THE BASICS OF LIMEWASHING YOUR HOME: A BELOVED EXTERIOR STYLE

While painted brick siding can revitalize and modernize an older-styled home, many homeowners are turning to the limewashing method. With the clean appeal of fresh paint and pops of color from your bricks’ surfaces, this technique suits every style of home. If you’re looking for a way to update your brick siding while keeping an aged appearance, study up on the basics of limewashing your home.

An Overview of Limewash

While people use the terms “limewash” and “whitewash” interchangeably, limewash is only one type of whitewash that you can use on your brick. Unlike other whitewashes, this wash comes from powdered limestone which manufacturers treat with water in a high-heat environment. This process produces a lime substance that dissolves in water and turns into the limewash. If you give the limewash enough time to soak into the porous surface of the brick, you can then rinse it off in selected sections to create a custom faded look.

If you’re attempting to make your own limewash, be sure you take the proper measurements to get the right consistency. According to BobVilla, “The correct ratio is approximately 80 percent water to 20 percent hydrated lime (by weight).” By maintaining this ratio, you can easily make however much you need for the project. Using too much or too little of either ingredient may result in a wash that’s too thin or thick to properly soak into the brick.
Not as thick or heavy as paint, limewash is most effective when it’s the consistency of whole milk. When mixed too thin, you’ll have to use more product than necessary to get the color you’re after. Plus, it will wash off easier than it’s supposed to during the rinsing phase. On the other hand, using limewash that’s too thick will simply stick to the brick as paint does and prevent you from creating the antique, faded look you’re after.

The Process: How to Get the Best Results

One of the most crucial basics of limewashing your home is that you take some time to clean the brick you’re going to be using it on. Residual dust and dirt on the surface could act as a barrier between the wash and the brick, making the process less effective in the long run. Usually, homeowners can accomplish this step by simply spraying down their siding with a garden hose. However, if you’re finding that there are persistent sections of dirt and grime, you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner and a stiff scrubbing brush.

Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure that the weather allows for a successful project. Ideally, you should be applying the limewash in overcast weather. Direct sunlight can cause the wash to dry out before it has a chance to soak into the brick, making it more of a paint job than you originally intended.
Once its weather permitting and your brick siding is clean enough, you can begin mixing your limewash. However, before you start, be sure that you’re taking the proper safety precautions to avoid developing potential health issues. Hydrated lime powder can be an irritant to an individual’s skin and eyes. As such, take extra care to put on safety goggles and rubber gloves before you begin handling the materials. After taking these precautions, proceed to add the proper ratio of lime and water, and mix them until you get the ideal consistency.

Apply the limewash with a large paintbrush as you’ll need to work it into various nooks and crannies on the brick’s surface. The most effective way to accomplish this is by using several thin coats to layer the limewash until you get the opaque color you’re looking for. As you finish up with this initial washing, be sure to allow enough time for it to dry. This will ensure that you don’t remove all the wash as you create your design.
When you go to rinse the limewash, re-wet the areas you want to look faded and gently wipe it away. This will expose the brick underneath and leave you with gradual smears of color across the surface. The beauty of this process is that you can remove as much or as little of the wash as you’d like and create a design that’s unique to your home.

As with any home improvement project, it’s important that you consider hiring a professional paint contractor if you don’t feel comfortable taking on the task yourself. While limewashing is an effective and rewarding technique, it’s recommended that you have someone with experience do it to get the best results.

Tips for Maintaining Limewash

Once your limewash fully dries (this takes about seven days), it should calcify enough that it will become somewhat resistant to the elements. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t be entirely weather-proof. So, be sure to utilize these maintenance tips to keep your limewashed siding looking good throughout the years.

Wash Carefully (If at All)

Though it’ll take more effort to remove the limewash once it’s had the chance to dry, it’s still very susceptible to water and pressure. If you notice that your surfaces have stains or dirt that you want to remove, use a damp rag and dab lightly to get the best results. However, it’s often uncommon that you’ll need to wash limewash surfaces as it typically doesn’t show much dirt.

You May Need to Reapply

Over years of weather exposure, you might notice that your limewash exterior is beginning to wear down and expose more of your natural brick siding. To maintain the whitewashed look you originally sought after, reapply your limewash every five to seven years. You may also want to do continuous touch-ups to stay in control of how the surface erodes.

To learn more about the limewashing process and how you can apply it to your own home, reach out to Bear Mountain Custom Painting. Our exterior painting professionals in Atlanta, Georgia, will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision based on the style and design of your home.

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