White Limewashed Brick Homes

Limewashed Exterior

I recently consulted with a client who is limewashing her house. They are doing an extensive redesign to their exterior and she was excited about taking her home from orange brick to white-washed loveliness.

She said they will test a large area on the side of her house to make sure she's happy with the effect before they do this to the entire house.

Limewashed Brick Exterior

Her house is currently orange brick which this house clearly was prior to being limewashed so it's a good example of what the end result will be.

Limewashed Brick Exterior

Limewashed Exterior

(Click on images for the link to the source)

We don't have brick homes in the Westcoast so this is not something we do here, so I thought I'd ask you, my lovelies:

Do have have a limewashed house? Do you love it?

How did you achieve the look?

What product did you use?

How did you choose the white/cream?

Please post a comment below. I would really appreciate it!

I'm flying to Toronto tomorrow to lead my Specify Colour with Confidence Training this week, I'm excited!

Related posts:

10 Best Front Door Colours for your House

Clean Always Trumps Dirty

Exterior in Grays: Before & After

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48 Responses to White Limewashed Brick Homes

  1. Mary Worhatch says:

    Can this process be done on an interior fireplace as well?

  2. Ilona says:

    This is SO timely! I've been hearing and reading about whitewashing and think this might be the perfect solution to getting rid of our ugly salmon coloured brick. We're in southern Ontario. Anyone got any advise? Thanks so much!

  3. Wow – this is such a wonderful solution to all that bad brick out there. Love the old world charm it gives the house. Can't wait to hear what people say about the results if they had it done.

  4. KNJ says:

    Painting brick isn't adviseale if you live in a zone with weather extremes (hot summers & cold winters with snow & rain). Having lived in many parts of the USA, I can only say it held up and looked the best in southern states. Anything north of Richmond, VA would most likely become a constant maintenance issue. Love the look on the brick . . . Wish we could do it without all the upkeep. Beautiful examples on the photos.

  5. Amy says:

    LOVE IT!!!! I would do this to my house tomorrow if I could. I don't think the HOA would allow it. We have a suburban colonial transitional in the Charlotte, NC area with house after house mostly the same: front is red brick with the rest white siding (luckily it is a nice red with a lot of black…no orange or strange tones). I'd pick white or cream (what about gray?)depending on my fixed elements (brick base/roof/driveway/windows… who taught me that? WOWZA…I'm going to look into this anyways. I'm an avid gardener who loves whimsy so this would really work!!

  6. Karen Parham says:

    I don't know if selecting the base color for lime washing works the same as selecting the color when painting, but recently some neighbors of mine painted their brick BM Revere Pewter. You'd never guess it in a million years. It looks like a beautiful cream on their house, not gray. I love and use Revere Pewter a lot in my interior projects and it has never looked like this house does when used on the exterior. The house does get full sun most of the day. I'm interested to see what others have to say. Great post Maria.

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Karen, Yes that's right, grayed whites (ie light green grays) is exactly how you achieve a creamy (not too white) look. Maria

  7. Kay says:

    Our modest vinyl sided raised ranch has a full flight of red brick steps leading to the front door. The brick relates to nothing else in or around the house and looked pretty awful. A few years ago we had the tops of the steps covered with limestone, put in new railings, and had the brick risers and sides whitewashed, and the front of the house was transformed. All our trim is white, so we just used standard white, as it comes. No one around here knew anything about whitewashing brick, but our stone guy found some painters who were willing to try. They used a product that is based on old-fashioned whitewash (lime and salt) but that they didn't have to mix themselves. It wears like whitewash, so if you don't like runnels of red (or orange) where rain gradually washes the white away, you need to retouch periodically. We've just left it, and it still looks great. It's possible to add portland cement to the mix for a finish that will not wear away, and if I were having a huge beautiful house done, I'd want to go that route.

