Limewash Fades Over Time. Is It Worth The Expense And Effort?

When the brick on a home is well worn and needing an update, or out of fashion in terms of color, many homeowners look to limewash paint as an option with an old-world look. If you're not familiar with this way to update brick façades, it's a type of white paint that has been employed since ancient times. It can be used on brick surfaces indoors, too. 

While there are several different brands of modern limewash available through paint stores and home improvement warehouses, the traditional method of making it consists of mixing ground limestone with water and heating it to make a putty. Sometimes it is aged, and then further diluted with water before being applied to brick surfaces. Some limewash paints are even colored with metal oxides, according to The Organic & Natural Paint Co. So now you know some of the background, but is limewash the right product for your particular home improvement project in terms of cost and the energy expended to apply it?

Why limewash is worth the expense and effort

Limewash paints have become popular for several reasons. First, they can be a very economical way to change the color of traditional brick on both newer and historic homes. In most instances, limewash can be purchased less expensively than traditional paint. It soaks into the porous bricks and can cover them entirely or partially depending on the look you want. If you get tired of limewash, you can use a pressure washer or stiff wire brush to remove it. That's not possible with most types of regular paint and other white finishes like German smear

Another good reason to go with limewash comes with its innate ability to repel fungus and bacteria. Yes, the lime in it imparts that advantage. For those concerned about environmental issues, it's also made without thinners and plastics like other types of commercial paints. For many, this is one of the most compelling reasons to choose limewash paint. As a side benefit of those omissions, it's not as odorous, which makes it great for use indoors.

Why limewash may not be worth the effort

It's great to have an economical, environmentally-friendly choice for changing the color of brick, but how durable is it? Depending on the type of paint you use and how skillful the person applying it happens to be, a brick exterior coated with traditional paint might need to be redone every 15 to 20 years. Exterior limewash typically lasts only five to seven years before it wears away enough to require refreshing to maintain surface durability. Interior durability can vary depending on where you use it. A living room wall in a low traffic area might prove to be longer-lasting than a kitchen backsplash, for example.

Since it soaks into the brick, limewash paint can also require four to five coats when you're applying it depending on the amount of coverage you're seeking and how thick or thin you mix it. It's applied with a brush and may need to be moistened with water between coats, too, so it can be a more labor-intensive process than other types of painting. On top of that, it's not easily cleaned. Applying a refresher coat is usually the necessary route to take if your limewash looks dirty.