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How To Whitewash Cherry Furniture

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Whitewashing is a way to give wood furniture a new look. If you're thinking about whether this would work on your cherry, well, it sure would, but the question is how? We already have this figured out and will explain to you all the steps in detail. 

Whitewashing cherry furniture does not require special skills, but you must have the right tools and materials to achieve great results. Then, follow the steps below to whitewash cherry furniture:

  1. Prepare the furniture.
  2. Strip the stain on the cherry furniture.
  3. Sand the surface using medium grit and then fine grit.
  4. Apply whitewash paint on furniture with a paintbrush or roller brush.
  5. Wipe excess paint using a dry cloth.
  6. Sand the furniture using 1000-grit.
  7. Apply a clear coat.

We have tips and tricks that go along with every step. We will also share other helpful information on how to go about your project. If you don't want to leave any room for mistakes, then you should continue reading our post. 

Dark cherry cupboards and cabinets at a rustic kitchen with white countertop and backsplash, How To Whitewash Cherry Furniture

How To Whitewash Cherry Furniture

The idea of whitewashing started centuries ago, but it still never fails to impress many people, even today. The entire process won't break the bank. And even the average Joe can get the job done with the right set of tools and some patience.

Gorgeous leaf engravings on the side of a cherry furniture

If you have no knowledge about whitewashing at all, no problem! We will help you get through the process, but first, let's talk about the things you will need for this project.

Tools and Materials You Need

Prepare the following things before you begin:

  • Electric sander with 150-grit and 220-grit sanding disks
  • Paintbrush or roller brush
  • Varnish brush
  • Stain stripper
  • Scraper
  • Clear wood varnish
  • Dry cloth
  • White latex paint
  • Water

Steps to Do

It is pretty straightforward to whitewash cherry furniture. However, stripping the varnish off of cherry furniture takes time. You need to do a lot of sanding using different grits to remove the old stain and achieve a smooth surface at the same time. This is a key step that allows the paint to adhere well to the furniture. 

Depending on the size of the furniture, it could take hours to completely remove an existing stain on cherry furniture. Intricate carvings also complicate the removal process, but when done correctly, you will love the results in the end.

Before you start, make sure to wear PPE. For this DIY project, you must wear gloves and a facemask or respirator since you will be working with wood dust and chemicals from the paint stripper. Now, here's your step-by-step guide.

1. Prepare the furniture.

If the furniture was left unused for a long time, clean it to remove dust and cobwebs before you apply the stain stripper. Some furniture may need parts removed, so it's easier to work on. Dismantle the parts but make sure to store the screws and other tiny components properly.

2. Strip the stain on cherry furniture.

As cherry furniture is stained and often glossy, the paint will not stick and just leave you with an unpleasant coverage. Therefore, the first thing that you want to do is apply a stain stripper.

Check out this paint and varnish stripper on Amazon.

Use a paintbrush to apply a stain stripper or you can use one in a spray can. Apply one section at a time and allow the stain remover to soak for at least 5 minutes or according to product instructions. 

Use a flat scraper to remove the stain on your cherry furniture, but be careful when doing this. Try to scrape the existing varnish as gently as possible to avoid scratching the wood surface. Successful scraping reveals the natural color of the wood.

3. Sand the surface of the furniture using medium grit and fine grit.

Next, sand the surface of the furniture with 150-grit sandpaper. Again, be gentle and do not overdo the sanding or you will ruin the integrity of the wood. Once all the stain has cleared, switch to a finer grit. You can use 220-grit next.

Carpenter removing a layer of paint on the chair

A 220-grit should already give you a smooth finish, so you can stop there. However, you may sand the furniture further using a 320-grit for an even smoother surface. This will also give you a more pleasing result after.

After sanding, get rid of all the dust on your furniture. This is another important factor that will either make or break the paint job later.

4. Apply whitewash paint on furniture using a paintbrush or a roller brush.

Once all the wood dust is gone and the furniture is ready, then you can begin making the whitewash. Anyone can make a whitewash, it's pretty simple. All you need is some latex paint and water.

To make a whitewash, mix water and paint in a container. Most whitewash paints combine equal amounts of liquids, but you may adjust this according to your preferred consistency. There are no specific rules to follow here since latex paint is generally safe.

Next, apply the whitewash using a paintbrush or a roller brush for cabinets and other large furniture. Some whitewash applications do not need a second or third coat. This is to ensure the whitewashing leaves the wood grains visible.

When you apply the paint, the trick is to work in sections. Do not finish the entire furniture at one time. 

5. Wipe excess paint using a dry cloth.

Work in sections so that the paint will not have enough time to dry. After you apply the paint to one section, wait for at least 15 minutes or until the paint is tacky. Then, use a dry cloth to spread the paint and remove the excess paint as well. 

You should rub the cloth as firmly as possible for an even coat. One trick to make the wood grains stand out is to wipe following its direction.

If the paint is too thick, you can moisten a piece of cloth with water and rub it on the area until you remove the paint as desired.

6. Sand the furniture with 1000-grit.

Wait for the paint to dry completely before sanding using 1000-grit sandpaper. You may skip this part, but sanding always gives the best finish. Also, do not apply too much pressure when going around sanding this time. This is only to even out leftover brush strokes.

7. Apply a clear coat.

You will want to apply a clear wood varnish after the whitewash for a more durable finish. Applying a varnish also makes the wood grains and circles stand out even more. 

You need to thin water-based thinner with water first if you are going to use this. Alternatively, you can use a spray varnish for the topcoat, but again, remember to follow the direction of the grains.

Depending on the product that you are using, you should not use the furniture until the varnish has cured completely. This may take a couple of days to a few weeks.

Do You Need to Sand Before Whitewashing?

Off white countertop kitchen with white tile backsplash and cherry wood furniture

The goal of whitewashing is to add whiteness while revealing the natural look of the wood at the same time. That is why raw wood is the most ideal candidate for a whitewash job. That being said, you must sand any stained or varnished cherry furniture until it reveals its natural color.

Can You Paint Over Stained Cherry Furniture?

You can paint over stained cherry furniture. There are some considerations when you choose to do this, though. First, you must use a solvent-based primer.

Using a solvent-based primer will prevent the red tannin from bleeding and ruining the paint color. A latex primer is not ideal to use, instead apply shellac or oil primer. 

Painter spraying brown paint on wood

Before applying a primer over stained cherry furniture, sand it with 150-grit sandpaper. Do not go below 150 as a coarser grit could damage the wood. Apply two coats of primer to cover the existing color well. 

Spray paint will give the most desirable flawless finish, but you can also apply 2-3 coats of paint to cover the old stain fully.

Final Thoughts

Dark cherry cupboards and cabinets at a rustic kitchen with white countertop and backsplash

Whitewashing cherry furniture should not be a pain at all. It is a fairly easy task that requires basic tools. What's more, is that it is inexpensive. You can give your cherry furniture a Scandinavian or Nordic look really quickly by following our step-by-step procedures above.

Is this post helpful? You might also want to read our other posts for more insights on cherry furniture makeovers.

How to Make Cherry Wood Furniture Look Modern

What Color Hardware For Cherry Cabinets?