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Do you love the whitewash look and want to get the same effect in your home? Any piece of wood in your home can get the whitewashed look with a simple mixture of water based paint and water. It’s super easy!

whitewash wood technique

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”jHJTV9dA” upload-date=”Tue Aug 13 2019 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)” name=”How to Whitewash Wood” description=”Do you love the whitewash look and want to get the same effect in your home? Whether it’s a piece of furniture, accent wall, door or even a picture frame, this look is easy to achieve with just some paint and water.”]

How to Make Whitewash Paint

The easiest way to make whitewash paint is to simply dilute regular latex paint with some water. I like to keep the ratio at 1 part water to 2 parts flat white paint, but I’ve used eggshell and satin paint sheens with good success, too. 

How to easily white wash wood

How to Whitewash – The Whitewashing Technique

  1. These whitewashing techniques can be applied to stained or natural wood. Whether it’s oak, pine or another variety doesn’t matter. The end result may look slightly different due to the differences in the wood species but you’ll achieve a similar effect.
    1. If you’re planning on staining before whitewashing, ensure the surface is smooth by giving it a light sanding with a medium grit sandpaper.
    2. If your wood has previously been stained or sealed, you’re good to go. Otherwise, start by staining the wood a medium brown or grayish color. Allow the stain to dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.
  2. Starting with a very small amount of the whitewash mixture on a paintbrush (no rollers allowed!), brush in the direction of the wood grain. Use long brushstrokes and only apply to a small section at a time. 
  3. Wipe the excess off the paintbrush each time so that you’re using more of a “dry brushing” technique.  
  4. Using a lint free rag or paper towel, gently wipe off the paint – again in the direction of the wood grain. You don’t want to completely wipe it off or you’ll need a lot of coats. Just take off the excess.
  5. If you want a more opaque (solid) look, allow the first coat to dry and then repeat steps the two previous steps until you get the look you want.

Can You Whitewash With Any Color?

As the name suggests, “whitewash” is usually white. However, the same technique can be applied to any paint color. I’ve seen cream, gray and blue used very successful to achieve a similar look over wood. 

What Types of Wood Can be Whitewashed?

Tip: If you are whitewashing a piece of furniture, finish off the project with a coat of matte polycrylic to protect it. Polycrylic doesn’t yellow over time and will protect the finish. Alternatively, a clear furniture wax will also help protect it. 

I didn’t want to cover up the grain and texture with a solid white paint, so I decided that whitewashing would be a good idea.

What’s the Difference Between Limewashing and Whitewashing?

Sometimes you will hear these terms used interchangeable but there is a definite difference. Limewash is a limestone-based product made specifically for brick. Whitewash is simply watered-down paint. Both may be used to achieve a similar look on brick but usually only whitewash is used on wood. 

Frequently Asked Questions

No, the wood does not need to be sanded before whitewashing.

Once the whitewash has been applied, you can immediately wipe it off.

This depends on the look you want. If you want the grain of the wood and knots to show through then you should not prime. You may also choose to stain the wood first and then add the whitewash over it.

A wooden frame showing the beginning stages of whitewash treatment

How to Whitewash Wood

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Try a new way to showcase wood details in your decor with this simple whitewash tutorial.

Materials

  • Latex paint of your choice (usually white but cream, grey or blue can work too!)
  • Water
  • Stain of your choice (unless wood is already stained)

Tools

  • Paint brush
  • Sand paper
  • Rag or paper towel

Instructions

      1. If your wood has previously been stained or sealed, you're good to go. Otherwise, lightly sand the surface and stain the wood a medium brown or grayish color. Allow the stain to dry for at least 24 hours before continuing. 
      2. To make the whitewash paint, dilute regular latex paint with some water (1 part water to 2 parts flat white paint). 
      3. Starting with a very small amount of the whitewash mixture on a paintbrush, brush in the direction of the wood grain. Use long brushstrokes and only apply to a small section at a time.  
      4. Wipe the excess off the paintbrush each time so that you're using more of a "dry brushing" technique.   
      5. Using a rag or paper towel, gently wipe off the paint from the wood surface - again in the direction of the wood grain. You don't want to completely wipe it off or you'll need a lot of coats. Just take off the excess. 
      6. If you want a more opaque (solid) look, allow the first coat to dry and then repeat steps the two previous steps until you get the look you want. 

Notes

If you are whitewashing a piece of furniture, prevent it from yellowing with a coat of matte polycrylic or clear furniture wax.

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4 Comments

  1. What if my whitewashed turned out too white? How do I get a little off after it has dried? A little paint thinner in a rag are my thoughts.

  2. After whitewashing is there a polyurethane or some needed to be put on to prevent yellowing or protect new whitewash finish?

    1. Polyurethane will yellow the finish. You could do a clear coat of polycrylic if you choose…but I’ve never had an issue with yellowing without the protective coat.