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There is something incredibly charming about painting walls with limewash paint, and if you would like to learn how to limewash walls, we have you covered with a complete guide on how to do it. This is an environmentally-friendly painting method and it will give your home an incredible aesthetic that is not usually seen today. To find out more, keep reading below!
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding Limewash
- 2 How to Limewash Walls
- 3 Limewash Paint Colors
- 4 Applying Faux Limewash
- 5 Important Limewash Factors to Consider
- 6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Limewash Paint
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
To answer the question, “what is limewash?”, it is an ancient Mediterranean home essential that is formed from crushed limestone that has been burnt and combined with water to create a lime putty. After the lime putty is aged, it is then diluted with water before it is tinted with raw colors.
Limewash creates uneven, matte textures with a chalky aesthetic which is similar to suede. It also gives flat surfaces luminance and depth.
Authentic limewash is crafted using organic lime and natural pigment and is free of the solvents that have pushed paints to the highest point of household environmental hazards. Even some recent types with extra binding agents require mineral additions to maintain ecologically beneficial properties.
Because lime has a high pH, microorganisms cannot thrive, giving it a hypoallergenic property. Some would also claim that limewash paint possesses a unique chemical makeup that destroys foul odors, thereby improving the quality of air indoors.
Limewash may be used both inside and outside. Unlike other house paints, limewash seeps in, thus it is best used on porous surfaces like stone, plaster, and brick. However, limewashing can be used on drywall if a proper primer is employed. The concept is to employ a mineral-based primer, like an acrylic primer which is usually used under latex/water-based paints.
A properly primed surface is essential for limewashing.
Pressure washing is suggested for external lime washing, and the surface must be free of dirt, grime, or prior seal coatings. For previously painted exterior surfaces, one coat of primer is required. Any horizontal surface is going to age faster than any vertical surface. It is not advised for flat surfaces that are subjected to constant wetness and are in heavy traffic areas. If rain is predicted within the following 48 hours, it is best to wait until it passes.
How to Limewash Walls
Before you can start learning how to limewash walls there are a few steps that would need to take before you can actually start painting the walls. The first step would be to get all of your tools and painting materials in order. This would prevent you from making an unscheduled trip to the hardware store.
- Limewash paint
- Paint tray
- Plastic tarp
- Painters tape
- 4-inch stain brush (for limewash)
- 4-inch roller
- 9-inch roller brush (for primer)
- Limeproof primer
- Safety gear including gloves and eye protectors
Once you have acquired everything you would need, you can start with the first step. Keep in mind that it is easy to learn how to limewash walls, so there is nothing that is too complicated about it. Before you begin, you should know that a gallon of limewash paint will cover around 350 to 400 square feet per coat. This is based on the porosity of the wall and the absorption rate of the surface.
Before you begin, prepare your walls with a thorough cleaning. Then you should tape your windows, molding, and doors, just like you would with ordinary paint application. For best results, some limewash paint companies suggest applying the same kind of primer and we would recommend this too.
Remember to put down a plastic tarp to cover the floors. We advise keeping half of the tape edge visible on the baseboards so that the plastic tarp may be tucked below.
Also, be careful to remove the electrical outlet switch plates and reinstall them when the painting process is finished and dried. It seems inconvenient now, but removing paint drips later is a much more time-consuming process. You will also need to wear safety gear when working with limewash as this substance can cause chemical burns, so be sure to wear gloves and eye protection.
It is essential to prime your wall with a primer designed for mineral paint before applying limewash. We generally use this expert hack to keep the roller brushes free of annoying extra lint that streaks into the paint.
Many professional painters wrap painter’s tape over the roller brush to remove lint or debris before using it.
Once you’ve ensured that your roller is clean and ready for use, apply the coat of primer exactly as you would for a typical paint job. Once this is dry, you can keep going with the next step.
It is important to stir the limewash paint to ensure that the color is uniform throughout. Dip a 14- to 12-inch stain brush immediately into the paint container. When using limewash, it is essential that you maintain a wet edge as this helps keep the hue consistent.
As the materials begin drying out they will lighten and the point of connection will be apparent in the end.
