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Limewash: A Durable Alternative to Latex Paint

Painting the exterior of a home with latex paint is a hot look these days and can certainly help to seal and protect exterior surfaces; however, there are other options to choose from.  If you are looking for a durable, long lasting and environmentally conscious coating for your home consider having limewash applied.

limewash samples, upper Arlington Ohio
Limewash Samples, Upper Arlington, OH

Unless you are up to par on your Ancient Greek history you may not be familiar with the name, or process, of the limewash technique. No worries, you have likely seen this traditional painting style on historical homes, churches, and buildings.  Let’s take a few minutes and break down the limewash basics.

What is limewash?

Limewash is a centuries old technique for painting brick and masonry.  Limewash is a process of creating a ‘wash’ by diluting lime putty with water and painting it on interior or exterior surfaces.  Over time the lime will begin calcifying on the surface and create an incredibly durable finish.  If you are trying to picture a limewash look, know that many variations can be created; however, many people may generically think of it as ‘whitewash’.

NOTE: even though limewash may look like ‘whitewash’, it actually comes in many pre-tinted and customizable colors.  Whitewash refers only to the color white.

Why limewash?

There are many reasons to consider limewash, here are a few heavy hitting reasons to consider this classic application.

  1. Due to it’s ability to penetrate a surface and calcify, an incredibly durable surface is created once cured.
  2. The color can be customized.  You can choose from the several standard white/beige/gray options that can be ordered as-is, or you call the manufacturer directly, pay a small customization fee, and have a custom color made for your base. The flexibility in color allow for you to create the exact result that you desire.
  3. You decide on the coverage and appearance.  Unlike most painting projects where full coverage is not only the go-to option, it is the only option, with limewash you decide on the level of distress based on your overall style and preference.  Lime putty can be diluted anywhere from 50-100% to create the perfect level of coverage for your painted surface.
  4. Try limewash worry free.  Many products these days have been specially formulated to give the consumer time to apply the limewash, let it dry, and analyze your level of satisfaction. You have several days to check in on your sample application before you would just need to simply pressure wash it away if you are unhappy.

Where to use limewash?

Limewash is a versatile interior or exterior option for your painting needs.  Designed to be used on natural surfaces such as masonry, brick, plaster and stone, limewash can be a great look for the exteriors of homes, chimneys and fireplaces. Limewash is best applied to absorptive, rough surfaces. Although you can continually add thin layers of limewash to your surface until the density and coverage is perfect to your eye, the mixture will continuously allow your surface to breathe.

Limewash Supplies

Let us remember that limewash has been around not just for a few years or decades, but centuries! The Ancient Greeks who were applying  limewash did not have fancy paint sprayers or equipment, thus you still do not need those items today.  Here are a few items you will want to have on hand if you take on a limewash project.

  • 5 gallon bucket. This is the easiest way to combine your lime putty and water and have sufficient space for mixing.
  • Wooden stir stick or drill fitted with a paddle. Make sure to have an adequate process in place for thoroughly mixing your product.
  • Hose. You need water in this process! You will want to dampen your surface prior to application and after your lime begins to dry (anywhere from 20-60 minutes depending on heat/sun/humidity) you will begin to wash off areas to create your distressed look.
  • Masonry Brush. A large masonry brush allows you to evenly apply your limewash across a rough surface.

Recommendations for limewash

Here at No Drip Painting we have been getting more and more inquiries from clients about lime washing the exterior of their homes and we have one product on standby each time we get those calls: Romabio. If you get a chance to check out their website and/or Instagram page you will see the true beauty that can be achieved through their products.  We find Romabio products readily accessible through Home Depot and easy to work with.  Romabio has a range of colors to choose from that compliment a variety of exterior roof/gutter/trim choices and allow you to quickly transform your home.

Next time you are contemplating a ‘wash’ technique or painting a large area of brick/masonry, we highly encourage you to dive into a bit more limewash research and give it a try.

Happy Painting!

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