Bright new start

Bright new start

Lighten and brighten a dull, old wooden floor with a sleek coat of whitewash 

Words and styling Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick and Jessie Casson

Polished wooden floorboards are practical and fantastic looking, but sometimes a room needs a lighter effect than the typical deep orange or brown of polyurethaned wood. The whitewash paint effect used here adds lightness and a touch of colour without giving your floors a flat, white, overly sterile look of a solid colour. Whitewash is also a great way to add a touch of sophisticated Scandinavian style. 

Resene Colorwood Whitewash is easy to apply – it’s somewhere between paint and polyurethane to use. The whitewash is slightly translucent and the effect becomes a little more so as it dries, so it doesn’t completely cover your floor’s lovely wood grain. You can add extra layers to gain the degree of coverage you want, or you can get Resene Colorwood tinted to a range of stain colours. 

Resene Colorwood Whitewash is Environmental Choice approved and low in odour and in VOC compared with more conventional solvent-based interior stains and polyurethanes. 

Before the wooden floorboards have been whitewashed

You will need 

  • Resene Colorwood Whitewash 
  • Resene Qristal ClearFloor 
  • Heavy duty belt sander with a range of sandpapers 
  • Corner sander 
  • Large paintbrush
  • Dust mask

Step by step 

1 Remove any large fixtures (if possible). Wearing a dust mask, sand the floor to achieve a smooth surface and to completely remove any old polyurethane residue.  

2 Check the floor surface for any nail holes or other spots that need filling with builder’s bog. Fill, allow to dry and sand smooth. Bear in mind any patches may be visible through the whitewash so you may want to colour it accordingly. Clean the entire room so it’s free of any dust. 

3 You can spray Resene Colorwood Whitewash onto the floor or apply it with a large brush. To brush it on evenly, pour a little Whitewash onto an area and spread it out using long smooth strokes following the direction of the floorboards and the wood grain. You can recoat the Whitewash if you wish after several hours (walking on the surface in clean socks), but you will need to allow 72 hours for the final painted surface to cure fully. 

4 Topcoat your wooden floor with Resene Qristal ClearFloor. This is a waterborne urethane durable flooring finish that will help protect the wood and keep your floor looking fabulous for longer. Allow seven days for this coat to reach its full cure.

For more inspiration from Resene, visit

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