How to Whitewash Stained Wood

By Robert Kingsley

Though the term "whitewashing" calls to mind a glossy white surface, whitewashing woods does not leave them plain white. The process dramatically lightens the color of the wood but the whitewashing stain remains translucent, allowing the natural grain of the wood to show through clearly. The whitewashing stain that must be absorbed into the surface of the wood, so any existing stain should be removed prior to whitewashing.

List of Items Needed

  • Oscillating tool
  • Hook and loop pad accessory
  • 120-grit and 240-grit sanding sanding accessory
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • Paint or varnish remover
  • Paintbrush
  • White stain
  • Cotton rag
  1. Remove the existing stain from the wood. If the wood is mainly flat, you can simply sand the surface using an oscillating tool equipped with a sanding accessory and 120-grit sandpaper. Once the stain is gone, sand again with 240-grit to smooth the finish. If your wood is detailed and sanding is difficult, apply a coat of varnish remover using a paint brush. Allow the stripper to work for about 10 minutes and scrape off the stain using a plastic scraper. Use a stiff-bristled paintbrush to remove stripped stain from detailed areas. Allow the wood to dry after stripping.

  2. Apply a coat of white stain to the surface of your newly cleaned wood with a paintbrush. Allow the stain to seep in for about two minutes.

  3. Use a clean cotton rag to work the stain into the wood and to remove any excess. Smooth out uneven areas by leaving more stain behind or wiping more off. Apply a second coat if needed. Allow the stain to dry completely before continuing.

  4. Apply multiple coats of a clear, water-based finish to seal and protect the stained wood.

Tips and Warnings

  • Stir your white stain thoroughly before use to ensure the coloring is well blended.
  • Only stain in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use safety glasses and latex gloves while working with varnish remover as it can cause skin irritation if it comes in contact with skin.

© Demand Media 2011