14 Questions Answered About Limewash to Make You a Believer

14 questions answered about limewash to make you a believer…Limewash is always a beautiful choice if you’re looking to update your brick. How’s it made and applied? Is it truly removable? What type of material is the best? Why is limewash considered low maintenance? And how is limewash different from paint?  Many of our clients have painted their homes to create a fresh update, but a good limewash can be a head turner. 

Homeowners love the look and feel of brick.  Brick is made to last, durable, and low maintenance. That said, limewash is a great way to update your home’s exterior. Limewash has been around for years, but is now becoming more and more popular and rightfully so.  It’s an accessible way to add interest to your house, and it doesn’t damage the brick or masonry surface. What’s not to love?


What the Experts Have to Say: Lance Limanti, founder of Classic Finishes based in Louisville, Kentucky 

Limewashing brick homes has become a great passion for us at Classic Finishes.  In our experience, each home limewashes a bit differently, so the creative process is both challenging and rewarding. But once we find the sweet spot, finishing a project is incredibly gratifying.  To see a transformation we’ve made with this aged old finish, never gets old! 

Who is Classic Finishes?

Classic Finishes is a firm based in Louisville, Kentucky that travels the region and beyond with their artisan finishes. Because of this, they gladly consult with clients across states and have created a streamlined process to bid on out of town projects quite easily. Classic Finishes has become a brick&batten favorite because they are professional, knowledgeable, and bottom line, the houses are gorgeous! Check out their Instagram page to see their caliber of work. 


14 Questions Answered About Limewash To Make You a Believer

No. 1//  Why limewash?

Authentic limewash contains mainly lime, which is easily accessible in many regions of the world. Therefore, its a sustainable resource commonly used now and dates back to as far as the Greco- Roman period, being used in ancient architecture to protect brick, adobe, and terra cotta. 


No. 2//  How is limewash made?

Romabio has perfected the look with their Classico Limewash. It is made in Northern Italy from Dolomite lime.  It is slacked, aged for one year, and specially formulated to create a stable mixture for your home’s surface, that may be applied to porous masonry.  That means it’s safe for your brick, allowing it to breathe and safe for the environment .


No. 3//  What colors should I use for limewash?

Traditionally limewash comes in browns, grays and whites; however, Romabio offers seven stock colors, but also creates color matches upon request. Their independent suppliers do the same. So many factors go into the color selection. Because limewash is nearly 10x darker when it is wet, it’s important to test the color and let it completely dry.  The color also changes depending on the number of coats applied and porosity of the surface being painted. That said, Romabio’s Classico Limewash is a one coat finish that looks breathtaking! 

Romabio 7 stock colors

No. 4//  Does the color change if I add more water to the limewash mixture?

No, the color of the limewash won’t change by adding more water to your mixture.  The consistency will change, but the color pigments don’t dissolve in the water. That said, when the mixture is applied the color of the paint remains the same, and the water evaporates. 


No. 5//  Is limewash truly reversible if you change your mind?

Kind of!  One beauty of limewash is it’s removable, within a few days, if you change your mind. Every time limewash is applied it’s going to look differently depending on who is applying and how it is washed off to create the antique effect.  Romabio Classico Limewash can be removed with the use of a pressure washer within a few days of application.  This means, if you change your mind or want to test a different color, it’s possible to do!  

Photo: Classic Finishes

No. 6//  How long does limewash last?

Limewash calcifies to the brick, and the product will patina or age over time. Areas like chimneys and exposed walls will wear down more quickly, but areas under cover, such as soffits etc. remain as you painted them for many years. 

“If you are open to limewash aging, then it’s a finish for decades. On top of this, we can apply Romabio mineral hardener to exposed areas to extend the life,” states Lance from Classic Finishes.


No. 7//  What if it rains?

Rain is not a problem.  After applying the mixture to your home’s surface, allow it to dry for 3-4 hours.  During this time, your limewash is hardening to cover the surface. Of course if you’re in a more humid environment this may take a bit longer. 


No. 8//  Why is it considered low maintenance? 

When paint gets worn by  environmental elements it clearly needs a new paint job. When a limewash is originally distressed, any further aging by the elements adds to its overall look. Some of the most beautiful homes are those that show the greatest age. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

As Lance says, “The best limewash is one that’s consistently inconsistent. We seek to do this with every application, and then let the elements add their touch over time.” 


No. 9//  Should I hire a contractor?

A good contractor/ company, that’s familiar with how to apply limewash, is the difference between a potential disaster or loving your house when the process is over.  Whomever you choose to hire should have their own portfolio of work that stands for itself. It’s not as simple as painting, so it’s really important to find someone that is experienced with using limewash. Although the trend is growing, we have found very few applicators with a compelling portfolio. This application is for those with experience. They need to be familiar with the product and have an artistic mind.

“In my experience, every house limewashes a bit differently. We have a standard process, but are constantly adjusting it to create a compelling aged finish on each project.  There are multiple variables when approaching one of these finishes. Anyone can ‘technically’ limewash, but creating an authentic aged brick aesthetic is an art-form very few have mastered,” replied Lance.

No. 10//  Is exterior limewash a DIY project? 

No, but a fireplace or interior wall can be. In my experience, it is NOT a DIY project.  However, there are plenty of sites that offer guidance and personal experiences if you’re choosing to do the project yourself.  I’ve seen some handy DIYers limewash interior brick surfaces with a spray bottle and masonry brush. This seems like a great way to get your feet wet if you’re wanting to try this project yourself. 


No. 11//  How many coats of limewash do I need?                                                                          

You can apply a one coat finish for a more antique distressed look; however, you can also apply two coats for a heavier, opaque, solid finish.  It’s truly customizable depending on the look you’re going for.

No. 12//  Will it cover my ugly brick color?                                                                                          

Yes. Another great thing about limewash is the coverage is truly customizable. If you want to create a distressed look, that’s possible when hosing off the finish, as more brick color will show through.  If you’re not crazy about your brick color, then opt for a more opaque finish to cover more thoroughly. In my opinion, if you’re going with the antiqued look, it’s nice if your brick has a variety of colors… such as red, orange, gray, and black.  That creates a stunning backdrop for a lighter covering.


No. 13//  Are there other things I need to know?                                                           

Limewash is very durable, has a high UV resistance, won’t chip or peel if applied correctly, and is safe to use on porous brick and other masonry surfaces.  Also, because of its high PH quality, limewash is a natural fungicide that will deter critters. 


No. 14//  How is limewash different from paint?                                                                                         

Unlike paint, limewash soaks into the surface applied; therefore it won’t chip or peel. It takes on the properties of the brick itself. This makes it excellent for masonry surfaces like stone, brick, and concrete.  Paint, on the other hand, sits on top of the surface applied. 

We always recommend sampling and testing paint colors before committing. Factors such as natural lighting, undertones, and your property’s fixed elements will have a significant impact on how a color will appear on your exterior. Our friends at Samplize offer extra-large 9 x 14.75 inch peel-and-stick paint samples of the colors we love for exteriors. Order your ‘Real Paint, No Mess’ samples from Samplize here.
Example of a home with a before image and rendered both with a limewash and paint


Overall, we believe limewash is a beautiful choice if you’re looking to paint your brick or other masonry surface.  Homeowners are frequently asking our brick&batten designers the benefits of limewash and how it compares to paint.  This led to the research above and truly solidifies why it’s another option if you’re painting.  With a brick&batten virtual exterior design, Romabio Limewash and  Classic Finishes for the expert applicator, prepare yourself for a gorgeous home exterior that will stand the test of time! Let’s get started on making your curb appeal dreams a reality today.