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 applying a whitewash floor stain using this step-by-step DIY project.

Painting over your hardwood may seem risky, but with the right techniques and instructions, your floors can end up looking stunning. Whitewashing wood flooring gives a rustic feel that brightens your space and extends the life of scratched old floors.

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. Trust us, this weekend project is worth the effort. 

  • Working Time 8 Hours
  • Start to Finish 2 Days
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Hard
  • Involves Sanding, Staining/sealing

What you need


  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Coarse-bristle paintbrushes


  • Gloves
  • Gallon white stain, we used Sherwin Williams Sher-Wood Wiping Stain in White (x1)
  • Quart dark gray paint, we used Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray 7017 (x1)
  • Quart light gray paint, we used Sherwin Williams Repose Gray 7015 (x1)
  • Polyurethane, we used Minwax clear stain polyeurethane for floors

How to do it

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 is unfinished maple from Dean Hardwoods Prestige collection.) Vacuum unfinished floors, then wipe down using a microfiber cloth.

Step 2 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.

Step 3 Give 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 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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1 Comment

  1. Back breaking work on your knees. Underestimated work but a fabulous look and very satisfying when finished! I did it, but it was somewhat hard depending on square footage attempted. Also you can't stop and start.

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