Hello, my friends! I have a fun Black Wash Wood tutorial to share with you today! This is perfect for anyone who isn’t into using stain but wants a stained look. By applying a simple black paint wash, you can give your wood furniture a rich dark tone – while still showing off some beautiful grain!
Here’s what I started with. This little side table is a piece from my own home.
I was eager to get started so I unscrewed the top and then remembered to take a before pic with my phone. Not the best pic but you get the idea. I’ve had this table for over 15 years and still love the shape and style, but I wanted a more rustic look without the cherry finish.
Here’s what the table looks like now!
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- Wood Table
- Gloves and Mask
- Shop Towels or Rags
- Water + Container
- Black Paint
- Paint Brush
- Topcoat / Wax or Poly
HOW TO BLACK WASH WOOD FURNITURE
STEP 1:: SAND & STRIP
I started by removing the top and then stripping and sanding the entire piece. In the pic above, you can see I wasn’t too worried about getting off ALL the original finish because I wanted my washed piece to look a little more rustic. However, if you want a more uniform look, removing all of the original finish is recommended. After it was stripped and sanded, I cleaned and wiped away the dust.
STEP 2:: MIXING A BLACK WASH
To mix my black wash I used General Finishes Lamp Black mixed with water. I eyeballed the proportions, but I’m guessing I used around a 3:1 ratio – 3 parts paint to 1 part water. This ratio is adjustable. The more water you add, the lighter the stained effect will be.
STEP 3:: APPLYING A BLACK WASH
Applying the wash is exactly the same as whitewashing furniture. Brush it on as if you were painting a piece, but work in small areas.
STEP 4:: WIPE OFF
Once you’ve brushed on the wash, wipe it off with a shop towel or old rag. This is a messy process so it’s a good idea to wear gloves, otherwise, your hands will turn pitch black! Work in small areas so the wash doesn’t have a chance to dry. If your first coat isn’t dark enough, add another. Below, you can see the first coat is applied and wiped away on the tabletop. This table took 3 coats before I was happy with the finish.
STEP 5:: SAND AND DISTRESS (OPTIONAL)
Because I wanted a more rustic look, I sanded the edges and the top to add some lighter and darker areas. This step is optional depending on the look you want.
STEP 6:: TOPCOAT & PROTECT
The final step is to protect your work with a top coat of your choice. I used Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax, but any furniture wax, poly, tung oil, hemp oil or whatever topcoat you like will work nicely.
The wash turned this table a nice espresso and the sanding created tonal variance which adds a lot of interest. It’s similar to the Brown Acacia Restoration Hardware finish, but has a modern farmhouse feel because of its irregularities. I’m really happy all the cherry finish is gone!
So, if you’re not into using stain or you can’t stand the smell, but you still love the look of stained wood furniture, a simple black wash is a great alternative. 🙂
Let me know what you think of this finish. And what are you up to this week? I’m going to be busy cleaning, changing the trim/baseboards in my living room, picking up some more furniture – and the list goes on. My to-do lists are always overly optimistic – but that’s okay – it’s ALL fun stuff!
Kayla Daniel says
I didn’t have a clue of what to do until I saw your black wash technique! I have a 3 tables that got gouged and scratched from our move and they are a light pecan finished pine tables. Going to do this wash on all to change the look!
So happy it’s sparked an idea. Have fun Kayla!
Nancy Krueger says
Would this work on on top of a dining room table ? What color of chalk paint would you recommend firbthe legs that would match the blackwash?
Dianne Glass says
You always do beautiful work. I have learned so much as I follow along with your projects. Thanks for all the information AND transformations!!!
Thanks for this Dianne! You made my day!🤗
I am new to the refinishing game and have started small by making table risers. I make and paint/stain them. Love this black wash procedure. Could I use chalk paint this way?
You sure can!
I love how this piece turned out! What grit of sandpaper did you use? I am VERY new to refinishing and I get confused on what to sand and what not to sand. Also, what are the best tools to use yo sand? TIA!
Thanks Dorothy! The lower the number on sandpaper, the rougher and more aggressive the grit. So an 80 grit will be much more aggressive than a 220 grit. Depending on the wood and finish you are sanding will dictate what sandpaper you should use. If you want to totally remove a finish – a 60 or 80 grit will work. If you’d like to scuff sand a finish to prep it for paint, a 120 grit works nicely. Hand sanding is always an option but having a palm sander or an orbital sander is helpful and saves time if you do a lot of sanding. Hope this helps. 🙂
The table looks beautiful! Would this work on a wood table with a veneer top?
HI Bridget. Yes, this will. Because veneer is so thin, it’s important not to sand through it, but yes, it will take a black wash nicely.
Denise I love the table! Can I get the same effect using a different color? I have a table I want to do in dark blue. Also, which finishing wax do you recommend? I’ve never used wax, just polyurethane which I don’t really like so I want to try the wax finish. Thanks
Hi Dawn! Yes, this will work with ANY color. And any furniture wax will work nicely. I’ve used Home Depot buys like Minwax, Trewax and Varathane. They work really well but are a little harder. I’ve also used Annie Sloan, Dixie Belle, Fusion etc. These waxes are more creamy and easier to apply. However all these brands give excellent results. Hope this helps.
Dani Milam says
Beautiful! Wonder how it would go in reverse? I have extremely dark stained kitchen cabinets. I don’t want to white wash them. I do want them lighter with a wood appearance. Any suggestions? I like the color of this table. Wonder if a light brown stain looking paint would work?
Hi Dani! Testing on an inconspicuous area would be your best bet. In my experience, the best results (and easiest) are going from lighter to darker.
Hi Denise, I love how this piece turned out! I am going to try it soon. It is in line behind other projects. You are my go to gal on any painting and now upholstering! I’ve told my sister about you and said follow her, she knows it all! Thank you for sharing your knowledge 😊
awww, thanks Pam! And have fun with ALL your projects!
Thank you, it turned out beautifully!
Do you think this would have a similar look on on oak roll top desk?
Thanks Rhonda and yes! You could try the wash in an inconspicuous area before tackling the entire desk but I think it would look beautiful. 🙂
Yes, thinking the same thing. I have a couple of oak bookcases I would love to try this technique on.
Tara C says
I love this transformation! Now, I just need to find something to try it on.
So u used a wax over latex paint?
Hi Iris! I used General Finishes Lamp Black which is an acrylic paint. Both latex and acrylic are water-based paints and yes, you can use wax over both of them.
Absolutely love this!! I have an old dresser and desk/vanity that I’ve been struggling with ideas for…. Thank you for the inspiration!!
Quick question though, can you use any water based paint, or does it need to be the milk paint??
Thanks Jenny! And any water based paint you can thin with water and turn into a wash will work.
Donna Found says
This is just what I have been looking for.. I have a table very similar to the one you did and I can’t wait to get started..
I also love the round wicker basket you have sitting on the table. May I ask where you bought it?
I have a chest to next and will be referencing your site before I make any decisions on what to do with it.
Hi Donna! So glad it’s sparked some ideas and you’re finding this helpful. The wicker tray is from Walmart but I’ve also seen similar ones at Hobby Lobby and on Amazon like this one here.
I love this finish as well. I finally know how i want to refinish my kitchen table. Thanks!
I love this finish! I have been looking for a finish that really appealed to me and this is it! Recently retired and going to do furniture refinishing to pass the time.
Thanks Sherri! Have fun! x