What Is Faded Limewash Brick?

Limewash brick is a brick that has been painted with a coating made of lime. The end result is a white-washed look made for brick. Since the design style isn’t definite, you can use limewash brick in any home.

Limewash BrickView in gallery
Image from On The Surface

Limewash brick is a special finish that is added to brick. It is one of the many different types of finishes, this one with a light and airy feel to it. Let’s learn everything we can about limewash brick and when to use it. 

What Is Limewash Brick?

Limewash brick is a brick that has been treated with a special coating known as limewash. This process adds a white covering to brick and covers most imperfections. Not to mention, it can be done by you.

Other types of brick refinishing, like tuckpointing, requires professional help. But limewashing is easy. Limewash is made from powdered limestone that is treated with heat and water to make it stable and durable.

History Of Limewash Brick

Exterior of the house with limewash brickView in gallery
Image from Classic Finishes

Limewash brick is as old as the two components themself: lime and brick. The treatment was used centuries ago to protect buildings rather than just make them look nice. Today, it works for both causes.

Limestone is plentiful now, but centuries ago, it was even more plentiful, making it a perfect stone to grind up and treat to create this coating. That’s why it is used for cement and so much more in history and today.

Because it uses the local materials available, historic buildings that are limewashed are considered vernacular. We don’t know exactly how old limestone is but have dated it back to at least ancient Egypt. 

Limewash Vs. Whitewash

Limewash Vs. WhitewashView in gallery

Limewash and whitewash are closely related. In reality, limewash is a type of whitewash. Or rather, all limewashes are whitewashes but not all whitewashes are limewashes. Because whitewashing is just using paint and water to color something.

This is also closely related to bleaching wood. But whitewashing and limewashing use a very thin wash that is painted onto wood. Bleaching wood is actually more about drying the wood out not hydrating it. 

Pros and Cons of Limewash Brick

There are many pros and cons to limewash brick. This can be said for absolutely anything. Sometimes the pros and cons aren’t laid out before us so readily and we have to search for them. This can’t be said for limewash brick. 

Pros

  • Cheap – limewashing is very cheap because all you really need is water and lime. You probably won’t spend more than $100 for an average-sized house. Yep, you read that right. This is a real steal. 
  • Natural – the main ingredient in a bag of lime is just that…lime. You won’t find many with harmful chemicals in them. When you add water, you’re not adding any chemicals either, so this is a green choice. 
  • Easy – it is very easy to apply a limewash to brick. We will go over the steps later, but for now, know that it is easier than painting and isn’t as touchy, covering most imperfections that may be on your brick. 
  • Insect Resistance – when you add a limewash to brick, you are adding a naturally insect-resistant material. Limewash can protect brick against both insects and fungi, which is reason enough to use it. 
  • Keep Coating – if your limewash starts to wear off after a few years or decades, you can always add more. Not all coatings can be used like this but limewash can be used time and time again.
  • Won’t Peel – limewash won’t peel as paint does. It soaks into the brick just enough to become part of it while still covering the top of the brick. Limewash is a durable wash, which brings us to the next point.
  • Durable – limewash is very durable. It adds a good weatherproof seal to your brick that isn’t toxic. This makes it a good choice for those who don’t like using polyurethane or something similar. 

Cons

  • Can Erode – lime can erode, so limewash can also erode. It can be treated to not do this but a better option is to brush the erosion away as it appears and recoat your brick once every few years.
  • Long Application – because each coat needs to dry a very long time before applying the next, it can take days, or even weeks, to finish applying the limewash. This is just too much time for some people. 
  • Can Stain Clothing – although lime doesn’t always stain clothing, it can rub off on you and leave a mark. Some materials will absorb it and will be left with white marks. But this isn’t that different than paint. 
  • Can’t Be Used On Painted Brick – sorry, if your brick is painted, then you can’t limewash it. The limewash won’t stick to finished or painted brick. It will only work on a raw brick that hasn’t been treated. 

