This is the perfect project for a weekend. I did the white stain wiping on Saturday and the poly coat on Sunday and the whole project took me less than two hours of total work.
Our guest bathroom is fine-ish. It’s functional, dated, and generic. Like so many generic bathrooms across America, it contains the standard contractor-grade “built-in” yellow oak vanity. I realized, though, that ripping it out would require major drywall work, and by extension, a redo of the entire bathroom – no.
Considering the major work that needs to be done across our entire house, a full remodel of just the small guest powder room is low on the priority list. That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for a small upgrade with a big impact – until we win the lottery.
Rather than just painting this vanity, I wanted a distressed farmhouse “shabby chic” look. I went with a glaze because I like the grain of the wood to show through. Also, I am super lazy and I was NOT interested in the multi-step process of stripping/sanding/filling that is required to paint an entire piece. Luckily, I achieved exactly the look I was going for with this method. Using a wiping glaze gave it the right consistency, the best color, and the least work.
To replicate what I did, you need:
Wiping glaze – I spent a LOT of time looking for the perfect thing for me – this is what I used.
Polyurethane top coat – you can find this anywhere
A no-pilling rag to wipe stain with – I used an old
A paintbrush – for the topcoat
A really good cleaner – this is prep step you do not want to skip. There’s probably years of who knows what on these vanities. I rubbed every surface down with denatured alcohol. Based on what came off the wood, it was much grosser than I had thought.
Painter’s tape and plastic – even if you’re extra meticulous, you will drip.
Plastic gloves – you’re wiping this stain on with a cloth. White nails are trendy, but not that trendy.
Optional: A piece of large-grain sandpaper – if you decide to rough up the wood to make the glaze adhere better. I chose not to and it was fine. I picked specifically this wiping stain because it looked like it would stick to anything, and it did. Again, I’m lazy.
Remove all doors and drawers. Lay out on plastic. Thoroughly clean all surfaces with
Tape and cover all surfaces you don’t want white splotches on.
Optional: Rough up wood with large-grain sand paper. Then clean again, (pass).
Wipe stain over all surfaces to color. Wipe with the grain of the wood. You can wipe on and wipe off several times to achieve the desired look.
Do a second coat of stain if you so choose after a few hours. This allows you to get a more uniform look over the whole piece and touch up where you need.
Let dry overnight.
Paint one to two coats of polyurethane on every stained surface. Let dry completely.
Replace doors, drawers, knobs.
Take photos for Insta.
Things I learned the hard way:
Do not skimp on taping or covering of other surfaces. I found that I’d gotten a few splotches on the trim surrounding the vanity. Luckily we like the look enough that staining the trim in that bathroom is next on the list.
Wear gloves. It takes a long time for this stuff to come out from under your fingernails.
Clean well before you stain. This stain is a great consistency and adheres well, but years of wear – even if it doesn’t look dirty – leaves a film on wood that will make the stain not stick.