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Make Whitewash Paint Mixture For Furniture Using Latex Paint

It’s easy to make whitewash paint for furniture using a mixture of latex paint and water. The ratio of water to paint that I prefer is four parts water to one part latex paint. This whitewash can be used over any paint color and I made a short video showing you how I do the whitewash process.

sunflower cedar chest

The piece for this project is the pedestal cedar chest I bought at auction a couple of weeks ago. I love this chest so much I decided to paint it and keep it for myself. I paid about $82 for the chest, including auction fees.

how to paint furniture with Petticoat Junktion

While working on the chest I went  back and forth about the final paint finish. Our master bedroom where we will use the cedar chest is painted dark brown and has off-white furniture.

Behr sample size paint for furniture

The first paint color I used on the chest was Coastline Tan by Behr. I had this little sample jar I bought when trying to decide on the master bedroom wall color. That little jar covered the chest and I even had paint left over. But…..I decided the color was too dark. It probably would have been fine if I had known what the final paint finish was going to be! I’m always changing plans mid-stream or mid-project!

mixing paint colors

Next I chose this paint which is a mix of several leftover paints on my shelf. The color is a taupy shade.

painting a cedar chest using latex paint

When you look at the contrast between the light paint and the dark paint it seems really dramatic.

Behr latex paint for painting furniture (2)

But when the second coat of paint dried it was light but not a lot lighter.

Polar Bear white paint color by Behr

Now comes the fun part…..the whitewash. In the past I used white white paint for the white wash and I realized after about the umpteenth time that it was too white. I know it’s called whitewash but I’ve found that an off-white paint color works the best for the wash. The paint color is Polar Bear by Behr! I’ve used this color on several furniture makeovers and I love it.

Thin white paint with water to make a whitewash for painted furniture

I never measure the paint and water mixture. I just pour a bit of paint in a bowl then put the bowl under the tap. I can tell you that the whitewash solution is very thin. If the solution is thick it’s not a wash and it will be more like you are spreading paint with your rag. Please watch the video because you can tell how thin the whitewash mixture is.

whitewash paint using a damp rag covered with white paint (2)

I apply the whitewash using a lint free rag (old white sheets work best) rubbing the whitewash on going back and forth over a small area. Always rub the whitewash on in the direction of the wood grain. Depending on how heavy I want the wash to be I will continue rubbing with the whitewash rag until I get the desired affect or….. I will use another rag dampened with water and remove a lot of the whitewash.

whitewash furniture details

For this project I wanted a heavy whitewashed finish so I just rubbed the whitewash dipped rag over the area until the look was perfect. It’s best to work in small areas because the wash will dry fast and then it’s hard to remove the excess.

make whitewash paint using latex paint and water

Did you notice how the cut in details on the flower design remain dark after the whitewashing? I tried not to get the wash in those areas. The whitewash against the darker paint makes the flower really stand out. The same goes for the other cut out details on the front.

make whitewash paint for furniture using latex paint

I’m really happy with how the chest turned out. So much better than that dark mustard yellow paint.

how to paint an old cedar chest and make it look moderrn

Those pedestal feet have me smiling. You might remember I bought another pedestal cedar chest along with this one. I plan to try to refinish the top of that cedar chest because it’s a mess. I really don’t want to paint it because it has pretty inlaid details. You can see it here…Two Fantastic Pedestal Style Cedar Chests And A Waterfall Cedar Chest.

wood furniture details highlighted with white wash paint technique

I  used a tiny paintbrush to get the whitewash into the curvy detailed pieces on each side of the chest front.

vintage pedestal type cedar chest painted with latex paint

You might be able to see a bent nail and split wood in the photo above where the pedestal meets the chest. The cedar chest had all kinds of dings and dents but I don’t worry about those little imperfections.

Take a look at the video I made while whitewashing the cedar chest….

How to use a Whitewash Paint Mixture

how to whitewash paint with a water and white paint mixture

What do you think? Better than before or did you like the original scuffed up paint? Leave a comment if you have time or email me kathy@petticoatjunktion.com. Thanks for being here, Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I kinda like the mustard color, but the whitewashed chest is beautiful! I have a waterfall cedar chest a friend’s mom gave me 40 years ago. My daughter had it for awhile and with life in kids the top was in bad shape. The inside is in perfect shape, felt lined shelf and all. I painted it white and while it’s ok, I may try your whitewash technique – I love your final product!