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How to whitewash furniture

Read on to discover our super simple guide for how to whitewash pine wood and other wooden objects to brighten up your home.


By Cleanipedia Team

chest of drawers with whitewash wooden finish
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Key steps

  • Work in a well-ventilated area.

  • Remove old paint or varnish.

  • Clean and sand the furniture.

  • Mix your whitewash well.

  • Apply against the grain for oak and large grain woods.

  • Apply with the grain for pine.

  • Use a rag to work the whitewash into the wood.

  • Let the grey or whitewash air-dry.

Whitewashing (or grey-washing) is a great way to upcycle your functional furniture into a stylish addition to your décor. This article will guide your through how to whitewash wood, from preparing your furniture beforehand to easy whitewashing tips.

Whilst you can buy ready-mixed whitewash, why not make your own? All you need is to add latex paint to water at a 2:1 ratio and mix it thoroughly.

How to whitewash pine and other wooden furniture with ease


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Below you can discover how to whitewash furniture in three easy step-by-step methods.

  1. Always start by preparing your workspace before starting to white or grey-wash furniture.

    • Place your furniture onto a drop cloth or old newspapers.

    • Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.

  2. Next, it’s time to prepare your furniture.

    • Strip the wood of old paint, sealant, or varnish.

    • If using a commercial paint or chemical stripper, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

    • Use a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water to wash the surface of your furniture; this should remove any unwanted stains.

    • Allow the furniture to dry.

    • Sand down the surface of your furniture.

    • Wipe down with a clean cloth to remove any excess dust created by sanding the wood.

  3. Top tips for how to whitewash pine wood and other furniture with a ready-made whitewash pickling or wood stain:

    • Make sure your chosen product is a whitewash stain, not a whitewash paint. Whitewash paint will take longer to dry and could obscure the wood grain.

    • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

    • Stir the mix thoroughly.

    •  If you want to grey-wash your furniture, keep an eye out for the same products but in grey instead of white!

  4. Tops tips for how to grey-wash wood with a homemade grey wash:

    • This can be done with a 2:1 ratio of latex paint to water.

    • Don’t forget to mix your homemade mix thoroughly.

    • If you want to whitewash with a homemade mix, use the same ratio with white latex paint instead of grey.

  5. Easy steps to white or grey wash your furniture using your chosen product.

    • For larger surfaces, use a foam roller.

    • For smaller surfaces use a paint brush.

    • For edges and hard to reach areas, use a sponge.

    • For a more rustic look, why not apply your white or grey wash with an old (but clean!) rag?

    • The mix is likely to dry a lot more quickly than normal paint, so take care to apply one small area at a time.

    • For oak and wood with large grain: apply your mix against the grain (this is known as pickling).

    • For pine and most other woods: apply your mix with the grain to achieve the perfect finish.

    • Before it dries, use a clean rag to rub the grey or whitewash. This will work the stain into the grain and knots, leading to a more even, level coating.

    • Allow your furniture to air dry.

    • If you notice any blobs of grey or whitewash, use sandpaper to remove them.

    • Feel free to add extra layers if you like, or leave it for a more rustic finish.

Now, with this simple guide, you can get ready to grey or whitewash furniture and give it a new lease of life. Got the DIY bug? Why not check out our easy upcycling ideas?

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Originally published