Design Decisions, New House

Limewash vs Painted Brick Exterior

Photo Credit: Grand Tradition Homes

We’ve planned on painting the brick on our new house from the beginning, but we’ve seen some really pretty limewash brick houses lately. This has us thinking of maybe lime washing instead especially since we have heard so many great reviews of Romabio products that make limewashing so much easier.

We have some experience with painted brick, but not with lime wash. So in an effort to make an educated decision, I’ve been doing some research on both to help us make up our minds. This is a big decision, so I want to make sure we make the right one.

Painted Brick

Painted brick has always been a favorite of ours. As I mentioned, Henry and I have a little experience with this. We painted a flip house a couple of years ago using this Graco Magnum paint sprayer. The house had the ugliest brick I had ever seen. We painted it white and it was a complete transformation. Multiple people would stop by each day to ask about the painted brick. I’m convinced the painted exterior was one of the top reasons the house sold quickly.

Photo Credit: Willow Homes

So let’s talk about the pros and cons of painted brick.


Painting your brick will give your house a fresh timeless look, whether it’s new construction or a remodel. Since our home is a new construction, we will use the cheapest brick we can find, because it will be covered up with paint. But when doing this, it’s important to make sure all of the brick you use has the same texture, because the texture will show through the paint.

Photo Credit: McCowen Design

The money saved on the brick will offset the cost of the paint, material, and labor.

Another pro is being able to choose the exact color you want. If we go the painted route, we know we will be doing some shade of white. In my opinion, there aren’t many things more beautiful than a white-painted brick house!


Now for a few cons. While traditional nonpainted brick is practically no maintenance, painted brick does have some upkeep. It will require pressure washing every so often and eventually it will need to be repainted.

There is also a chance of trapping moisture which can cause mold build-up and cause the brick to break down over time. To avoid this you can use a mineral-based paint that allows your brick to breathe.

What is Limewash Brick?

Limewash is a special coating made from slaked lime—a type of alkaline material derived from limestone and clay—that has been mixed with water. This mixture can be brushed on exterior walls just like paint, but unlike paint, limewash doesn’t form a solid film when it dries. Instead, it leaves behind a breathable layer that allows moisture to evaporate rather than accumulate within the wall. This makes limewash ideal for protecting exposed brick from the elements while still allowing them to breathe.

Limewash also has an attractive aesthetic appeal due to its chalky texture and muted colors. The end result is an aged look like that of homes found in European villas.

limewash brick cottage
Photo credit: Bradley Heppner

Limewash brick is definitely a beautiful technique that is becoming more and more popular. It’s a technique that gives your house an old-world European look. When done correctly, it can give dated brick new life, or make your new home look like it has been there for ages – in a good way!

It’s something we are loving right now but fear it may be something we get tired of.

Pros of Limewash Brick

A pro of limewash is that it will not peel off like normal paint since it penetrates the brick. This means less maintenance than painted brick. It also lets the brick breathe.

limewash brick entryway
Photo Credit: Dixon Kirby

And speaking of less maintenance, since limewashed brick creates a worn and weathered look, natural wearing and aging will be less noticeable.

Another positive of limewash is that it’s all-natural. It doesn’t have chemicals in it like regular paint.


A big con for us with limewash is we would have to use a specific kind of brick since the color of the bricks will be partially visible. This means no money savings by using a cheaper brick as we would have with painting.

Limewash creates a very unique look, one that needs to be done correctly to look good. This can be a con if you don’t hire someone who knows what they’re doing.


After a bunch of research, weighing out the pros and cons, and looking at a lot of inspirational pictures, we’ve decided to go with painted brick. I think for the look we are going for, it makes more sense.

We do love limewash. And even though we’re not doing it on this house, maybe we can try it on a flip house at some point in the near future.

