Can You Paint Over Limewash Paint? (How-To)

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

You can paint over limewash. But, you can only re-coat or paint over limewash directly with limewash coating.

You can also use chalk paint over limewash because limewash contains chalk calcium carbonate. This makes chalk paint have similar features and chemical make-up as limewash coating. You can also use mineral paint over limewash directly since mineral paint requires no prep work and is self-leveling.

However, to use another type of paint over the limewash, you’ll have to seal the limewash coating first with a neutralizing product like a mineral primer. This is because limewash has a high alkaline level and tends to eat away at paints used directly over it.

But there is more to know about painting over limewash. For instance, can you paint over limewashed brick? Let’s find out.

Can You Paint Over Limewashed Brick?

You can paint over limewash finished brick. But, you’ll need multiple coats of primer or sealer to seal the limewash on the brick so it doesn’t eat away at the paint when applied. However, if you want to apply more coats of limewash or chalk paint over the limewashed brick, you wouldn’t need a primer.

Limewash is commonly used over exterior surfaces like brick because limewash is very durable. Unlike traditional paints and sealants that go over surfaces and materials, limewash doesn’t just stay on the top of the material used. Limewash tends to soak or penetrate the material to bind well. This is why limewash is commonly used over porous surfaces like plaster and brick.

However, this penetrative nature of limewash doesn’t just give it good adhesion alone. It makes it nearly impossible for other paints to stick. Since the pores in the brick have been filled by the limewash coating, other paint types can’t penetrate the brick and as a result, can’t adhere well.

The only way out is to either remove the limewash coating first or prime over it with a strong primer coating like a mineral primer. The primer sits on top of the limewash creating a good undercoat for the paint applied to stick to. The primer also acts as a sealer. This helps to limit the corrosive effect of the limewash on the paint since limewash coatings contain a high lime content.

However, you can paint over limewash brick with chalk paint or any other paint that contains plasters directly. This is because chalk is present in limewash and painting chalk over limewash can be done directly without the use of a primer first. But for other paints, you need a primer before applying over limewash brick.

So how do you paint over limewash? Let’s take a closer look at that.

How To Paint Over Limewash (Made Easy)?

Painting over limewash is a task feared by many due to the repelling nature of limewash coatings. But this guide will reveal all you need to know to make this task easier. First, you’ll need a few tools:

  • Sandpaper
  • Rags or tack cloth
  • Paint Primer
  • The required paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Wire brush
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paint thinner (optional)
  • Paint bucket (optional)

Here is a quick rundown of how to paint over limewash:

  1. Prep the workspace
  2. Abrade the limewash with a wire brush
  3. Sand the surface
  4. Apply two coats of primer
  5. Apply two or three coats of the required paint
  6. Seal the paint (optional)

Now, let’s get to work.

Prepare The Workspace

The first step is to prepare the workspace. Remove all furniture that you don’t want the paint to get on. Any object on or around the limewash should be taken off to prevent damages and paint splatters on them.

Any furniture or object that can’t be moved should be covered with a large drop sheet and taped down so it doesn’t come off while painting.

You should also cover the floors with a drop sheet. It’s better to tape the sheet down to the floor to prevent it from moving out of place while you paint or walk over it.

Also, ensure to put on a face mask before you begin painting to prevent you from inhaling paint fumes and dust. You should also open all doors and windows to allow proper ventilation. Next, you should…

Abrade The Limewash Coating

Limewash will not allow the paint to stick properly regardless of how well you know how to paint. This is because there will be dust grain and debris on the limewash coating.

This debris will not allow the paint to stick properly. Asides from the dust, you need to remove or abrade part of the limewash coating too so the paint can bite into the surface.

To do this, use a wire brush to scrub the entire limewash coating. As you scrub, you’ll pull the limewash off the surface. You don’t need to pull the entire finish off.

You just need to create ridges and scratches in the limewash coating that the paint can bite into. You can also use a wire sponge or medium-grit sandpaper if you don’t have a wire brush.

Sand The Surface

After using a wire brush on the limewash coating, the surface will be very rough and riddled with bumps. You can’t apply paint over such a surface if not the finish will be rough and uneven. So you have to even out grain and smoothen the surface by sanding the surface.

Start sanding with 180-grit sandpaper. Sand down the entire limewash coating. The 180-grit sandpaper will remove bumps on the surface. Then move on to finer-grit sandpaper.

220-grit will suffice. The 220-grit sandpaper will help to even out grain and smoothen the surface. This will allow the primer and the paint to sit well. After sanding, ensure to remove dust using a portable vacuum or a soft brush.

