Are Whitewashed Hardwood Floors Still Popular in 2022?

Are WhiteWashed Hardwood Floors Still Popular

The Beach-Front Style Whitewashed Hardwood Floor Trend

Are Whitewashed Hardwood Floors Still Popular even in 2022? Absolutely they are, for many. Is that the look you’re going for? If yes, you might want to look into the whitewashed hardwood floor options. There has been a recent come-back for the whitewash look, not just in California but throughout the world. Although it can be a modern and stylish option, it’s not without disadvantages.
Whitewashing your hardwood floors will eliminate the natural colors of your hardwood, but not all wood species will have the same effect. For example, red oak floors have a lot of browns and reds in them and it isn’t easy to neutralize those colors with white-washing. However, some stain sealers have more white pigment than others.
Not all hardwood floors are equal and some species may take extra steps in preparation prior to getting the effect you want. Whitewashing will require a full hardwood flooring refinishing before starting, all of the existing finish and stain color will first need to be removed.

Whitewashed Hardwood Floor Origins

Many people think that whitewashing hardwood floors has Scandinavian origins. It’s a debatable subject. In fact, whitewashing is a very recent trend in the United States and Europe. The first house paints were made by white-powdering buildings. Ancient paints had some unique properties of their own, although we don’t always know exactly what these were. For example, some ancient paints could kill bacteria. Whitewash is a type of pigment (one made from ground limestone) that was commonly used around 3,000 years ago and continues to be used today. It is generally regarded to be effective in preventing dirt particles and other bacteria, hence we often see houses painted “whitewash,” which also reflects light more effectively than ordinary paint. The use of the word “whitewash” actually dates to 1591 in England and refers to a cheap white pigment that was used to quickly give an unevenly colored surface (in this case a white color) a cleaner and less distracting appearance. We’ll leave it to you to ponder the true intent of this wood floor trend, but I think it’s the result of a mix of many factors. White on wood floors is an old idea and has been around for a long time in Europe. Whitewashing has been widely used for decorative purposes and could be seen in old houses from the middle ages and much much further back in time. In more recent times, whitewashing is a popular option in beach-front houses and those who desire that look.

What is Hardwood Floor Whitewashing?

Whitewash is a style and look on wood floors. The process has several variations, but the basic idea is to create an illusion of white wood by removing and covering the natural colors of the floor with a white pigment. There are several stain options to choose from. The reason it is called whitewash is that it’s not an opaque white, and it doesn’t eliminate natural wood colors from popping through or hide the grain textures from being visible. However, getting the desired appearance may be a difficult task depending on the type of hardwood floors you have. For example, red oak floors have deep browns and reds in them, and whitewashing over the top of them may not produce the desired results.  Acquiring this style isn’t an easy task and requires an experienced crew who understands the look you’re going for. Some people want a more transparent look while others may want the white to be as opaque as possible. If the desired result for whitewashed red oak floors is to reduce the red, browns, and yellows, then you may have to consider having your floors bleached first.

Can You Whitewash Red Oak Floors?

Well, the short answer is; yes you can. Although that is true, it will depend on the look you’re trying to achieve as well. Red oak hardwood floors can have a lot of reds, pinks, yellows, and browns in them. Some homeowners aren’t fond of those colors coming through so they are faced with the decision of having them bleach first. The most common product used is a two-part system that has hydrogen Peroxide and Lye in it. It can be a tricky process to apply and you may need several applications if you really want to punch back the tones from coming through on a whitewashed floor. Below is example of a person who started off with black stained red oak hardwood floors and decided to switch directions for a whitewash look. As you can imagine, this was no easy feat.

whitewash on red oak wood floors

What is Bleaching Hardwood Floors?

Bleaching a wood floor may be required before whitewashing red oak, ash, and other darker species, especially if you are wanting to tone down or eliminate the colors associated with those species from popping through the whitewash coat. There are several ways to bleach wood floors but this article won’t delve deeply into this subject. Bleaching hardwood floors can lighten the colors considerably if done right but it also causes some yellowing to occur. The yellowing and rough-to-the-touch surface, after bleaching, will need to be abraded off prior to staining. Depending on how many times you bleach the floors, it could also cause the surface of the wood to become brittle and create other issues.

Is Whitewashed Floors Still a 2022 Trendy Choice?

The short answer is yes. It’s still a trending choice for homeowners in 2022. Whitewashing is really popular among architects on the West Coast, and it quickly became a very trendy flooring style and look nationwide. In fact, the whitewashed wooden floors from California are at the forefront of the “California style.” in fact, one recent study indicates that more homes nationwide are opting for them. They can improve the beachy or rustic effect, but also provide the modern designer look as well. Whites will make your house look brighter and bigger. Depending on the rest of your decor, whitewashed wood can also give a beach-like feel or a more contemporary feel. Now, when we say “whitewashed” we aren’t talking about an opaque white i.e. non-transparent white, we are talking about transparent to semi-transparent white where the grains of the wood are still showing.

Is it Easy to Do and Easy to Maintain?

The main argument has been that it’s cheap and easy to do. There really couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Sure it can be cheap if you do it completely wrong.
There are lots of great DIY whitewash tutorials online (Good Housekeeping has a good tutorial as well as this one from Houzz) but there are also far more DIY articles and videos giving bad advice as well. Time and time again, we’ve seen and spoken with people who thought it was going to be easy and cheap. The most notorious problem has been using white house paint on the floors. This will cause major problems very quickly. Of course, most of those blogs you read or videos you watched haven’t provided follow-up articles or videos on what went wrong afterward. There are a lot of things that could go wrong when attempting to do it yourself. Don’t get me wrong, some people with the right mindset, aptitude, who know to test areas, and ask lots of questions before starting, are able to get the results they want. Even so, if you were to talk with them, I’m sure they would tell you what they would do differently having gone through the process. So no, we would not say that it is easy to do. But as far as whitewashing being a “cheaper” choice, to that we’d say; not at all. It’s cost the same as with any stain and refinishing hardwood floors, and possibly more if you need to bleach the floors first.

Why Choose Whitewashed Floors?

Well, choosing whether the whitewash floor look is right or not is completely subjective to each homeowner’s desired floor look.
Whitewashed floors seem extreme to some, but they are a great option for those looking for something different. Both edgy and classy, they can be an excellent option.
Whitewashed flooring is a subtle and soft look that’s popular. Many homeowners like it. Designed to complement contemporary interiors, even with whitewashing, the natural wood retains its beauty and charm due to the grains and textures still being present. This will make your home look larger, brighter, and more relaxed.
Many people prefer the look of whitewashed hardwood flooring.

In addition, if you don’t want pure white, you can stain the wood to achieve shades such as white gray or white beige.
Unlike the whitewashed floors of the 1980s, modern whitewashed floors are coated with high-grade polyurethanes that are more durable and provide a more premium appearance. The California-inspired look has begun spreading across the continent. A whitewashed floor adds to the relaxed feel of the West Coast.


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Keystone Hardwood Floor Care, Inc is dedicated to providing premium quality services for Fort Wayne, IN, within a 60+-mile radius. We provide wood floor services such as annual maintenance plans, refinishing hardwood floors, and restoration. Contact us today with your questions.

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