How To Whitewash Brick Using Paint or Limestone

If you want to know how to whitewash brick, you may wish to lighten and brighten the existing red or brown brick colors to modernize your home. We will share professional tips and techniques to ensure your desired results here.

Brick Painting vs. Whitewash

As the architecture and style of homes change, so do desired textures and colors. What was once considered eloquent and warm may not be perceived that way today and undoubtedly applies to red brick. 

If you are on the fence or considering something different, it doesn’t mean you have to remove the brick altogether – of course, that’s why you are here! However, most homeowners are leery of the process and doubt their ability to whitewash brick independently. 


Painting brick is more straightforward but has its challenges as well. Furthermore, painting brick with solid paint delivers an immediate and beautiful transformation. If you are considering painting exterior brick, it is also a viable option.

On the other hand, whitewashing includes applying thinner, less viscous paint. There is also a process that consists of using water and limestone. Let’s dive in and compare each process!

How To Whitewash Brick With Thinned Paint

Whitewashing with thinned latex paint is the most common whitewashing technique. When you utilize this technique, the only materials you need to create the base solution for whitewashing are exterior-grade latex paint (recommended), water, and a mixing bucket. Whitewashing with thinned paint is much more obtainable for DIY projects. 

Paint materials are also more accessible than their limestone counterpart. But keep in mind that although you will thin the paint, we still recommend using high-grade satin exterior paint. The best exterior paint will contain zinc oxide and other additives that resist mold and mildew growth.

How to Thin Paint For Whitewashing

  1. Take a 5-gallon bucket and add one gallon of water. 
  2. Then, slowly add one gallon of paint while fiercely stirring the water. (In some cases, most will find that two people are required.)
  3. Start with a 50/50 paint-to-water ratio. Increasing the water ratio will allow the brick to show through. Adding paint will be less translucent. 

Tip 1: We don’t recommend mixing more than three gallons at a time. The goal is to keep the mixture as consistent as possible. So, we don’t want too many paint solids in one bucket.

Tip 2: Another tip is to mix as needed. Letting the mixture sit too long will allow the solids to settle, causing an inconsistent finish.

Tip 2: Remember that the thinner the mixture, the harder it is to manage and apply. 

What is Limewash?

Making a hydraulic lime-based whitewash is an eco-friendly alternative to paint. Limewash is a whitewash containing a mixture of lime, slate, water, and other materials. Additionally, color pigments will be added to obtain your color of choice.  

The process of whitewashing with limestone dates back a long time. Some may even view this process as specific to professional house painters since mixing is not as straightforward as merely thinning paint. Here is how it works!

The mixture’s reaction to the carbon in the air is called ” carbonation.” Calcium oxide dries in a hard rock-like form and is best applied to hard, porous surfaces such as brick, stucco, plaster, and concrete. 

Lime is made from heated limestone. The heat removes all moisture and carbon dioxide, leaving a power known as calcium oxide. Limewash essentially comes directly from the earth.


How to Mix Limewash

Raw Materials Needed:

  • White Natural Hydraulic Lime (HLH 3.5)
  • Alum Salt
  • Water
  • Color Pigments
  1. Grab a 5-gallon bucket. 
  2. Add two liters of water. 
  3. Add one liter of lime to every two liters of water. (This is recommended for 90% coverage. Add slightly more water to increase translucence.)
  4. Add pigment until you achieve the desired color. (Record the measurements to repeat the process as needed.)
  5. Add Alum salt to the mixture.
  6. For each kilogram of lime, add 100 grams of salt. 

How to Apply Limewash

You must thoroughly saturate the surface 24 hours before applying limestone. If the surface is not saturated with water before, the lime will not take, resulting in the limestone turning into a white power once it dries. After the solution dries, it loses up to 50% of its color.  

How to Wash Brick Surfaces

When applying whitewash or paint to any interior or exterior surface, it’s essential to ensure the surface is thoroughly pressure-washed and free of all mold, mildew, and foreign materials. 

Apply a bleach, water, and sodium hypochlorite mixture to an exterior brick surface through a power washer. New brick will require boric or phosphoric acid to clean the surface properly. We recommend contacting your local professional pressure washing company when acid is needed. 

Interior surface cleaning is much less labor-intensive and uses soap, water, eco-friendly mildew cleaner, and a brush.

Tips for Using Each Cleaner


Dawn Dish Soap

Mix soap into a bucket of warm water for interior surface cleaning. The best soap recommended for either indoor or outdoor applications is Dawn. 

Soap helps keep the mixture on the wall when washing exterior brick homes. 


Phosphoric Acid

Using phosphoric acid outside is best run through a pressure washer, consequently becoming airborne. Hire someone for this process; otherwise, purchase gear to protect yourself. 

Using phosphoric acid for interior usage, on the other hand, is as simple as mixing one tablespoon to one gallon of water in a bucket and applying it with gloves and a brush or sponge.


Sodium Hydrochloride

Bleach kills mold, mildew, and moss growth. However, mixing other raw materials with this solution can make it reactive. 

For this reason, most articles will leave this cleaner out. When using this solution, refer to your local pressure washing company or seek other guidance on mixing compounds. 


Trisodium Phosphate

Today’s TSP is sold without phosphates to improve environmental impacts. This product works great for cleaning brick both indoors and outdoors. 

TSP gives added cleaning power to your solution and is relatively inexpensive. Adding TSP powdered form cleaner will brighten the brick in no time.

  • Let the solutions or additives sit for 10- 20 minutes. Some will kill living spores on contact. 
  • You may have to blast the surface with high pressure to clean the exterior brick further.

Interior cleaning materials include:

  • Gloves
  • A Gallon Bucket
  • A Brush
  • A Rag

Painting Tools

We recommend using a paint sprayer and back-rolling the material if you paint exterior brick. For interior brick, you can use a paintbrush and roller. You can use a rag or faux finish brush for a unique design to create added flare.

How Long Does Whitewashing Last?

Whitewashing looks excellent and adds natural curb appeal. However, people often overlook the advantages of brick, which are its aesthetics and that it’s virtually maintenance-free. Whenever you add paint or whitewash to the brick surface, you add materials that require future maintenance. 

Painting your brick with solid paint will last longer than whitewashing, providing better resistance to ground-level moisture, mold mildew growth, and color fade

For whitewashing to last the longest, it’s essential not to shortcut the process, to do it as thoroughly as possible, or to hire a professional house painter to paint it for you!

Does Whitewashed Brick Require a Sealer?

Whitewashing with lime does not “require” a sealer. Neither thinned paint nor limestone “require sealing,” although paint can be sealed for the desired look. 

As confusing as it may be, you can seal thinned paint with acrylic sealers for aesthetic purposes. But ultimately, when the process of whitewashing is done correctly, a sealer is not necessary. 

Should You Whitewash Brick?

The benefit of whitewashing is that it looks impressive and costs less than installing new white-washed bricks. However, does whitewashing come with a long-term cost? Aftermarket whitewashing doesn’t last as long as a premium paint coating. 

Painting brick is one of our favs. Although whitewashing is an excellent and trendy way to create distinction, as professional painters who prioritize durability, we do not recommend whitewashing on exterior brick substrates. Whitewash paint for interior surfaces such as fireplaces and other interior spaces is fine. Just remember to use high-temperature paint for areas that exceed 120 degrees.

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