Whitewashing cabinets used to entail combining regular white paint with a thinner to make a white stain, which resulted in color irregularities in the cabinets. Whitewash wood stains are now widely available and simple to use. Whitewash cabinets can brighten a space without the use of paint by allowing the natural grain of the wood to show through. Whitewashing procedures are better suited to certain wood species, such as pine, but cabinets built of oak can also be whitewashed using a process called pickling. The secret to a successful whitewash, regardless of the wood type, is proper preparation and giving enough time for the stain and protective coat to cure. The steps for making Whitewash cabinets for your home are as follows.
1. Cabinet Door Preparation
Determine the type of wood used in your cabinets. Whitewashing works well on softwoods such as pine.
Pickling, a method of whitening wood, is required for wood like oak. Pickling is a process, not a finish, and while you can pickle pine and other softwoods, oak and ash are the most frequent. For oak and ash wood, you can make your own pickling stain or buy pre-made pickling stains.
Remove the doors from the cabinet. It will be easier to whitewash the doors if you remove them, and you will have easier access to the cabinet frames. Separately working on cabinetry and doors is also a smart idea.
To remove the doors, use a drill and a hammer. Label the screws to identify which door they came from when you’re storing them. Because the hardware is already attached to a certain door, labeling the screws will help you put the doors back together without any confusion.
Make sure the doors are clean. Clean the doors with rags and a heavy-duty degreaser before starting to treat the wood. Degrease the front and back of each cabinet, as well as the frames, with the degreaser. Wipe down the cabinet and frame as needed, and repeat these steps until the cabinet and frame are spotless.
The previous discoloration on the doors should be removed. Whitewashing necessitates a clean surface for the wood stain to adhere to. Paint strippers will do the work, but you’ll need good ventilation (or a respirator), safety goggles, neoprene/latex gloves, and a drop cloth to protect your floor from the harsh chemicals. Use steel wool to apply one application of paint stripper, then wipe away the finish with a rag once it has disintegrated. Because most paint strippers are combustible, the steel wool and rag are in a metal container that has been sealed.
Sand the cupboards. The surface can be sanded by hand or with a power sander. The idea is to reveal the wood cabinets’ original color. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain rather than against it when sanding.
- Sanding by hand: To produce a pad that fits your palm, fold a quarter of a sheet of 120 grit sandpaper into thirds. To acquire a sharper edge to work into bevels and corners, wrap it around a piece of wood.
- Sheet sander: a low-cost power instrument that should be sanded in stages to 180 grit to avoid leaving marks.
- Random orbital sander: quick and powerful, but more expensive sanding disks are required. Sand to a 120-grit finish, taking care not to scratch the cabinet edges.
The timber should be in good condition. If your cabinets are constructed of a softwood-like pine, you should condition them before staining them because these woods can sometimes appear blotchy. The grain of the wood is also raised by conditioning. For this stage, you can apply a pre-stain conditioner.
Allow 30 minutes for the conditioner to dry after applying it to the cabinets with a clean latex paintbrush. After that, sand the cabinets lightly with 120 grit paper once more. This last sanding will guarantee that the cabinets have a flat surface on which the stain may absorb.
2. Cabinets that have been whitewashed
Choose a wood stain that is whitewashed. Different stains will give your cabinets a warmer or darker tone, so think about your preferred tone and pick a wood stain that will look great in your home. Minwax, for example, offers a wide range of wood stains to pick from.
Water-based wood stains emit fewer fumes, dry quickly, and are easier to clean than oil-based wood stains, but the color may fade faster. Oil-based stains should only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Before you use the stain, give it a try. It’s a good idea to test any stain on a scrap piece of the same wood type as the item you’ll be working on before applying it to the piece you’ll be working on.
Before you open the can of stain and test it, give it a good shake. Any pigments that have accumulated at the bottom of the can will be mixed in this way.
With a paintbrush, apply the stain to the scrap wood and let it dry for 2 to 3 minutes. Before moving on to the following phase, be sure you’re content with the outcomes.
Stain the cabinets with the stain. Apply the stain with a clean rag in long, smooth strokes in the same direction, working the stain into the wood. Follow the grainline while emphasizing any knots in the wood. Wipe away any remaining stain with a clean rag or a soft cotton cloth folded into a pad. The more pressure you apply to the rag or pad, the more the wood grain will show through the stain.
- If you’re staining oak cabinets, use a brush to apply the stain and wipe it against the grain. Wiping against the grain is crucial for getting the stain into the pores of the wood because of the enormous pores and natural grain pattern of oak. Wipe away any extra pickling stain with a clean rag once it’s been rubbed into the pores of the wood.
- Replace your rag with a clean one if it becomes tacky while coloring the cabinets.
Allow for complete drying of the cabinets. This should take between one and two days. If the surface feels tacky to the touch, the wood stain hasn’t fully dried and will require further drying time.
Apply a topcoat to the cabinets. While whitewashing brings out the grain of the wood, it does not protect it. To finish the cabinets, use a non-yellowing protective topcoat, such as a water-based lacquer, transparent acrylic, or natural Tung oil, that will penetrate the wood’s pores and protect the wood from within.
So that stray bristles don’t get up on your topcoat, apply the topcoat with a high-quality brush made for latex or water-based products. Finish the surface using overlapping continuous strokes, a technique known as “striking off.”
- Allow 4 hours for the first layer to dry before lightly sanding the cabinets with 220 grit sandpaper one last time. Wipe away any extra residue left behind by the sandpaper with a tack cloth before applying a second and final coat to the cabinets.
- When you’ve finished the bottom of the cabinet, set it on a tiny block or shims to keep the polyacrylic from sticking to your work surface.
- Oil-based protective finishes should not be used over whitewashing or pickling because they have a yellowish appearance and will detract from the white coloring of the whitewash effect.
Your whitewash cabinets should be reinstalled. Using the specified screws and hardware, reassemble the cabinets in their original locations.
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