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How to Whitewash Wood – Ceiling Technique

One of the most asked questions about our farmhouse is “How did we get our ceilings to look like they are reclaimed wood?”.

Here is a step by step tutorial on How to Whitewash Wood to achieve the appearance of old pine wood ceilings in the new farmhouse. My goal was for the new pine wood ceilings to look like distressed, reclaimed lumber.

Therefore, when you follow these instructions the paint will appear to have worn off, slowly over time. In addition, this technique can be used for any new wood project to achieve an aged appearance.

How to White Wash Pine Wood for a reclaimed wood appearance.
Neutral DIY Kitchen Island with colorful area rug.

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Materials Needed to Whitewash Wood

The ceilings in the farmhouse are new pine wood beaded board and in order to achieve a distressed, whitewashed look, begin with a gray stain. This will make the new wood appear to have aged.

This technique works well with any new wood project such as this Easy Made Farmhouse Table Riser.


First, here’s something we should have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20 or so I’m told.

We decided on this technique after the pine wood ceilings were installed. This technique would have been easier and more cost effective if the boards had been stained before they were 20 feet in the air.

How to Whitewash Wood?

Today I’m sharing a sample board just like the one I shared with my painting contractor to demonstrate how the whitewashed ceiling should look. Fortunately, he was willing to duplicate this technique on the ceiling.

New Pine Wood Made to Look Old – Sample Board

Begin with the gray penetrating stain and using a soft cloth, wash the stain over the entire surface of your wood. Follow the grain of the wood while applying.

It’s important to age the new wood with the gray stain before applying the whitewash technique.

Once dry, the wood will have an appearance of aged or old wood.

If you white wash a new pine board without adding the stain, the wood has a pinkish or pickled appearance, instead of gray.

Stain new pine wood with grey stain to give the appearance of reclaimed wood.
Be sure to wear protective gloves when applying the oil based stain.

How To Add A Whitewash?

Next, it’s time to add the whitewash to your stained wood.

In order to achieve a distressed, whitewash appearance, you need to wipe the excess paint from your brush before applying to your wood. This a dry brush technique leaves a thin coat of paint over the surface.

Note: For this example, I used chalk paint instead of investing in the interior latex paint that was applied to my ceiling. For the record, the ceiling paint was White Dove by Benjamin Moore and is the same color that was used on the shiplap walls.

Begin by applying a small amount of the white paint to your brush and then remove excess paint from the brush using a rag cloth or paper towel. Next, lightly swipe the paint brush over the surface of the wood without completely covering the wood and the stain.

Once again, follow the wood grain while applying the paint. You should see random areas of exposed stain and the paint should appear to be worn and faded due to age.

Below you can see the sample board after the paint has been applied. This is the look you want to achieve.

Use a dry brush technique to achieve a white wash effect on pine wood.

This is the same technique used for our Address Sign above the front doors. If you’d like to know more about using Chalk Paint, see How to Use Chalk Paint Tutorial.

The White Washed Ceiling

Here is a good view of the technique on the underneath side of the stairs.

How to White Wash Pine Wood for a reclaimed ceiling appearance.

To assure that the paint colors work well together, we used the same White Dove paint as was used on the shiplap walls.

White Wash Pine Wood Ceiling

In addition, the DIY Island countertop was aged to look like old barn wood with this similar technique. Prints of the original painting Grace are available in my Shop.

As you can see, the high ceilings are a focal point of the farmhouse. I was so thankful for a painter who was willing to attempt my crazy idea while standing on a 20 foot scaffold.

White Wash Wood Ceiling Technique

To see a tour of the loft area, check out – Best Modern Farmhouse Tips & Tour

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I look forward to sharing my next adventure with you.

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Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Hello! Thanks for the tutorial. I'm confused, however. It appears you used Annie Sloane chalk paint to white wash the ceiling but also talk about using the White Dove paint. So did you use both on the white washed ceiling? And if you used the chalk paint, did you wax it to seal it? I'm looking to white wash the wood we're going to use on our 17' x 19' room's vaulted ceiling but there's no way we can wax all of that. Thanks so much for your response!


Saturday 29th of January 2022

@Rachel, I did a white wash on an outdoor ceiling and now mold is. Appearing in places. Should I have put on some poly afterwards


Thursday 11th of November 2021

Julie, I'm sorry for the confusion. I'll go back and make sure to clarify the post. I used White Dove from Benjamin Moore on the ceiling. When I've done the same technique for small projects, I've used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White. You would not want to attempt a project of this size with Chalk Paint. The White Dove works perfectly for what we were trying to achieve. Thanks so much for bringing this to may attention. I hope this helps.


Sunday 12th of September 2021

I LOVE it! Your home is gorgeous. I’m in love with your kitchen. 💕 You always have such beautiful ideas.

Sunday 12th of September 2021

Mandy, Thanks so much. I'm so glad you liked this.


Monday 12th of July 2021

What a cool technique! Love how it looks!

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Stacy, Thanks so much. I appreciate your support.


Monday 12th of July 2021

Wow, I need to try this! Thanks for the great tutorial! Your work is fantastic.

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Cindy, You are so sweet. Thanks so much.

Mary from Life at Bella Terra

Sunday 11th of July 2021

Rachel, I can't even imagine doing this work overhead 20 feet in the air! You must have felt like Michelangeo! It is certainly beautiful and looks so natural. What a great tutorial and so fun to see pictures of your gorgeous kitchen.

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Mary, Thanks so much. I really appreciate this.