In this step by step guide with video tutorials, we will explore 3 super easy techniques to whitewash wood, and some beautiful examples of whitewashed wood floors, walls and furniture.
Here’s a summary of the 3 whitewash wood techniques:
- Diluted paint method to create a smooth whitewashed wood finish. This is the easiest technique.
- Scraper technique to white wash wood with lots of textures in one easy step.
- Candle method to create distressed shabby chic style whitewashed wood.
The 3 whitewashing techniques will create different looks on different types of wood, such as smooth pine wood, pallet wood, and reclaimed wood. They are all really easy, quick and fun!
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Some of the most timeless and beautiful designs are born out of necessity. Whitewash, ( aka pickling ) is one of them. Traditionally, white wash is actually lime wash: a mixture of salt, water and hydrated lime used as an economical and easy way to make a farmhouse look clean and bright.
In modern times, when we recreate the whitewashed look on our DIY projects such as a wall or a piece of furniture, it is usually done with diluted white paint, which is what we will be using in the tutorials today. However, I am so curious about real lime wash I may just have to try it soon! 🙂
To see these 3 white wash techniques in action, check out the video tutorial below!
Materials for white washing wood:
- white paint: Choose a non-toxic, water based paint such as acrylic paint, latex paint, or chalk paint. I used Decoart Americana Outdoor Living Picket Fence White paint, which is great!
- mixing cups, lint free rags, paint brush
- a scraper like this or a piece of hard plastic for technique #2, and a candle for technique #3
- 120 grit sandpaper: you may not need to sand the whitewashed wood when using these 3 techniques. But if want just a bit less paint after the paint is dry, you can always sand the surface slightly.
Technique 1: how to whitewash pine wood or other smooth finish wood using a rag and diluted paint
This is the easiest way to white wash wood, and the most commonly used. It is good for all types of wood, and easy to do on both floors and walls.
Many types of wood we get from hardware stores have a smooth finish surface, for example: 2x4s, common boards, plywood, oak, poplar, etc.
This whitewashing method is good for both smooth and textured wood. It creates a clean, refreshing and bright look, great for modern, farmhouse, or Scandinavian style.
The beauty of white wash vs white paint is that the wood grain shows through and adds a richness to the finished piece. The whitewashed wood plank wall in the photo at top ( source) from a modern farmhouse bathroom is a great example.
You don’t need special whitewash paint. First dilute a water-based white paint with water, to a consistency of heavy cream. The water to paint ratio depends on the thickness of the paint. It’s usually about 1 part water to 1 or 2 parts of paint.
Dip a rag or soft paintbrush into the paint and wipe it onto the wood surface in the direction of the wood grain. Use it as a white wash stain. Repeat with another 1-2 layers if you want it to look more white. Let dry between layers.
I like using a lint free rag because it creates a very even whitewash stain without leaving brush strokes. Paper towel is not good for this use because it’s too fragile and may leave pieces of paper on the wood.
Update: I just put together 30 great examples of my favorite Pallet Wall and Shiplap Wall tutorials and inspirations you can check out here!
Technique 2: how to white wash reclaimed wood in one easy step using a scraper
This method is incredibly fun! It works best on wood with lots of surface textures, such as reclaimed fence wood. Use this method when you want to create a rustic and aged look such as a plank wall made with old barn wood.
Clean the wood with soapy water and a brush. Let dry.
The Decoart Americana Outdoor Living Picket Fence White paint is the perfect consistency for this technique. If your paint is too thick, dilute the paint to a consistency of crepe batter.
Now the fun part: pour paint onto the wood surface. Take a scraper and scrape the paint along the direction of the wood grain.
Some paints will be soaked into the grooves. Let dry and we have a piece of rustic white washed wood!
The beautiful aged barn wood plank wall example above is from here.
Technique 3: how to create shabby chic style whitewashed look with the candle method
Shabby chic, distressed, chippy paint. These words are often used to describe a charming aged peeling paint finish and rustic look often seen on vintage furniture and decor pieces.
Take a clean piece of wood and a candle. The wood I used here is from an old pallet. It has a little bit of texture. This method will work with any type of wood. Rub the candle at random spots on the wood.
Paint the wood white. Let dry completely.
Use a rag and wipe the surface with some pressure. The paint will come off where the wax was rubbed onto the wood. How easy is that?
Below is an example of beautiful white washed wood floors ( source ). To be precise, they are actually ceramic tiles made to replicate distressed painted wood.
If you want to use this technique but only have new wood, you can start by making the new wood look aged by staining them with diluted paint or home made wood stains that are easy to make and very long lasting! See recipes here.
Which technique do you plan to use? You can see in the above photo that each one produces a different look! If you make anything from the tutorial, tag us on instagram @apieceofrainbow. We always love seeing what you create! =)
See you next week!