How To Give A Wooden Picture Frame A Rustic, Whitewashed Look

Framed pictures are a hallmark decoration in many homes. You can find all sorts of picture frames for sale, but sometimes, they cost more than you'd like to pay. Thankfully, you can take any older wooden picture frame and give it a whole new look by whitewashing it. Find a wooden frame at your local thrift store, a garage sale, or a dollar store, and then follow these steps to give it a nice, rustic, whitewashed look.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials 

To whitewash your picture frame, you will need:

  • White acrylic paint
  • Water
  • A classic, 1-inch paintbrush
  • A big piece of cardboard
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • A small bucket or cup
  • A damp cloth
  • Acrylic sealer

Step 2: Sand and Scuff the Frame

Sanding down the frame will remove any existing finish, which will allow the whitewash paint to penetrate and give the frame a more consistent look. Make sure you sand with the grain of the wood, addressing the entire frame. When you are finished sanding, use the steel wool to roughen up the frame again in just a few areas -- perhaps in the corners. This gives the frame a more rustic look. Then, wipe away any wood dust with your damp cloth.

Step 3: Prepare Your Whitewash

To make whitewash, mix one part white paint with one part water in your cup or bucket. One half cup paint and one half cup water should be more than enough! Stir well until the mixture is uniform. 

Step 4: Paint the Frame

Lay the frame out on the piece of cardboard, and then paint it with the whitewash. Apply a thin layer at first. It should dry within an hour. If you like this finish, then leave it -- but if you want a more opaque look, apply a second layer of whitewash to the frame. Let it dry again, and then flip it over. Apply whitewash to the other side.

Step 5: Seal the Frame

After the frame has dried completely, which will take at least a day, place it back on the cardboard. Hold the can of acrylic sealer about 8 inches from the frame, and then spray the frame with even, sweeping strokes. Let the frame dry for three hours, and then turn it over. Seal the other side in the same manner. Once the acrylic sealer has dried, you can use your picture frame as you wish.