Beautiful White Wood Finishes for Dreamy Interiors


White finishes on real wooden floors, furniture, kitchen worktops and other wooden surfaces have become much more popular in recent years. It’s no surprise when, done right, the effect is so clean-looking, bright, attractive and contemporary. It’s also a brilliant way to achieve today’s hugely fashionable shabby chic interior décor look, which has blown the long trend for minimalist interiors right out of the water.

White wood finishes can transform wooden floors & furniture

So how do you achieve that absolutely perfect, smooth, beautiful white wood finish? In this post we’ll be answering the questions people ask us most frequently to help you achieve that stunning white wood look.

What is a White Wood Finish?

It’s easy to get confused with white wood finishes since there are so many ways to achieve the effect. So first of all, it’s important to pin down the exact effect you’re looking for. You may want a lime wax look, a subtle white wash, a completely opaque white finish or something in between.

White Floor Finishes Using Liming Wax

A popular traditional wood finishing effect, liming is usually carried out on Oak. You get it by raking out the soft grain of the wood, usually with a wire brush. This makes the harder parts of the grain stand out, leaving shallow voids for the liming wax to fill. The effect is stunning: the grain sits proud against a lovely, pale, washed background, highlighting the natural beauty of the wood and the grain’s complex patterns.

There are a couple of things to think about. One, it takes skill to create the perfect consistent finish. Two, like most waxes, liming wax tends to be fairly soft, easily marked and therefore not great for wooden floors, especially in areas where there’s a lot of wear or moisture. As a general rule, liming wax is perfect for internal wooden doors, picture frames and other low-contact, low-wear wooden surfaces.

Last but not least, it isn’t a good idea to try to paint over a wax finish with a varnish, lacquer or paint, mostly because it simply won’t stick – the wax forms a liquid-resistant layer that the varnish or paint won’t adhere to and oils would take an age to penetrate.

White Solvent-Based Wood Stains and Dyes

A popular way of achieving a beautiful white finish is to use Manns White Trade Light Fast Wood Dye, a concentrated dye that can be used on wooden floors, furniture and more. If the white dye is too concentrated, it can be thinned by using Morrells Light Fast Thinners for varying degrees of whiteness. This means there’s a treasure trove of decorative effects at your fingertips, everything from a barely-detectable and incredibly subtle wash to a finish that’s almost like an emulsion paint.

  • A solvent-based wood dye is simply a pigment, and will need sealing with a wood wax or oil.
  • A clear wax is soft but will keep the white solvent stain or dye white, and should be durable enough for furniture, doors and picture frames.
  • If over-coating a white wood stain or dye you should avoid clear wood oils and varnishes as these can produce an off-white or slightly yellow finish. Our recommendation is to go for a wood oil that will help to retain the whiteness of the stain or dye such as Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044 or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural
  • A white floor paint such as Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Paint in white could be just the thing if looking for a totally opaque white floor finish.

For wooden floors, tabletops and other interior wood surfaces, we recommend a quality wood oil like white tinted Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural or Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044. Both are extremely hard-wearing, easy to maintain and will protect the pure whiteness of the stain or dye underneath.

Some people actually prefer an off-white finish because it’s subtler, less new-looking and more in keeping with shabby chic style. If that’s you, your life is a whole lot simpler – just use a clear Hard Wax Oil like Osmo Polyx Oil on top of Manns White Wood Dye and voila – a gorgeous, aged white wood finish to die for!

Use either a semi translucent or opaque wood finish to achieve the desired look

White Wood Oils

Primarily for interior use, white wood oils are an excellent all-round solution. They’re easy to use, durable and can be used to create a huge range of stunning effects.

Wood oils are designed to be applied very thinly and worked into the surface grain of the wood. Ideally you want 95% of the product to sink into the wood and only around 5% remaining on top. Think sun cream and you get the picture: apply a small amount then work it in until there’s none visible on the surface. Streaky, uneven finishes, brush strokes and unexpectedly long drying periods are usually down to applying too much oil, so take care not to over-do it.

