Lime Wash Brick House (White Wash)

About: I'm a Doctor of Physical Therapy who is curious about almost everything! One of the most important skills that PT school taught me was that, through thorough research, you can learn just about anything. That...

My wife and I bought a fixer upper. It was a foreclosure with front bow windows that were outdated and rotting, plus the existing brick was not the kind of brick we wanted to show off. When we had the front bow windows replaced, we decided to hire a mason to brick up the columns in between; the brick couldn't match the old existing brick, but that didn't matter to us since we wanted to White Wash our house anyways! We chose not to use white paint because using the wrong paint or not fixing chips/cracks could result in trapping moisture within the porous bricks causing mold or a breakdown of the brick; also, this way was the most expensive. We also looked into German Smear (White Mortar mixes), but had a hard time finding any in our area without having to get it specially ordered. After researching lime wash, we were sold! Lime wash is a mixture of lime, tint, and water and will penetrate the brick similarly to paint BUT lime is more durable and also discourages mold growth...plus it's much cheaper! All-in-all this DIY took a couple weeks (since we both work full time outside of the home) and the cost totaled just shy of $750.

Supplies:

  • Romabio: 4 gallon Limewash Interior/Exterior Paint (we chose Avorio; the amount will vary based upon the size of the house, but we needed only two of these 4 gallon buckets since the mixture is further combined with water prior to washing onto the brick)
  • Romabio: 6-3/4 in. x 3-1/2 in. x 2-1/2 in. Large Masonry Brush (we bought 3 of these in order to have multiple hands helping out with the task...like Tom Sawyer ;)
  • Smaller exterior brushes to get in between bricks
  • Bucket for mixing
  • I used a masonry mixing bit on my drill to make the mixing go by quicker
  • Water + water hose
  • Rags
  • Ladder as needed

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Step 1: Pressure Wash

First step is cleaning the brick. I couldn't find anyone who still owned a pressure washer, but Home Depot Tool Rental had one that was sufficient for what I needed. I completed the whole task within 24 hours and was able to get the rate for their 1-day rental.

I will say...be prepared to get soaked and covered in dirt/debris!

Step 2: Preparing the Mix

When preparing the consistency, all you will have to do is scoop out some of the lime and place it in another bucket. There will be instructions for how much to add, but it will also depend on the look you want. If you are wanting a thicker white, then less water will be needed; on the flip side, a thinner white that shows the faded brick behind will require more water. We settled for a little more white coverage since we were planning to remove it in an antiquing way after placement.

We used ~3/4 part lime mixture to 1 part water then used the mixing bit to combine everything thoroughly. Whichever amount you choose to go with, make sure the consistency and measurements remain the same throughout your lime washing process in order to decrease the risk of splotchy areas.

Diluting the mixture will create that thinner application and would be between 3/4 to 1 full part water-to-mixture ratio. If you want the mixture thicker, go for 1/2 to 3/4 part water-to-mixture ratio Remember, you can always add more water or mixture if you don't like the look!

Step 3: Time to Lime Wash!

Choose a segment of the house that is not highly visible in order to test your mixture.

  1. Spray the section of the brick with a light coating of water, definitely not dripping wet.
  2. Dip your lime washing brush about 1 inch down into the lime wash mixture
  3. Apply to the brick! You'll find the strokes and motions that work best for you, but make sure to get thoroughly into the mortar cracks. Also, don't forget the undersides of the bricks as well. Getting into the cracks is the most tedious part of the whole process and it is where we utilized those smaller brushes.
  4. If you are wanting to give the finish the antique look:
    1. Let each segment of lime wash dry for only 5-10 minutes before spraying with your hose
    2. Start from the top and work your way to the bottom
    3. Spray with the high setting in order to begin fading some of the lime wash that was already washed on
    4. Spray the areas where there would be normal wear anyways (i.e. corners of the house, near gutters, over walkways, around windows, etc.)
    5. You can also use the rag to rub off some of the wash for a different effect as well
  5. REMEMBER to spray the brick before lime washing--if you don't it will be Very difficult to spray the wash off
  6. Use a ladder to reach those higher portions; however, always use safe technique with a ladder!

Step 4: Enjoy Your Creation!

Depending on the size of your house, this whole process could take a couple weeks. We had several friends help us during those 2 weeks, so the task wasn't as tedious as it could have been (full on Tom Sawyer style). We even got creative and turned my truck lights on for a couple evenings in order to get it done within those two weeks.

When all is said and done, take a step back and check out that beautiful house! You saved Thousands of Dollars and get the pride of a job well done on your house!

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    5 Discussions

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    ElizabethLeona

    Question 6 weeks ago

    Hi:
    Quite interesting and attractive idea. My house is part brick and part vinyl siding, can I use the same on the siding? Will appreciate your input.

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

    2 answers
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    LumberBearElizabethLeona

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for the compliment! This method would definitely work on your brick, but I don't think it would be good for the vinyl. However, you can bring a sample of the color to your local paint supplier; most will be able to match it with the type of paint suitable for vinyl paint :)