Wood Floor Maintenance

Whitewashing Your Hardwood Floors

Rob Patwary

Rob Patwary

November 23, 2020

If you’re getting tired of your hardwood floors, or you want to revamp your home, then you don’t always need to splash out on getting new floors fitted.

There is a quick and easy way of changing the look of your current hardwood floors to give them a fresh, modern flare and it’s known as whitewashing.

What is Whitewashing?

Whitewashing is when you paint something with a whitewash to give it a new look and lighter colour - close to white - and is often used in homes with Nordic or Scandinavian interior styles because the clean aesthetic lends itself well to minimalism.
It also works well if you’re going for that chic, beachy vibe with a more eclectic mix of furniture and finishings.

Whitewashing can be done to almost any surface, including brick, and is often applied to vintage furniture, such as chairs and tables, to modernise and brighten the space.

When whitewashing hardwood floors, a white stain or white tinted sealer is applied to the floor to lighten it without covering the grain or causing your floors to look too sterile.
It can also help to hide any imperfections in old wood flooring and make smaller rooms and spaces appear a lot larger.

Does Whitewashing Work On All Wood Floors?

Whitewashing looks very different on different types of wood flooring, so it’s important to bear this in mind before you start.

Light-coloured woods, such as maple and ash, are more suited to whitewashing as it softens the natural colour and pine wood is the best type of wood to do this on if you work the paint into the knots.
Darker woods, like cherry and mahogany, aren’t that well suited to whitewashing as it could make them look brown or grey rather than add a subtle lightness.

You also need to consider that your wood floors will need to be sanded down in order to be whitewashed, so if your floors have already been refinished multiple times and cannot withstand another round, it might be best to look at alternative options.

How to Whitewash Your Floors

Whitewashing can be a DIY project if you feel confident working with hardwood flooring; however, we would always suggest using the services of a professional, such as ourselves at Inner Space Flooring.

If you are doing it yourself, then there are four simple steps to follow:

Prepare The Floor

Before carrying out any work, you should always prepare the floor to ensure you get the best results.

In this case, you will need to start by emptying the room in which you are whitewashing so that you are left with a clear floor, and removing the varnish from your flooring as this acts as a barrier between the whitewash and your wood floors.

To do this, you must use a sander which will open up the pores of the wood and allow the paint to settle in.

Once the floor has been sanded, clean it thoroughly to remove all dust and dirt.

Apply The Whitewash

Next, you need to decide on what type of whitewash you want to use on your floors.

You may find that some articles and blogs on the internet suggest bleaching your wood floors; however, this is not necessary and can be very harsh and stripping so it’s best to avoid doing this.

You should also avoid using actual paint on your wood floors as it can be hard to maintain over time and will hide the natural grain and design features of the wood leaving your floors looking dull.

Instead, just apply a white stain or white tinted sealer to your floor with the grain of the wood using a 4-inch brush and coating a small section at a time as it will dry quickly.

Assess The Finished Look

Once you have applied the whitewash to the entire floor and allowed it some time to fully dry, take a moment to closely assess the final look and colour.

If it’s too light, then you should go over the floor again but if there are spots that are slightly too dark, then you can even it out by sanding that area down.

Seal The Floor

When you’re happy with the finished look and the floor is completely dry, you will need to seal the colour by applying a coat of water-based polyurethane lacquer.

The Pros and Cons of Whitewashed Wood Floors

Whitewashed wood floors are not for everyone and there are benefits and drawbacks that need to be considered before moving forward with this aesthetic.

Whitewashing looks stunning when done right, and can make smaller spaces appear much larger and dark, dingy rooms with limited natural light look brighter and more airy.
It can also elevate your interior style if you are trying to embrace the Scandi look and can completely change the appearance of the room with minimal cost and effort.

Whilst all this is great, the biggest issue with whitewashed wood floors is that they are tough to keep clean and require constant maintenance as any tiny bit of dirt or minor scratches will be very visible.
This can often be a concern for homeowners with children or pets as it will need a lot of upkeep, so is often best suited in spaces where there is not a lot of high traffic such as a home office or guest bedroom.

If you think this will work well in your home and you’re interested in whitewashing your hardwood floors, then our experts are here to offer advice, or our services, to help you achieve this stunning look.

Call us today on 0121 684 4772 for more information.