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Making Whitewash Out of Paint

Updated February 21, 2019

Whitewash paint creates a soft aged look when applied to furniture and walls. The paint technique is seen in Americana, French country and shabby chic styles of interior design. The technique is simple to re-create but does take time and patience. Though it's typically created using white paint, any colour of paint can create a wash. If white is too bright, consider off white, beige or taupe paint colours.

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  1. Choose the correct colour of white for your paint technique. Some whites have cool undertones and may appear slightly more grey or blue. Others are warmer with yellow, or golden, undertones. Bring a sample of the white paint into the room your project is intended for, to ensure the colours coordinate.

  2. Mix together one part white latex paint, satin finish, with four parts clear glaze. Pour both into an empty gallon bucket and stir with a paint stick. The glaze and paint ratio may be adjusted. Add more glaze to increase the translucency of the wash, or add paint for a more opaque finish.

  3. Practice your technique on a piece of wood, cardboard or drywall. Apply the whitewash with a rag, sea sponge, paintbrush or even a mesh paint roller. Often, the finished product is sanded for an additional distressed look using a sanding block.

  4. Tip

    Always make small samples of your whitewash mix and test the colour before mixing a large batch. Write down the paint colour, glaze and ratio used for future use. If touch-ups are needed, you will need to know how to duplicate the whitewash recipe. Do not use water to create a whitewash. Though many artists may traditionally use this method, the water thins out the paint and decreases adhesiveness. Add a flat sheen, clear polyurethane to your project if the finished look has too much shine. The additional clear coat will also add years of durability to your finish. Use water-based polyurethane to avoid yellowing, as the finish ages over the years. Oil-based polyurethanes often yellow over time. Wear old clothes and plastic gloves when mixing your whitewash paint.

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Things You'll Need

  • White paint sample
  • Latex paint
  • Clear glaze
  • Gallon bucket
  • Paint stir stick
  • Wood, cardboard or drywall
  • Rag, sea sponge, paintbrush, mesh paint roller
  • Sanding block

About the Author

Julie Hampton

Julie Hampton has worked as a professional freelance writer since 1999 for various newspapers and websites including "The Florida Sun" and "Pensacola News Journal." She served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and nurse for over six years and recently worked as the Community Relations Director for a health center. Hampton studied journalism and communications at the University of West Florida.

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