When Dan and I were trying to decide what painting technique to use on our Wilding Wall Bed, we only had a few requirements.

1. We wanted the wood grain to show through to accentuate the rustic nature of the decor. 


2. We wanted it to match the room it was going to be in. 

We figured that stain was going to be our best bet for this project. So, off we went to both Home Depot and Lowes to find the right color of stain for the project. It was impossible. They had a lot of choices of stain colors, don’t get me wrong. But, they just didn’t have the PERFECT color. We looked at indoor stains, oil based stains, water based stains, and even outdoor stain options. Next, we asked one of the Lowe’s associates try and help us tint one of their stains to match. It didn’t work. In fact, it turned out forest green. No thank you. Finding the perfect color to fulfull my vision has been a challenge at times, but I have learned to never “settle” in this area. I knew what I wanted in my mind, and I knew there was a way to achieve it.

Creed’s room (the home for the wall bed) is painted with Valspar’s Flood Tide. I soon realized the solution. I will white-wash the wood, but with COLOR!

Do you remember when I white-washed the door in this vintage nursery?

I wasn’t new to white-washing, but I had never done it with color. In theory, it was a perfect solution. In fact, I already had half a gallon of Valspar’s flood tide at home. I was a little nervous that the color would cover up the wood grain. But, we decided it was worth a try since this technique would allow us to change the wood to meet my requirements. Plus doing this technique to the wood would be FREE (basically free, since I already had bought the paint for another project).

F.R.E.E. (my favorite letters).

Step 1. Mix your latex paint with water. You will have to play it by ear with this step because it will depend how dark you want your white washing to be. I dumped about two cups of paint into a bucket and then added about 1 gallon of water to it. 

Step 2: Start with raw wood. We choose oak because of the amazing grain patterns in oak wood.

Step 3: Put your wood onto saw horses but make sure to be in a area that the white washing paint can drip onto. I did it on my lawn. I actually started with doing it on the grass without the saw horses, but I found that the paint dripped onto the backsides of the wood and made a mess.

Step 4: Take a large sponge and start “washing your wood.” Be careful to wash it evenly. I would start on one side and wash all the way down the wood to make sure the paint was even. I repeated this process until the wood was evenly coated.

Step 5: Let your coat dry completely and repeat if you want the color darker. Make sure you are working on a warm day. You don’t want the water to seep into the wood and sit for hours. If you do this, it will warp your wood. I live in a dry climate that is very warm on most days. The wood dried within 10 minutes. I did two coats on my wood to reach the correct color.

This wood shows what it looked like after the second coat.

Step 6: Coat your project with polycrylic to seal it. We used a minwax polycrylic (you can buy it at Wal-Mart for about $17.00).  I chose “satin” finish for this project.

Tips on applying the polycrylic:
FOLLOW the directions on the can!
You MUST use an expensive, high-quality brush (or you will get brush strokes…I HATE brush strokes).
Make sure to do at least two (preferably three coats).
Apply one coat by brushing only in one direction to eliminate brush strokes.
Allow the coat to dry completely and then sand with 220 or 320 grit sand paper before applying the next coat.

You may wonder why I chose polycrylic instead of polyurethane. Polycrylic is water based NOT oil based. So, I prefer polycrylic. Plus polyurethane will yellow over time and polycrylic won’t.  (Thanks Tammy Bell for helping me with this).

All in all, I LOVE my Wilding Wall Bed. It is exactly what I had envisioned. If you missed the first post about it, check it out HERE.

White washing the wood was the perfect solution to my design dilemma! By doing this technique I achieved both my requirements. It was easy too!


  1. says

    Beautiful! I think you may have found our solution for our play room! Thank you! I've done this a couple of times and really love the effect. Adding another color also gives an interesting effect.

    Megan – applehouserevival.blogspot.com

  2. says

    Wow! I have never seen that picture of the nursery before. I am in love. It is so beautiful!
    Amanda- myoohlalaandi.blogspot.com

  3. Katrina says

    Thanks for sharing this! I was just admiring a piece at my friend's house yesterday and I bet this method would work to achieve the same look. I just love all the inspiration I get from your site!

