How to whitewash floorboards

Wooden texture to serve as background image by Viacheslav Anyakin from

Whitewashing has been used for centuries, both inside and outside. It gives rooms a lighter, brighter feel and can be used to achieve a traditional “country cottage” decor. It is also a much easier alternative to bleaching, making new floorboards look as though they have been well scrubbed for decades. Originally, whitewash was made from lime and water, but these days whitewash is also made from matt paint or by combining calcium carbonate powder, PVA glue and water. When whitewashing floorboards, the idea is to get the white colour into the grain of the wood so when the excess is wiped off the whitewash shows up the wood grain but does not cover the wood like normal paint.

Ensure that the floorboards are clean, bare wood. Sand back to the wood if necessary, or use paint stripper. It is vital that the wood be bare so the whitewash can penetrate the grain.

Clean the floor thoroughly to remove all dust and dirt.

Apply the whitewash with a wide paintbrush or a clean cloth, working on a small area at a time. Test on a small discreet area first so you can estimate drying times and achieve the look you are after.

Wipe the excess whitewash off with a clean cloth before the whitewash dries, finishing your strokes with the grain on the final wipe.

Apply two coats of water-based, matt polyurethane once the whitewash has dried. This is essential to protect the whitewash, or it will rub off or get dirty very quickly.

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