How to whitewash wood: top tips to get the distressed look

Close up of paintbrush painting wood with whitewash
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Learning how to whitewash wood means you can transform furniture, doors, bathrooms, kitchens – anywhere there’s wood – and give it the ever popular distressed, vintage look. It’s a simple technique that any DIYer can pick up quickly and it doesn’t need any specialist tools to get a good-looking finish.

It’s very much like painting wood, but with a watered down white paint. The opaque nature of the whitewash helps the grain of the wood shine through. But the best bit is that you get to decide on the exact depth and colour of the finish. You can add a single coat or as many coats as you want. The choice is yours. 

Whitewashing wood: A step by step guide 

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator with over two decades of experience working in digital and print and was previously the DIY content editor for Homebuilding & Renovating. 

He is a keen DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating the many homes he has lived in. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has a wide range of skills gleaned from working in the building trade for around 10 years and spending time at night school learning how to plaster and plumb.

He has fitted kitchens, tiled bathrooms and kitchens, laid many floors, built partition walls, plastered walls, plumbed in bathrooms, worked on loft conversions and much more. And when he's not sure how to tackle a DIY project he has a wide network of friends – including plumbers, gas engineers, tilers, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians and builders – in the trade to call upon.