As a result, we advise beginning with lighter pigments if you would like to learn how to limewash walls, as deeper hues tend to be less forgiving. Hold the brush at the ‘neck,’ rather than the handle, while applying paint. Then, using a hard stroke, move the paint as far as it can spread.
When wet, limewash paint seems significantly darker. The movement in your brush strokes is apparent before it dries but remain calm. It will look like you have made a big mistake, but let it dry for an hour and return to it. It is best to cover the roller or brush in plastic wrap as the first layer dries to protect it from drying out.
Allow at least two hours before applying another layer. You will know it is dry since the color will fade dramatically. You will have the ability to see how the natural sweeps come across and how much movement you would want to add at this point. After two coats, you should be able to stop. The more limewash you use, the more solid your color becomes.
When you are finished limewashing your walls, they should look like fluffy patterns of clouds in a variety of tones. Believe in the process. It may seem overpowering until it cures and the colors fade.
Sealing your walls after you have limewashed them will result in the loss of the matte finish, so you can choose if you would like to apply it. However, if you are painting a high-traffic area, we would recommend using a sealer.
When applying the sealer you should not use a brush. If you do, you will end up with some white lines on the wall.
This means that you will need to go back in and touch up those places with extra lime wash. We recommend using a roller to ensure even coverage. You also do not require as much sealer as you believe. This is yet another common mistake. With this sealer, less is more, which is one of the benefits of limewashing walls.
Limewash Paint Colors
Limewash is usually off-white in its most basic form. Color is added by using natural, alkali-resistant pigments that come in a variety of tints determined by what the environment has to provide. Various browns, taupes, and grays are the most common colors used when limewashing.
It is important to bear in mind that limewash dramatically lightens as it dries.
Colors can become up to ten times darker when wet, therefore it is essential to test them on a small surface. The opacity is determined by the number of applications applied; normally, three coats are advised. This is a paint that takes a certain amount of risk-taking. Colors differ according to the tints that are applied, the makeup and permeability of the surface that is painted, as well as how the paint is applied. Limewash paint resonates with an earthy style, which is why it is ideal for those who desire a neutral background.
Historically, these finishes were done in various earth tones, ochres, and terra cotta. However, these days we can claim these wonderful creams, whites, and other sophisticated colors with subtle motion. So, you cannot determine what it is, but it is not conventional paint. You may use standard paint or create these delicate and subtle textures.
Applying Faux Limewash
DIY faux lime wash is an excellent way to add the same texture and warmth to a space that comes from conventional lime wash paint. However, the application is a little less time-consuming, the method is a little easier, and the whole affair is a little bit more budget-friendly, making it ideal for someone on a budget.
Unlike real limewash, no specialized equipment is required for the faux version.
You just need a few simple items, one of which you might already have in the kitchen and may readily obtain from your local hardware shop. You will need the following supplies before you get started:
- Painter’s tape
- Old towels
- Clean water
- Foam paintbrush
- Foam roller
- Paint stirrer
- Painter’s tray
- Baking soda
- Matte paint
Choose your paint colors and since limewash is an organic substance, we would recommend sticking to organic, earthy tones when selecting a hue for the imitation limewash. You should also ensure that any color you select has a matte finish.
Prepare the walls by wiping them down using a moist towel to ensure they are fresh and devoid of dirt, debris, and so on. You can decide not to use a primer to save time and money or if you are okay with a less permanent finish. This is the moment to fill in any holes and cracks, your best option is to use some spackle.
Once the filler has dried, sanding down any extra rough areas. Lay down old towels or newspapers then make sure that you cover any important items. Keep in mind that you should use painter’s tape wherever needed.
Prepare the paint mix. We found that a ratio of one part of baking soda to three parts of paint was the best viscosity. Feel free to experiment to find one that works for you. Plaster of Paris can also be used in place of baking soda. Baking soda produces a softer, less rigid texture, whereas plaster produces a more robust and distinct texture.
Another thing to keep in mind, and why we selected baking soda over plaster, is that if you use plaster, you must work in much smaller amounts and a lot faster because it dries in a matter of minutes.
