Whitewash Technique for Wood Floors

Updated February 21, 2017

Whitewashing gives your wood floors a rustic, soft look that can revitalise your rooms. This technique works with all hard and soft woods, but pine takes whitewash especially well. Although the technique sounds old-fashioned, it's no different from staining and finishing your wood floor. Strip finished floors down to bare wood or begin with bare wood floors. From start to finish, whitewashing wood takes two days and requires no special equipment.

Purchase an oil or water-based white stain to whitewash your floors. Using white stain takes the guesswork out of thinning out white paint for a whitewash effect. Oil-based stains are traditional; they take longer to dry and produce smelly vapours. Water-based stains have fewer odours and dry faster.

Sweep your bare wood floor to remove dirt and dust. Sweep very well, since you'll trap dirt underneath the stain if you do not remove it now.

Open your stain can, and stir it with a stirrer to emulsify the contents.

Start in one corner, and coat the wood boards with white stain, working in the same direction as the grain. Use a paintbrush. Do a small patch, such as 2 feet by 2 feet, at a time. Let the stain soak into the wood for about two minutes.

Wipe the stain into the wood with a clean rag, working only in the direction of the wood grain. Remove extra stain with your rag. Rub stain into wood knots that soak it up less than the grain to ensure an even coating.

Work over the whole floor just like this, making small blocks of stain, letting it sit and then wiping up excess stain.

Let your floor dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Protect your whitewash floor with a finish once the stain dries. Choose oil or water-based finish to match your stain's base. Brush the finish onto your floor with a paintbrush, getting an even coat. When you're done, blend paintbrush marks with a foam applicator for an invisible seal. Let your finish dry for 24 hours before walking on the floor.


Use a ventilator mask and open windows in your home if you use oil-based stains and finishes that produce strong vapours.

Things You'll Need

  • White stain
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Paintbrush
  • Rags
  • Urethane finish
  • Foam applicator brush
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