Getting the Whitewashed Look
Lime wash, a lime-and-water solution that gives wood a whitewashed look, was once applied to barns and fences for practical purposes: to deter insects and protect them from the elements. Today it’s evolved into a purely decorative treatment, with less caustic liming wax lending hardwoods, such as oak and ash, that faded, aged appearance. Here, Floyd Rosini, a third-generation furniture restorer in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, offers insight into the process, sharing his go-to products as well as a few cost-cutting measures for beginners.
Use it to open the pores of bare wood. “Cheaper brass brushes do the job but may leave deeper cuts,” says Rosini.
About $36; Kingdom Restorations
Smooth brushed wood with 220-grit garnet sandpaper.
About $9 for 25 sheets; at hardware stores
Clean wood dust from pores (and later work wax down into the grain) with this natural bristle brush. It’s an investment item, so “a beginner can use a vacuum brush attach-ment and a Scotch-Brite pad.”
About $58; Kingdom Restorations
These protect hands against oils and solvents longer than latex.
About $15 for 100; The Home Depot
“The extra-soft variety allows more precise control when applying wax and wiping away excess.”
About $6 for a two-pack; Kingdom Restorations
Rub it into the grain using circular, overlapping strokes. “In a pinch you can even use white paste shoe polish instead of liming wax for small projects.”
About $15 for 8 ounces; Woodcraft
Remove excess wax with ultrafine steel wool, which won’t tint liming wax the way harsher grades can.
About $7; Rockler
If a haze remains, apply mineral spirits with a lint-free cloth and buff it away.
About $6 for 1 quart; The Home Depot
Seal limed wood with clear or neutral wax.
About $10 for 1 pound; Ace Hardware Superstore
Wipe it on to add a natural-looking protective coat on pieces that get a lot of use. Build up several coats for a glossy finish.
About $15 for 250 milliliters; Talas