How to: whitewash

September 17, 2015

I have a craft show coming up at the end of September, which isn’t really enough time to do much pottery. Fortunately, I have a few other crafty things I can whip together to fill up the booth space.

One fun and quick make is a cute wooden sign. But instead of leaving the wood bare, I whitewashed it! Here’s my super-quick tutorial for how to whitewash your own wood.



Paint (I used two base colors plus white)


Cloth rag


1. Begin by painting your wood whatever base color you want. I had seen a cute tutorial that used leftover blue and green paint samples for the base, which had a nice look when finished. I used one of my teal paint samples I’d used previously in my ombre chairs.

2. Paint your second color over your base color. I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter, a matte black that I used on my current dining room table. Because it is water-based, I found one layer to be too thin, so I painted a second coat when the first was dry.

You’ll notice in the photos that the milk paint had some bubbles in it. This is because I didn’t let the paint settle after I mixed it up, since I knew I was going to be painting over and distressing it anyway. If the milk paint was my top coat, I would have let the mixture settle before painting to avoid the bubbles.

3. Once your base coat is dry, you can distress it if you like. I didn’t, only because I knew the whitewash would pull some of the black away since it’s water-based.

4. Mix your white paint with water, about a 1:1 ratio. Since I was doing a small project, I added a few tablespoons of paint to a container and mixed with water.

5. Paint your white over top your base coat and let sit for a minute or two. The key is to let the paint set without completely drying.

6. Now, before your paint dries, take a dry cloth and wipe off your white paint. Here is where you can really make some design decisions. Do you want to take off a lot of white paint to let the base colors shine through, or would you rather leave the white a bit thick and only see a hint of the base color? It’s completely up to you!

7. Now that you have your wood painted, you can add whatever design element you like. I chose to paint a variety of arrows because I think they’re adorable, but you could paint words or names or phrases or any other doodle you like.

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