Old School Whitewashing

Through the process of restoring our early 1800s house we have wanted to bring back as much of the original character as we could, while still making it a functional year round residence. Behind the walls and above the ceilings there will be all new electric, plumbing, insulation and heating systems; but the finishing touches are where we can restore some of the character original to the house. One way we are trying to do this is by implementing the old school technique of whitewashing some of the wood surfaces within the house.


In the downstairs living room we painted the v-groove wood ceiling, but upstairs we wanted to try something a little softer in the bedrooms. We had purchased large amounts of edge and center bead board blanks and wanted to use them as the ceiling, but we went back and forth on the finish. In the bathrooms we opted for a beautiful rich stain which can be seen in this BLOG POST. For the two upstairs guest bedrooms we finally decided on an opaque whitewash. We have never whitewashed anything before so like always there was a bit of a learning curve for us! Fortunately we had our friend Sabrina working and learning along with us as we experimented with the product and technique.



As with most things you can buy a product at Lowes or Home Depot, but we wanted to go old school with a recipe that may have been used during the time the house was built. They didn’t have Lowes back then, but they did have natural ingredients. We did our research and came across a few different whitewash recipes. All of them were some variation of the combination of salt, lime and water… that’s it! So simple and free of chemicals to boot. So we did a couple test pieces on a few pieces of wood and decided it was perfect!


Cole applying a second coat to the boards. You can see the ones on the left look darker because the slurry goes on clear!


It is an interesting product to apply because it goes on clear, so you don’t really know what it is going to look like until it is finished drying; which takes a couple hours for it to fully cure so maybe a little stressful. We applied two coats of our whitewash solution to the bead board panels, before lightly sanding with a fine sandpaper to reveal some of the wood grain. The thickness of your slurry  and the final look you are going for will  affect how many coats you will apply. Ours thickness was similar to a very thin pancake batter.


Yay one bedroom ceiling done, one to go!


Overall this was a fairly simple project, maybe a little scary at first because we have never done it, but pretty sweet looking in the end. We can’t wait to get the drywall up and see what the finished spaces are going to look like.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s