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Project Fail: Whitewash Parquet Floor

Whitewashed parquet floors; sounds like it could work, right? Wrong!

Project Fail White Wash Floors 3

In a perfect world every DIY project I did would turn out just the way I wanted it to. In case, you may not have heard, this isn’t a perfect world. Sometimes what sounds like a good idea turns out to be just plain awful. I would say I most definitely learned that lesson with this project. I realized that I really do love the look of whitewashing, just not on parquet flooring.

When this horrible idea occurred to me, our playroom floors looked a little something like this. Yuck!

Project Fail White Wash Floor

I was so excited to start working. I couldn’t wait to transform them into something beautiful. In all fairness, I should tell you, my husband was a bit skeptical from the very beginning and tried to talk me out of doing this. But once I get something in my mind, I am determined to make it happen.

First, I rented a floor sander from Lowes to remove the current finish.

Project Fail White Wash Floors 2

Once the floor was sanded, I wiped off all the dust and started the white washing process. I thought it was looking pretty good at that point. Next, I applied several coats of water based poly to it.

Finally, after days of working, it was complete. It wasn’t the worst looking floor in the world. (Although, I haven’t seen anything worse than this, I do believe that out there, somewhere, is a floor that looks worse than mine.) I just didn’t like it. The coloring was inconsistent across the entire area and looked bad. Plus the poly added a yellowing touch to it, that I was not a fan of. This idea might work for someone, it just didn’t work for me.

Project Fail White Wash Floors 4

So, for now it’s back to work. Stay tuned for a future post and see what happens with this floor.

What are your most memorable project fail?


  • Carol Calhoun

    OH- When I saw that picture my heart went out to you! I did the same thing to a sanded pine floor in my BIG living/dining area- I used a whitewash stain- loved that- then applied the poly! AWFUL- TEARS- UGLY- TEARS-NASTY- MORE TEARS- so much time and money wasted and I needed to get moved in NOW! SO out we went to rent the sander AGAIN- a nice surprise occurred- as I sanded away the yucky yellowed finish and part of the stain- I ended up with a really neat looking “beachy” colored floor- like bleached out soft driftwood! Might be worth trying a sander on a small inconspicuous part to see if it works for you- I had so many compliments on my FAIL that I quit explaining that it was not on purpose!

    • Emily

      Thanks Carol! Your story makes feel so much better about this ugliness I am dealing with. Did you add a poly on top after you sanded? Glad you stopped by!

  • Katie

    I’m surprised this happened with water based poly. I know oil based poly can end up turning yellow. Like Carol suggested, I would sand it down and you may be surprised. I’m sure whatever you figure out will turn out great!

    • Emily

      Thanks Katie! I was really surprised this happened with the water based poly too. I had never had this problem before. I may try a different brand, not exactly sure what I will do. I will just keep going until I am happy with it and have fun doing it! Glad you stopped by!

  • Jennifer Johnson

    Refinishing floors can be a nightmare. We had this horrible peeling black varnish on our oak floors when we moved into our house. We could not get it off with the sanders at the store. We finally had to call a professional. Ugh

    • Emily

      Jennifer, that is such a bummer. I have been working on the floor and really hope something good happens in the end. Wish me luck!

  • Jen @ Cuddles and Chaos

    I love it when bloggers are brave enough to show off their DIY fails! Too many people are all about coming across as picture perfect. It’s a million times more endearing to show off your failures as well as your successes!

    • Emily

      Thanks Jen! That is very sweet! I am definitely not perfect. Learning from my fails is the only way to get better. Maybe this post will help someone else from making the same mistake.

  • Heather {Woods of Bell Trees}

    UGH! I wonder if the tannins are bleeding through the paint. Maybe you can do what Carol did. I think the idea you had in mind sounds really pretty and I bet there is a way to make it work. It’s so frustrating when your plans go so awry!

    • Emily

      Thanks Heather! It can definitely be frustrating! I have been working on it and I think I may just have to scratch my original idea and try something completely different. Can’t wait to share it when I am finished!

    • Emily

      Thanks Corey for hosting! It was definitely a learning process. I have been working hard on that floor but I am hopeful it will be beautiful in the end. Glad you stopped by!

  • Jane Koopman

    I’m so sorry you were disappointed after so much work. Most of my main floor is covered with parquet, and I’m always thinking of ways to change it. Whoever installed it in my house even thought it was a good idea to put it in the kitchen . . . it’s not. At all. Stains everywhere. Thank you for having the courage to share your experiment. I look forward to hearing what happens next :) Jane

  • Monica

    I just did my pine stairs – major learning curve, but I love the result! I actually used a bleach on them first and I think that helped, then used a water based white wash from general finishes, then applied a shellac (which IS yellowish); then I touched up a few spots again with the stain and applied several layers of General Finishes water based poly (with a little more touching up here and there with stain – sort of going directly over the shellac where it yellowed a little)… Anyway – they look great! I don’t think the GF water based poly yellowed at all – but we’ll see… The shellac was necessary b/c it separates the water based stain and water based poly — otherwise, when I brushed on the water based poly it would have removed/messed with the stain.. (which it did – I tried to do without the shellac middle layer, but didn’t work).. Anyway, I cannot tell you how many fails I have had! many.

  • Vickie H

    Should have primed before doing the wash. Primer stops tannin bleed. Worked for my floors. What I did was :
    Sanded. Cleaned. Primed. White washed stained. Water based poly. No yellowing. Just a beautiful floor and a happy Hubby.

  • Natalie

    I’m glad I saw this. We have exactly the same floor and just had the bright idea to white wash it but after seeing yours I have certainly changed my mind ?

    • Satty

      @Natalie – I am from Melbourne, Australia and I have the same floor. I want to lighten the colour. Every country does it differently. Please do share what you end up doing.


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