Whitewashed floorboards can give your room a brighter look while still keeping the rustic feel of a wooden floor. Whether you’re looking for parquetry flooring in Melbourne or simple hardwood floors to whitewash yourself, here is a guide on how you can do the whitewashing process yourself, and do it well too.
You need the right tools for whitewashing your floorboards just like you would for any other job. In this case, you’ll need paintbrushes, a power sander (you can rent one instead of buying it), sponges, dust mask, and a vacuum cleaner.
Know Your Wood to Get the Best Whitewashed Result
Oakwood’s grain is larger than those of woods like maple and ash. That is why it’s best to apply the white stain against the grain for oak floorboards and in the same direction as the grain for lighter-coloured woods. This will allow the grain to take in the colour nicely and still be visible.
Remove All Existing Finishing on Your Floorboard
You need to ensure that you don’t apply your coat of white stain over any remnants of a previous finish on your floorboards. This will look messy, and it may also cause the whitewashed finish to be damaged sooner from those areas.
Use a Varnish Stripper to Remove the Finish
A quick way to remove existing finishes is using a varnish stripper. It works faster than sanding the floorboard but its fumes can be toxic. Only use it if the room is well-ventilated. Cover parts of the floor at a time and not all at once. This will ensure that there are lesser fumes at a time.
Apply the stripper with a brush and let it set for about 3-5 minutes. After that, scrape the gunk off the floor. Then, wash your floorboard with a vinegar and water solution to neutralise the effects of the stripper. You don’t want it to be active when you apply the white stain.
Use a Power Sander to Remove the Finish
You can use sandpaper as another effective method for stripping an existing finish on your floorboard. A power sander is an excellent tool to have for this purpose. Use sandpaper with 40 grit or higher so that your floorboard is thoroughly cleaned.
You should sand your floor even if you use varnish stripper. This helps you remove the finish from the nooks and crannies of your floor that the stripper otherwise may not be able to reach. Using a varnish stripper just makes the removal process a bit easier.
Be sure to wear a dust mask before you start. There will be a ton of sawdust after you’re done with the sanding process. Carefully vacuum all of this sawdust from the floorboard. You don’t want it to get caught in the whitewash finish.
Apply the Stain Evenly
Apply the stain with a paint brush along the grain of the wood. Don’t use a thick coat because it will be difficult for you to see the grain if you do. Your floorboard should just have a thin white coating with the grain visible through it. It will just look painted otherwise. Use a dry sponge or cloth to wipe off the excess. Do this also in the direction of the grain of the wood.
This allows the stain to be spread evenly, avoiding any patches of extra white colour from showing. You don’t want your floor to look like it is painted white. It should instead be a beautiful white shade of wood.
Don’t apply whitewash all over the floor before you start wiping off the excess. Do portions at a time – painting the stain and wiping right after. If you wait too long to wipe off the access with a dry sponge, you may risk it drying. This will leave behind ugly patches of uneven stain over the floor.
It’s a good idea to first test out the stain on a small portion of the floor. You’ll get a rough idea on how long it takes to dry, and you will see how the colour looks after drying.
Avoid Using Paint Instead of White Stain
Also, don’t use paint instead of white stain for your floorboard. Once applied, the paint will be difficult to remove if you plan to change the finish some time later. Paint seeps into the wood and even sanding the floorboard won’t remove it completely.
In addition to that, paint can also be ruined a lot more easily than stain can. Dragged a heavy piece of furniture across the floor? Well, now you have a chipped paint all along its path. It’s in your best interest to use stain and not paint.
Add Depth to Your Floorboard for a Better Look
If you want more than just a plain white floor, you can use different shades of grey to create some depth. Use two shades of grey: one lighter and the other darker. Use a brush to apply the dark coat sparingly over small portions of your floor along the grain of the wood.
Coat the lighter shade of grey over the darker shade with another brush right after. This will give your whitewashed floorboard a few grey streaks that will have a nice textured look to it.
Apply Polyurethane to Finish
Apply a clear coat of water-based polyurethane after the white stain has completely dried off. Avoid using oil-based polyurethane as it will give your floorboard a yellowish hue – which may look bad. Water-based polyurethane also dries faster than its oil counterpart and is less toxic. Stir the polyurethane in the box before you apply it evenly on the floorboard.
Apply a second coat after the first one dries for better sealing of the finish. Applying polyurethane will ensure that your white stain finish lasts longer and is completely sealed. It will, thus, make it look as good as it did at the time you applied it. Let it dry for about 24 hours until you set your furniture over the floorboards.
Whitewashing your floorboards is a great way of giving your room a whole new look. You just have to make sure you do it right to get the best look out of it.
Simon is an entrepreneur and self-proclaimed jack of all trades. Simon has experience in the building and home renovation industry and he knows what it takes to knock out a successful project whether it be commercial or residential. Currently, he works as a marketing consultant with Smarter Timber – a leading supplier of the finest quality of recycled timber flooring, grey floorboards, Oak floorboards etc. Another niche for Simon is travel and outdoors leisure, including sporting equipment and bikes. A big kid at heart if it goes fast, bounces, slides or you can climb it Simon has put it to the test.