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How to Make Your Walls Look Whitewashed

Whitewashed walls add visual interest to your room since they allow the grain of the walls to peek through while maintaining a top layer of an elegant white color. This effect is compatible with a variety of design aesthetics including a romantic, beach, Victorian or cottage look.

Give your walls a whitewashed effect.

Things You Will Need

  • Paneling
  • Nail gun
  • Primer
  • Paint brush
  • White paint
  • Glaze
  • Water
  • Varnish

Whitewashed walls add visual interest to your room since they allow the grain of the walls to peek through while maintaining a top layer of an elegant white color.  This effect is compatible with a variety of design aesthetics including a romantic, beach, Victorian or cottage look. A mixture of paint and water help simulate the look of whitewashed walls that traditional, but difficult, ingredients create. 

  1. Install paneling if your walls are currently bare. Use wood-grain paneling or white paneling of your choice. Paneling isn't completely necessary to make a whitewash effect on your walls, but it will give the wall a more authentic look.
  2. Apply a layer of primer to the paneling if you prefer to cover most of the wood grain. This will give your walls an opaque look, rather than the look of pickling, which shows most of the wood grain. Let dry completely.
  3. Make your whitewash mixture. Traditional whitewash is made from lime, but you can simulate the look with paint. Mix one part white flat, latex paint with 1/2 part glazing medium and water.
  4. Test a portion of the wall. Apply one coat of whitewash in a vertical direction and let dry. Apply another coat of whitewash in a horizontal direction and let dry. The brushstrokes should not be visible (See References 5).
  5. Adjust the whitewash as necessary. Add more water to the solution to make a lighter layer of whitewash or add less water for an opaque appearance. The look will change dramatically as it dries so be sure that you let the test portion dry completely to observe how it looks and whether you want to adjust it.
  6. Apply the whitewash to the rest of the walls. Use long vertical and horizontal strokes.
  7. Apply two coats of varnish to your walls. The varnish will help maintain the look and prevent the paint from chipping.

Things You Will Need

  • Paneling
  • Nail gun
  • Primer
  • Paint brush
  • White paint
  • Glaze
  • Water
  • Varnish

About the Author

Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images