Want to change the look of your hardwood floors without covering up the grain? Once a trend for cottages and beach houses, whitewashed hardwood floors have become a popular choice for homeowners too. The urban ‘shabby chic’ look involves adding a whitewash coat of white paint and water to cover up any imperfections in your flooring. This decorating technique is also called pickling, and like all labours of love, whitewashing floors can be time consuming. But if you follow the right steps, it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Here are 7 easy steps on how to whitewash your hardwood floor.
1. Assess Your Hardwood FloorTable of Contents [show]
Is the floor a true hardwood or is it a high-quality laminate? Note: some hardwood floors can be blends of softwood and another material. First, determine which room in your home would benefit the most from this type of flooring. For example, a high-traffic area could impact the floor’s appearance, causing it to wear far too quickly.
2. Prepare the FloorPreparing your floor for whitewashing is a necessary step to ensure you’ll end up with the finished result you desire. First, you will need to remove all the varnish off the floor using a sander. If you don’t own one, they can be rented at almost any Home Depot or other hardware store. Make sure you use a mask as well to avoid inhaling the dust and goggles to protect your eyes.
Use 180 grit sandpaper and work with the grain – you don’t want to take off too much wood. Perhaps if the space is small and if you want a good physical workout, get down on your hands and knees and sand the surface manually. Once you are done, vacuum up the dust particles thoroughly.
3. Mix the Whitewash Solution for your Hardwood FloorsDepending on the consistency you want from the whitewash solution, use two or three parts paint to one part water. The floor could be made of birch, American Oak or another coloured-hardwood that is really light – for the latter, you may want to use light grey latex rather than a white one.
4. Paint the FloorYou can whitewash the floor in one of two ways. Depending on what you want for the final appearance, you could use a 4-inch brush or a sponge. Both techniques are easy to do – ultimately it’s up to you to decide which technique to choose.
Whitewash dries very quickly, which is why it’s important to start in sections that are 2 feet by 4 feet and apply the whitewash liberally. Before the paint dries, wipe it off with a dry lint-free cloth. You’ll see the grain of the wood and how the whitewash looks on top of it.
If you want to see more of the wood grain, rub the whitewash in against the grain. Afterwards, wipe it off by going with the grain. Allow the floor to dry overnight. To provide more tone depth, all you need is add more colour and repeat the process using a coarse bristle applying a darker shade of grey. Swish it around and then use another brush to apply a lighter grey tone. Wipe it off and you’ll see thin grey lines in the grain.
5. Check the ColourOnce the floor is finished and it has been dry for awhile, have a look at the colour. Is it the shade you want? If it is, go to step 6. However, if you aren’t happy with the shade, simply repeat step 3 and 4 until you get the colour you want. Once it’s completely dry again, you may notice a build-up of whitewash that you don’t want. If that’s the case, go over it with sandpaper, sanding down the excess. But be careful, you don’t want to take too much away leaving a spot that is too light. Finally, take a lint-free cloth with a light sprinkling of alcohol or mineral spirits to pick up any speck of dust, hair or other debris that you don’t want on your beautiful new floor.
6. Seal the FloorCongrats, you are now ready to seal the floor. This last step is probably the most crucial. By sealing the floor, you’ll preserve the beautiful masterpiece you have created. You can leave the floor unsealed if you like, but keep in mind that to maintain it, you will have to wax and polish it on a regular basis.
If you do decide to seal the floor, it’s your choice whether to use a water-based sealer or polyurethane. Apply the polish or sealer at least six hours after the whitewash has dried. For longer lasting results, apply two coats, leaving two hours between coats. Allow the floor to dry thoroughly before placing any rugs or furniture back in the room.
7. Relax & EnjoyYou’re finally finished and the new floor looks amazing. Now it’s time to sit back and admire all your hard work
For those who are not sure about going through the process of whitewashing floors, there are flooring products in solid hardwood, engineered hardwood and laminate formats that come with the pre finished look already. So if you have yet to buy your floors and are looking into whitewashing, know that you can purchase this look already. Note: We at Diverse Flooring carry these products.
Disclaimer: Diverse Flooring provides the information contained herein to its customers as an information source only. Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations when cleaning and caring for your floors.