Tuesday, 16 September 2014

How to: Whitewash wooden flooring

for that Scandi-chic look...

Yes , I did eventually get out of the kitchen the other day....Remember when I posted here about the effortlessly chic-ness of Scandinavian style whitewashed wooden flooring??
I was stuck in the kitchen waiting for the floor wax to dry!

Well, it's now finished....and I am oh-so pleased with it!!
It has really brightened up our living room, and completely changed the feel of the space!!
In today's post I will show you how I transformed our worn and yellowing pine floorboards into a lovely pale whitewashed wooden floor....but I'm not revealing too much yet of my new look living room, as I have a few projects to do still in this transformation...

I have finally turned my attention to giving our living room some much needed TLC:
And I am planning on transforming this dingy and dated room into a Scandinavian style retreat for the autumn...as ever: On a tight budget...I will share with you all the little and larger DIY projects I undertake to achieve this look over the next few weeks, as well as some budget busting shopping guides to getting that Scandinavian /mid-century style for less!!

But the first BIG element essential to this transformation was sorting our flooring out!!
As mentioned before: I love the look of wooden flooring, but ours was looking grim and grubby!
We had decided earlier in the year to splurge on some nice pale laminate flooring, but as life would have it: we had to abandon those plans for financial reasons...I was gutted!!

However: Lack of money should not equal lack of style....and with pure willpower and grit and determination....and a lot of elbow grease (Yes...all that!!) and a very limited budget, I have done it:
I've finally got my pale whitewashed scandi floors....and for less than £50!!

Here's how I did it:

The first thing I HAD to do, was get rid of the old wax finish on the pine flooring!!
Yes...I am talking about the dreaded sanding!!
This is important because when you come to whitewashing your floorboards, you basically want to stain the wood, and that's not going to happen unless the wood is raw and bare!!
I'm not going to lie: it was hard work: And very dusty!!

You can of course rent a big sander to sand down your wooden flooring, but that was money I didn't have...so I stuck with my trusted palm-sander and some 40 grit sandpaper and on my hands and knees I sanded that floor down ....down town!!

I would highly recommend that yo remove all furniture from the room before starting this....but as I was on my own, I had no chance of moving the bigger items out of the room, so I just covered the sofa etc. with old sheets before I got started. Of course this meant that I could only do one area at the time, before moving the furniture around to get to the next bit! This actually worked out alright for me, because each day I only had so many hours to work within, before having to clean up all the dust and put the room back together before I hat to go and pick up Little Miss Moo from school....

If this sounds like a long-winded process: you are right!! Working like this throughout this project, meant that it took me almost a week to finish the floors...(I told you: determination!!)
So if you can pack the kids away(if you have any!!) and move all your furniture out before trying this at home, it should only take you 2 days to whitewash your floors.

Can't you see the steely look of determination in my eyes??
(Of course I wore a dust mask whilst sanding the floor: highly recommended, unless you want dusty lungs and bogeys the size of mountains!!)

When I'd finished sanding down those floorboards I spent a good few hours cleaning and getting rid of all the dust. Don't underestimate the amount of dust you WILL create when sanding down your floor...Have a hoover ready and sweep regularly during the process.

I then painted a layer of wood bleach on to the floorboards to even out the coloring of the bare wood...taking extra care to cover any stains and darker areas in the wood! 
To be completely truthful, I am not entirely sure how much of a difference to the final look this made, and I wouldn't blame you if you miss out this step entirely (unless you have some very unsightly stains on your wooden flooring)..

So this is what my stripped down and bleached wooden flooring looked like at this stage: Already a big improvement, but not yet that pale Scandinavian wood look I was after.

For that I needed a whitewash!!
Traditionally whitewashing wood is done with lime, but I decided on the more accessible and easier (read: cheaper) solution of watered down paint!
I used some leftover white emulsion paint, mixed it up with water until I got the right milky consistency! I kept trying the mix on an inconspicuous are of the floor (IE: A corner of the room usually covered by furniture) as described below,adding more water/paint until I was happy with the finish it gave!
As a guideline, the mix i used was approximately 1 part paint:4 parts water...
Make sure you mix up enough to cover the entire floor....you don't want a different finish in half the room because you had to make two different mixes!

Working in small areas at the time I then painted the paint/water mix onto the floorboards with a brush, then using a rag/ old tea-towel wiped off the excess as i went, rubbing the white stain into the grain of the wood, until you get an even finish! (If you think the whitewash is too dense, just use a wet rag to thin out the finish)

I worked quickly, slightly overlapping the areas, and really taking care to get an even finish!
Always work WITH the grain of the wood...if not the whitewash will come out looking streaky!

You can clearly see the subtle difference the whitewash makes to the look of the wood in the picture above.
Leave the floor to dry completely before finishing it with a layer of protective wax.

I chose this hardwax oil with a hint of white in it, to enhance the paleness to the whitewash, but clear wax would've been fine as well!! I simply painted it on, making sure it covered the floor evenly..

It went on quite shiny at first, but as it's dried and cured, it's got a matte finish!
See how you can still see the grain of the wood through the whitewash?
I love that! And I even love all those imperfections in the wood that was bothering me before, now that it's got that paleness to it!!

