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How to Make Your Own Colored Paint Washes for Wooden Surfaces

A wash will add color without sacrificing the visual interest of the wood’s texture; all you need to do is dilute paint with water. Start by adding one part water to two parts paint, and test the wash on a wooden swatch before working directly on your surface. If you want to see more wood grain, continue to add water. You’ll notice that as the wash gets lighter, the tone of the wood’s original color comes through. We took Martha Stewart Vintage Décor paints through three dilution stages to illustrate the differences.

Photography by: Yuki Sugiura

Left Column: Opaque wash

This finish, which is two parts paint to one part water, reveals only a few subtle hints of the grain.

Middle Column: Medium wash

Combining equal parts paint and water makes brushstrokes less apparent. The underlying pattern will come into view.

Right Column: Light wash

Mix two parts water with one part paint for a soft tint that showcases the wood’s texture.

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