Painting Over Limewash Paint (Here’s How To Do it)

Limewash is a traditional coating used on surfaces due to its weather-resistant qualities. But it has a chalk-like look which might not suit your idea of an attractive finish. So can you paint over it?

You can paint over limewash but you must prime and sand it before applying new paint. If you don’t use a primer, the limewash paint will bleed through and ruin the finish. 

You can use chalk paint over it because they have almost the same formula. You can also use mineral paint because it is a self-leveling finish that requires no prep work. 

Painting Over Limewashed Brick

You can paint over a limewashed brick, but you must apply multiple coats of primer before applying new paint. However, if you use chalk paint (or limewash paint), you don’t need a primer. 

Compared to other paints, limewash doesn’t just stick to the top surface of the material. Instead, it soaks (penetrates) into the material, creating good adhesion. Since it penetrates the surface, the other paints can’t penetrate that surface and won’t adhere well.

So, the only way to apply paint over limewash is to remove it or apply primer. The primer will sit on top of the limewash, creating a good undercoat for the paint to stick to. The primer also acts as a sealer and limits the limewash’s corrosive effect on the paint since it contains a high lime content.

You can paint over it with chalk or other paints containing plasters. This is because chalk is present in limewash, and painting chalk over it can be done directly without using a primer. But for other paints, you need to apply a primer.

How To Paint Over Limewash?

Painting over limewash is hard because of its repelling nature. But, this guide reveals all you need to know to make this process easier.

However, you need a few tools:

  • Sandpaper
  • Rags or tack cloth
  • Primer
  • The required paint
  • Brush
  • Wire brush
  • Tape
  • Paint thinner (optional)
  • Bucket (optional)

1. Prepare The Workspace

First, prep the workspace. Remove or cover all furniture or objects and cover the floor with a drop sheet to avoid paint splatters. If painting indoors, open all doors and windows and wear safety goggles. 

2. Abrade The Limewash Coating

You must remove the abraded side of the limewash coating so the new paint can penetrate the surface. If you don’t, the abraded side won’t allow the new paint to stick over it.

To remove its abraded side, use a wire brush to scrub the coating. As you scrub, the abraded side of the paint will get removed. You must only remove the abraded side, not the entire coating. So, just create ridges and scratches so the new paint can stick.

You can use a sponge or medium-grit sandpaper as an alternative to a wire brush. 

3. Sand The Surface

After using a wire brush, the surface will be rough and riddled with bumps. If you apply paint over a rough surface, the finish will be uneven and rough. So, before applying it, you must even out the grain and smoothen the surface.

To smooth out the surface, sand it. To sand limewash paint, use 180-grit sandpaper and sand the entire coating. The 180-grit sandpaper will remove bumps from the surface. Then, use fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit) to smooth out the surface. 

A smooth surface of the limewash coating will allow the primer and paint to stick well. After sanding, remove the dust with a soft brush. 

4. Apply Two Coats of Primer

After you sand the finish, apply two coats of primer. The primer will act as a “bridge” and prevent the limewash coating to bleed through the new paint. Limewash paint has a high alkaline content that eats away the paint from the inside. So, you must seal (prime) it before applying another paint. 

You must use an alkaline-resistant primer (neutral) over it. A good choice is mineral primer. 

To apply prime, use a paintbrush or sprayer. You must apply 2 coats of primer. Wait until the first coat of primer dries before applying the next one. 

If you apply mineral, chalk, or limewash paint, you don’t need to use a primer. 

5. Apply The Required Paint

Once the primer dries, you can apply new paint.

The best paints to use over limewash are chalk and latex paint. They are flexible, easy to apply, and have a colorful finish. Also, they are water-based and won’t yellow over time. 

Use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply 2-3 coats of paint over the limewash. 

6. Seal The Paint (Optional)

If you use latex paint, you must seal it, especially for outdoor surfaces. The sealer will create a thick and glossy layer that protects the surface underneath (including paint) from moisture, water, and scratches.

To seal it, use polyurethane, wax, gel stain, or varnish. Apply 2-3 coats of sealer over the finish.

However, for indoor surfaces, sealing is optional. 

Using Emulsion Over Limewash Paint

You can apply emulsion over limewash paint, but you must prep the finish first. Before applying it, you must clean, sand, and apply primer over the existing finish.

You must use natural emulsion as it is made of pigments suspended in emulsion (or solvent). The formula of natural emulsion is similar to the chalk paint formula. Since emulsion and chalk paint have similar features, the emulsion paint will stick over limewash the same way chalk paint does. 

So, to apply emulsion, use a mineral primer and then apply it.

Mixing Limewash Paint With Latex Paint

You shouldn’t mix limewash with latex paint because they have different formulas. Mixing them will produce a finish with inconsistent color and flow. 

Limewash coating needs to penetrate the surface deeply to stick, while latex paint doesn’t. Also, latex paint is flexible and not weather-resistant, while limewash isn’t flexible but is weather-resistant. So, the make-up of both paints is different.

If you mix them the finish won’t dry simultaneously and will have an inconsistent flow and color. Since the finish won’t dry at the same time, the finish will develop cracks. Also, some parts of the finish will have a darker color than others.

So, you shouldn’t mix them. However, you can apply latex paint over limewash paint if you prep the finish by applying a neutral primer.

Tinting Limewash Paint

To change (or darken) the limewash color, tint it. To darken its color, mix it with raw linseed oil. 

Limewash paint has a white color only. So, to tint (or change) the finish color, mix it with another paint or sealer. You can tint it by adding paint pigments (made for limewash) or using raw linseed oil. The raw linseed oil will darken the finish. 

However, you shouldn’t mix (or tint) it with water-based paints. That’s because both paints aren’t compatible with each other. 

Final Words

You can paint over limewash paint, but you must sand and apply a neutral primer over the finish before applying the new paint. That’s because limewash has an alkaline formula that doesn’t allow new paints to stick to it. 

You can also tint it by mixing it with 3% raw linseed oil. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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