Limewash, a surface that conveys old-world charm and the romance of days gone by are everywhere these days. Find out what it is and if it’s right for your home.
30 September 2023
Top image: Design by Plush Interior Design
Text by Lookbox Living
In a world where modern synthetic paints dominate the market, the timeless appeal of traditional finishes like limewash paint are making a remarkable comeback, which is hardly surprising given that rustic interiors and ‘time worn’ aesthetics are trending at the moment.
Limewash is a paint composed primarily of slaked lime and water, and its use dates back thousands of years to ancient civilisations such as Greece and Rome. It was initially used as a protective coating to buildings, providing a breathable barrier that helped prevent damage from moisture and decay. In was also used to control insect infestations and odours. In fact, the organic compounds in limewash paint have antibacterial properties that many today will likely appreciate.
One key characteristic of limewash is that it offers a finish that is distinct from the gloss and sheen of modern paints. Its matte, chalky appearance, as well as uneven texture and nuanced colour variations create an old-world, rustic feel that makes it ideal for achieving those shabby chic and wabi-sabi interiors that have garnered renewed interest in recent years.
Despite its vintage appearance, limewash paint is remarkably durable. It exhibits excellent resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, making it a long-lasting choice for surfaces exposed to sunlight. Properly applied limewash can maintain its colour and charm for many years.
Limewash is an eco-conscious choice as its made from natural materials, primarily slaked lime, which is abundant and renewable. Moreover, limewash does not release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment, ensuring indoor air quality.
As already mentioned, one of the remarkable features of limewash is its ability to allow surfaces to “breathe.” What this means is that it permits the passage of moisture vapor, preventing moisture buildup behind the paint. This breathability can help deter issues such as mould and mildew growth and structural damage caused by trapped moisture.
While limewash is often associated with earthy tones, it can be customised by adding pigments to achieve a wide range of colours. This flexibility allows homeowners to personalise their spaces while still enjoying the benefits of limewash.
It is important to note that applying limewash requires skill and experience. Achieving the desired texture and appearance can be challenging for inexperienced painters and it may not be suited as a DIY project. It often involves multiple coats and a specific application technique. What this means, too, is that limewashing is more expensive than a regular paint job as it is more labour-intensive.
Note that limewash is best suited for porous surfaces like plaster, brick, and stone. It may not adhere well to non-porous materials like glass or metal without proper preparation.
To ensure the longevity and continued beauty of these surfaces, proper maintenance is essential. Limewash surfaces can be gently cleaned with a soft brush or a damp cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pressure washing, as they can damage the finish.
The resurgence of limewash paint in modern interior design is doubtlessly a testament to its enduring appeal and eco-friendliness. While it requires skillful application, its unique aesthetics, breathability, and durability make it a compelling choice for those seeking a timeless and environmentally conscious paint option.
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