DIY Home & Décor


October 19, 2015

My whitewash coffee table project and how to DIY whitewash furniture to make it suit your style.

There’s nothing like wood furniture. But stain colour trends do come and go. Thankfully wood that has been stained one colour can be stripped and re-stained to suit your mood.

Haven gotten sick of the golden look of pine from growing up in the 90s, I’ve always liked dark rich coloured stains. Chestnut, cherry, oak. But more recently I have seen the popularity of white washing growing and I can see why. Whitewashing brings the best of two worlds together. It makes wood neutral in tone, while still allowing the natural texture of the wood show through.

What I like about whitewashing is the way it makes wood look new and fresh, but also aged – is that even possible? Let’s just say it is a unique look that other stains just don’t achieve. So that is why when we moved into our apartment I knew I wanted to take on a whitewashing project.

Buying whitewashed furniture is expensive because it is so trendy. But a can of whitewash costs $15 at Home Depot and goes a long way. So when I found a coffee table on Kijiji that was the exact size and style I wanted for $50, I knew I had hit the jackpot! So here’s what I did to achieve the white wash look.


  • your piece of furniture, cleaned
  • handheld sander
  • sandpaper, start with a higher grain and finish with 150 for smoothing your surface – I used Norton
  • wet cloth
  • stain – I used Minwax Water Based Woof Stain in White Wash Pickling
  • varnish – I used Varathane Premium Diamond Wood Finish (water based) Interior in Satin

Need to remove the old stain first.


  1. Start by making sure the furniture is clean and that you are in an outdoor space, because it will get dusty.
  2. Use your handheld sander to sand off the existing varnish and stain. You will go through several sheets of sandpaper. You may also need to do corner and tougher areas by hand.
  3. Once most of the stain is off, I suggest you go over the whole piece of furniture again so that you have both an even and raw wood surface to work with.
  4. At this point, dust your furniture off with and run a wet cloth over the entire piece to collect all the dust. You want the surface to be very clean. Then let it dry. Once dry, rub the surface to make sure no dust comes off.
  5. Now you are ready to stain! Have a clean paintbrush and a clean rag ready. Working in sections paint the stain, going back to the start of that section and wiping with the cloth. This will ensure some transparency so the wood shows through. Go over the entire piece and let it dry according to the directions on the can of stain.
  6. You may now want to do a second coat repeating the same process. Make sure you don’t forget to stain all parts of the table that are visible to make your work look top quality.
  7. The next step is optional, that sis using a varnish to seal the piece. Use a clean paintbrush and paint a light coat on to protect the wood. If you want more of a glossy finish, make sure you buy the appropriate kind of varnish. Just keeping mind that whitewash should look natural, almost weathered so I suggest a satin finish and a water base.
whitewash table

The result!

So let’s recap some of the top tips of whitewashing:

  • Always work with a clean surface – it will ensure the end result is clean and professional.
  • Whitewash like any stain can be applied in layers to achieve the desired level of colour.
  • Always follow the directions on the stain or varnish, because every product is different.
  • I recommend the Minwax brand, it has no smell and washes up with soap and water.
  • Give yourself at least 4 hours for this project start to finish.
  • Varathane comes in different options and satin works best with whitewash.

Have you tried any whitewashing or staining projects? I would love to hear your tips!

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1 Comment

  • Reply MAY MAKEOVER DIYS - Discover Happiness May 2, 2016 at 8:30 PM

    […] DIYs can produce some great outcomes at very affordable costs. I like to consider my whitewashed coffee table as a prime example of this. I bought the once pine coloured table from Kijiji for $50 cash […]

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