How to Whitewash Oak Furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Popular in the pioneer days of America, whitewash-finished furniture today can evoke the feeling of a beach retreat, or a rustic farmhouse. Whitewash allows the wood grain to show through; it is essentially a white wood stain. In the past it was created with powdered lime, but today we can get the same effect using latex paint. Whitewash your oak furniture to give it a unique look while allowing the beauty of the wood grain to show through.

Remove any existing finish by stripping it off with a chemical stripper, following the manufacturer's directions.

Sand the oak piece with medium-grade sandpaper. Sand again with fine-grade sandpaper. Finally, sand one more time with extra-fine-grade sandpaper. Wipe off any sanding dust with a tack cloth.

Mix one part water with two parts off-white flat latex paint. Stir to completely combine the water and paint. You should end up with a thin, opaque mixture with the consistency of double cream.

Brush the thinned paint mixture onto the oak furniture piece with a medium-sized paintbrush, using long strokes. Make sure you completely cover the piece with the whitewash. Work fast, so the paint does not have time to dry or set up.

Wipe off the excess paint after the piece is completely painted. Use a dry, soft rag and wipe it over the entire surface of your furniture piece, absorbing most of the paint.

Apply two coats of water-based polyurethane or water-based varnish, using a medium-size paintbrush.

Things You'll Need

  • Chemical stripper
  • Medium, fine- and extra-fine sandpaper
  • Flat, off-white latex paint
  • Medium paintbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Water-based polyurethane
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About the Author

Sharon Sweeny has a college degree in general studies and worked as an administrative and legal assistant for 20 years before becoming a professional writer in 2008. She specializes in writing about home improvement, self-sufficient lifestyles and gardening.