Whitewashing & Pickling Solid Wood Flooring
Generally speaking, whitewashing a solid wood floor creates a beautiful brightness without detracting from the natural grain of the wood. Whitewashing works best on light colored wood types such as pine, rosewood and beech. Darker wood such as oak, teak and mahogany respond better to pickling. So what’s the difference?
Unlike paint or wood stain, whitewash will not mask the wood’s natural grain, making it a popular choice for homeowners who enjoy the beauty of natural wood whilst injecting a bit of color into the room.
Whitewash is nothing more than a white wood stain, which in years gone by was created by simply diluting a standard white paint. It is now manufactured in both water and oil bases and in exact consistencies, which takes the randomness away from whitewashing a flood.
Water based whitewash will require less drying time and is toxin and odor free. Just like water based emulsion paint, water based white stain can be easily removed by a little water and some mild soap.
If you choose an oil based whitewash then you can expect a longer lifespan from the floor. Oil based products take much longer to dry and are the preferred choice in rooms which can be left empty for 24 or preferably 48 hours after whitewashing. Oil based stain does have an odor and should only ever be used in rooms which are well ventilated.
Whether you opt for water or oil based whitewash it is always a good idea to test a hidden area to see how the floor responds. Ideal spots are inside cupboards or areas which are usually covered by furniture or rugs.
Whitewash is not difficult to apply but can be a painstaking process. The best method of application is with a lint free rag dipped in whitewash solution. A paint brush can also be used, but make sure the bristles are of good quality and will not drop out to spoil your work. Rub the solution into the grain of the wood planks and immediately remove excess stain. Wood knots are particularly porous so work the stain well into these areas to further accentuate the beauty of the floor.
Whitewash looks absolutely stunning on pine floors and can really brighten up a room which does not receive a lot of natural daylight. Whitewash goes a long way to toning down the natural yellowness of pine which appears naturally as the floor ages.
Dark colored woods are greatly enhanced by pickling. Originally devised in Egypt, pickling is the term used to describe the method of blending lime and water or a variety of milk paint to lighten a naturally dark wood. Dark floors, walls, furniture and interior rails come up wonderfully well using the pickling procedure.
As with whitewash, it is important not to use too much solution to drown the wood. Apply sparingly and work well into the nooks and crevices of the wood for best effect.
Remember that both whitewashing and pickling are not finishing products. In other words they do not protect the floor and so you should round off the job with a coat of water-based clear finish. Avoid using oil based finishing at this stage as it will bring a sallow sheen to a whitened floor. A popular finishing choice is tung oil, which covers smoothly and evenly.
The finishing should be applied by hand and in small areas at a time, always working along the natural grain of the wood. Successfully whitewashing or pickling a floor will require spending extended periods on your knees with back bent. If you do not feel up to doing this most worthwhile job yourself you can opt for a no fee consultation with a floor sanding company who will be able to give you no obligation costings and tell you if whitewashing or pickling is the right treatment for your floor.