3 Step Method for a Whitewash Gray Stain

A few years ago, I spent a lot of time (and money) buying different stains to achieve the wood color I wanted on certain wood projects. Then one day I decided to create my own and I haven’t used any other method since, especially for any rustic pieces we create. By making your own whitewash or gray wood color using this 3 step method, you can control the tone and customize the look exactly how you want.

In one of the examples I’m including here, I made a entryway shelf with hooks. The bottom support was painted with Behr Polar Bear in semi-gloss and the top shelf was the custom rustic whitewash/gray stain (using the same white paint and Minwax Jacobean dark brown stain). We also made a matching entryway bench using the same custom stain– the bottom support was solid white and the top seated part was custom stained.

You may follow the 3 steps below to achieve the whitewash rustic stain I created but once you get the technique, go ahead and play with different shades of paint and stain and make some interesting custom creations of your own!



  • Paint brush
  • White paint of your choice
  • Dark brown stain of your choice
  • Water
  • Cloth
  • Sponge brush



Step 1 – Mix and Apply Diluted White Paint

Dilute your choice of white latex paint to about 50% or one part paint and one part water. I mixed the paint and water in a plastic cup to make it easier. Dip your paintbrush in this paint-water mixture but make sure the brush is not dripping before your apply to the wood.

Apply a light coat over the entire piece then wipe off with a cloth to absorb the excess moisture. Allow this coat to fully dry before moving on to the next step.

whitewash wood white

whitewash bench white

Step 2 – Apply and Wipe Off Stain

Apply the dark stain to the wood using a sponge brush or another cloth. You may apply the stain as normal, but you will wipe down the stain soon after to reveal the whitewashed/grayish, rustic color underneath. For this reason, be mindful not to let the dark stain settle before wiping it or else it will come out darker than you may want.

whitewash wood stain dark

whitewash bench and shelf top

Step 3 – Customize!

You may adjust the color by applying more of the diluted white paint mixture to make the wood lighter or applying another coat of the dark wood stain to make the wood darker. Once you are satisified, give it some time to fully cure and you will have a finished project.

Hopefully this quick 3 step method was helpful and you got a whitewash, gray rustic custom stain that you will love for years to come!

whitewash vintage shelf

whitewash bench done

Hammer & Handsaw

Hammer & Handsaw

Hey, we’re Joshua and Dejené. We’ve completed several entire home renovations and decided to share what we’ve learned in the process. Here you’ll find our favorite DIY projects, helpful resources and home renovation stories.

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