How To: Color Wash Furniture
For a muted look, try this color-wash technique on any unsealed material -- wood, terra-cotta, wicker, and bamboo all absorb watered-down paint pigment.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Layers of Color
Our photos show a blue-tint color wash on the console table, but you can use any color, including white or cream for the look of classic whitewashing.
What you'll need:
- Half gallon latex paint
- Scrap wood (we used shims)
- Trash can, bucket, or other container deep enough to submerge about two-thirds of the item
- Unfinished wood, wicker, or other natural material
- Drop cloth
TIP: Removing legs or other elements from furniture pieces makes the color-wash process easier.
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Pour paint and water into bucket in a 1-to-10 ratio and stir thoroughly.
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Test the concentration of the color-wash mixture by dipping scrap wood in solution. Add water or paint to change concentration and fill container to desired level of liquid.
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Dip about two-thirds of item in the color wash, allowing it to touch the bottom. Use a brush to draw up the paint and coat the remaining exposed surface, creating a soft, faded effect.
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Let dry. Minimize contact between item and drop cloth to ensure a smooth, consistent finish on all sides.
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Remove about one-third of mixture and add the amount of paint in Step 1, roughly doubling the concentration of color in the solution. Stir.
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Test the concentration of the solution.
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Dip the item again and use the brush to gently blend color intensities. Do not brush the entire item. Allow to dry as in step 4.
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Mix increasingly intense washes by removing one-third of liquid and doubling the paint. Continue to test and compare washes.
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When final wash is dry, sand lightly and seal with clear polyurethane.