Jenny Garvinyasa
Limewash DIY

When we first bought our 1970’s ranch style house a few years ago, I was not in love with the brick exterior any more than the interior, but it was not my first priority.  After painting pretty much every inch of the interior though, I thought it was high time for the exterior to get a little love.  Here is what we were starting with.

Now I know there are many people that prefer the look of natural brick, and I get it (kinda).  They are usually the same ones that would never paint wood paneling.  However, after I had been pinning many exterior images (check out my inspiration board here), mostly just for landscaping idea, I noticed a trend.  Almost every single house that I pinned was white.  My favorite image of all that served for my inspiration was this image..

I love everything about this house.  The white brick, greenish gray doors and trim, the slate floor, I decided would serve as THE inspiration for our exterior.  Even though my mind was made up on what I wanted, I was not exactly sure how I was going to execute it.  First of all, hiring painters to paint perfectly pretty brick was not in our budget, but I also didn’t know if this was a job that I was willing and able to tackle on my own.  However, usually where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Especially in my house when it concerns design matters.

I started doing further research into what it would take for me to paint the brick with a typical latex paint.  I was looking at a coat of primer, and a couple of coats of paint at least. Plus I kept finding warnings about the paint peeling, and the need to repaint every 5-10 years.  I seemed like my dream of having a white house may just have to stay a dream.

Then I stumbled upon a blog post where a woman painted her own brick using hydrated lime, and it only cost $10.  I thought it seemed like an interesting  idea, but I wasn’t sure if I loved the weathered result that she had achieved with the lime washing.  I really wanted my brick to be mostly solid white.  I decided I would have to do a test before painting the exterior brick.  We had already painted the brick fireplace in our living room, and the only other brick in the house was a wall in the sun room that used to be an exterior wall.

I decided that it would have to do, and since the rest of the house was pretty much white at this point, there was really no reason to keep it orangish brown.  I found some hydrated lime online at Lowe’s, but it was not available at my nearest store, but it was available at a store about 10 miles away.

When I went to get the lime, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, and a store attendant tried to sell me on some garden lime, but luckily I had done enough research to know that isn’t what I need.  I finally got some help in the area around the mortar and concrete mix aisle.  The guy working in that area told me that he grew up in Mexico and that people lime washed their houses and citrus trees all the time and that goats would lick the houses because they love the taste!  Lucky for me I don’t own any suburban goats (haha!).  He also said that I was the first person he had ever heard of lime washing anything since he moved here to Texas.  I  was guessing that I’m either a trendsetter or maybe just the village idiot at that point.  Here is what I ended up bringing home from Lowes…

50 Pound Bags of Hydrated Lime  

 

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Blue-Hawk-Natural-Bristle-Polyester-Blend-Flat-Sash-Paint-Brush-Common-5-in-Actual-5-in/4165071
5 inch paint brush

 

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Lowes-5-Gallon-Residential-Bucket/3761919
5 gallon bucket

My total cost for this was around $30, which I felt like I was winning there.  Just a gallon a inexpensive paint would have cost me that much!  I also picked up a couple of large things regular old iodized salt from Walmart.  The recipe I used was pretty loose, and I found out of the course of this project that it doesn’t actually make a difference if you measure or not, the results are the same.  I cannot find the original recipe I used for the life of me, but I started with about I gallon of hydrated lime, a cup of salt, and mixed in water until it resembled the consistency of skim milk.  It is literally that easy!

When I started brushing it onto the brick, I kinda started to panic a little.  It was pretty sheer as you can see here…

DIY Lime washing

Little by little the brick turned whiter as the lime washed dried.  It was like watching something magical!

How to lime wash brick

And, it was really a lot easier than painting.  I really was not going for perfection, but it could not have turned out more perfect.

limewashing exterior brick

 

How to Lime wash brick

 

limewashing brick

I did the sun room in only a couple of hours, and we were tickled with the fabulous results, and it really gave me the confidence to tackle the exterior brick.  Here is the “After”…

I did not do anything at all to prep the exterior brick other than rinse it with a water hose to wet it as I went.  I also slightly changed by technique from the sun room and brushed the lime wash on in both directions to get a even solid coat on the brick and minimize the brush marks.  It was pretty time consuming.  It took me the better part of a four day stretch.  I also had to make one more trip back to Lowe’s to pick up more hydrated lime.  Overall though, I think the project was a HUGE success.  My neighbors are constantly complimenting my work and wanting more information about how I lime washed the brick!

I am so in love with the way it turned out!  Of course it will be much prettier in the summer when the sun is shining and the grass is greener!

I also changed the trim color to Benjamin Moore desert twilight, which I thought was pretty close to the inspiration photo, despite the fact that it said it was Texas Leather, which I sampled, but it was more of a brown color.  We also added 12×12 slate tiles to the front porch, which were only $1.25 a square foot from Home depot (link here), and we updated the house numbers with these modern ones also from Home Depot.  We also switched out the porch light to this LED lantern.

