Introduction: A Step by Step Guide to Whitewashing Wood

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Whitewashing is a technique for painting wood which still allows you to see the wood grain. It offers a rather nice effect and can add the finishing touch to any woodworking project or piece of furniture.

It's a rather simple process that anyone can do using simple things that you can find at your local hardware store.

Don't forget to check out the project video above!

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So let's get started...

Step 1: Gather Materials

To whitewash wood, you will need the following things:

  • White emulsion paint (like the kind you would use to paint the wall or ceiling. It must be water-based)
  • Water
  • Sandpaper - 120 and 240 grit (or similar)
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Measuring Jug
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller with sleeve (optional)
And finally you will need something to paint. This could be a woodworking project, piece of furniture or any other item made of wood. Note that the item to be painted can not be varnished, waxed or previously painted in any way. It mast be made from bare wood.

Step 2: Prepare the Wood

The first step is to prepare the wood. To do this, take the sandpaper and evenly sand the surface of the wood. This removes any blemishes and also opens up the pores of the wood. Use 120 grit sandpaper and then finish with 240 grit sandpaper to achieve the best results. It is important to open up the pores of the wood so that the paint will soak in easily.

When sanding make sure there is no dirt, wood glue or grease on the wood. When you have finished sanding, wipe off the dust with a cloth.

Step 3: Make the Whitewash Mixture

This step involves a bit of experimenting so it is a good idea to have a bit of scrap wood to practice on before moving on to the real thing.

Get the paint tray, paint, measuring jug, paintbrush and water. Open the paint and use the measuring jug to measure out the paint. Pour the paint into the paint tray and use the same measuring jug to measure the water. Pour the water in the paint tray.

We need the mixture to be in a ratio of 2 parts paint to 1 part water. You can use the table below to get the right amount of each if you wish.

Using the paintbrush, carefully mix the two liquids together for at least 3 minutes to ensure an even and consistent mix.

Test the paint on a bit of scrap wood before moving on to the real thing.

Step 4: Paint the Wood

You are ready to get painting.

First make sure you protect anything that you don't want to get painted with sheets first.

Using either the roller or the paintbrush, spread an even layer of whitewash over the freshly sanded wood. Don't worry about getting too much.

Next, leave about 20 seconds (maybe more depending on the wood) for the mixture to soak in.

After this time, use either the sponge or the cloth to wipe over the paint and remove any excess. Make sure the cloth / sponge is clean to avoid any contamination.

Tip: If the object is quite large, paint in sections to avoid the paint drying too quickly before it has been wiped.

When you have painted the wood, allow at least 2 hours to dry. You can also apply extra coats if you prefer to see less of the wood grain.

Step 5: Results

And that's it! You have just whitewashed wood.

It really does give a nice effect to any piece of furniture especially if it has a seaside theme. It's a really simple project that has a dramatic effect when doing any DIY or breathing life back in to a piece of old furniture. It's great fun that can easily be done as a weekend project.