History of whitewashing
Whitewashing has been done throughout history, with varying names and a changing mixture of materials depending on the time period. For example, in ancient Egypt, more financially well off families used a mixture of lime and water applied to their brick walls to keep the house cooler in the sun.
In Europe, from 1000-1300, it became popular to construct buildings of importance, such as churches or castles, in white stone. Sometimes the buildings were later whitewashed to achieve that look.
In the 1600-1800s, wood floors were often treated with a mixture of lye soap and chalk or lime. Originally, this practice started as a way to prevent insects, but became popular for its aesthetic appeal. In Scandinavian countries, this technique became widely used. The wood from native pine, spruce and fir trees was used for flooring and the sap on those trees often gave any coloring applied a splotchy appearance. The whitewash effect remains popular decorating trend there today, offering a contrast to the long, dark winters.
What kind of décor do white wood floors go with?
The color level of your floor can be adjusted to your liking. Whitewashing and pickling usually produce a more subtle result and can add a slight “aged driftwood” look to the floor. This subtle result is perfect when you want to add a relaxing beach vibe to a room. White floors are also a major part of the shabby chic style.
White wood floors look stunning with many modern design elements that are currently popular. Monochromatic color schemes can incorporate some version of a white floor. Utilizing accessories with mirrors and glass or chrome accents is currently popular and will look good with a white floor. The white color can act as a backdrop to really make your colorful accessories or furniture stand out. Darker wood furniture also really makes a statement when paired with a white wood floor.
How to get the look of white wood floors
You could always paint the floor white but this will produce a very bold look, especially if your room is large. Paint is also opaque, so the wood grain and its natural features won’t show through.
Homeowners often opt for whitewashing or pickling to keep those natural features visible. Both methods will allow the grain to show through and require starting with a sanded, thoroughly cleaned wood floor. Stains come in water-based and oil-based versions, but water-based is usually a better choice here. Not only are there less fumes and easier clean-up, but you will want to use a water-based sealer on top to avoid possible yellowing caused by oil-based sealers.
Whitewashing is most commonly used on pine flooring. The white stain is applied with a brush. After letting the stain sit two or three minutes, a sponge or rag is used to work it into the pores of the wood and remove any excess stain. Pine often has knots in the boards, so make sure to thoroughly work the stain into those areas.
Pickling is the technique mostly used with oak flooring. The white stain is applied in the same way as you would with whitewashing. However, because of the large pores and natural characteristics, it is necessary to work against the grain of the wood to ensure thorough staining.
Gowdy Flooring can handle all the wood flooring needs for your home or business. Call us today at (806) 353-6226 for more information about our products and services. You can also connect with us via e-mail. We welcome your visit to our showroom located at 5205 S. Coulter St. in Amarillo, Texas.