The raw wood look is very popular right now. But what do you do if the natural tone of your wood is more yellow, orange or red then you would like? You can use a whitewash stain to tone down the natural colour of the wood and create an amazing, light raw wood look. We show you all the steps to creating a beautiful raw wood look below.
This post may contain affiliate links. See out Disclosure Policy for more details.
The before – quality vintage dresser
We recently refinished a stunning nine drawer French provincial style dresser by Malcolm Fine Furniture. You can read more about my love of Malcolm furniture here. We knew we wanted the top to have a light raw wood look but we also knew, from experience, the natural colour of the wood veneer would likely be too strong for what we wanted.
The process – how to get the raw wood look
Step 1 – strip and/or sand your wood furniture
We started by carefully sanding the wood veneer top of the dresser. Wood veneers are great, but you must be very careful removing the old finish because you don’t want to sand through to the press board underneath. You can read more about what wood veneers are here.
Stuart sanded with 50, 80, 100 and 220 sandpaper to remove the old finish. Stuart’s done this many time before so he used his belt sander and palm sander. If you don’t have much experience sanding wood veneer, you can sand by hand with a sanding block.
You can test what the natural colour of your wood is by wetting it with water after you have finished sanding. The colour of the wet wood is similar to what you will get with a clear stain, oil or wax finish.
If you don’t like the natural colour of the wood, you can apply a stain to go darker. The real trick is what to do if you want a lighter raw wood look.
Step 2 – whitewash wood for a lighter raw wood look
To get a lighter raw wood look, you can apply a whitewash.
- Mix half water and half white paint to create the wash. Chalk, mineral or latex paint will work.
- Use a brush to apply the whitewash to the wood surface. Work in small sections at a time.
- Allow the wash to soak into the wood for about one minute.
- Use a lint free rag to wipe off the wash.
You can watch us apply the whitewash as a stain in the video below.
There are other ways to try and lighten the natural tone of raw wood such as bleaching, or applying a product like Cottage Paint’s Color & Seal or Fusion’s Stain & Finishing Oil in white. However, whitewashing is still the easiest and most economical way we’ve found to get this same lighter raw wood look.
Step 3 – sand and reapply if desired
The whitewash will likely cause the wood grain to rise a little. Using a fine grit sandpaper, sand lightly over your wood surface. If you’d like your natural wood look to be lighter, repeat the whitewashing process in step 2 above.
Step 4 – seal the raw wood with a top coat
The final step is to add a top coat to protect your raw wood finish. You can use clear wax or a water based poly. Any sealer will still darken your wood a little but the whitewash will prevent most of the colour change from happening.
The after – light raw wood look
We painted the bottom of the dresser in Cottage Paint’s Country Manor (a warm grey) as well as the hardware. We absolutely love the finished raw wood look on the top of this gorgeous French provincial style dresser and the draw fronts of the night stands!
Do you like the look of “unfinished” wood? Have you tried whitewash as a stain? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!