[Sponsored content]. Over the winter months, we’ve been working hard on project ‘strip the floors’, most of which were given an orange pine varnish treatment many moons ago. Rob managed to sand his office (pictured) which was previously carpeted and the kitchen in three dusty, sweaty days. Despite the fact the floors are in great condition for their age, I really don’t like having dark orange wood everywhere – it makes an already dark house feel darker. I did a fair amount of research into limewashing and whitewashing before jumping into this project, asking for recommendations from interior design friends who have done it before and they all came back with the same brand.
So, on a mission to brighten up the house and lift the floors, I’ve put together a guide on how to whitewash wooden floors in partnership with OSMO, makers of wonderful oils and waxes, elixirs for all kinds of wood treatments. A look synonymous with Scandinavian style, whitewashing creates a contemporary feel, highlighting the natural beauty of the wood grain. The best thing about it is that unlike painting the floor which will show up wear and tear over time, whitewashing is far less high maintenance.
Although traditionally done using lime or wood bleach which can be harsh (please don’t do that!), tinted wood oils are now a far less complicated option, nourishing and protecting the wood simultaneously. All these oils and waxes are environmentally safe, meaning fewer harsher chemicals and the wood can still breathe underneath. For high traffic areas it stands up well to abuse, is water resistant and is easy to clean. It also works brilliantly on pine flooring and a little goes a very long way.
Before you get too excited and rush out for tools, please make sure you do a swatch test first. Check what kind of wood floor you have. Pine is generally an all-round winner for this effect with its naturally pale qualities, whereas darker woods will have a completely different result and are sometimes better left alone. If you’re desperate to lighten dark wood, I’ve read about a method called pickling that’s worth looking into.
Find an inconspicuous corner that you can sand back if you don’t like it, purchase a tester of the product and follow my prep and cleaning steps before applying. A small area won’t take long. Follow the drying times and then see what you think – has it been well absorbed and have you achieved the desired effect? If so, read on…
You Will Need:
• Vaccum cleaner.
• A good floor cleaner / stiff floor brush.
• OSMO Wood Wax Finish** in white (code 3111). A 750ml tin will cover approx 20 sqm.
• OSMO Polyx-Oil Tint** in white (code 3040).
• Soft, lint-free cloths (you can only use these once per application) or a soft, wide paint brush (OSMO also have wide floor brushes).
• Painter’s pot or tub to pour out the floor oil into.
• Gloves to keep your hands clean (it gets everywhere and it’s hard to clean off your skin!).
• OSMO cleaning solution.
**find your nearest stockist here.
Before You Start – Prepare The Floor.
Make sure you’ve fully prepped the floor before you start staining it. This means removing any previous treatments with a heavy duty sander, repairing loose or broken boards and filling any gaps as Rob has done. You can find a step-by-step guide to sanding floors, including the prep from our previous project in the kids’ room. Ignore the knotting step – you’ll want to see all of the grain.
Next to clean the floor. Vaccum up any dust and debris first – you won’t want to be working this into the floor. Wash and dry the floor a couple of times until any marks and dust have lifted.
Step One – Applying The Wood Wax Finish
Stick on some protective gloves and decant a little of the Wood Wax Finish into a pot for easier access. Apply the wax oil in a thin coat along the grain with your brush or cloth, working it gently into any knots and cracks. Remember a little goes a long way. Allow twenty minutes soaking in time, then use a clean, lint-free cloth to gently rub away the excess wax oil until you’re happy with the tone. You’ll need to do the floor in sections so that you have a safe space to kneel while you do this part – otherwise you’ll step on it while it’s wet. This may mean leaving yourself a small path clear to the door whilst you wait for the rest of the floor to completely dry before you can finish the rest.
TOP TIP: Because some floor oils turn yellow over time, OSMO has recommended applying a white oil tint as a top coat after the initial wax finish.
Step Two – Applying The Polyx Oil Tint Top Coat
Once the floor is completely dry, check that you’re happy with the tone. If you feel it could be a little whiter, repeat step one. Next to apply the Polyx Oil Tint which will protect your base coat and prevent it from yellowing over time. Decant a little of the oil tint into a pot and do the same as in step one with either a soft brush or clean, lint-free cloth. At this point, you can either coat the entire floor, working your way back towards the door (don’t maroon yourself!) and leave it to fully dry, or repeat in section and work off the excess. The Polyx-Oil Tint is a translucent white which will add ever so slightly to the finished colour with a subtle sheen. I didn’t bother to remove any excess as I was happy with the finish so I left it to dry after applying a thin coat.
And that’s it! Yes, it’s pretty hard work – you’re going to have to get sweaty for this job, but the finished result is well worth the effort…
What do you think? Got any questions about whitewashing? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.
Can’t wait to show you how our kitchen floor turned out and the difference the whitewashing has made to the feel of the room!
Written in collaboration with OSMO who have kindly supplied product in exchange for this post.