Slate Front Porch
I know this is an extremely long post, but I really wanted to break down this process for anyone out there who might be considering lime washing, or even someone who wants white brick and is considering paint.  If you do try this I would LOVE to hear from you, and if you have any questions at all please pop them below in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them!

 

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16 Replies to “How to Limewash Brick”

  1. Hi Jenny, love your work on the limewash! I need to do the same thing, but do have some questions. You said it took 4 days to complete the job. What is the size of your house and in what climate did you do it? I have an older ranch style home as well and have always wanted to lighten the bricks. Currently they are a rusty orangish black color combo. Yuck! Oh also did you ever take a new photo with the grass greener?
    Thanks for your reply, Carol

    1. Hi Carol! I’m so glad you stumbled upon my post! Our house is about 2500 sq ft and the exterior is entirely brick, no siding. I remember the high being in the 60’s when I did the painting. I need to take some pictures when the grass greens up again because it has held up really beautifully! I am about to help a friend do the same thing to her bricks so I may have to do an update if we learn any new tricks. Good luck on your project. Limewashing is such an easy and affordable way to cover up ugly brick!

      Thanks for reading, Jenny

  2. Hi Jenny! Great job! Thanks for posting. I just have one question. How does this stand up to the weather and the elements? Will a heavy rain wash away all of that hard work? I’m really tempted to try this on our 1968 home, but concerned a little about the longevity. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Willona! Thank you for your comment. I haven’t had any issue with mine holding up to rain after 2 years. I have eaves that overhang to protect enough to keep that from happening.

  3. Good Gracious!! Thank you so much! My house is almost identical to the one Chip and Joanna Gaines did with the German “schmear” technique. I can not afford to pay someone to do this and I am fairly crafty. I have been scouring the internet for basic instructions. I didn’t want to mess up my house and just needed a simple breakdown. This explains it PERFECTLY!! I do have a small amount of siding above my garage so I guess matching paint to the white limestone color might work best. Thoughts on that?? Thanks again! Your house looks fabulous!

    1. Hi Kathie, sorry for the late reply, but as far as the siding goes, I painted my gutter downspouts Benjamin Moore Cloud White and they blend in beautifully with the brick.

  4. Hello! Your home is fabulous! I’m Thinking about doing this to my house. How many hours in a day did this take you? Also, did you paint your trim yourself? How long did that take you? Sorry for all the questions, I have a new born so need to know specifics! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lynley! I did my house over a four day period. I worked for most of the day with lots of interruptions from my kids! It took me an additional 2 days to paint the trim. I just helped a friend limewash her house. Together we were able to get it done in two days mostly during the time her newborn was napping, so I definitely reccommend finding a friend who is willing to help!

  5. Hi there, you have done an amazing job and im inspired!
    I have hideous orange brick, and around the windows there are darker tone bricks.
    Do you think the limewash would show up the two colours, or would they both pretty much turn white?
    Thanks!
    Shell

    1. Hi Shell, I think that the two bricks will be mostly white and blend just fine. I had mostly orange brick with some tan and even black bricks, but there isn’t much noticable contrast.

  6. I cant wait to do this in the spring! Thank you for all your help!
    Since doing your friends house do you have any other tips? Or what quantities you mixed? I definietly want a more solid white rather than rustic.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Kayla! I will say that since doing my friend’s house too that the mixture should be very thin, like milk. It will make applying it so much faster, just start at the top and work over it as it drips down in a cross hatching motion. This will give you a nice solid white coverage. Good luck with your project!

  7. Hi, Jenny, absolutely love your post and the results (both inside and outside). I have ugly orange brick that I want to lighten without breaking the bank (and my back…). A few questions:

    1) I know you wet the walls (and kept them damp) before applying the limewash, but do you think a powerwash might be helpful to completely clean the brick first, or is it an unnecessary step? (Our 1960 bricks don’t look dirty at all.)

    2) Did you mix the water and lime by hand, or use one of those fancy portable, electric hand mixers? Did you find that the consistency of skim milk (watery) was ideal for the coverage you wanted?

    3) Did you use any tinted lime, or just the standard lime? I’m seeing a lot of tinted options, but I do love the white look you achieved, too.

    4) For the application, did you achieve the first look by applying, say, left-to-right with the grain of the brick? But for the second look, you applied left-to-right, then right-to-left on the same brick/same coat, and that’s why it took a lot longer? Just want to know what I’m up against. 😉

    Thank you so much!!

    Mary

    1. Hi Mary, I did just mix it by hand and used the very cheapest white hydrated lime from Lowe’s. I only did one coat with a large brush, but did it in a cross hatching motion so that it didn’t leave brush marks, The texture should be like milk, very easy to brush on top to bottom and then just go back over the drips.

  8. Hi, great blog! We are inspired to limewash our house now. Can I ask why you added salt ? Is there a particular reason? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Kirk. The salt helps the mixture retain more water so that it dries slower. It gives you more time to brush it around and achieve an even finish.

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