New Shades of White: The Transformation of Whitewashed Hardwood Flooring

Rod Lorenz

Preverco Edge whitewashed hardwood flooringTen years ago, if someone asked us about whitewashed hardwood flooring, we would have assumed they were talking about the very, very white floors popular in the 1980s. And we would have pointed out that this look had become pretty dated.

But over the past few years, “whitewashed” has taken on a different meaning when it comes to hardwood floors, and this style has become quite popular.

Today, homeowners are choosing whitewashed flooring that has white tones but isn’t as purely white as was popular 30 years ago. Back then, the goal was to create a “contemporary,” relatively formal look by using high-grade wood with a uniform appearance and then staining it as white as possible. Sometimes this meant staining it more than once, making it look as if was painted. Often, actual white paint was used.

Now more-transparent off-white and greyish-white colors that don’t hide the hardwood’s characteristics have become popular, and many homeowners are using lower grades of wood to achieve a more natural look. (With hardwood floors, “grade” doesn’t refer to quality; it refers to the degree in which the wood used shows the natural characteristics of its species.)

Another stylistic change is that most homeowners are no longer looking for a uniform look in the other interior design elements around their whitewashed flooring. The goal used to be to make walls, cabinets, trim, window treatments, etc. as white, or almost as white, as the flooring. Now we’re seeing customers select colors that contrast with the white tones of the flooring, sometimes going so far as to dramatically pair black with the white.

One technical consideration is that we usually use water-based polyurethane for whitewashed floors rather than our standard Swedish finish. This is to prevent the wood from taking on an amber color, which can occur with oil-based finishes. This “ambering” isn’t an issue with most floor colors, but with light whitewashed floors, it can become noticeable. (With whitewashed hardwood floors on the greyish side, we can usually use our normal oil-based finish.)

Over the years, we have finished many whitewashed hardwood floors on site, and we are experts at achieving that look. But if you’d prefer prefinished hardwood flooring, you can find good-quality prefinished products such as the Preverco Edge flooring we frequently use (pictured above).

Whichever finishing option you choose, if you want flooring that brings lightness to a room and highlights the natural characteristics of the wood, the new style of whitewashed hardwood flooring might by just what you’re looking for!

To learn more about whitewashed hardwood flooring, please visit our showroom and check out our displays. You can see for yourself how “in-style” whitewashed floors can look.

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