Apply Two Coats of Primer

It’s important to prime the surface before applying the paint. This is because limewash has a high alkaline content that tends to eat away at paint from the inside.

So you need to prime or seal the limewash surface before applying paint over it. To apply the primer, use a paintbrush. You need two coats of the required primer on the limewash. Ensure to allow the first coat to dry before recoating.

The best primer to use is one that is neutral. This means a primer coating that is alkaline-resistant. These primers usually have a neutral reading on the pH scale.

The chosen primer should also allow any type of paint to sit while also sealing the Limewash coating. You can go for mineral primer or a water-based primer but ensure the one you go for has good bonding and can stick on limewash.

You should know that you can use mineral paint, chalk, or limewash coating on the surface without priming.

Apply The Required Paint

The best paint to use over limewash is latex paint as latex paint has great flexibility to cope with temperature changes and constant use.

Latex paint is water-based so it wouldn’t yellow over time. You can also use chalk, acrylic, or milk paint on the limewash.

Apply the paint based on the manufacture’s instructions. Usually, you only need 2 coats of paint on the limewash.

Seal The Paint (Optional)

This step is optional. However, sealing the paint after it has dried with a top coat helps to improve durability. You can use polyurethane, wax, gel stain, or any other top coat over latex paint.

However, if you used an oil paint, then you are limited in the choices of a sealant. But then again, oil-based paints are durable enough without a sealant.

If you applied the paint on an exterior material like brick or on a surface that will see heavy action, then it’s advised to seal the paint. After sealing the paint, you should leave the surface for at least 3 days before subjecting it to regular use.

Can You Paint Over Limewash With Emulsion?

You can paint over limewash with emulsion paint. But like any other paint, you’ll need to properly prep the limewash before applying the emulsion paint over it. You’ll need to prime or seal the limewash before the emulsion can sit on it.

Also, you should pick natural emulsion. This means emulsion with no plastics or additives that can react to the alkaline nature of the limewash coating.

The natural emulsion paint is largely painted pigments suspended in emulsion or paint solvent which is very similar to the make-up of chalk paint. Since limewash has chalk characteristics too, the natural emulsion will stick to it just the same way chalk will but with emulsion, priming is usually advised.

This is to allow the paint to stick well and to prevent corrosion from the limewash coating. The natural emulsion is also ideal on limewash because it has a very low level of VOCs and paint chemicals which means there is less risk of the emulsion paint reacting to the alkaline nature of the limewash.

As a result of this, the prep work required before applying natural emulsion over limewash is very limited. In most cases, all you need is a neutral primer and then apply the emulsion paint over the limewash.

Can You Add Latex Paint With Limewash?

It’s not a good idea to add latex paint with limewash coating. This is because limewash doesn’t work well on latex and as such will not produce good consistency and color when mixed with latex paint. The main reason for this is because of the contrasting make-up of both paints.

Limewash coating needs to penetrate material to adhere properly. This is why limewash is usually used on porous surfaces. Latex paint however doesn’t need to penetrate the material. So when you add both paints, the result you get is a paint mixture with different requirements.

While the limewash will need to penetrate, then latex paint will not. While the latex paint will dry to be flexible and not weather-resistant, the limewash will dry to be weather-resistant and less flexible when compared to the latex.

Overall, you’ll get an unusable paint mixture. If used, the finish will not last long. Also, the finish will have uneven color because some areas will have a darker shade than others.

However, you can use latex paint over limewash with adequate surface preparation. But limewash shouldn’t be used over or mixed with latex paint.

Can You Tint Limewash?

You can tint or add color to limewash. Limewash coatings aren’t usually very attractive or bright so to make the finish appear better, DIYers often paint over the limewash. But, it’s better to tint the limewash than painting over it.

This is because to paint over limewash, you’ll have to scuff the limewash coating, add multiple coats of primer, and risk the alkalinity of the lime coating eating through the paint. All of these will cause extra costs.

But if you decide to tint the limewash, you can skip the rigorous prep work required, eliminate the risk of paint corrosion due to high alkaline levels in the limewash coating, and enjoy a bright and attractive finish.

Final Words

Overall, limewash can be painted over. In most cases, all you need is adequate surface preparation and a neutral sealer or primer and you are good to go.

However, it might be better to tint the limewash if what you require is a more attractive finish. But if you want to change the finish entirely, you can remove the limewash or scuff it before priming and painting over it.

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