Whitewash Techniques for Walls

whitewash on a wood floor

Whitewash for walls can be lime or paint-based, and can be applied to brick, concrete, and other wall surfaces. You can change the pigment of your whitewash for a custom look. Each change in the mixture should be tested, however, before you apply it to an entire wall. Pigments change when they become completely dry so be sure you are happy with the test sample or you may have undesirable final results. Here are some techniques to get you started with your whitewash project.

1. Experiment with the Whitewash Recipe

a bucket of paint supplies

It is a good idea to experiment with different types of washes and pigments. Different ways that you apply them can create subtle detail that can make a big difference in your project. When you are choosing pigment, be sure to let the wash completely dry so that you can see the true color. 48 to 72 hours is generally sufficient drying time for most washes and textures.

2. Paint Brush or Sponge?

Experiment with other ways to apply the wash. This can be with sponges, stiff bristle brushes, and softer bristles. Old rags can be used as well. Each time you use a different application method, you will notice different results. Try them all and pick a wash finish that will compliment your project. A sponge application generally appears blotchy and less smooth than a paint brush application. Paint rollers are also an option. However, you will find that the lime solution will react differently when rolled on versus painted on. Check first to see if you like the results. The preferable technique is paint brush application.

3. Preparation

Wiping a wall with a sponge

Cleaning the walls first will help to ensure an even finish. You might need to use more than one type of cleaner if you have grease as well as dirt. It is very important to clean well or you will have blotchy areas where there is dirt. If cleaning concrete walls, use a wire cleaning brush for really tough areas but do not chip away the concrete.

4. Application

Thoroughly apply whitewash with a paint brush. The whitewash will apply better to a moist surface, so wet the walls first and allow it to dry partially before you start. You will find that more than one application is usually needed. Apply thin even strokes until you have covered the wall evenly. By the time that you begin the third coat the brush strokes should no longer be visible. One tip to remember is that each coat needs to dry thoroughly before you start the next one. Drying time will vary based on how humid your area is.

5. Protect Your Skin

Lime can eat away at your skin, so it is a good idea to wear gloves and protect your hands. If you are prone to splashing and spilling, wear eye protection as well. Using drop cloths and taping an area to avoid spills and drips is highly recommended.

Whitewashing your walls is a great way to bring character to your home. Once you start the project you might even decide to paint another area and liven up your entire home. Remember that preparation is the most important step so take the time to plan out the best base and technique to achieve your desired results.