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Whitewashing red oak

rockleah's picture


I have a question about whitewashing a curio cabinet I've made for my daughter.  I had plenty of red oak around and wanted to make something to somewhat match her bedroom furniture which is painted white.  I was hoping to get that pinkish look I've seen on some cabinetry.  Can I get this look with lacquer?  And if so, should I eliminate the sanding sealer going straight to paint?  I've done this before with over reduced latex but wasn't as happy with the finish.  It seemed a little too grey.  I will be spraying this and application isn't my weak area but any advice on getting a pinkish/ white look without losing the grain would be greatly appreciated.

Archibald's picture

(post #110633, reply #1 of 11)

Have you considered layering pink and white milk paint and then lightly sanding the outer layer of white?

rockleah's picture

(post #110633, reply #3 of 11)

I've never used milk paint.  Will that work? And how tough is it?

Archibald's picture

(post #110633, reply #6 of 11)

Milk Paint is different than most other finishes in that it doesn't peel of chip as it wears.  It wears away evenly and gently reveals the colors below.

rockleah's picture

(post #110633, reply #8 of 11)

Will milk paint hide the grain like paint?

oldusty's picture

(post #110633, reply #2 of 11)


                   Usually Red Oak will take on a Pinkish hue when a White wash stain is used .

            Lacquer works fine , imo using a Sanding sealer will not change the color , so what ever works best for the product you are using . A self sealing Lacquer is a durable finish but harder to sand between coats .

               good   luck              dusty

rockleah's picture

(post #110633, reply #4 of 11)

I would be using nitrocellulose lacquer and wonder if using the sanding sealer would cancel out the whitewash effect

oldusty's picture

(post #110633, reply #5 of 11)

No the sanding sealer will not change the color of the white wash stain , I have used it many times with good results .


rockleah's picture

(post #110633, reply #7 of 11)

How many coats of sanding sealer do you apply, and do you break thru when you sand it to reveal enough wood to soak up the white?  Also, how much do you reduce the white? Sorry so many questions, I feel like I've got one chance to get it right

oldusty's picture

(post #110633, reply #9 of 11)

rockleah ,

                     I stain the wood before sealing . How much you wipe off depends on the finish you want and the desired effects . Sounded like you want the pinkish hue from rubbing through the color . That's much easier than a solid white wash with no rub through imo .

      I apply a mist coat then a wet coat of sealer .   With white wash it almost seems like the color rises through the sealer a bit . Sand and seal a second time if it is not smooth and covered well .

      I use Old Masters brand of stain the white wash is called Pickling White , I use it right out of the can with no reducing . Different brands will act in different ways .

                   regards                dusty

rockleah's picture

(post #110633, reply #10 of 11)

Thanks, Dusty.  Will do.  I was confused because a cabinetmaker once told me to dilute white latex about 50:1 and mist that on.  It didn't seem to work too well.  I also read in Jeff Jewitt's book that he likes to bleach the wood before white washing.  I tried that but don't see a huge difference.  Could have been the bleach I got from Lowe's though.

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #110633, reply #11 of 11)

Lowe's is not that likely to carry the two-part wood bleach that would remove most of the wood color.  (What is packaged now as wood bleach is oxalic acid, good for removing certain stains, but has only a small effect on the overall color of the wood.) 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.