Applying whitewash to furniture can give a piece a rustic appearance that is prized in many country and shabby chic interior design schemes. While whitewashed furniture can cost hundreds of dollars in shops, you can create the whitewashed appearance if you have a piece of furniture you wish to refinish.
Whitewashing furniture can be a bit of an art, especially if you would like an uneven finish to mimic the wear pattern on a much older piece. Start with a small piece of furniture to practice your technique: then try tackling a larger piece after you know what to expect.
Step 1: Sand the piece thoroughly using a fine grit sandpaper. It is important to remove all of the prior finish before continuing. If necessary, you can use a chemical paint stripper to remove the old finish, then you can just use the sandpaper to smooth the wood and remove any stubborn areas.
Step 2: Wipe the surface of the piece of furniture with a tack cloth to remove any dust. When the surface of the piece of furniture is completely clean, then you can proceed.
Step 3: Apply the whitewash stain, also known as pickling, or liming, with a high quality paint brush. Apply the stain with the grain of the wood, as evenly as possible, in long, even strokes.
Step 4: Allow the whitewash to dry for about 15 minutes, then use a dry rag to remove any excess stain from the surface of the piece.
TIP: Plan on whitewashing the piece of furniture in sections, allowing you time to remove the stain from the piece before going onto the next section. If you want to mimic wear marks, concentrate on the corners and edges of the piece to remove the most whitewash.
Step 5: Allow the piece to dry for several hours, then apply additional coats of whitewash as necessary. Keep building the finish, removing areas of excessive whitewash as desired, until you like the appearance of the piece. Allow the stain to dry completely for 24 hours.
Step 6: If you’d like, you can now add a clear coat of a non oil based sealant. Check the label to make sure you are not accidentally using an oil based sealant: it could yellow the whitewash.