How To Whitewash Brick Using Paint or Limestone
If you are looking to know how to whitewash brick, chances are you wish to lighten and brighten the existing red or brown brick colors to modernize your home. Here we will share professional tips and techniques to ensure your desired results.
As the architecture and style of homes change, so do desired textures and colors. What was once considered eloquent and warm may not be perceived that way today and is undoubtedly applicable to red brick.
If you are on the fence or considering something different, it doesn’t mean you have to remove the brick altogether – of course, that’s why you are here! However, most homeowners are leery of the process and doubt their ability to whitewash brick on their own.
Painting brick is more straightforward but has its challenges as well. Furthermore, painting brick with solid paint delivers an immediate and beautiful transformation. If you consider painting the exterior brick on your home, here’s a guide, as we will continue on the topic of how to whitewash.
On the other hand, whitewashing includes applying thinner, less viscous paint. There is also a process that consists of using water and limestone. Let’s dive in and compare each process!
How To Whitewash Brick With Thinned Paint
Whitewashing with thinned latex paint is the most common whitewashing technique. Here is how simple it is!
When you utilize this technique, the only materials you need to create the base solution for whitewashing are exterior grade latex paint (recommended), water, and a mixing bucket. Whitewashing with thinned paint is much more obtainable for DYI projects.
Paint materials are also more accessible than their limestone counterpart. But keep in mind that although you will thin the paint, we still recommend using high-grade satin exterior paint. Quality exterior paint will contain zinc oxide and other additives that resist mold and mildew growth.
Steps: How to Thin the Paint
- Take a 5-gallon bucket and add one gallon of water.
- Then slowly add one single gallon of paint while fiercely stirring the water. (In some cases, most will find that two people are required.)
- Start with a 50/50 paint to water ratio. Increasing the water ratio will allow the brick to show through. Adding paint will be less translucent.
Tip 1: We don’t recommend mixing more than three gallons at a time. The goal is to keep the mixture as consistent as possible. So, we don’t want too many paint solids in one bucket.
Tip 2: Another trick is to mix as needed. Letting the mixture sit for too long will allow the solids to settle, causing an inconsistent coating.
Note: Remember that the thinner the mixture, the harder it is to manage and apply.
How To Whitewash Brick With Limewash
Making a hydraulic lime-based whitewash is an eco-friendly alternative to paint. Limewash is a whitewash that contains a mixture of lime, slate, water, and sometimes other materials. Additionally, color pigments will be added to obtain your color of choice.
The process of whitewashing with limestone dates back a long time. Some even may see this process specific to professional house painters since the mixing process is not as straightforward as merely thinning paint. Here is how it works!
The mixture’s reaction to the carbon in the air is referred to as ” carbonation.” Calcium Oxide dries to a hard rock-like form and is best applied to hard porous surfaces such as brick, stucco, plaster, and concrete.
Lime is made from heated limestone. The heat removes all moisture and carbon dioxide, leaving a power known as calcium oxide.
We think it’s kind of cool that limewash essentially comes directly from the earth. Here is how you mix it!
Raw Materials Needed:
- White Natural Hydraulic Lime (HLH 3.5)
- Alum Salt
- Color Pigments
Here are the steps to mixing limewash.
How Do I Mix Limewash?
- Grab a 5-gallon bucket.
- Add two liters of water.
- Add one liter of lime to every two liters of water. (This is recommended for 90% coverage. Add slightly more water to increase translucence.)
- Add pigment until you achieve the desired color. (Keep a record of the measurements to repeat the process as needed.)
- Add Alum salt to the mixture.
- For each kilogram of lime, add 100 grams of salt.
Application Note: You must thoroughly saturate the surface 24 hrs before applying limestone. If the surface is not saturated with water before, the lime will not take and will result in the limestone turning into a white power once it dries.
Dried Coating Note: After the solution dries, it loses up to 50% of its color.
Washing Brick Surfaces
When applying whitewash or paint to any interior or exterior surface, it’s essential to make sure the surface is thoroughly clean and free of all mold, mildew, and foreign materials.
Apply a bleach, water, and sodium hypochlorite mixture to an exterior brick surface through a power washer. New brick will require boric or phosphoric acid to clean the surface properly. We recommend contacting your local professional pressure washing company when acid is needed.
Interior surface cleaning is much less labor-intensive and is done using soap, water, eco-friendly mildew cleaner, and a brush.
Tips for Using Each Cleaner
Great For All Applications
Dawn Dish Soap
Dish soap helps to concentrate the mildew-resistant solution. Soap will also help keep the mixture on the wall when washing exterior brick homes.
Mix soap into a bucket of warm water for interior surface cleaning. The best soap recommended for either indoor or outdoor applications is Dawn.
Great For New Brick!
If you use phosphoric acid outside, it is best run through a pressure washer, consequently becoming airborne. Hire someone for this process; otherwise, purchase gear to protect yourself.
Using phosphoric acid for interior usage, on the other hand, is as simple as mixing one tablespoon to one gallon of water in a bucket and applying it with gloves and a brush or sponge.
Great For Mold & Mildew!
Everyone knows that good old-fashioned bleach will kill mold, mildew, and moss growth. The issue is, mixing other raw materials with this solution can become reactive.
For this reason, most articles will leave this cleaner out. Refer to your local pressure washing company or seek other guidance on mixing compounds when using this solution.
Great Added Cleaning Strenght!
Today’s TSP is sold without phosphates to improve environmental impacts. This product works great for cleaning brick both indoors and outdoors.
TSP gives added cleaning power to your solution and is relatively inexpensive. Adding TSP powdered form cleaner will brighten brick in no time.
Interior cleaning materials include:
Tools & Application
If you are painting exterior brick we recommend using a paint sprayer and back rolling the material.
For interior brick, you can use a paintbrush and roller. For a unique design, you can use a rag or faux finish brush to create added flare.
How Long Does Whitewashing Last?
Whitewashing may look excellent and add natural curb appeal; however, most people often overlook this fact!
The advantage of brick is aesthetics and that it’s virtually maintenance-free. Whenever you add paint or whitewash of any make to the brick surface, you are fundamentally adding a coating that deems potential future maintenance.
Painting your brick with solid paint will last longer than whitewashing and provide better resistance to ground-level moisture, mold and mildew growth, and UV.
So, if you like the whitewashed look, it’s essential not to shortcut the process and either do it as thoroughly as possible or hire a professional house painter that will paint it for you!
Does Whitewashed Brick Require a Sealer?
Whitewashing with lime does not “require” a sealer. In fact, neither thinned paint nor limestone “require sealing,”; although paint can be sealed for the desired look.
As confusing as it may be, you can seal thinned paint with acrylic sealers for aesthetic purposes. But ultimately, when the process of whitewashing is done correctly, a sealer is not necessary.
Should You Whitewash Brick?
The benefit to whitewashing is that it looks impressive and costs less than actual whitewashed brick, but it does come at a long-term cost.
Typically, whitewashing doesn’t last as long as a premium paint coating.
Painting brick is one of our favs. Although whitewashing is an excellent and trendy way to create distinction, as professional painters that place durability alongside appearance, we cannot say that we recommend whitewashing on exterior brick substrates.
Whitewash painting for interior surfaces such as fireplaces and other interior spaces holds up just fine. Just remember to use high-temperature paint for areas that exceed 120 degrees.
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