How Do You White Wash Floorboards?

White washed timber floors create amazing results. Using simple acrylic white paint, white washed wood floors is relatively easy and inexpensive and will turn your floors into a beautiful feature.

If you have new floorboards laid, you probably won’t need to do a lot to make them look amazing. If that’s the case you only need to oil or seal them once they’ve been whitewashed and let the natural grain come through.

Feature Your Hardwood Floors With A White Wash

White washed floorboards looks stunning on old boards and bring light and space into a room; but they can be difficult to get perfect, so don’t stress if gaps or imperfections show up. That is part of the rustic charm of old wooden floorboards.

A whitewashed floor will pick up dirt and scuff marks rapidly, so remember to protect your floorboards with a topcoat or sealant that will be easier to clean than the whitewash itself.

An additional protective barrier with furniture will also help to minimise floor scuffing and scratching.

Can I Whitewash Darker Toned Hardwood Flooring?

Whilst it’s always possible to white wash dark hardwood timber, the finished product will be relative to what you have to work with from the start.

Should you be working with one of our typical Australian hardwood timber species such as Brushbox, Jarrah, Spotted Gum or perhaps even Turpentine, then you will need to reduce the natural colour of it first.

To do that, you’ll need to complete a process of bleaching the hardwood floorboards.

Hardwood floors can be bleached to remove the tannins, natural oils and waxes.

Before we take a look at the steps to whitewash your floors, lets first go over some tips to bleach the floorboards bringing them back to a neutral tone.

The safest and most efficient product for bleaching is a two part product named LiteniT which is a high strength, safe, VOC free, 2- component wood bleaching system. The 2 parts, both naturally occurring, bio-degradable oxidisers.

Use LiteniT to remove the natural colour from any bare wood. LiteniT will take out the red and lighten even the darkest timber.

Part (A) is the activator. Its job is to pull the tannin and natural colour from the wood to the surface. So expect the wood to go darker in colour when Part(A) is applied.

The following application process as described by Oak Timber Flooring is to:

Use a brush for small areas like furniture, bench tops or stairs as if you putting on a coat of varnish.

For larger areas cut in with a brush and use a string mop and bucket to apply as if you were washing the floor.
Don’t miss any spots and wipe off any areas that have pooled with product.

You just need to achieve a wet look. You will notice rather quickly as the tannin is drawn out he colour change can be quite dramatic depending on the species of wood.

Allow the’ surface to dry before applying Part (B).

Apply Part (B) Cut in around the edges with a cheap 90mm synthetic brush and be sure to apply plenty of product.

A medium house broom is ideal for applying the Part B as it works just like a big brush. Again, apply plenty of product and work it in with
the edges so not to miss anywhere. Try to keep to a spread rate of 10-12m2 per litre

Be careful with Part (B), as it is a strong grade H2O2 which is a oxidising agent and will burn your skin. So protect yourself with
chemical gloves and eye protection.

Application of Part (B) starts to bleach the extracted tannin and wood fibres, almost immediately.

You may notice some fizzing & foaming from the reaction and the colour changing rather quickly. This is normal.

Now you wait until the wood is dry.

Atmospheric conditions need to be factored in to the equation. Though usually overnight is required.

Once the wood is dry, that’s the level of bleaching achieved from that application. Some species of wood may require a repeat
of the process, if they are really dense like Grey Gum or notably high in tannin colour like Merbau.

Your next and very important step in the process, is cleaning the wood surface to remove all residues from the bleaching process. No coatings or finishes at all will stick or cure on the surface without cleaning.

Use fresh water and a small amount of detergent.

For floors, use the string mop and bucket and do the edges by hand with a cloth to get in close to skirting and corners. Once the wood is dry from
cleaning, this is the level of bleaching achieved.

Once the job is clean and you notice some missed spots, just apply some more Part(B) with a brush.

Leave for 60-90 mins, then clean off and allow to dry.

The bleached wood may be finished with any wood washes, stains, waxes, oils and water based clear coatings you prefer.

It is not advised to use solvent based coatings as they will turn yellow immediately.