Whitewashing has been around for hundreds of years but it is a very new technique to modern homeowners. I hope to answer any questions you may have during the whitewashing process and debunk any myths that may be making their rounds.
How to mix, apply, & finish limewash
Pour leftover limewash & water used to clean brushes, whisks, measuring cups, etc. into a designated 5 gallon bucket. As the hydrated lime & portland cement settle, pour off the clean water and let sediment harden. Once hardened, it can be placed in trash cans for curbside pickup.
DO NOT WASH BRUSHES, BUCKETS, ETC IN YOUR SINK.
This is portland cement and lime, people. Be smart. They don’t belong in sewer pipes or storm drains.
Earthworms. That’s why.
Hydrated lime in water is incredibly irritating and harmful to earthworms. I made this mistake once after a long day and I still feel guilty about it. Learn from my mistake.
Time & money
– Limewash paint available at big box stores dries WAY too fast. A 10-40 minute window to paint an entire wall & spray it down before it’s too late is stupid fast.
REAL limewash can be sprayed or sponged off hours after application. I know. I rinsed an entire 20′ x 15′ wall off 8 hours later because I didn’t like how thick I put it on.
– Making limewash yourself is not only easy, but a fraction of the price of commercial limewash paint. You can make more whitewash from portland cement and lime than you could ever use in a lifetime at the same price.
Simple! Reduce the amount of lime putty.
For Greek island white, increase the lime.
White portland cement is available online but you can still whitewash your brick using lime and water. See the video at the end of this post for instructions.
It’s best on porous materials like brick, stucco, cement blocks, etc. It can be used on wood, but tends to flake off because wood moves so much depending on the weather.
For reference, 6 cups of limewash covered 130 sq ft of very rough nonuniform bricks.
Yes, but getting an even and perfect match will be difficult. It’s more of a natural, whimsical look vs an even coat of paint.
If you’re an experienced DIYer, I would definitely give adding powder pigments like this a try. When mixing it into the whitewash, do not add more than 5% by volume as it will fall out of suspension and be very splotchy.
Don’t panic. I whitewashed my brick patio when it was hot as hades with a fan on and the limewash dried in less than two hours. Way too fast for carbonation to take place.
I lightly misted the walls until they were damp, but not wet enough to remove the whitewash, every couple of hours for 2 days. Once I saw the finish crackling as I sprayed it down, I knew the lime had carbonated and I could start the next coat.
How to mix, apply, & finish limewash
Whitewashing without portland cement
If you are unable to find white portland cement or would like to go a more traditional route, this a great video on how they limewash cemeteries in New Orleans.
Full disclosure: it is very time consuming, requires many coats, and proper curing is paramount. I tried this method myself on a project and it just wasn’t worth the headache compared to the hydrated lime and portland cement whitewash.
Have more questions about making lime wash or where you can use whitewash? Comment below and I’ll get back with you ASAP.
Hi, We limewashed our yellow brick house with a mix of hydrated type s lime and water. It has been four days, and we noticed that when the sprinklers went Off, the brick Went back to yellow Until the bricks dried off and then became white agaIn.Is this normal? Will it always do that when it gets wet? Or does it need more time to dRy? We wanted to do another coat but now dont know when/if to apply it.
Totally normal. It is translucent when wet then goes back to opaque once it dries.
Each coat will lessen the translucency. If you see the whitewash is 100% bright white opaque & crackly right when you wet it, you should be good to go for a second coat.
D Harrell says
I see it’s suggested not to limewash when it’s too hot or too cold. It’s about 100 degrees in Mississippi. We want to get this done. Is it just more difficult, or should it absolutely not be done? Also, does the cement keep it from being breathable? I haven’t seen where anyone else has used the cement, but we do like the bright white with more coverage like yours. Thanks so much.
It’s way too hot right now. I whitewashed something last year thinking I could test my luck. It never cured to the brick & flaked off. Wait so you only have to do it once. It’s already enough work in the first place.
Yes, the cement will allow the brick to breath, unlike paint.
Sue frankel streit says
I have a big container of lime wash that dried out. Can I add water and re-use it?
Unfortunately once you add water then it dries out, it’s done for. The chemical reaction needed for carbonation has already occurred.
Hydrated Lime mixed with water & kept under a layer of water in a sealed container will stay good indefinitely. Once it’s exposed to air & allowed to dry, it is no longer useable.
Carrie McWhorter says
I have a white brick home built in 1967. The bricks vary in color and a kitchen window looking out to the carport closed up for more cabinet space in the kitchen. The carport exterior wall was bricked up using bricks from a once matching brick mailbox. However those bricks were exposed to the elements where as the carport wall bricks have been protected from sun and rain, consequently the bricked window area looks dirty (even though we cleaned, bleached and scrubbed them).The brick mason did a good job of matching the mortar which is a sandy tone. Can I white wash JUST the bricks? I am thinking that if I whitewash somewhat randomly I can trick the eye so that the duller bricks don’t stand out.
You can always try!
How many square feet of brick can you do with a 50lb of lime and 50lb of Portland cement? (Includes both coats)
Just trying to figure out if I’m going to need like 3 bags of each to finish my house or more like 10 bags of each.
I would start off with less because once Portland cement is opened, it starts absorbing moisture. Your brick’s age & texture will also determine how much material you’ll need.
For context; I have a 1800 sq ft home with highly textured brick and I could do a bit more than 50% of my home with 1 bag each.
Is only just misting walls enough prior to lime-washing? I’m wanting to paint brick walls in a bedroom and with carpeted floors, hosing down with water is not an option. Any advice please?
You have to wet the walls down. There’s no other way. The bricks will immediately soak all the water out of your limewash and there won’t be enough to carbonate.