    One important thing is to make sure whoever applies the whitewash is not impatient! To make it look really good, they need to stipple it on rather than brushing, and they should vary the heaviness with which they apply it. Even though I showed the men who did our steps pictures online of what it should look like, the sample they did on one side was solid white, which of course was not what I wanted. Fortunately they did it where the landscaping more or less conceals it, but I sure wouldn't want a big solid white testing spot on my house!

    In my opinion, whitewashing is the absolute best possible thing you can do to make brick look pretty. So much better than painting it.

  8. Sandy says:

    No brick house here. But the last three photos clearly show an artist at work. They understood aging and natural effects, even on the fence. Refrained from a solid wash. I love the look.

    Had the first house been washed the same it would have brought out more character. Actually like the style of the first house best. Maybe it will age on it's own. Not liking the solid wash effect.

    So, without knowing how this is done, I would recommend your client consider how the second house was done, instead of a solid wash.

  9. Victoria says:

    I love the look especially the first home but is there
    a difference in limewashing and whitewashing?
    Painting brick is very popular here in the southern
    U.S. particularly on home of the 1950's ~ 1980's.

    • Donna W. says:

      Here in the south we all it lime washing. A heavier look can be achieved using brick mortar and a burlap bag.

      • Debbie says:

        Donna,
        Do you know what the mixture is?. I have research it and can NOT find ivory hydrated lime, but have found ivory finish lime. I was thinking the finish lime can be used b/c I found it a a supply store that does stucco work. I would appreciate any advice you have. People where I live aren't familiar with this process.
        Thanks,
        Debbie

  10. mrsben says:

    I feel in the correct setting it would look marvelous, however in a climate with four distinct seasons to those who are unaware of the technique, it could be possibly be mistaken for a botched paint job.

    Also; I do stand to be corrected but have heard it is important to have the formula mixed as a single batch for colour continuity plus it should be redone on the average of every five years. Whether these two points are fact or fiction I don't know. -Brenda-

  11. I think limewashing or whitewashing look good on houses with red brick, but isn't as great of an idea on orange brick because the orangeness is still going to be there (since you don't completely cover the brick). With orange brick, I'd suggest just a thorough coverage of white or off-white paint instead. Another thing people do occasionally here in the South is sandblasting the brick surface to give it a similar look to whitewashing. Since we still have some brick homes from the 1800s in this area, this patinaed look is not out of place here. The main issue with this method is the possible damaging the brick mortar.

    • Jill Hill says:

      Kristie,
      Our brick is kind of a beige brick…could I white wash ours? I think it might be pretty….and how do we white wash…it..just water down paint?

  12. Kay says:

    In response to MrsBen's comment, I live in the northeast, where winters are severe. Neither our steps nor the very few brick houses in the area that appear to be whitewashed have a botched-paint-job appearance. There is plenty of painted brick around, but it does not have the soft, mellow, beautiful look of whitewashed brick. Even orange brick would be immeasurably improved by whitewashing, with the orange softly fading into the background instead of shouting "look at me!"

    • mrsben says:

      @ Kay: I am sure your home looks marvelous!
      (FTR, I live in a snow belt region and our winters are pretty severe as well. ☺)

  13. Karen says:

    I looked into this a few years ago, it wasn't recomended. I don't remember the details but something about brick being porous and needs to breath. The freeze/thaw in cold climates is the problem. There are new products developed all the time and hopefully there is a product now that can create this wonderful look.

    • Amy says:

      You are right! We lived in a house in Western Massachusetts and had to have the exterior chimney stripped of the white paint that the previous owners had painted it (the rest of the house was clapboard…quite charming I must say). Luckily we did not have any real damage to the home, but the paint would not allow the brick to "breathe". We knew people who had a lot of damage to their homes due to improperly painted chimneys. The moisture will actually weep out the inside of the chimney causing water damage to the interior of the home.

      • Debbiecz says:

        Hi, I grew up in western Mass too, right down the street from a white washed brick house from the Emily Dickinson age. Still looks good…check the So. Amherst common for brick homes.

