How to Whitewash Hardwood Flooring for a Fresher Aesthetic

Soften the stain on your floor—and hide any imperfections—with this step-by-step guide to DIY whitewashing.

Whitewash floors featured image
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Maybe you bought an old house—with really old floors. Or maybe you just hate the finish of your wood flooring and can't afford to refinish it. Regardless of your reason, painting over your hardwood may seem risky. But with the right techniques and instructions, your floors can end up stunning. Whitewashed flooring brings a fresh yet rustic feel that brightens your space and extends the life of scratched old floors. And it doesn't cost a lot.

To get started, pick up a gallon of whitewash stain and two quarts of gray paint. The stain will be the floor's core color; the paint adds texture and depth. Check out our easy-to-follow steps below to see how it's done. This weekend project is worth the effort—and when you see the dramatic results, we're confident you'll agree.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Coarse-bristle paintbrushes
  • Sandpaper or sander


  • Gloves
  • Gallon white stain, we used Sherwin Williams Sher-Wood Wiping Stain in White
  • Quart dark gray paint, we used Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray 7017
  • Quart light gray paint, we used Sherwin Williams Repose Gray 7015
  • Polyurethane


  1. Prep work

    Prep Your Surface

    Assess whether your wood floors are suited for whitewashing. A light-tone wood, such as maple or ash, is the ideal base for this technique. Regardless of the wood, floors must be unfinished or sanded thoroughly to remove any existing finish. (The flooring shown is unfinished maple from Dean Hardwoods Prestige collection.) Vacuum unfinished floors, then wipe down using a microfiber cloth.

    Related: How to Remove Stains from Wood Floors

  2. Apply stain

    Apply Stain

    Dip sponge into the stain and apply it generously to a 2x4-foot section of floor. Before the stain 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.

  3. Give depth

    Create Depth

    To give our floors more depth, we added two shades of gray over the whitewash. Achieve this look by lightly applying the darker shade of gray using a coarse-bristle brush to a 2x4-foot section of the 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. Repeat this process until you've coated the entire floor.

  4. Top Coat

    Apply 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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