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05 May, '17

Whitewashed Wood Floors - How To Achieve The Look?


There are several fashionable ways to change your wooden floor. Right now dark brown, ebony, grey and whitewashed surfaces are most popular.

While dark floors are more trendy, white washed hardwood, also known as Nordic or Scandinavian, has some distinct advantages not only in terms of looks but also for practical purposes. White washed floors will show less dirt and any scratches won’t be as visible as on darker surfaces. In addition, they will make a room look larger, which is perfect for small areas and can complement almost any kind of room decoration.

Different Wood, Different Results

Whitewashed wood floor with pinkish tonesProper wood floor staining and colour matching is very hard to do since every type of wood is unique. Truth is, there are many ways to achieve the white washed effect but the result will vary depending on the substrate. Often you would need an exact product to have the desired result. No two staining processes are the same as long as the wood is different. The best outcome will probably be accomplished on a white oak, ash and beech.

Unlike regular staining, a white washed floor is often created with the help of a bleach (but not always) and some types of wood (like cherry) won’t be very susceptible to it. Others, like red oak, will give white washed surface a pinkish tone. It’s always nice to consult with a professional even if just to make sure you do everything right.

The best way to ensure you will get exactly the effect you want is to find a small, more concealed area and test just how it’s going look. Actually, no matter what kind of stain you are about to apply always test it. There are many factors contributing to the overall look and feel of your floor. Never trust samples because they can be misleading.

Methods of White Washing

whitewashed real wood flooring in hallwayThe most popular way to get the dreamed white washed surface is with a bleach. As already mentioned, this isn’t always the optimal choice. You must be aware what you are doing and more importantly - upon what kind of wood you are doing it. A fine alternative to regular bleach are lye soaps and lime-water mixtures. Lye soaps are especially good for softwood like pine because they remove the yellow tint from them.

As far as the choice of finishing product goes, always go for a water-based polyurethane lacquer. Something like Bona Traffic HD will do a fine job. The reason why is that oil-based lacquers tend to turn yellow as time passes. Water lacquers are only slightly less durable than their solvent-based cousins but don’t change the colour of your floor. A quality water-based lacquer is without a question the best option for any stained floor. The only exception can be very dark stains because the yellowing from a solved lacquer won’t be very visible.

How Exactly to Whitewash My Floor?

As we have already mentioned several times, it is all strictly individual. Take this part of the article more like a guideline because nothing is set in stone here. We are going to talk about the traditional and time proven method of whitewashing with a mix of water and lime.

First, make sure to remove all furniture or anything that can interfere with your incoming project. Open the windows and pry the baseboards.

You cannot apply any kind of stain or paint on top of already existing finish because the pores of the wood are sealed. This means that you have to sand your floor and completely remove any sign of it. By the way, you cannot erase the old finish with a fine grit sandpaper, so good luck removing it with 180 grit. It really depends on the type of the floor and its finish, though. Whatever you, though, make sure to have a mask equipped to protect from the dust during the process.

After the floor has been sanded it is time to clean and vacuum the area. As already mentioned, use a mix of distilled water and hydrated lime to achieve the desired effect. Add 3 gallons of water for every 25 pounds of lime.

Is it ready? Good. Now spread the whitewash with a paintbrush. While applying, make sure to follow the grain and wipe the excess after 15 minutes. Reapply the mixture and wipe until you are satisfied with the result. Now give the whitewash at least 24 hours to dry and proceed with the finish.

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