How to White Wash an Oak Vanity

We recently finished the construction of my bathroom vanity. It turned out so pretty and I am excited to keep moving forward with the project. The next step with the vanity was to stain and varnish the wood.

The vanity is made of oak, and the raw wood has such a light, pretty look. I wanted to keep this light look while still protecting the wood from the water and humidity in the bathroom. This meant finding the right stain and varnish combination to achieve my desired look.

There so many different types of stains and varnishes out there. A lot of them tend to darken and yellow oak wood, which was not what I wanted. I knew I would have to counter the darkening with a little bit of a white wash stain. This was tricky because I didn’t want the wood to look like it was white washed either! I bought a few cans of stain that claimed to give wood a light look, and tried them out on a scrap piece of wood.

Bathroom Remodel: Building a Vanity | Style & the Suburbs

I also had to decide on what type of varnish I was going to use. Even if you stain wood, you need to add varnish on top to seal and protect the wood. There are quite a few different kinds of varnish out there that fulfill different needs.  Oil based varnishes tend to yellow with time, which is something that I wanted to avoid on this project. They also have a strong odor, which is not great for using in an enclosed space in the winter! I decided to use a water-based varnish that has low odor and dries (and stays) clear.

There are also a variety of finish options for varnish—from high gloss to matte. There are times where I have wanted my project to have a glossy finish, but this time I went with satin. I don’t want my vanity to be shiny, but I also don’t want it to look too dry or matte. The exact product I used was Minwax Polyacrylic in Satin.

Once I had my varnish selected, I was able to try it over my stain swatches and decide which combination looked the best. I ended up using Minwax Wood Finish in Simply White.

How to White Wash an Oak Vanity | Style & the Suburbs

After sanding all of the wood with a 220 grit sandpaper, I applied the white stain and immediately wiped it off. This gave the white washed look without letting the white pigment pool too much in the grain of the wood. I let it dry overnight before applying the first layer of varnish. After that dried, I gave it another really light sanding and then did a second coat, and then repeated for a third time.

How to White Wash an Oak Vanity | Style & the Suburbs

I also did 2 coats of varnish across the entire inside of the vanity to ensure all of the wood was sealed and protected from moisture! The vanity turned out so pretty and I was so happy with the colors and finish that I selected.

How to White Wash an Oak Vanity | Style & the Suburbs

Right now, I am waiting for the vanity top to be delivered and then it will be demo day! We are hoping to tear out the old vanity and install the new one in the same day. Stay tuned!



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