What is limewash paint: Four places to use it in your home

Walter S. Timmons

When it comes to paint, designers have a new darling: limewash paint. The textured paint is coming into the spotlight thanks to ingenious uses and new vivid colours. One look at the teal cream puff of a bedroom designed by Justina Blakeney can tell you that this is no ordinary paint. Whether you play up the texture or opt for a minimalist approach, the effect is striking. But what is limewash paint exactly?

For starters, limewash paint is known for its chalky, nuanced texture that creates a romantic old-world feel. It’s made from crushed limestone that’s fired at very high temperatures, mixed with water, and coloured with natural pigments. Though trendy, it’s not new. “Lime paint has a deeply rooted history as one of the first-ever house paints emerging from the Roman and Mediterranean regions,” says Justine Sirot, a spokesperson for the France-based paint and wallpaper company Ressource, which recently opened a flagship showroom in the D & D showroom in New York City.

Mind Manifestation Design’s Pune studio was designed to complement its green surroundings.

Hemant Patil

There are also other natural benefits to limewash paint: It’s breathable, nontoxic, and eco-friendly, and the high pH level means that it’s bacteria- and mould-resistant. Also, because limewash paint contains no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), its application is practically odourless.

Limewash is different from other lime-based paints, such as Venetian plaster, which is much thicker and tends to have a more polished and formal finish.

Since the texture of limewash paint is created by brush strokes, technique is very important. For interior spaces, East Hamptons, New York–based designer Dan Scotti recommends preparing the surfaces with an acrylic-based primer and using a coarse long-haired brush with natural bristles that’s at least six inches wide. There are three types of strokes: horizontal, vertical, and a cloudlike pattern. “My preference is to use vertical strokes because the ‘direction’ of the limewashed walls will then be consistent both with the shape of the vertical doors and windows,” he says. “If you prefer a cloudlike pattern, the best approach is to create three or four clouds on separate portions of the wall, and then gradually merge them.” Whichever pattern you choose, start by applying and stretching the paint with large, heavy strokes and then create the pattern with lighter strokes.

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