How to Whitewash Wood

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Try saying that ten times fast- “whitewash wood”!

I have always wondered how to whitewash wood, and I had an opportunity to test it out recently. A client who wanted a porch swing had debated between a solid paint and a white wash, so I made samples of both for her to see.

I googled how to whitewash wood, and was surprised how easy it was! Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your white paint. I used my go-to chalk paint in Linen White.
  2. Add water to the paint. Here are a couple of tips:
    -I would put your white paint in a separate container, and add the water in that container, too. That way, you’re not watering down the entire white paint container.
    -Your ratio of paint:water will determine how solid you want your whitewash to be. I did a 1:1 (so, half paint and half water) and you will see below how that looked. 1:2 or 1:3 (meaning two times or three times the amount of water vs paint) will make the whitewash much lighter and thinner, but you can always add more coats.
  3. Stir the paint and water together until mixed well.
  4. Paint a layer of the paint mixture on with a paintbrush, and immediately take a dry rag and wipe it off.
  5. Repeat until you get the desired look.
After mixing the paint and water, paint a coat on the wood.
Using a rag, wipe the paint off.
Repeat as much as desired. This is after two coats of painting and wiping back off.
This is three coats.
This is comparing a whitewashed piece of wood (left) to a solid painted piece of wood with sanding done on the edges for distress.

In the above picture, the biggest difference in whitewashed wood is that you can still see the wood grain peeking through from beneath. You can see the grain some under the solid white, but it’s not as noticeable.

I hope to do a whitewashed piece of furniture in the near future! It was very easy, and I like the fact that you can give it a unique look based on what your preference might be. Do you think you’d ever try whitewashing something?

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