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First Dollhouse - question about wood stain removal mistakes


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Greetings!

I have been working on my first dollhouse (The Beacon Hill) for a few months, and have run into an issue that I can't seem to fix.  I was unsure how I wanted to decorate, so I began building according to the instructions without staining/painting any of the pieces.  After building the first floor staircase, I thought that it would be difficult to stain the stairs after they were glued into the house, and decided to stain them ahead of time.  I tested numerous stain colors on the scrap plywood before finding a mixture I was happy with.  When I applied the stain to the stairs, the color came out much darker and more red than any of my test samples.  In an attempt to lighten the color, I used fine steel wool and mineral spirits.  I was able to lighten the stain, however, this has led to a new issue.  The day after I applied the mineral spirits, one piece of wood had small black spots all over.  I began to worry that it could be mold.  My husband suggested sanding that piece down until there were no longer black spots (which I did).  I read that white vinegar kills mold on wood, and applied some just to be on the safe side.  About 20 minutes after applying the vinegar, the black spots that I had sanded off the night before appeared again (I have attached a photo link).  Do you think that this is mold, and if so, is there anything else I should try?  Would Greenleaf allow me to order more pieces if this cannot be salvaged?  Unfortunately I made the mistake of gluing the stairs together before staining, so I would need quite a few pieces.  Has anyone else had issues with stain color looking inconsistent on different pieces of the plywood? 

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this and offer advice!

Cheers!

Jayme 

https://imgur.com/a/r90vpRy

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I doubt it's mold, but have no idea what caused the spots.  Here's something you can try:

Soak a cloth in some hydrogen peroxide and dab onto all of the dark spots. Let dry overnight and be amazed! Repeat as needed. For larger, darker stains, you can leave a hydrogen peroxide soaked towel over the area for a few hours and then remove and let dry.

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I've been researching for  the cause of those spots.  You mentioned using steel wool.  This might be what happened:

Could be a tannic reaction from someone using steel wool and then a water based finish, or if it got too damp some woods have very high tannin counts and cause that exact problem.

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I also doubt it's mold. I'd guess there are pits in the wood that are causing the stain to settle there, or something to do with the steel wool like Diane said. Staining this wood doesn't always work out because it has a big grain that's not to scale. It's also common for different pieces to take stain differently, so you end up with an inconsistent finish. I like the plywood houses because they're easy to bash, but I always cover up as much of the plywood as possible.

If you really want the stairs to be stained, you could buy some micro veneer and apply it over the surface: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Wood-Micro-Veneer-Lot-Assorted-Dyed-Mahogany-Self-Adhesive-/273509894639

This stuff is very thin and easy to cut with scissors.

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You could remove your plywood treads and use tongue blade size craft sticks to make new ones and stain those to match the rest of your stairs; or you could hunt down some embroidered ribbon at Jo-Ann's or other fabric store and use it for stair carpet.

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Wow, thank you all for the helpful suggestions!  I am so relieved that the black spots are most likely from the steel wool and not mold.  I feel as though I have a path forward now.

Also, thank you for a warm welcome to the community.      

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On 4/29/2021 at 11:23 PM, Call Me Crazy said:

I doubt it's mold, but have no idea what caused the spots.  Here's something you can try:

Soak a cloth in some hydrogen peroxide and dab onto all of the dark spots. Let dry overnight and be amazed! Repeat as needed. For larger, darker stains, you can leave a hydrogen peroxide soaked towel over the area for a few hours and then remove and let dry.

This is an aside to the dollhouse topic, but this works amazingly well for pet stains on wood floors.  I used this to get rid of cat urine stains when I discovered my cat was secretly urinating on the rug under my bed due to a health issue.  After two rounds of spraying the hardwood floor with hydrogen peroxide and covering with a hydrogen peroxide soaked towel, both the odor and most of the stain were gone.

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