How To Whitewash Dark Wood Furniture

How to Whitewash Dark Wood Furniture


Is your wood furniture too dark for your tastes? Do you want your wood furniture to match your light interiors? Then why not whitewash it to make these lighter? Whitewashing dark wood furniture can be done even at home using very simple woodworking items. This guide will help you out.

Whitewashing dark furniture

Whitewashing dark furniture takes stages. You can’t just spread new paint over the wood! You must remove, strip the old varnish and paint and prepare wood first before you can move on to the actual whitewashing procedure.

What you’ll need

  • Protective gear (mask, gloves, and goggles)
  • Drop cloth or newspapers
  • Chemical stripper
  • Vinegar and water
  • Whitewash stain
  • Clear, water-based sealant
  • Paintbrush
  • Steel wool
  • Sandpaper


1) Prepare the wood you are working on

Prepare The Wood You Are Working On


Work in a ventilated area. Open doors, windows, and fans to easily remove toxic fumes. Place the dark-colored furniture on top of newspapers or a drop cloth.

Remove the old sealant with a chemical stripper. This can remove the old stain better and faster than sandpaper. Use a brush to apply the chemical stripper on wood with as few strokes as possible.

Wait for the stripper to work. Cover the whole surface with a tarp and wait for 3–5 minutes while the stripper begins to dissolve the sealant. After the allotted time, the stain will start to bubble and will become loose. Scrape the dissolved residue from the surface of the wood. You can use steel wool to reach corners.

Wash the wood with vinegar and water to neutralize the stripper formula. This will also make the wood safer and will be able to hold the whitewash. Wait for the furniture to dry completely before continuing with the next steps.

2) Sand the surface

Sand The Surface 1


Sand the furniture using medium or fine grit sandpaper or you may use a sander to rub the surfaces you will whitewash. If it has an existing layer of paint, lacquer, or stain you must sand this completely.

Wipe the residue and dust with a clean damp cloth to create a clean and safe environment to work in. You can use a ready-made “wood stain” or “whitewash pickling” or you can also make your own whitewash formula by mixing paint and water (2:1 ratio of latex paint and water). For both homemade and store-bought products, always stir the mixture thoroughly before using.

3) Apply the whitewash treatment

Apply The Whitewash Treatment


Apply the whitewash to the furniture with a paintbrush, foam roller or clean rag. The mixture will dry more quickly than standard paint, therefore, you must apply this in small sections rather than coating the entire piece of furniture in one time. Apply the whitewash in long, even strips along the length of the surface then wipe any excess paint with a rag.

For corners and intricate shapes, use a sponge to whitewash. In case of excess paint that has dried, use sandpaper to remove them.

You may add additional layers if you want. But keep in mind that applying additional layers (and again wiping off the excess) will create a thicker layer that covers more of the wood grain. This layered process can make it easier to create the best combination of wood grain and color.

Usually, one coat is often enough, especially if you have your own whitewash to the desired consistency. If you are adding more and more layers then chances are your mixture is on the thin side.

4) Seal your work

Seal Your Work


Let everything dry before using or applying the stain. Give your whitewash time to dry up as much as possible before applying a sealant or adding more whitewash layers.

Seal the whitewashed furniture. After the whitewashing is completely dried, apply a clear water-based sealant. This will protect the whitewash job from the elements and will create a fresh new look even if the furniture piece for years. Most sealants are applied using a brush or a lint-free sponge.

Always use a clear water-based sealant. Oil-based sealants can make your furniture acquire a yellow tinge that is far from its original color. Apply the sealant in long even strokes over the wood. Let this dry completely for a day before using your furniture again.


Whitewashing dark colored wooden furniture is a great way to lighten things up. But you need to do this in stages from removing the old stain, preparing the surface and applying a new stain. Everything must be followed to the T to get the best results.