The baking soda combination, on the other hand, behaves like conventional paint, leaving you plenty of time to paint. Given the skill and time required to apply the paint to get the desired effect, we would suggest the baking soda option.
Begin the process of painting your walls. Depending on the style you want, you may apply the paint mixture in a variety of ways. You can use any brush or cloth you wish.
You may also overlay lighter and darker paint colors as you work with different types of brushstrokes. Once this is done, dab the painted area with a wet cloth to produce a patchy texture.
Once the paint has dried, you are all set. If there are certain parts of the wall that you are not particularly happy with, feel free to reapply some paint. You can also apply a coat of matte sealant for high-traffic areas, which would preserve your finish.
Important Limewash Factors to Consider
By understanding the question, “what is limewash?”, you will have a very good idea of what you are getting into when using it. There are a few important factors that you will need to consider before you use this unique type of paint.
- Fixing wet paint is a bad idea. Unlike normal paint, limewash reveals itself once it is dry and it would be best to wait until then before you try and fix any mistakes that you have made. If you feel that your mixture is too thick, you can dilute it with water to make it easier to apply.
- Keep a wet edge. To prevent streams from popping up, it would be best to keep a wet edge to ensure a more uniform finish.
- Keep moving. When using limewash, it is very important to understand that it is impossible to return to an area that you were painting to blend a new section. This will leave behind a line that cannot be fixed.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Limewash Paint
Many individuals appreciate the natural, grainy appearance of limewash paint. Aside from its beauty, it lacks the ingredients that lead other varieties of both exterior and interior paint to be classified as hazardous compounds. Limewash is also an excellent paint option for those looking for a more hypoallergenic solution, as its alkaline pH makes it very resistant to mold and other pathogens. Limewashed walls do not need to be cleaned, in fact, you should not clean them.
However, if you have small children or pets, you may consider the inability to clean your walls a disadvantage. Limewash colors are also more unpredictable than normal paints, so you must be fairly flexible in your expectations.
If you are aiming for a rich brown, there is a chance that you will end up with a lighter shade instead, so always keep that in mind.
One more important disadvantage that you will need to consider is that you will be extremely limited with your color options.
Limewashing will leave you with a beautiful surface that is very different compared to what standard paint has to offer. This type of paint also has a series of benefits that make it easy to maintain, and there is no need to worry about mold and mildew. While it can be tricky for new painters to apply, especially if you are used to working with normal paint, it is very easy to get used to. After reading our guide, we hope that your limewash painting project goes well. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There a Lot of Maintenance for Limewashed Walls?
Limewash paint requires relatively minimal care. Given the imperfect appearance it provides, it should age beautifully. It is not suggested that you clean limewashed walls at all. The mottled texture helps disguise some of the surface dirt and scuffs, but you can touch up spots with diluted limewash paint.
What Can Limewash Paint Be Used On?
Limewash may be used on almost any surface that would ordinarily be painted, including walls, masonry, and décor. However, we would not approve of using it on furniture since it may begin to rub off. Remember that this paint has a dull sheen, so if you decide to use a sealant on it, you will lose the finish that it is popular for.
Is It Possible to Mix Your Own Limewash Paint?
Producing homemade limewash is among the most cost-effective options available. Start by making lime putty using hydrated lime blended with clean water. Next, you will begin to progressively dilute the blend with water until it has a consistency of dense cream. This is a straightforward process and the color is provided by natural pigments. Remember to always wear gloves and eye protectors when working with any type of lime-based product, as this is a caustic substance that can cause chemical burns.
Robert Thompson has worked as a self-employed carpenter for over 15 years. He lives with his family in Billings, Montana, where he also successfully operates his business as a woodworker. His main business is the complete interior construction of buildings. He is also passionate about creating high-quality wood furniture with epoxy and other items made from burl wood. Besides the woodwork, Robert is also a skilled DIY professional for all kinds of materials. He always has a solution ready for every craft and construction challenge. Originally, Robert studied civil engineering and has advanced degrees in carpentry and business management. Robert has been working for Craft Art since 2020 and enriches the blog with his immense knowledge and skills in the field of woodworking and home improvement. He writes the articles about DIY and Repair.