Our DIY plan: A countertop over the washer/dryer in our updated laundry room. We wanted inexpensive, yet durable, and decided that pine plywood would be our best option. I decided to go with a whitewash on the plywood because the walls and floor in this room are way on the dark side. So the question was, what type of whitewash method did I want to use?
After researching a bit, I decided on Miniwax Wood Finish in the color Pickled Oak.
Alternatively, I could have chosen the color Simply White, but I didn’t quite want as much white if that makes sense.
Either way, with this product, the wood grain will show through, but I would avoid that yellowy pine tone that would be achieved with a natural stain.
Notice that I’m using this whitewash staining technique on a 3’ x 5’ size piece of bare plywood. If you are looking to whitewash plywood walls, you may want to try a painting technique rather than stain. I found this post on whitewashing plywood walls with paint to be quite helpful. For a large surface, paint is more cost-effective and can be durable as long as you apply some kind of water-based sealer.
Supplies Required To Whitewash Bare Plywood
- Stainable Wood filler (if needed)
- Miniwax Wood Finish in Pickled Oak or Simply White
- Clearcoat sealer – I used General Finishes Gel Top Coat
- Several clean lint-free rags or T-Shirt rags
- Protective gloves
- 3” Foam crafts brushes
- Small paint tray
- Sandpaper 220 grit and 320 grit or higher
- Vacuum with the brush attachment (optional)
Once we had our plywood piece cut to size, Ken gave the entire piece a good sanding with 220 grit sandpaper Optionally, you can start with 120 grit and follow that up with 220 grit. The main idea is to get the piece of ply completely smooth.
Next, we used a shop vac with a brush attachment to remove all the sawdust. Optionally, one could wipe the wood down using a slightly damp clean rag. I prefer vacuuming with the brush attachment because I think it really gets all the micro dust.
After sanding and wiping down the plywood, it was ready to whitewash. We moved the piece into the protection of the garage in a clean area on top of a table.
The Miniwax Wood Finish directions recommend stirring the stain really well before use, so that is what I did. After that, I poured a generous amount of the stain into a clean tray and applied the stain in the direction of the grain, as quickly as I could without making a mess. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes to penetrate and then wiped off all the excess in the direction of the grain, as well. I only applied one coat and didn’t go with a second because for one, I ran out of stain, but I was also happy with the finish at that point, so I don’t think I would have applied a second coat.
The next step was a sealer, but the stain product recommends 24-48 dying time before starting that process.
For the clearcoat, I used General Finishes Gel Top Coat, per the directions. This product is a little tricky to apply on such a large surface in my opinion. However, it does a great job sealing the surface, so it was worth it.
Alternatively, I would recommend a water-based wipe-on topcoat, such as Miniwax Wipe-On Poly.
See our top coat for painted furniture list, which includes options for stained wood.
And there we have it. A whitewash plywood laundry room countertop that is very sturdy, yet quite inexpensive to make. I think the white-toned finish enhances the room’s moody, modern style.
There are many types of whitewashing techniques. Which one to use often depends on the application. After doing this project, I definitely think using a whitewash oil-based stain on bare plywood is a method worth considering.
We could not be happier with our results. The light-colored wood is modern-looking without any strong, yellow undertones. It accents the room in just the way I was hoping it would.
If you are thinking of doing a whitewash plywood project, make sure to save some scrap pieces to test out your options.
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