How to Whitewash Wooden Stairs

Lead Image
  • 4-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 200-600
What You'll Need
Paint stripper
Paint scraper
Electric sander
Drop cloth
Face mask
Protective glasses
Whitewash stain
Foam brush
Tack cloth
Lint-free towel
Rubbing alcohol

You can do several things to wooden stairs to make them stand out and complement the decor of your home. Whitewashing is one of those techniques. It is almost like a combination of painting and staining with a milky liquid. Whitewashing is also known as liming and pickling. Whitewashing will bring out the natural wood grain while creating a coating similar to wax which will also protect the wooden stairs. This article will show you how to whitewash wooden stairs.

Strip and Sand the Wooden Stairs

This is the hardest part of the entire project, and there are no shortcuts. If your wooden stairs have been painted, you must remove the paint in order to whitewash them. Paint comes in two kinds: latex and oil. The paint stripper you use depends on which paint was used. Apply a liberal amount of rubbing alcohol onto the painted surface. Wait several minutes and wipe the area with a rag. If paint came off, the paint was made with latex.

Purchase a paint stripper made for your paint. Thin paint strippers are perfect for one or two layers of paint, but thick paint strippers should be used on wooden stairs with three or more coats. Apply the paint stripper and let it work for two days. Wipe away the paint or use the paint scraper. You may need to do this several times to remove all of the paint. Gently sand the wooden stairs.

Deal with Wood Stain

If your stairs have been stained instead of painted, you simply need to sand them down to remove the stained areas. It is possible to have a stain underneath a coat of paint, and the paint stripper will not remove the stain.

Clean Away Sanding Dust

Use a tack cloth to wipe the wooden stairs down to remove any sanding dust you created. All of this work will also have a tendency to dry out wooden stairs. Drying can cause them to crack. Before moving forward, you should wipe the steps down with a wet towel.

Whitewash the Wooden Stairs

You apply whitewash much like you apply regular wood stain. Dip the foam brush into the whitewash and apply it liberally over the wooden stairs. Make sure you get the steps, stringers, and the lip of the wooden stairs. Let the whitewash penetrate and soak into the wood, but wipe off any excess with a clean rag before the whitewash dries. Let whitewash dry for 3 hours before you add another coat to darken and enrich the tone of the wooden stairs. Allow the stairs to cure for a full day before you use them.