How to whitewash pine furniture

Written by janekubiesa
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How to whitewash pine furniture
Whitewash gives a modern look to varnished pine furniture. (pine night stand image by James Phelps from

Whitewash can help to give dated or tired-looking pine furniture a new look in next to no time, with the added benefit of not completely masking the details of the wood beneath. Favoured as a cost-effective way to transform your furniture, whitewashing is a quick and easy solution to creating a unified feel to unmatched pine furniture of differing styles, periods or simply different colourings of varnish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pine furniture
  • Paint stripper
  • Protective mask
  • Fine grain sandpaper
  • Clean cloth
  • Low tack masking tape
  • Whitewash
  • Paint brush

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  1. 1

    Remove any existing paint finishes the item of furniture might have by following the directions on your chosen type of paint stripper. Several applications of paint stripper might be necessary depending on the kind of paint used originally and the number of paint layers. A mask can be worn to protect from the paint stripper fumes.

  2. 2

    Sand the item of furniture using fine grade sandpaper to remove any varnish and to create a key for the whitewash to adhere to. Sand in the direction of the wood grain for a smooth and even finish. This also stops the wood from splitting.

  3. 3

    Dust the furniture off to remove any loose particles created by sanding.

  4. 4

    Wipe the item of furniture sparingly with a clean, damp cloth to ensure all debris is removed. Concentrate on internal corners, mouldings and any other detailed parts.

  5. 5

    Apply masking tape to areas that will be painted, including non-wooden door handles, hinges, key holes and fingerplates.

  6. 6

    Paint a thin layer of whitewash over your furniture. Work from the top of the item to the bottom to allow any drips of paint to be mopped up on the way down. Use light strokes for a smooth end result and paint in the direction of the wood grain for an even layer of paint. Painting in one direction also lessens the possibility of leaving brush strokes in the finished whitewash layer.

  7. 7

    Check the masking tape isn't over-saturated with paint, is still covering the area to be protected and hasn't come lose. It might be necessary to replace the masking tape if any of these have occurred.

  8. 8

    Add a second thin coat of whitewash for a denser paint finish. Paint in the same direction as the initial coat to minimise brush marks. Leave to dry completely.

  9. 9

    Remove masking tape and wipe down the previously covered area with a clean, damp cloth to get rid of any residual adhesive.

Tips and warnings

  • Applying whitewash to damp surfaces is best as the lime crystals will sink into the wood easier.
  • When painting pieces of furniture with drawers, it is easier to remove these to work on them separately.
  • Add a final coat of clear matt varnish for a longer-lasting finish.
  • Low tack masking tape will adhere to the area to be covered sufficiently, without damaging it or the surrounding paint when it is being removed.

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