The three wood oils we recommend for a fabulous white finish are Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040, Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111 and Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044. They can be used in all sorts of exciting combinations for a choice of intensities. Do you want your finish a subtle washy white or very white indeed? Number one is the subtlest, number five the most intense.

Barely detectable white finish

  1. First coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044
  2. Second Coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044

More White – Option 1

  1. First coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040
  2. Second Coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044

Even whiter – Option 2

  1. First coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040
  2. Second coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040

Very White – Option 3

  1. First Coat – Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111
  2. Second Coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Raw 3044

Extremely White – Option 4

  1. First Coat – Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111
  2. Second coat – Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040

The whitest effect with the wood grain showing through – Option 5

  1. First Coat – Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111
  2. Second Coat – Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111

Osmo says its best to finish coloured oils with a clear oil, because when a surface becomes damaged the clear coat marks rather than the coloured one, making scratches less noticeable.

If having a pure white floor is important to you, leave out the clear coats since they make the colour slightly less white, a little creamier. Oils are very simple to repair, too – small marks and scratches are quick and easy to repair.

There’s a huge range of white opaque and semi translucent wood oils, stains & paints

Some useful products for achieving white finishes

There are literally dozens of products that can be used to achieve a white wood finish. From a subtle Scandinavian white wash effect to something altogether more bold, or opaque, the following products will achieve these and about everything in-between.


The importance of test areas

White wood finishes can look amazing, but out of all the possible colours and finishes available, can be one of the more problematic to get right. Why is this? All colours are affected to some degree by the type and colour of the wood and the type of top coat used. Clear coats over a white finish, especially on Pine will produce a yellowy or ‘off-white’ finish. This said, using the right products can normally prevent this from happening. We strongly recommend that when looking to achieve a white wood finish, always do a full and extensive test area including both the base coat such as the dye or stain and top coat, be it an oil or varnish. This is to test the final look and colour of the finish when fully dry, and prior to starting the main project. After all, it’s far easier to sand off a test area and try something else than a whole floor.

Need our help with your paint project?

For more information about interior paints and their uses, contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. Alternatively, see our wood paints FAQ page which covers many of the most commonly asked questions about wood paints.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your project pictures with us and our followers, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great blogs that discuss interior projects

  • Interior Wooden Doors: Top Tips on Care and Maintenance
  • Brilliant French Interior Design Ideas
  • Breaking the Rules: Creativity Unleashed

    1. We used osmo oil 3040 white, on plywood flooring, only 1 coat at the moment but it like a white wash? its not a solid white colour?

      Is this because i need a second coat?

      Or is this product not for solid white colour?

      thanks inavance

      • Good Morning,

        The Osmo Polyx Oil Tints is not designed to give an opaque finish, it should be a very subtle white tint in the wood. If you have a strong white, it is possible that you have over applied the oil and you may find that over time it may mark easily.

        The blog above has a great guide for which white oils with in the Osmo Ranges will achieve the desired level white for your project.

        For further advice please feel free to get in touch via our contact us page.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    2. Good morning,

      We are planning to sand our old oak floors, and we want to re-finish them using Osmo Oil. We are after a white finish, and after making test samples of all the above combinations we think applying a coat of Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent 3111, followed by a second coat of Osmo Polyx Oil Tints 3040 will create the effect we want. However, I am a bit concerned about how/if spot repair would be possible if we use the wax finish under the oil. Would we be able to sand back any future scratches, and apply the wax finish and the oil? Would the new wax finish blend seamlessly with the rest of the waxed & oiled surface, as the oil does?
      Many thanks in advance.

      • Good Afternoon Anita,

        This is a good question. And one that I can not give a definitive answer to. Generally speaking the Osmo products are very good for patch repair and blending well when needed. There are other factors to consider such as time, when it comes to patch repair how long has the existing finish been on? Has the treatment been effected by sunlight over a time period that has resulted in fading or have areas that have had more foot fall, worn away. This can result in patch repaired areas looking slightly more vibrant.

        So there are many factors to consider and it is always going to be that little bit harder with a white finish. That said however there oils are really good for situations that may result in the need for patch repair and of all the products we sell it will be the easiest to deal with and give the best results.

        I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        All the Best Samantha.


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