In Techniques

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Designers are always wanting to talk about the pickled finish. I can’t tell you how many of these of these finishes I’ve done in my time. Keep in mind, not many designers know the real recipe for the pickled look — which entails using unslaked lime. (Try that one on for size! Look it up.)

Usually what designers want (and what you can achieve) is done easily with white paint and solvent or, water, if you’re keen on using latex paint. 
The effect is best achieved on oak, ash and some types of pine. On oak or ash, the paint will fill the pores as well as render a chalky look to the rest of the wood. With pine the wood will chalk-up, but it’s harder to render an even look. If there are mouldings, the paint-wash will gather in the crevices. If this isn’t to your liking you can always paint the wood white.

The panel in this example is a red oak plywood panel with solid red oak moulding attached to it.

Red oak, because of its strong color, will add to the whitewashed effect, creating a pink overtone (think Andy Warhol). White oak will have a starker pallor (for those old enough, think Edgar Winter).

White oil paint
Stain brush
Paper towels
White shellac

After painting the surfaces, wipe the excess from the wood using paper towels.
After painting the surfaces, wipe the excess from the wood using paper towels.

Denatured alcohol
Plastic containers
Paste wax

This article from Joe L’Erario’s book, Wood Finishing Simplified (click on title for more information).

Joe L’Erario has been finishing wood since 1978, has hosted two television programs and taught many finishing seminars across North America.

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