Introduction: How to Paint an Imitation Whitewash

About: With a background in architecture and construction, I enjoy tackling projects around the house and helping others learn in the process.

Hey everyone, welcome to Homes for Beginner where I show you how to do repairs around the house yourself. In this video, I will be showing you how to do an imitation whitewash using paint. Traditional whitewash consists of powders lime and water which I won’t be using here. For this, we are doing a pine tongue and groove ceiling, the boards are being painted before they’re installed which is the easiest way. This procedure can be applied to a variety of woods.


wood glue

razor knife

palm sander

180 grit sandpaper


air compressor or vacuum with a blowing feature

multi-purpose duster type cloth

semi gloss white paint


soft brush

stir stick

container to mix the paint

measuring cup

Step 1: Cutting the Wood to Size

The wood must be dry and untreated for this. All the wood was cut to length first. This wood isn’t perfect unfortunately, we tried to hand pick the best pieces at the hardware store. Any flaws can be touched up and that'll be shown in a moment.

Step 2: Repairing Any Damage

Some knots were missing or there was some mild damage on the wood and that was filled using wood glue. We have been using No More Nails glue from LePage which seems to do a great job. Here I’m just giving a brief example using a cut off piece of wood. Fill the hole as needed, then drag a razor knife over the surface for an even fill. Allow it to dry for 24hr, depending on the depth of filler, there may need to be more than one application. Being that this glue is white, it blends in very well after the whitewash has been applied.

If you applied more, let it dry again, if not, then you can move on sanding. A palm sander is used with 180 grit sandpaper to clean up any rough spots. Go with the grain, not against it, and only use light to medium pressure.

Step 3: Preparation

As for the spots with glue, you must make sure the glue residue has been removed from the surface of the wood and is only left in the imperfection spots. If it’s not removed properly, the glue will prevent the paint from soaking into the wood and you’ll be left with a visible outline.

The chamfered edges were also sanded, sand the surfaces which will be visible to the once it’s installed.

When done, the majority of dust was cleaned off before taking the boards inside. It’ll be cleaned again before painting. Right now I’m using compressed air and a broom, I’ve gone over each board a couple of times to ensure most of the dust has been removed.

When indoors, next is onto the painting. In order to paint indoors, we laid out a tarp to catch any paint drips or splatters. The boards were also cleaned again using a multi-purpose duster type cloth such as what can be used around the house. A tack cloth is also another option. Make sure the wood is sufficiently cleaned, otherwise you’ll have problems when applying the paint.

Step 4: Paint Selection and Mixing

For paint, this is a white semi-gloss interior paint and primer mix. This is from Benjamin Moore, the exact color name is Chantilly Lace, however, you can pick a shade of white based on your preference. It’s water-based paint and their slowest drying mix which gives us a little more work time during the application process.

The paint is applied using a very soft brush, so it doesn’t show any brush marks. The paint is mixed on a 1:1 ratio, so equal parts water and paint. Mixing ratios can vary depending on what type of finish you’re looking to achieve. More paint will mean less grain will be showing through. More water will show more grain. Here are a couple of test samples using spruce which is the 2x4. The other is cedar on the 1x6. Here is the side with the 1:1 mix and you can see the original wood finish as well. The other side has a 2:1 mix, meaning two parts of water and 1 part paint. Don’t mix the paint by eye, if you need more mixed, you won’t be able to achieve the same finish.

Step 5: Painting the Rest of the Wood

Make sure the paint is mixed before the application. Applying the paint, I don’t apply much to the brush so it doesn’t excessively soak into the wood where it may affect the finish. The 1:1 mixture I find still shows the grain well and seems to tone down the knots. At times I do go against the grain on the ends to prevent splattering or drips, however, the finishing stroke with the brush must be with the grain. I’m trying to keep a fairly dry application. When more paint is applied, you’ll see the transition on the next application, therefore you’ll need to fade over each application. Any knots or imperfections had extra paint applied just to make sure it soaks into any cracks. The paint is only applied to the visible side of the boards. Depending on how long you’ve been using the paint in one application, it may need to be mixed from time to time.

Work from one side to another and don’t stop your application mid-way through a board, otherwise, you’ll notice the transitions if the paint dries.

This finish cannot be achieved using a roller or spray as you’re not able to control a thin dry application. While some people do wipe the access paint off, it’s not needed here. I did find while the paint was still wet, it does have a more solid color appearance. After it dries, the grain does tend to show up more and you’ll see that further on.

Step 6: Installation

When done, then allow the boards to dry overnight. Only one coat is needed. More coats will hide the finish up the wood, giving more of a solid color instead of a whitewash. The boards were left for 12 hours to dry just to be safe, this will vary between paints. They were most likely dry in a few hours.

Here you can see what they look like before the installation. They do have a smooth finish with no gloss. There is no need for a clear coat, however, it can be applied if you wish.

Step 7: Final Finish

The tongue and groove is installed on the ceiling using a brad nailer, all nails are applied in the tongue portion so everything is hidden and there’s no need for touch-ups. I won’t be covering the installation as that’ll be saved for another video, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Once done, here you can see the final finish. There is still quite a bit of work to be done here, we still need to install dry, the beam will be capped, and the gable end windows will be removed, then filled in.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please don’t forget to give it a like and drop a comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more home diy videos, thank you.

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