I should perhaps mention that it might be a good idea to add another layer of wax if it is a particularly high traffic area, but I didn't want to spend any more money that I had to (besides, I don't think my poor creaky old knees would be able to handle another day crawling around on the floor), so instead I've introduced a "shoes off" policy...proper Scandinavian style!!

I absolutely love my "new" whitewashed floor: it really has done what I hoped for the room: Made it more bright and airy!!
I really had to resist showing you more pictures of my living room at this stage: the light is so different...so lovely in here now: Whitewashing the floor was a great decision: A huge improvement to the feel of the room! But I am saving that for my big reveal later!!
But here's a peek into the hallway...same angle as the picture at the top of this post:

It does feel as fresh and clean as it looks...and for less than £50, a highly recommended home improvement DIY...even if it was a LOT of hard work!!

I have another busy week here at Nostalgiecat: It is the London design festival, and tomorrow I am heading to the 100% design exhibition  at Earls court, as well as an event at Heals, so in my next post I will be reporting from there, before tackling my next DIY project: The fireplace makeover!!



Anonymous said...

Looks amazing! Definitely worth the effort.

june olsen said...

thanks anonymous!

Alexis Middleton said...

Oh my goodness, June. This is AMAZING. I'm sure it was a lot of work, but totally worth it.

june olsen said...

Thanks Alexis!! Love it when you pop by and leave a little comment!!:)

Source Wood Floors said...

Nice Post Good work and list of precautions.

Thanks for sharing

Dana Kadić said...

Wow! This looks so amazing. I have an old parquet floor that I wish to renew. My old floor is a bit darker than yours so I wonder can I get this effect at all?

Edie D said...

Hi June! I've just come across your blog as I am wanting to do DIY white-wash floorboards in my little cottage here in Queensland, Australia :). I just wanted to ask, how has the white wash lasted with marks and wear and tear over the time since you've had it done? I know it hasn't been long given the date of the post, but it would be great to know how it goes over a few months. I have two small rascal dogs who run amok through my house so any advice with keeping them looking amazing over time would be great! Fantastic work, I love DIY!!

june olsen said...

Edie! Thanks for stopping by Nostalgiecat...In answer to your question: So far the floors have held up very well..It has been 1 year, and a part for a little wear in the high traffic areas , like the hallway the floors are still looking great! Because the whitewash has actually stained the wooden floorboards, there are no scuff marks, and the only visible wear is where the white tinted wax on the top has worn thin, which means the shiny finish in those areas has gone a little matt....I still love my floors, and have no regret in doing this!I have a husband that tends to wear dirty workboots in the house, as well as a 5 year old daughter that runs around, so they've had to put up with a lot of abuse...I am sure this would be a good solution for you, and your dogs will not trash them too soon! I just clean them regularly with soap and water....as for maintenance, they may need re-waxing sometime next year! Best of luck!!

Anonymous said...

Came across this post whilst looking to paint my floor. Looks great, I want this look for my little London flat!

june olsen said...

Hi Anonymous! Do it! it really brightens up a room! Best of luck!!:)

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Anonymous said...

Hello! Your floor looks amazing and I am planning on doing the same thing to my floors. When I tested the whitewashing, the paint went in cracks, highlighting them and looking more white than the rest. Did you have that problem? If so, how did you deal with it?

june olsen said...

Hi there Anonymous! I never encountered that problem...sounds to me that you need to water down the paint a bit more maybe! Or maybe use a hard brush to rub any excess paint away from the cracks?? That's what I'd do....sorry I couldn't be more specific! Best of luck!

jane eastham said...

Just wow June. Going to try this in my bedroom.

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Jeff Allison said...

Thank you for these tips on how to white wash wood. We did this in our holiday home a couple years back and we used a very similar method and it has held up great since now. Thank you for showing everyone the procedure you took in making it happen. This is very inspirational to all those DIY people. Thanks.

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Looks amazing! It seems your efforts have paid off.

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Anonymous said...

This is great, you really did a good job. I did some pressure washing wood floor to make it look newer, I haven't tried this yet.

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tina byass said...

You remind me of me I sanded my hallway floor by hand too, just goes to show of you put in the effort look what you can achieve it looks gorgeous

Aleksandar Simanic said...

Dear June,

You`re my teacher :) Tomorrow I am heading to carpenters to explain them what to do in my interior project and this is exactly what I need: Scandinavian look, even thoough I am from South East Europe :))
Regards and thank you a lot!

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Nice idea, but it's so much work! We decided to install a quick step floor. We employed professionals to do that (Home Expert from Aberdeen) and we had a brand new floor in two days.

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Gavin said...

This looks so good, thank you for the easy read!.....Do you or anyone know if I could do this without it getting scratched straight away by my two cavalier kc spaniels?

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Floorwood said...

Hi June, You made a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Well done!
Your comment on the bleaching step. If a good 2 part bleaching system is used, such as LiteniT, it has a dramatic effect and removes the natural colour of the wood. So then you may not have to white wash the wood at all. You could just use a white tinted oil, as you did!

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