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Can You Whitewash Oak Flooring?

Zoom in photo of a white wash old wood oak.

Yes, we can whitewash oak floors, which has become a popular trend both uptown and downtown and a great way to modernize wooden flooring. It is possible to create the look of oak flooring that’s whitewashed with no help. If your floor is made of oak, we can achieve the look of an aged and worn floor by first sanding it down to the bare wood, then painting it with white paint that we’ve diluted.

It’s so hilarious that a style we viewed as only for those with the shorter pockets is now one being sought after. Whitewash is a big deal with many people doing it as a DIY project and others hiring experts. 

Admittedly, whitewashed oak floors do look great! So let’s go whitewashing and see how it comes out and whether doing it on our oak floor makes sense. 

Can I Whitewash My Oak Floor

Whitewashing any type of oak floor is ok, but some yield a better result. Whitewashing, which not so long ago was a method that the poorer class used when unable to afford paint, is trending worldwide. Let’s look at what whitewashing is before delving into its impact and aesthetic appeal on oak wood.

What is Whitewashing?

A painter painting a wooden ceiling in white.

Whitewashing, in which paint is thinned off to give an object a new look and lighter color — similar to white — is commonly utilized in homes with Scandinavian design styles because the clean aesthetic is well-suited to minimalism.

You may also achieve the same trendy, beachy feel by using an eclectic assortment of furniture and finishes.

Whitewashing is a process that we can perform on practically any surface, even brick, and is commonly used to update and brighten up older pieces of furniture like chairs and tables.

Whitewashing hardwood floors involves lightening the floor without hiding the grain or making it look too clinical with the use of a white-tinted or stained sealant.

As a bonus, it may make a small room look much bigger and help to disguise the faults of older wood floors.

Ideal Oak Floor for Whitewashing

White Washed White Oak Flooring

White oak is a favorite hardwood in the US and around the globe because of its endurance and attractive wood grain patterns.

White oak has been a staple wood for centuries due to its durability and slightly smoother texture than that of red oak, another historical favorite. Due to its neutral undertones and high stain-absorbing capacity, white oak flooring is an excellent material for whitewashed floors. A good illustration of a lighter wooden floor selection is the salvaged oak whitewash.

White Washed Grey Flooring

A simple living room with white washed grey wooden floor with matching carpet.

A whitewashed floor of reclaimed oak takes on a lot of personalities when it incorporates subtle grey undertones into the otherwise bright white finish. The softening of the salvaged oak’s rustic texture gives it a more contemporary air. The natural surface texture of the reclaimed rustic oak boards is complemented by the whitewashed finish with grey and brown overtones. 

It’s a floor you can’t miss because of the incredible depth and abundance of inherent personality it possesses. A light white stain looks stunning on reclaimed oak, which is already a beautiful material. It’s common knowledge that reclaimed oak works wonders in contemporary settings. Nevertheless, when the natural grain is highlighted with a pale stain, the result is surprisingly classic.

Related: Can You Stain Oak Floor Grey? How?

Red Vs White Oak For Whitewashed Hardwood Flooring

In general, bleached hardwood floors look best with white oak flooring. White oak was selected because it is more transparent and can be simply dyed white to achieve a more neutral appearance. Since red oak already has natural overtones, getting a pure white finish on it is a challenge.

Red oak hardwood flooring is notoriously tricky to stain due to its natural overtones and pinkish grains, which necessitate extensive bleaching. White oak is the best option because it will reduce the likelihood of problems occurring during installation. White oak is also less expensive than its red oak counterpart. So, that’s another area where you can cut costs.

Related: What is French Oak Flooring?

The Pros and Cons of Whitewashed Wood Floors

A front view of a white wooden floor with plain white wall.

Whitewashed hardwood is not a universally appealing design choice; there are negatives to think about before committing to this look.


  • When done correctly, whitewashing may make a room look larger, brighter, and airier by reflecting light and creating the illusion of more windows.
  • It may drastically transform the look of the room for very little money or effort, and it can help you achieve a more chic and sophisticated Scandi aesthetic in your home.


  • Whitewashed wood floors are beautiful, but they are difficult to maintain since even the smallest scuffs and spills stand out starkly. 

Property owners having pets or children might well be put off by the high maintenance requirements of this material; as a result, it is typically reserved for low-traffic areas like a study or a guest bedroom.

