Limewashing the Fireplace

limewash brick fireplace update
Update your tired brick fireplace with limewash. It's easy; step by step instructions included!

Brightening Up the Beast

limewashing the brick

Who’s ready to replace their tired, old brick fireplace?

Well, before you grab the sledgehammer, let’s talk about some ways to refresh your brick without breaking the bank.

Brick Fireplace Options

Anyone who has bought an older home knows that sometimes you just do not love the brick colors that were all the rage back in 1963.

In our case, the brick was a giant part…basically, the whole wall…of our upstairs family room (aka the den).

Why do we call this room “the den”? Are we wolves? Lions?

It makes no sense to me. But I digress.

The options I considered for this large wall o’ brick were as follows:

  1. Painting the brick.
  2. Whitewashing the brick with watered-down paint.
  3. Limewashing the paint.

OK to be fair, I hadn’t even thought about limewashing until a talented friend of mine, Mallory Treece, suggested it.

And then I thought, “That is the perfect solution!”

Why Limewash?

Limewash is a perfect solution in this instance because you’re able to customize the look.

It feels a little more organic than whitewashing with watered-down paint and adds more texture and interest than just flat-out painting the brick.

I also liked that it takes a while to dry and cure, so you can play with the amount of limewash you want on the brick surface. It’s very forgiving.

Gather Your Supplies

romabio before and after
from RomaBio.com

Supplies:

romabio limewash quart

How to Apply the Limewash

Step by Step Process: (RomaBio has a great video tutorial here)

  1.  Clean your brick with water. No chemical cleaners needed. Just knock off the dust, soot, cobwebs, etc. the best you can.
  2. Protect your floors with drop cloths. This is a messy job!
  3. Mix up the lime paint with water. This will take a while (5 to 10 min) if you’re doing it by hand. The RomaBio quart comes with instructions on ratio (50 to 100% water to lime).  **I started off by adding equal parts water to the limewash concentrate, but found I liked the results better when I thinned the limewash with a little more water. Be willing to experiment with this! You can always add more color (or wipe it off) as you go along.
  4. Spritz the first section of brick with your spray bottle full of water.  **I worked in 2 foot sections at a time so the brick didn’t have time to dry off.
  5. Apply the Limewash. Start at the top of your brick and work your way down to catch any drips. RomaBio suggest a large masonry brush, but I found the combination of a 2 inch flat brush for the brick face and a 1 inch angle brush for the masonry to work the best.
  6. After 10-30 minutes, you can start taking some of the limewash off. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Step back and get an idea of how it’s looking. Call in friends and neighbors for opinions (kinda kidding, but sometimes it helps to hear what other people have to say. And sometimes you gotta trust your gut. You’ll figure it out, I promise.)
  7. Spray the semi-dry area again with water, and use a rag or a scrub brush to remove the limewash. Remember, you can tweak the look to your heart’s content. It may help to have some inspiration pictures stored on your phone to use as a guideline when distressing the brick.
  8. Walk away! The Limewash takes several days to cure and dry, so you can change the look at your own pace.

The Result

limewash reveal

Hooray!

It’s really brightened up the whole room.  Here it is in the kitchen also:

kitchen before
kitchen after

I’m really pleased with the transformation and hope this inspires you to try Limewash for yourself!

What I've Done So Far:

  1. Pulled down the heavy wood cornice board over the window in the den.
  2. And now I can also cross limewash the brick off my list!

What's Next for This Room:

Next on my list for the Den is:

  1. Build and install a floating beam mantel.
  2. Pull down the crown molding trim.
  3. Paint the bookshelf.
  4. Install a new ceiling treatment to cover the textured/popcorn ceiling.
  5. Disconnect, paint, and rehang the ceiling fans.
  6. Paint the walls.
  7. Paint and install bigger crown molding.

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