I’m finding myself drawn to the whitewashed look more and more. Especially when it’s done over lighter colored wood. I’ve done this look before on a few pieces in the past. In my experience, there are a few features that your piece should have to lend itself to a good solid whitewashed look.
- It should have a pronounced grain, like oak. Subtle grains like pine don’t have enough “tooth” to grab the product you’re using to whitewash. Oak is my absolute favorite!
- It should have recessed areas for the white to settle in and be noticeable. These can be carvings, inlays, grooves, etc. The more texture your piece has, the better!
- The original finish should be really worn off or non-existent. Raw wood is best! You can whitewash over paint, but this particular post is focusing on how to whitewash over raw/bare wood.
So with that said, here are some pieces I’ve done in the past. There was this Ethan Allen nightstand that I got from Facebook Marketplace. I used a wash of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Pure White and wiped it back until I liked the look.
See how the paint got caught in the carved details?
There were also gouges, wormholes, and dings on this piece, making it an ideal candidate for whitewashing.
And then there was this oak dresser.
To get this look, I used a combination of a paint wash using Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Farmhouse White and the White Wax in the line. Again, this look worked really well on this piece because the grain was very pronounced, there was hardly any finish on the piece, and there were plenty of places for the white paint and wax to settle.
See how the white gets “stuck” in the grain? That’s why oak is the BEST species of wood to whitewash.
So when I found this cute three drawer oak chest from a local antique shop, I knew it would be the perfect candidate for another whitewash job.
Now when I was ready to give this piece a whitewash, I didn’t use a paint product or a colored wax. Instead, I reached for a General Finishes product – Winter White Glaze.
Glazes are much thinner than paint and they are a liquid product (as opposed to a tinted wax). It’s a decorative product that is meant to be applied and wiped back. You can apply it over stain, paint, or raw wood (which is what I did). Glazes dry fast, so to keep them workable, you can add a few squirts of a product called “Extender” to increase the dry time and keep the product workable longer.
I didn’t need to add the Extender to my glaze because I was working on a really humid day. The extra humidity in the air kept the Winter White Glaze from drying too fast on me. I started the process by removing the hardware, vacuuming the drawers out, and cleaning the piece using General Finishes recommended preparation process. You can watch and see that in action here:
Once the piece was ready, I got to glazing! To view the process in action, you can watch my Facebook live video here. You can also view General Finishes video on applying glazes here. Keep in mind that these videos show you how to apply glaze over General Finishes Milk Paint. My process was a bit different.
Once the glaze was dry, I applied a sealer of High Performance Topcoat in Flat. It’s very important to seal your glaze once it’s dry. It can’t stand up to normal wear and tear on its own. This is one way that glaze is different from a tinted wax. Waxes are sealers in and of themselves (even if they’re colored). Liquid glazes are not topcoats, so an extra step is needed to seal them with a topcoat.
I picked a Flat sheen because I didn’t want a shiny finish. I thought the whitewashed look would look best with a Flat finish.
The results are awesome!
Now there are a few things to keep in mind when you whitewash. While you do get a white hazy look, tones of blue, purple, gray, red, and even pink do wind up popping through. There’s also a risk of the white product yellowing over time. I did get some yellowing on my piece when I applied my topcoat over the glaze. There’s nothing I can do to prevent that from happening, so I tried to blend it in as best as I could. From a distance though, you can’t really tell. It’s only noticeable in the channels that run along the drawers of the piece.
See what I mean? Bu from a distance, you can’t see it, and it’s a side effect of whitewashing. I got it on my other two pieces as well.
I decided to keep the original Victorian Eastlake handles. They were shined up with Hemp Oil and I squirted some WD40 on the nuts that screw on the back. They were pretty rusty, so the extra lubricant made all the difference putting them back on!
When I staged the piece this morning, I raided my stash looking for objects that were along the lines of the tones of the piece.
This piece is available in my booth at Morgantown Market for $250 plus tax. It measures 35.5″ wide, 17″ deep and 29.75″ tall.
If you like the look I created and want to try it for yourself, you can purchase Winter White Glaze Effects and High Performance Topcoat from my booth while you’re there! I’m a proud retailer of General Finishes products, and I’d love for you to fall in love with this line as well.
If you’d like to try whitewashing with Miss Mustard Seed’s White Wax or Farmhouse White Milk Paint, you can pick up those products while you’re there too!