Whitewashing My Floor: the Process

Prepare the Floor

A man sanding the floor with a cleaning sanding machine.

Get rid of any traces of varnish completely. Leave the varnish off, and the wood pores won’t be porous enough to accept the paint. The simplest solution is to rent a sander and get to work. Put on a face shield to prevent dust from getting into your lungs.

You can use 180-grit sandpaper by hand, or you can use sandpaper and move in the grain direction. After the varnish has been completely removed, vacuum the area and wipe it down with a moist towel. Clear the air of any dust.

Combine the Solution

To make the whitewash solution, combine one cup of water with two cups of white latex paint. Use one part of water to three portions of paint for a thicker whitewash. 

If you want something a little darker, you can paint it with a light gray shade. If you’d rather not experiment with different shades of your desired hue, you can buy pickling solutions that have already been blended.

Start Whitewashing the Floor

A man whitewashing a wooden oak floor.

Use a brush no smaller than 4 inches to apply the whitewash to the floor. Follow the natural direction of the wood’s grain. Because of how fast the solution dries, you should only paint in increments at a time. 

After you’ve painted a part, remove some of the paint from the floor by wiping it with a lint-free cloth. That way, you can see the wood’s natural grain. Paint the wood against the grain to work it into the wood, and then wipe it off with the grain to reveal more of the grain.

Take a Look at the Hue

Once the entire floor has been cleaned and allowed to dry, you may next evaluate the hue. You can reapply the same method to the floor if the final color is too light. After all the coats have dried, you can smooth out the color with fine sandpaper where it is uneven. 

You should check your progress frequently when sanding to avoid removing too much material. Dust should be eliminated by a second thorough cleaning of the floor. 

To get the dust and debris that the vacuum left behind, use a cotton rag dampened with alcohol or mineral spirits. Use extreme caution, since the cleat coat that will be applied on top will highlight even the smallest speck of dust or lint.

Seal the Floor

A man sealing and Applying polyurethane on a whitewashed floor.

Applying polyurethane will greatly extend the life of the color on the whitewashed floor. The sealant you use should be water-based so that it can dry quickly and odor-free. Use long strokes and a paintbrush no smaller than 4 inches to apply it. After two hours, you can apply a second layer.

Choosing the Plank Width for Your New Whitewashed Floor: When building a new whitewashed floor, it is important to think about the plank width. Depending on the desired effect of the whitewashed wood floor, the appropriate plank width might make all the difference.

Having narrower boards will make a room appear more compact while having broader ones will give the impression of more space.

When it comes to whitewashed hardwood flooring, you have two options: solid hardwood or engineered hardwood. Most of the time, all you have to do with a manufactured hardwood floor is install it because it already comes with a completed surface. 

However, it restricts your freedom of choice when it comes to achieving the look you desire. Alternatively, if you choose solid wooden floors, you can experiment with any style you like.

Different species of wood are used in the construction of different types of hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring planks can be made from a wide variety of plant species. Species that fit this description are referred to as hardwoods. The species of plant or tree from which the timber or hardwood was harvested serves as the basis for their names. 

If you want to make whitewashed hardwood floors that look great, you need to start with the correct species of wood.

White oak is one such hardwood flooring species because of its lighter appearance and whiter hue. Whitewashed hardwood flooring looks great on these species because of their naturally pale hue.

Wood floor finishes come in a wide range of sheens, and choosing the appropriate one is crucial. The amount of shine in a hardwood floor’s finish falls into one of four broad categories. Various sheen levels, including satin, matte, semigloss, and gloss. Matte lowest luster is 25% and it gets higher from satin to semi-glossy, and glossy with 70% listed, which is the highest.

Which Is Better For Whitewashed Hardwood Flooring, White Oak Or Red Oak?

A zoom in photo of a red oak hardwood teture and patterns.

In general, bleached hardwood floors look best with White Oak flooring. White oak hardwood flooring was selected because of its milder natural tones and suitability for being dyed white.

Staining red oak hardwood flooring white is challenging since the wood has undertones of other colors. Red oak hardwood flooring is challenging to stain due to its undertones and pinkish grains, which necessitate extensive bleaching.

If you want to keep things simple, go with white oak hardwood flooring. White oak flooring is less expensive than red oak flooring, which is a major selling point. So, that’s another area where you can cut costs.

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