How to Whitewash Cypress Wood


Whitewash gives wood and masonry surfaces a pale, rustic appearance that makes them look as though they have been aged for many years. A thin layer of whitewash imparts a subtle, bleached look, while heavy applications coat a surface almost as completely as white paint. Whitewashing is an appropriate choice if you want to lighten a cypress wood surface and still see its patterns of grain. Besides creating beautiful, weathered finish, whitewash is economical and safe for the environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloths
  • Hydrated lime
  • Table salt
  • Bucket
  • Sit stick
  • Mineral spirits
  • Rag
  • Sponge
  • Flat, stiff paintbrush
  • Protect the floors with thick drop cloths. Whitewash stains can be difficult to remove.

  • Prepare the whitewashing mixture. Add five parts of lime to one part of salt in a bucket. Stir in water until the ingredients have the thickness of batter. Let the mixture sit several hours or overnight.

  • Wipe the surface of cypress with a rag moistened with mineral spirits shortly before applying whitewash. This helps to remove oily sap that rises to the surface of cypress wood.

  • Wet the cypress wood with a damp sponge. Water draws the lime into the surface of the cypress, resulting in a more pronounced whitewash.

  • Brush the whitewash onto the cypress wood. Apply whitewash in the same direction as the panels of wood. Use a flat, stiff brush that is an appropriate size for your project. Whitewashing large expanses will go much faster with a 4- or 5-inch brush. Detail work, such as fine furniture and trim, may require a 2- or 3-inch brush.

  • Decide how pale you want your cypress to be. Wipe off excess whitewash with a damp sponge to soften a whitewash finish. Add extra coats for a brighter look. A whitewash finish continues to develop over time, as the lime bonds to the wood.

  • Wash out your brush right away. The lime in the whitewash mixture is corrosive and can damage a paintbrush over time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a respirator when mixing powdered ingredients.

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