How To Limewash Brick

Limewashing brickView in gallery

Limewashing brick can be a fun experience even if you hate this type of work. Not only does it leave you with a satisfyingly beautiful brick wall but it can also be satisfying to apply. Trust me, it’s much more fulfilling than painting brick. 

Step 1: Clean Brick

It’s important to start with clean brick. So powerwash the brick if you can and let it try. If there are any cobwebs or anything stuck on the brick, wash it off, scrape it off, or sand it off until the brick is smooth.

It may be tempting to skip this part, but please do not. If you start with dirty brick, the limewash will come out dingy and might not even stick to the surface. So take a day and wash the brick and wash it well. 

Step 2: Find The Right Day

It’s best to not use limewash on an extremely sunny day or the limewash will dry out too fast. But you also don’t want it to rain on your project. Instead, choose a cloudy day that has a very low chance of rain.

If it is too sunny and you can’t find a good day to do the limewash, then simply wet the brick. This will slow down the drying time. Spray the brick and wait a few minutes before applying the limewash to it.

Step 3: Gear Up

Now it’s time to gear up. Although lime isn’t toxic, you don’t want to breathe in the dust or get it on you. So put on a mask, long sleeves, and goggles if you can find some before you begin mixing the limewash.

This is all because lime is caustic. This means that if it mixes with certain chemicals that it can cause burns. So please keep it away from your face, don’t inhale it, and keep your skin covered when using it. 

Step 4: Mix Limewash

Limewash should look like milk. Not skim milk which closely resembles white water, but whole milk. It shouldn’t be as thick as whipping cream but should be about like full-fat milk, creamy yet thin.

This is a wash so it should have about 80% water and 20% lime. This is done by weight, so get a scale since you already know how much the lime weighs per bag and work your ratio from there. You can also lookup how much water weighs. 

Step 5: Paint It On

Now it’s finally time to start “painting” or rather “washing” the brick. Put the wash into a paint pan and use a roller to apply it. You can also use soft-bristle brushes but this can take ages on a large structure.

Start at the top of a wall on one side and go down and over. You may see it dripping down, but this is fine. You can wipe up the drips with your roller as you go. In the end, you should still have an even coat. 

Step 6: Wait And Apply More

Cover all the bricks evenly, then wait two to four days before applying the next coat. Yes, you will need to wait days before applying more limewash. That’s why you should only make as much as you need. 

The limewash will also keep if sealed, so get buckets that can be sealed and let the limewash be stored in them for a few days. Every coat will make the limewash less transparent so keep this in mind.

Should You Limewash Brick? View in gallery

Limewash Brick Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about limewash brick with these frequently asked questions. 

Can You Spray Limewash On Brick?

It is possible to spray on limewash but no it is not recommended. Because the lime in the limewash can block the hose and nozzle. When the pathway is blocked, the limewash won’t spray and the sprayer can be ruined.

Does Limewash Have To Contain Lime?

Yes. Limewash must contain lime or it isn’t considered limewash. You can get a similar look by diluting white paint. This is called whitewashing and it is not the same as limewashing but it has a similar outcome.

How Much Does Limewash Brick Cost?

Limewash brick costs an average of $2000. The average cost per square foot is around $3. This cost does not include laying brick, only the process of limewashing brick that has already been installed. 

Can I Paint Over Limewash Brick?

You can paint over limewash brick. But the paint will not stick unless you use a primer first. Use a primer made for rough brick and the paint should stick to the surface. Otherwise, your results will vary.

Should You Limewash Brick? 

Deciding whether you should limewash brick isn’t easy. There are so many other options and you don’t want to make the wrong choice. But you shouldn’t stress yourself out about it. You can make your decision confidently. 

If you want white brick that looks natural then limewash is a perfect choice. If you want white brick that looks painted then paint it. But if you don’t want white brick at all, then definitely don’t use limewash. 

It really is as simple as that. Limewashing is a very affordable and solid choice for getting natural and natural-looking brick. So if you like the sound of that then you don’t need to wait any longer to limewash your brick.