For a very long time, whitewashing was the most popular and most affordable treatment for woods. Whitewashing forms a significant plot element in the adventures of the fictional character Tom Sawyer. It was how homeowners protected their wood from mold, mildew, and moisture. So, what is whitewashing? Why did it go out of favor, and why is it popular again?
What is Whitewashing?
Whitewashing is similar to painting or finishing wood, but it’s different in a significant way. Whitewash is a mixture of lime and water. Lime is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and resists mold. To that end, homeowners would mix lime and water. They’d then apply that mixture to woods, especially wood that would be exposed to the elements. The mixture is called whitewash because it forms a chalky white liquid. The end result is a chalky white finish on wood. Those who have seen colonial houses from the Atlantic coast are likely familiar with the look of whitewashed hardwood floors. The porches on those classic homes were often whitewashed.
Why Did It Go Out of Favor in Detroit?
Whitewash fell out of favor for several different reasons. The simplest reason that whitewashing fell out of favor is that new products offered the ability to preserve wood in new ways. If everyone had a whitewashed hardwood floor, it became popular to have one that was finished differently. Also, whitewash has to be reapplied from time to time. Many people chose longer-lasting procedures.
Why Is It Popular Again?
Whitewash is popular again for the reason that everything goes out of style and comes back in style. It was used as a necessity by homeowners for a very long time. When it was no longer a necessity, it fell out of favor. As such, it evokes the look of a certain time period. It is a classic look. Now, many homeowners want to recapture that classic, coastal look. If you want your home to look colonial and coastal, whitewashing the floor is a good way to create that look versus a traditional hardwood refinishing.
Furthermore, new processes have made whitewashing much easier to deal with. After the floor is whitewashed, you can then polyurethane it. Polyurethane is a liquid plastic that forms a protective shell over the floor. So, you won’t actually have to reapply the whitewash every few years as the homeowners used to. Now, you can whitewash it once and seal it. It will last for years and years with very little maintenance. It’s the look of a classic home with the ease of a modern one.