Limewash is a traditional paint whose use has been revived in recent years, due to its porous qualities which allow historic buildings to ‘breathe’. Conservationists have used it to consolidate stonework and as a sacrificial layer. It’s attractive appearance has also encouraged its wider appreciation. It does however require regular repainting.
It is used on wattle and daub, lime plaster, limestone and cob, as well as brickwork and timber, though its use on sandstone is regarded with caution, due to its potential geological incompatibility. Modern pure limewashes can be startling white and often require toning down by the use of additives or by using less pure forms of lime. Often it is coloured to match the existing stone, including the use of stone dust where appropriate. Traditionally tallow has been added to limewash to provide a durable surface on exteriors. Casein is now for internal limewashes to provide a more consolidated surface.
Whilst conservation professionals may prepare limewash from lime putty, it is now available ready mixed in tubs. Several coats will need for external use. Lime is a highly caustic material and quick lime is now rarely used for health and safety reasons, but even lime putty is caustic and harmful to eyes and skins, so all health and safety precautions should be taken, including protective gloves, clothes and eye protection and the advice of lime experts sought. The Building Limes Forum can provide further information, a number of professionals such as The Lime Centre provide training and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings publish a detailed leaflet and can provide technical advice.
This is a living document, in the sense that it will be updated and added to over time.
This is version 1.
All information on this website is for information purposes only. It does not constitute formal, legal or other professional advice and the Directory should not be relied upon as an alternative to formal advice.