Living Rooms

Painting vs. Whitewashing Panelling (and Brick!)

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

It’s one of those days for experimenting; a little project planning and thinking about our various options.  A bit ago, I shared with you how our basement living room looks now AND also how I envisioned this space for the future.  Today I’ll be sharing pictures of some paint options I was thinking about going with, and maybe you can help decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling?  Let’s get started!

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We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

First things first, we’re starting with the wooden panelling that we have all around our country basement.  The Husband is cool with the look… me not so much.  Actually, I think he just says he likes it so we don’t have to do anything to it… typical!

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

Now, because this is the wall we will be breaking open to make the door for our upcoming powder room addition; I knew that I could do whatever I wanted to the panelling here.  I first started by sanding three panels with my orbital sander, and using a little sanding block to get in the cracks and crevices.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

As I continue along, just remember that the right side is sanded, and the left side is regular/as is (minus a little vacuuming/dusting).

The first option is to paint the panelling white, so I did a quick coat of primer.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

The other option I was thinking of going with is whitewashing the panelling.  Basically, you dilute your paint with water (I did a 50/50 mix) and slop it on.  You can then let it soak in, or wipe it up.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

The first panels on the top left (both the sanded and non-sanded parts) are what it looks like when you wipe it up with a rag after letting it sit for a minute or two.  Whitewashing is a good idea if you want the wood grain to show through (again, I am still undecided).

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

DIY-Q-TIP:  What I did find out during my testing process is that the un-sanded whitewashed part was not sticking as nicely to the boards.  There were some bubbly areas coming up; SO if we go with the whitewashing, I will definitely want to sand everything beforehand.

I then did another coat of the whitewashing once the first one was dry; and I made a handy chart to show the difference between all the options.  Now, if I do paint the panelling, I will probably do the topcoat in a plain white high-gloss paint (rather than primer… but it’s all I had on hand at the time!).

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

Here’s the bottom section again showing the one and two coats of paint (if we paint, we will most likely be doing 2 or 3 coats, and I may also add some caulking along the baseboards to seal the gaps).

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

And here’s the top portion showing the 3 levels of whitewashing; and again the un-sanded (left side) vs. sanded (right side).

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

Do you prefer any of these looks yet?  We’ll also be doing the railings/closet doors in whichever option we choose, so essentially everywhere you see wood in the basement will be bright and white!  The top portion of the walls will be a light gray (similar to what I showed in my mockups here).

Update: Here are the basement update design plans!

Painting vs. Whitewashing Brick

Since I just happened to have a little cup of whitewashing mix still prepared, I figured I might as well test out the bricks too!

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

I moved the coffee table and couches out of the way, and vacuumed whatever dust was on the bricks.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

This is the corner in between the couches by the way, and not the brick fireplace.  We’ll probably be painting this brick area plain white; and will be doing either a painting or whitewashing on the fireplace itself.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

The bottom rows are plain paint (the whitest brick is fully painted, and the rest are dry-brushed… which I kind of like!).  Then the top row is whitewashed, with the two left bricks being wiped right after, and the two on the right leaving the paint to dry.

We have a lot of wood panelling in our basement that I would like to lighten up. But I can’t decide on painting vs. whitewashing panelling and the brick we have.

Once the whitewash fully dried, it became a bit more transparent.  I’m kind of torn on this look, because I think I prefer the dry-brushing technique on the bottom (you lightly paint your surface when your paintbrush is just barely covered in paint); but I know it would probably be the hardest to achieve (and easiest to mess up).

Again, here is a handy little diagram to show the different techniques I used on this brick area.  Wanna know the funny part?  I just moved the coffee table back and the Husband didn’t even know this area had been painted at all hahahahaha!

Have you ever contemplated painting vs. whitewashing panelling or brick?  Maybe you’ve done it before and you have a few handy tips to share?  As of right now, I don’t think one option would be faster than another.  If I whitewash, I will have to sand everything, and if I paint, I will want to caulk everything.  Once we start, it will probably be a project that will go on forever, because I don’t think I’ll have time to do the entire basement all in one go.

And, just in case you were interested in more whitewashing and brick painting – here are a bunch of handy references I’ve pinned:

Brick Fireplace Whitewashed Gray glazed brick fireplace Whitewashed Brick White painted fireplace Whitewashed Brick Review Painting a Brick Fireplace Whitewashing a Brick Fireplace

Feel free to check those out, and follow me on Pinterest if you want to see some more great pins :)

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we go with!

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Louise aka Mommy
    March 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    It will be a major pain and mess to sand all the wood, the bull’s eye primer then paint is what I would do. Maybe then a chalk paint or some other kind of texture on top. I also prefer the whitewash on the brick. Are you doing anything with the flooring?

    • Reply
      Nicole
      March 16, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Using the electric sander and sanding block was actually pretty quick, there isn’t a thick coat on the wood. We will be replacing the carpet in the distant future too.

  • Reply
    Marcy
    May 24, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I faced this same dilemma and a after weeks of research decided on the full on paint finish. The white wash or milk paint was intriguing but felt the look would be too haphazard looking considering I have paneling on all the walls- top to bottom throughout several rooms/spaces. I agree that one option over the other is not more or less work. It simply comes down to the final look you want in the end. I have read up on the prep work and have been doing them in stages over several weeks. I have completed the washing, sanding, dust clean up, oil based priming the wood knots so I still have caulking (paneling is made up of individual boards so it has deep crevices in some joints), full wall priming (planning on two coats) a n d 2 coats of paint. Not sure how much longer this will take to complete…..no handy tips to share except that it’s a process!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 25, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      It sounds like the exact same situation (only you have WAY more paneling to cover) – and I think I am leaning towards the full paint as well. With the whitewashing, if you don’t do it evenly across all boards, it will definitely show. I’m hoping I don’t have too many coats to do, was thinking 2 coats of prime and 1 coat of paint – but I’ll let you know when I actually get around to it haha!

  • Reply
    Jill Morris
    November 6, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I am facing the same dilemma with my living room. It is covered in a stained ash paneling. I am leaning towards doing the whitewash or spraying a very thin layer of white paint, then sanding it down and maybe staining over to achieve an antiqued, rustic modern affect. It won’t be easy, but I think it will be worth it!! What did you decide on? Thanks for posting pics of the different approaches….they are a big help!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      November 7, 2016 at 7:50 am

      No problem – I had an area that I would be taking out, so I knew it was easier to test different options before committing time and energy to something I wouldn’t like. I actually just decided to paint the panelling (vs. whitewashing) so I should be starting that project soon. I’m hoping it will be a lot cleaner than the whitewashing (which did involve sanding, and the paint did drip more because it was diluted). I like your idea to paint it then sand it afterwards, it will definitely have a rustic effect that the other two options won’t!

      • Reply
        Jill
        November 16, 2016 at 10:04 pm

        Thanks Nicole! I bet your painting will turn out great! Whenever I start and finish my walls I will be sure to share a picture with you dependent on what I decide to do. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get it done till after the holidays. Have a terrific Thanksgiving!

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