  4. says

    I really do love your wall bed, someday perhaps, but thanks for the whitewash with color tutorial as well. I want to refinish my kitchen table which is a beat up medium brown stain right now. I have been thinking about red and I think maybe red washed would look kinda sweet with some distressing. Thanks!

  5. says

    Thanks for the awesome tips…I am just doing my first BIG job for a coffee house in the town I live in and want to seal my furniture really WELL. I am going to follow your poly advice and sink the $ into the good brush and sand between coats. Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas. It is really appreciated.

  6. says

    I stripped down a dresser and then stained it I would like to color wash with a rust color for just a hint of color. Can I still do the color wash and if so do I use a water base or oil base paint?

  7. says

    @Donna Lorenz

    Try it! I've never done it but in theory, it should work! And I would recommend using the same type of base as the stain… So if you used a water-based stain, you would use a water-based wash. Does that make sense? I would love to see the finished product!


  8. Tabbitha says

    This project turned out beautiful! I can't wait to "white wash" my dingy coffee table with color and make it new again.

  9. Becky says

    Perfection! I have a lovely shade of red paint on hand that will water down perfectly for an unfinished pantry cabinet I found yesterday at an estate sale. Thank you for the tip, saving me money and a trip into town.

  10. Terri Moseley says

    I have a red wood headboard that I white washed and now looks pink what color could I get to go on top of it for it to look rusty color.

  11. Adriana Grande says

    Do you think this could work for a backyard fence? I want to paint my orange, but I want the wood grain to show through. I wonder what I would have to use over the wash to prevent fast fading, or simply being washed by the rain. Thanks

  12. says

    I like the idea of whitewashing…I’m going to soon paint my front door and shutters a dark blue. My brick house is of gray hues and I think the dark blue (instead of the current black) would be a neat, different color. I have old chipped white picket fence in the back yard. I’m thinking of sanding just the wide sides of the pickets and doing a brush white (color) wash… but do you think that would work well with the darker blue? I’m thinking actually about the blue of your buttons here on your website, go figure!! LOL Anyway, any advice?


  13. Phillip says

    This is really fantastic! My wife and I wanted to refinish some old furniture left at the house we just bought and we like the white wash effect and wanted coastal colors though. So I did a search and viola this came up! I have perused some of your site and it is really fantastic to help get so many things done. Bravo! You have earned a coveted bookmark spot on my laptop. Keep up the good work!

  14. says

    What type of wood was your Wilding Wall Bed made of? I am having built-in cabinets made of poplar wood and would love to whitewash them with color, as you have done. But, as you may know, poplar wood pieces have differing wood grains and colors. So, I’m not sure if it would work. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • Brooke says

      It is oak. Good luck! I’m sure whitewashing would work with almost any wood. I just like the grain of oak, so that’s what I chose.

  15. tesslynn says

    I concur with trying to find stain that matches…lots of colors but never one that matches what I want, ha. And if you ask for something at the big box stores that doesn’t come ready made, well, the politest way I can put it is, that most lack imagination these days. America USE to be creative and imaginative, because many people lived on a shoestring and so they KNEW how to make do or improvise but I am finding that is a lost art these days and that is a cry shame. I want to scream THINK OUTSIDE the box, cloners, it is what made our country great, ha. So stand uo and take a bow, for conquering and achieving the look you were after, relatively easily. We MUST get away from the cookie cutter, one fits everyone mentality and do stuff that is amazing and one of kind. So BRAVO! I think “thrifty” is more precisely an inventive, creative person. :-)

  16. teresa phelan says

    thank you for the easy instructions for whitewashing with color. Ive been looking for something to do with the free coffee table I just got. My brother and I stripped it down to the original grain and Im not sure what type of wood it is but I love it. I like this idea and will post the results when I’m finish with the project

  17. April says

    My front door is knotty alder and stained a horrible yellow color. It needs to be redone bc it is worn, and I desperately want a blue front door. My husband says it is a sin to paint a beautiful wood door, so I looked into stains, etc. I need something that will show the grain and knots. This might be my perfect solution. One question. I’ve picked out my color, but watering it down, will the color be washed out? Do I need to get a darker color?

  18. Moon says

    I love the color of your finished product! When I searched for valspar flood tide, it doesn’t appear to be a match? It is much more blue and not green at all. It looks like the same color in the action photos you took but not at all like the color of your finished product. Can you explain please please?

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