Whitewashed wood floors are often seen in homes with country décor or a rustic appearance. Whitewash does not paint the floors white, instead it highlights the natural grain and imperfections of the wood, while giving the floors a white cast.
It is unusual to use whitewash on hardwood floors. Instead, you will commonly see pine whitewashed, or another soft wood. Unlike paint, once the whitewash has been applied, the floor must still be sealed with two coats of a non-oil based clear sealant. Homeowners who prefer a high shine to their floors can use a wax over the sealant.
Step 1: Pry off the baseboards, numbering the back of each piece sequentially for easy installation once you have finished whitewashing the floor.
Step 2: Remove any existing finish with a floor sander. Vacuum the floor thoroughly, then remove the existing sanding dust residue with a tack cloth.
Step 3: Apply a coat of whitewash to the floor using a paint roller with a long handle. Work in small sections, starting farthest away from the entrance. Always paint with the grain of the wood and try to apply the whitewash as evenly as possible to the wood floors. Wait 3 minutes before proceeding.
Step 4: Remove the whitewash with dry rags. This will lift most of the color, leaving an uneven, translucent finish that is common for whitewashed floors. Wait until the floor has dried completely before proceeding. Eight hours is commonly recommended, but verify the time with the manufacturer of your specific whitewash.
Step 5: Apply a coat of polyurethane to the floor with a long-handled paint roller. Allow the polyurethane to dry for about 8 hours, then apply a second coat. Wait for the polyurethane to dry at least 24 hours before allowing foot traffic or setting anything on the floor.
TIP: Varnish can also be used for this step, but avoid oil based clear coats, which can yellow the whitewash.
Step 6: Install the baseboards removed during the first step. If desired, the newly whitewashed wood floor can be buffed to a high shine using floor wax.