  14. Farha Syed says:

    I'm not quite sure if my HOA would
    allow it – there is a variety of bricks
    In our neighborhood. Some are
    faded orange, some are really dark
    Red. My next door neighbors' house
    has dark bricks and they have
    Heathered brown roof – they have
    painted the siding a mocha brown
    Which some how ties better than
    White siding. Shutters and door
    Also creamy brown. my house on
    The other hand has that faded
    Orange look – with black roof. originally
    the shutters and door were blue
    Slate, which didnt look as good so
    got them painted black. A huge
    improvement. now i'm tired of
    The brick but my husband likes brick.
    i guess i could get the brick painted
    a fresh coat of the darker shade of terra
    Cotta – if i cant get it white-washed.
    Siding is white. I like the idea
    Of white-washing it. I would do it in
    A snap.
    What is your opinion Maria- painting
    Brick a darker should be ok do you think
    Since it would be a issue with the HOA
    If i were to get it white-washed.
    Would be waiting to read what you think.

    Thanx

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hmm. . . I think painting brick a colour should probably only be done on a case by case basis. Just like painting an interior brick fireplace the only ones I like are usually in cream or white.
      Maria

  15. Andrea May says:

    Hi Maria. I think this is one of those things that looks right in context–and out of context, it can look contrived. I've seen it done a few times on the west coast and, to me, it always looks like it's trying too hard.

  16. Sherrie says:

    You don't want to be next to a brick house in an earthquake – a ton of of bricks to fall and hit you on your head! That is one reason you dont see them as often in the west – but the white-wash is lovely!

  17. Franki says:

    Lime washing (white washing, etc.) is really a great "way to go" when adding a brick addition. It is lovely "in the right context" being key. Your images are beautiful! franki

  18. Wendy says:

    In my experience, men refuse to paint brick, stone and wood trim…it hurts their SOUL, for some reason. Maddening to the max. It's something about challenging their masculinity/authenticity?? I recommend the drip-drip-drip method, like Water Torture, to convince a change of mindset. The whitewashed brick photos MIGHT convince a reluctant spouse/client that this is "halfway" and both can be happy.

  19. mairi says:

    I adore the photos you've chosen Maria! The look reminds me so much of rural France. You've given me an idea to improve my brick walkway which is of reclaimed brick. I think I'll experiment with slightly watered down chalk paint and see how well that lasts. It has been tough as nails on my furniture..

  20. SandyCGC says:

    In my last Houston, Texas years, before I came to Phoenix, I lived in the River Oaks area and surrounding area near Rice University, both of which were full of beautiful old oak trees. There were also beautiful old large and even mansion-sized 2-story brick homes all over the place, many of which were nicely painted but also many which had the white-washed look. In fact, because the area was historically old, the dark brick of today's new homes looked totally out of place. (Please note I didn't live in one of them, sadly; rather just a couple of great old apartments originally built for Rice University students. I walked the neighborhood regularly with a variety of routes and different visual treats every time. The white-washed homes always were the most charming and inviting to me.

  21. Sandy Huntsberger says:

    How timely is this post? I have a client I am working with now. We're considering limewashing an interior, red, brick fireplace and if we like it enough, we'll do the exterior. After much research, everything keeps taking me back to this Roma Co. in Atlanta, GA. I am considering their Biocalce Classico Lime wash that can be tinted any BM OC color of your choosing. I Just got off the phone with them and do believe we'll be ordering their product. They were exceptionally helpful and informative. They also have a product, Potassium Silicate which is more of a brick paint if you don't want the chalky patina of the lime wash for an interior surface that you will be sitting on, (which this fireplace has). And, please know that I am not in any way affiliated with this Co. Just found them after doing considerable research.

    • Timely, indeed! I am so happy to see that someone who does extensive research has found a superior product. I do interiors and art and my husband is not 'thrilled' about painting our home which is a brick colonial in coastal North Carolina…but this could sway him. Thank you so much Sandy for sharing this info…I am on it! :)

  22. Kay says:

    Whitewash (or lime wash) on brick breathes. Ordinary paint does not. (I did a lot of research on this.) Chalk paint may be different.

