How to Whitewash Wood Floors

Wood floors are always a beautiful option, but sometimes the finish can be a little harsh. Soften the shade by learning how to whitewash wood floors with this step-by-step DIY project.

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Painting over your hardwood may seem risky, but with the right techniques and instructions, your floors can look stunning. Whitewashing wood flooring gives off a rustic feel that brightens your space and extends the life of old, scratched floors. Check out our easy-to-follow steps below to see how it's done. Trust us, this is one weekend project that's worth the effort. 

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What You Need

  • Unfinished wood floors
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Gloves
  • 1 gallon Sherwin Williams Sher-Wood Wiping Stain in White S64W11
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • 1 quart each of two shades of gray interior latex paint (we used Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray 7017 and Repose Gray 7015)
  • 2 coarse-bristle paintbrushes
  • Polyurethane (we used Minwax clear stain polyeurethane for floors)

Step 1: Prep Work

Assess your wood floors. A light-tone wood, such as maple or ash, works best. Floors must be unfinished or sanded thoroughly to remove any existing finish. (The flooring shown here is unfinished maple from Dean Hardwoods Prestige collection.) Clean floors with a vacuum, then wipe down with a microfiber cloth.

Step 2: Apply Stain

Starting in a corner, dip a sponge into the wiping stain and apply it generously to a 2x4-foot section of floor. Before the paint dries, wipe most of it off with a separate dry sponge. Use a dry rag to remove any streaks. The result should look like a thin white film through which you can see plenty of the wood grain. Repeat this process until the entire floor is whitewashed. Allow it to dry at least one night.

Step 3: Give Depth

To give our floors more tone depth, we added two shades of gray over the whitewash. Achieve this look by using a coarse-bristle brush to lightly apply the darker shade of gray to a 2x4-foot section of floor. Immediately afterward, use a different brush to add the lighter gray tone. The point is to see thin gray lines, so allow the brushes to dry between each application. 

Step 4: Top Coat

Let the paint dry six hours before applying a thin, even coat of clear polyurethane to the entire floor. Wait for polyurethane to dry before walking on the floor or placing any furniture.

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