How To Whitewash Floors

If you’ve been thinking about updating your hardwood floors or planning an all round revamp of your home, you don’t necessarily have to splash out on brand new flooring. You might want to consider whitewashing your floors. Whitewashing is a quick and easy way of changing the look of your current hardwood floors to give them a fresh, modern finish. We’ve created this simple guide to help you along the way.

What Is Whitewashing?

Whitewashing is when you paint something with a whitewash to give it a fresh look and lighter colour – close to a white – and is often used in homes with Nordic or Scandinavian interior styles because the clean aesthetic lends itself well to minimalism. It also works well for an eclectic, beachy style. Whitewashing can be done to almost any surface, including brick, and is often applied to vintage furniture, such as chairs and tables, to modernise and brighten the space.

When whitewashing hardwood floors, a white stain or white tinted sealer is applied to the floor to lighten it without covering the grain or causing your floors to look too sterile. It can also help to hide any imperfections in old wood flooring and make smaller rooms and spaces appear a lot larger.

Does Whitewashing Work On All Wood Floors?

Whitewashing will look different on different types of flooring and it’s important to bear this in mind before you take on the project. Light colour wood – like maple and ash – is great for whitewashing as it softens the natural colour. Darker wood – like mahogany – is not as well suited as it could make them look brown or grey rather than add a subtle lightness. 

The Pros And Cons Of Whitewashing Your Floors

  • Whitewashing looks stunning when done right, and can make smaller spaces appear much larger, and dark, dingy rooms with limited natural light look brighter and more airy. 
  • It can also elevate your interior style if you are trying to embrace the Scandi look and can completely change the appearance of the room with minimal cost and effort. 
  • While all this is great, the biggest issue with whitewashed wood floors is that they are difficult to keep clean and require constant maintenance as even the smallest marks will be obvious. This can often be a concern for homeowners with children or pets as it will need a lot of upkeep, so is often best suited in spaces where there is not a lot of high traffic such as a home office or guest bedroom. 

How To Whitewash Floors

Use the below steps to get this quick and easy DIY floor whitewash project done in just a weekend:

What You’ll Need

  • Whitewash stain 
  • A few sponges
  • Grey paint
  • A dry cloth
  • A paint brush
  • Clear polyurethane

Prep

Remove all furniture and other items from the floor of the room. Paint a varnish stripper onto the floor. Select a product that is appropriate for the type of finish on the floorboards. Allow it to sit for the length of time specified by the manufacturer, then remove it using a cloth, steel wool or a scraper, depending on the instructions. Some stripping agents need to be removed within a specific window of time. If you’re using this type of product, strip the floor in small sections rather than all at once. 

Sand The Floor

Wearing a dust mask, sand the floor. We recommend doing it twice, once with an electric sander or abrasive sandpaper. Vacuum up the dust, then wipe the floor with a microfibre cloth to ensure it is completely clean. 

Apply Whitewash Stain

Dip a sponge into the whitewash stain and apply it generously to a section of floor. Apply the whitewash in the same direction as the grain of the wood. After about 15 minutes, wipe off excess whitewash from the surface of the wood, again wiping with the grain. As the whitewash dries, the wood grain should show through slightly. Repeat the painting and wiping with the remaining sections of the floor. Allow it to dry for at least one night.

Optional: Add Depth

To give your floor more depth, you can add grey over the whitewash. You can achieve this look by lightly applying the paint using a coarse-bristle brush to a 2×4-foot section of floor. The aim is to see thin grey lines. 

Top Coat

Let the paint dry six hours before applying a thin, even coat of clear polyurethane to the entire floor. Wait the length of time specified by the finish’s manufacturer, then paint on a second coat. Wait for polyurethane to dry overnight before walking on the floor or placing any furniture.

We hope this guide has helped you with your whitewash DIY project. If you decide you’d like to have a complete refresh, you can shop our white laminate flooring.


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