White Washing Furniture


Pickling or white washing finishes are a popular alternative to a solid white dresser.   You can white wash your dresser a number of ways.

Staining Furniture

The first way is staining your dresser white.  Minwax makes two beautiful white stains that are water based which makes it quite easy to produce the white washed dresser.  You may need to apply several coats after each coat is dry to achieve the look you are after.  The stain is already mixed, and it is just a matter of painting on the stain.

Do It Yourself Staining Furniture

Another way of pickling your dresser is by creating your own stain.  The easiest way is to mix off white paint and glaze.  Glaze allows you better control of your paint than simply adding water to your latex paint.

Both techniques will give you the white washed look you are after.  If you do decide to mix the glaze yourself with the white paint, be sure to add more glaze than paint.  The best thing about working with latex paint and glaze, is if you you added too much paint, you can simply wipe it off.

Step 1

The first step is ensuring that your dresser is sanded down.  Pickling or white washing only works if the wood is sanded and bare.

Minwax produces two stains, one oil based and the other water based.  The water base stain will dry much quicker than the oil based

Pickled Oak Minwax Wood Putty

Minwax 61860 Minwax White Wash Pickling Stain

Minwax Water-Based Wood Stain, White Oak


GlazeYou can buy Glaze at any paint store.  Most paint stores will tint the glaze with the paint color you are after.  Ralph Lauren Glaze comes un-tinted, and the sales associate will tint it for you.

Often times I buy it untinted, as I can use the plain glaze base with other paint for other projects.  Glaze is pretty universal so long as it is un-tinted, you can buy pretty much any brand.  If you take some basic white paint, (in flat) and you can brush on a mixture of glaze and paint.  You can scrub the paint into the wood or brush it into the wood.  Glaze gives you a "see through" look allowing the natural grain to show through.  Again after the paint dries you may need to do several applications to get the color you are after.

White Washed Picked Currey & Company Chest

Finally, to seal in all your hard work, use the product Polycrylic by Minwax, as it will not yellow your piece over time. I made the mistake of adding polyurthane to one of my tables and it looked horrible in the light.  Polyurthane will also yellow over time.  Polyurthane is meant for wood finishes, not white painted furniture. I have found tremendous success with the polycrylic with my white pieces.  Minwax Polycrylic Aerosol, Satin,

An 18th C. Carved Mirror - An exuberantly carved mirror with figures

Here is a picture of a dresser which was painted and then heavily distressed with a sander.

A Mid 20th C. 2-Drawer French Chest with Custom Paint

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