Ask the Experts: Should I Paint My Walls with Limewash Paint?

  • Feb 28, 2023

You’ve seen those walls—the ones with that oh-so-natural and old-worldly textured finish that instantly turns your interiors into a modern desert dwelling or a romantic period home. Yep, we are talking about walls covered in limewash paint.

Design: Oblivion Lab

Recently revived, this classic paint from Europe has been gracing our inspiration and feeds a lot, so we thought we would ask an expert to find out what all the limewash fuss is about and to see if it works for the finicky Singapore weather.

Read on for insights and tips from Mr Muhammad Fauzi, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of The Colour Cure on this trending paint. 

What exactly is limewash paint?

Design: Insight.Out Studio

It’s a paint that originated in Europe and has been used for centuries as a low-cost alternative to traditional oil-based paints for decorating and protecting buildings. It’s made by mixing slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), water and pigments to create a thin, translucent coating that can be applied to various surfaces.

Why the sudden popularity, you think?

Aesthetics: Limewash paint provides a unique and natural look with its soft, chalky translucent colour and texture.

Sustainability: It’s made up of natural and environmentally friendly products, making it attractive to those looking for more sustainable building materials.

Durability: It’s also durable, even in humid and tropical climates such as Singapore. You’ll be surprised to know that it is bacteria resistant because of its breathability, meaning that moisture evaporates away quickly rather than being trapped behind the paint thus reducing the deterioration of the paintwork. 

What are some possible areas of application at home, and are there areas that are not recommended?

Limewash paint is typically applied on interior and exterior walls (including ceilings), but it can also be used on wood furniture.

Image: Headspace Studio

We wouldn’t recommend using it on flooring as it’s not as durable or slip-resistant as compared to other flooring materials.

Limewash paint is also not waterproof, so it isn’t recommended for use in wet zones like bathrooms and kitchens either. If you insist on using them in wet zones, make sure to protect the surfaces with a sealant or topcoat that is designed to be waterproof and moisture-resistant.

How should surfaces be prepped before applying limewash paint?

Design: BuildBuilt 

Cleaning: Clean the surface thoroughly to remove dirt, dust or debris that may interfere with the adhesion of paint. If the surface was exposed to oils and grease, make sure to degrease with a greaser or clean it with soap and water.

Repair: Any cracks, chips, peeling or holes must be repaired and filled in to ensure a smooth, even surface. These can impact the overall appearance and durability of the finish if not mended.

Sanding: The surface should be lightly sanded to create a slightly rough texture that will help the limewash paint adhere better.

Priming: If the surface is porous and you don’t want the paint to alter colour, you may want to prime it with a sealant or primer that prevents it from soaking into the surface.

Drying: Dry the surface completely before applying the paint.

Can limewash paint be applied to a previously-painted wall?

Design: Lemonfridge Studio

Yes, it can, but it’s recommended to sand down the surface first to remove any gloss or sheen from the previous paint so that the limewash can penetrate the surface more easily. This will also create a slightly rough texture for better adherence.

How many coats are necessary and how long will a professional application take?

It depends on several factors, including the colour and texture desired, the type of surface being painted and environmental conditions.

Two to three coats of limewash paint are typically recommended for most surfaces, with each coat being applied after the previous one has dried. The first coat is usually the thinnest and is used to help the paint penetrate the surface, while the second and third coats are used to build the level of colour and texture. If you prefer a more intense colour, additional coats may be necessary.

Design: Third Paragraph Interior

The drying time is usually between 6 to 24 hours between each coat, but that will ultimately depend on the temperature and humidity of the environment in which the paint is applied. There are instances where it can take up to several days for the paint to fully cure and harden, so do allow for the additional time between coats if necessary and before subjecting the surface to heavy use.

What are the caveats to take note of when choosing to use limewash paint?

Application: Limewash paint can be difficult to apply evenly, especially for those with limited experience. An uneven application can result in a patchy or blotchy appearance.

Surface prep: Proper surface preparation is essential for a successful limewash paint application. Not ensuring that can result in the paint not adhering.

Drying time: As mentioned earlier, it can take a long time to dry so patience is necessary!

Colour: The colour can change over time, especially when exposed to sunlight or moisture. The final colour will also depend on the type of surface it is being painted on, so if you can, test the colour on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall before applying it to the entire surface.

On average, how much does it cost?

Design: Oblivion Lab

It’s approximately S$10 per square foot of surface area. This will include any wall prep necessary and the base primer for the limewash paint.

What limewash paint brands do you carry under The Colour Cure?

We currently carry ones from Novacolor, which is based in Italy. It’s available in a range of colours, from natural and earthy tones to more vibrant and bold hues.

Could you share with us a few tips on maintaining limewash-painted walls?

Design: Insight.Out Studio

You can clean it regularly to maintain its appearance. Remove dirt and grime that may have accumulated. Gentle cleaning products such as mild soap and water are recommended.

Limewash paint needs to be re-applied over time if you are looking to maintain its appearance. This is especially the case if it’s exposed to sunlight or moisture.

If there are any scratches or chips, it should be touched up promptly to prevent further damage.

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