipped my synthetic paint brush into the the custom topcoat.
  2. I then blotted the brush on a lint free shop towel.
  3. Then I gently dragged the brush over the table being careful not to apply too much of the custom topcoat in any one area.
  4. If I did get it to heavy in areas, I sanded that area gently with 80 grit sandpaper.
  5. I repeated this process over the entire table.
  6. I allowed the table to dry for 4 hours before proceeding to the final step.

Photos of the Dry Brush Custom Topcoat Process

custom stain/topcoat sitting on table with blue shop towel and paint stick - J Dub By Design™
The custom stain/topcoat mixture is ready to be applied to the table to age it.
blotting sythetic paint brush on shop towel - J Dub By Design™
I dipped the paint brush into the mixture and then blotted it on a blue, lint free shop towel.
dry brushing custom stain and topcoat on the elmwood table top - J Dub By Design™
Then I quickly brushed the custom topcoat down the table working in sections.
dry brushing custom stain topcoat on table - J Dub By Design™
Dividing the table into 5 lengthwise sections helped me keep from overlapping the stain or creating a pattern.
dry brushing black walnut. stain on elmwood table - J Dub By Design™
I used a 220 grit sanding block to buff areas that became to heavy from the stain.
custom stain and topcoat applied to table leg - J Dub By Design™
I also lightly applied the custom topcoat to the legs and sides.

Steps to Topcoat the Table

  1. Once the table was dry, using a three inch foam brush, I applied the clear Exterior 450 in flat to the top, sides, and legs of the table. I used a synthetic brush to feather any thick areas of topcoat.
  2. I worked in manageable sections so that I could catch any potential topcoat runs down the legs or on the table.
  3. First, I worked on the top by dividing it into five lengthwise sections just as I had with the custom toning topcoat, then each leg, and finally I brushed topcoat on the sides.
  4. Then, I allowed the custom topcoat to dry for two hours before I gently sanded the entire table down with 220 grit sanding block.
  5. Next, I wiped the sanding residue off the table using a lint free cloth.
  6. Then, I applied a layer of clear topcoat and allowed that to dry before I sanded it with 220 grit again.
  7. I wiped the table down and then applied two more layers of clear topcoat, sanding between each layer.
  8. Once the table was completely dry, I flipped it over.
  9. I then sealed the underside of the table with three layers of topcoat, sanding with 220 grit sanding block between each layer of topcoat.

Photos of Clear Topcoat Process

using a 3 inch foam brush to apply clear topcoat to table - J Dub By Design™
I applied the clear topcoat with a three inch foam brush working quickly.
using a synthetic paint brush to feather topcoat to distressed table - J Dub By Design
I used a synthetic paint brush to feather out any heavy pooling of the topcoat in the crevices and edges.
sanding the table with 220 grit sanding block between topcoats - J Dub By Design™
Using a 220 grit sanding block, I gently sanded the table before applying the next layer of topcoat.


An aged wooden dining room table and black chairs surrounded by ferns and philodendron - J Dub By Design™
Pin For Later!
A look at the top of the table!
So far, this is my favorite DIY project of 2021. Please drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

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Looking for More DIY’s?

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This creamy balsamic salad dressing will become your new favorite.

Do you Love Gardening?

Warm weather is here. I overwinter my ferns in my greenhouse and do a few things right before they come out for spring and summer.

Click here to see my tips and learn how I fertilize my green goddesses for lush fronds all summer long.

If you are always on the lookout for unusual plants to incorporate in your garden, you will definitely want to check out Whale’s Tongue Agave for your landscaping.

Also, Sweet Autumn Clematis is the perfect vine for your arbors and walls. The best part, this vine blooms in the fall.

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