  23. Tawna Allred says:

    I love these photos. Yes, I could see how it would need to be in context, but oh, those pictures are lovely. What a great solution to all the awful brick colors out there (pink and orange)!

  24. Kathy says:

    We bought a home last fall and the first thing we did was white-wash our family room interior fireplace. The traditional orangey-red brick is gone, and we love the texture that shows through. Haven't thought of this on the exterior, but looks nice in the photos….

  25. Cyndia says:

    I love this look! I also live in the Deep South (Alabama) and this is a fairly common look here, as is full-on painted brick. We have a home that was bricked using recycled bricks. They were ok but I wanted a bigger impact. It took me 13 years to convince my husband to let me paint it. It's now a lovely green and he loves it as much as I do!

  26. Amanda says:

    Maria, we are psychically linked when it comes to design! This week, I was imagining building a house that looks just like this:

    http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/decorating/create-a-modern-georgian-home-00417000081667/

    I am all about the limewashed look. Timeless, gorgeous and so European! Two questions, though:
    1) once you limewash brick, does it require maintenance in the future? Do you have to redo it over time to keep the look?
    2) If one were to build a home to look like this, can you find bricks that have a similar looking patina that will create the same effect?
    3) How expensive is this process?

    Here's an article I found on it:
    http://www.traditionalplaster.com/?view=765&sub=824

  27. Jennifer Smith says:

    I live i Louisville, KY and there are several homes in my neighborhood limewashed. I love the look. Also, we have more painted brick than limewashed. I prefer limelashed.

  28. Whitewashing was the best thing we did to our Cape Cod. We had great lines but the brick itself was ugly. By carefully selecting a great undertone to our whitewash (thanks for empowering me, Maria), we have a finish that will wear for decades because as the brick continues to show through, it looks good against the whitewash.

    I'm glad you featured this under-used treatment. Our area is full of ugly-colored bricks and now I have something to share in our neighborhood listserve.

    BTW, it's been fun watching your blog grow up over the years. Your dedication has resulted in a top-drawer product. ECR

  29. Jeanine says:

    About 20 years ago this technique was very popular in Amarillo, Tx. I loved the look and watched as many houses were painted this way. I still love this look and am not crazy about the color of the brick on our home but as someone already mentioned, my husband will not even discuss putting a paintbrush to brick. I am also wondering about an interior fireplace as the same color brick was used there. It would be a great improvement.

  30. Dee says:

    I limewashed our large cape cod taking it from red brick/black shutters to a soft white wash with cream shutters. It was a massively successful makeover and much, much better for the house and its inhabitants than painted brick which doesn't breathe. Lime wash is 100% natural, inexpensive to make, and ages so gracefully.

    • mary says:

      Dee, how do you make the limewash yourself? Is there an online recipe I can find? I'm remodeling and adding on to a brick rancher and cannot find brick to match the existing ones from 1974. Anyone, I would so appreciate any more info on limewashing!
      Thanks!
      Love your blog, Maria, I have learned so much from you.

  31. jlsr says:

    I whitewashed my pinkish red brick house and I LOVE it!
    We are in the south so don't have to worry about freezing. And the whitewash isn't solid, It is almost transparent in some areas. My goal was to make the house look 'aged', like it had been there for 100 years… I am just thrilled with it. It took a long time to do as I did it myself on the weekends.

  32. amy says:

    I would love tips on how make a lime wash and apply it. I live on the west coast and can't find a single trades person (painter or mason) who knows anything about this technique. I love the look but may have to do it myself since I can't find anyone willing to do it in my area.

  33. Rebecca R. Dyer says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52AT130z5xo

    PREPARED BY: ncptt.nps.gov
    Natl Center for Preservation Technology and Training

    Color is not covered, just how to make and apply lime wash

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