Whitewashed Oak Table and Chairs

Update: The whitewash didn’t adhere to the tabletop very well after some use, so I decided to sand down the top of the table and reapply the whitewash. I used an orbital sander with 60 grit paper to remove the finish, then did a pass with 120 grit to smooth the top. After applying the whitewash I did 3 coats of polycrylic. It’s held up great since!

The chairs and table base have held up fine without having to sand them down, but depending on the finish of your existing furniture you might be better off sanding first. I found that the watered down chalk paint did better with a raw wood finish.

It seems like this dining table and chairs has been on my DIY to-do list for years. It was always a traditional oak finish, and just not quite my preference. I tried to do a lime wax on it last year, and it did okay… it didn’t settle in all the grain like I had hoped. I’ve come to the conclusion that to get a lime wax to REALLY work right, you have to sand to a natural raw finish and loosen the grain to get the wax to cover correctly. That was more than I wanted to do!

After a lot of Pinterest-ing, I decided to go with a whitewash made from chalk paint.

I used a liquid cleaner similar to this from a chalk paint manufacturer that removed any lingering wax or dirt residue, and prepped the surface for chalk paint. Even with this step, the whitewash didn’t stick quite as well as 100% chalk paint.

How to Whitewash:

  • Mix 50% chalk paint (I used Amy Howard Home One Step Paint in Linen) and 50% water.
  • Dip a chip brush into the whitewash mixture.
  • Offload excess paint onto a rag.
  • Apply whitewash using even strokes to minimize brush marks.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • Seal with Minwax Polycrylic.

Because the whitewash is thinner than a typical paint, it does take a little care to apply evenly, but if you want a more rustic whitewash look then don’t worry about it as much!

The chairs and the table base were both easy to achieve the right amount of coverage with (1) coat of whitewash. The table top was a little trickier to get it “even” everywhere.

I used the same technique listed above, but did (1) coat of whitewash, (1) coat of a stain (I used a golden pecan color that we had on hand because it was a close match to the original table color, but you can use anything you want depending on your table color), (1) final coat of whitewash.

The stain helped even/blend the whitewash on the table top as you can see in the picture above. I’m not sure why that is, but it was definitely what it needed to blend with the chairs.

Once I was pleased with the amount of whitewash coverage and the coloring, I let it dry/cure for about 24 hours before adding a sealer.

To seal, I used Minwax Polycrylic. Since the chalk paint was a white base, I didn’t want to use any kind of Polyurethane that might turn it yellow. I brushed on (1) coat of Polycrylic on the chairs and table base. For the table top I used a foam roller and did (3) coats, sanded lightly after the 3rd coat, then brushed on the final layer of Polycrylic.

That might be overkill, but since the whitewash didn’t adhere as well as 100% chalk paint typically does I was nervous that it would wear over time and come off. Can’t hurt to have additional layers of poly, right?

Posted in diy

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