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  • Reply @home_on_providence_hill

    Thanks for sharing! This is so timely as We are in the middle of deciding the same thing. Another thing I’ve been told to take into consider is the light mortar – which costs significantly more (I’ve been told) and you will need when painting brick as opposed to lime wash. Curious if you had thoughts on that?

    February 28, 2019 at 4:30 am
    • Reply Henry

      You’re welcome. Regarding the light mortar, I don’t think that is an issue if you are painting since it will all (brick and mortar) be completely covered by the paint. Good luck with your decision. It’s a tough one!

      February 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm
  • Reply Erin

    This is great info! We are looking to do a renovation on my fiancé’s 14 yr old house, and changing the brick color is on the list. We had originally planned to paint the brick white, but like you, I have been considering lime wash. The brick now is a nice medium red with some slight variations in color. What are your thoughts on limewash in a case like this? The brick bownisnt bad, but we just want to change the look of the house from a traditional look, to a more modern farmhouse look. Any insight or ideas is appreciated!

    February 28, 2019 at 5:32 pm
  • Reply Tatiane

    What a great post. I didn’t know the difference between them. After reading I think painted brick is definitely the right choice. I can’t wait to see it.

    March 12, 2019 at 1:30 am
  • Reply heather

    Thanks for writing about this! Do you have any idea what cost comparison is? Thanks again!

    May 27, 2019 at 5:49 pm
    • Reply Gabriela

      Hi Heather!

      In my area Limewash is quite a bit cheaper because it’s easy to DIY to get the right look you want (minimal labor expense) where 1 Gal of Limewash covers about 450 sq. ft and costs about $50/gal from Romabio, or you can mix your own for even cheaper!

      Due to Limewash patina’ing’ over time my largest concern is the need to touch up to keep a more solid look as opposed to too rustic/weathered. Also, I’m left wondering if potential buyers would be concerned with maintenance because so many are not familiar with Limewash?

      June 26, 2019 at 4:05 pm
  • Reply Mark B Davidson

    We’ve seen some really nice examples of the limewash here in NW Florida. We think it works best on a cottage or traditional home. In my mind, painted brick is the way to go on a mid century style ranch remodel.

    Another benefit to painting versus limewashing is if one has varying materials on a house. The house we’re working on now has a stucoo retaining wall and also a brick retaining wall. Neither wall matches the brick on the house. We’re hoping all these disparate surfaces will mesh together nicely when we paint them all the same white.

    July 5, 2019 at 12:14 pm
  • Reply Katrina Crosson

    I’m curious how you picked the shade of white for your paint job. Any suggestions?

    August 26, 2019 at 7:23 pm
  • Reply Anne

    You can use a thicker lime paint to get an opaque coat. It’s called shelter coat you can get it from a historical society in Chicago. It will fill in a bit of the brick texture (about the consistency of pancake batter) It is beautiful and it will be decades before you have to add a layer to it. It will never peel, just thin. Then you recover, no scraping or stripping. It is SO EASY to apply. Much prettier than latex. Home Depot also has a product called romabio which is also a breathable lime. I’ve tested them both but sheltercoat’s texture filling properties made it a winner for me.

    September 23, 2019 at 3:17 pm
    • Reply Annie Maher

      Hello! Thanks for the great info. Do you have any idea where I can get the shelter coat? I am moving to Virginia to an old red brick ranch. Also to you have to pressure wash before doing the lime?

      October 15, 2021 at 11:08 pm
  • Reply Harrisees

    I’m going to limewash my house. I did my interior brick and it wasn’t hard. I think cleaning the chimney bricks will be the hardest part for me for the exterior. The interior brick, I did two coats of limewash, and no wash off. So, you can’t actually see the brick color underneath. It’s really up to the individual if they want wash off, or how much. You can make it look pretty solid white, though, if you want. And you can get it with pigments if you ever decide to change the color–just use a colored wash.

    February 16, 2020 at 1:30 am
  • Reply Jane Tuttle

    WE have house without brick and siding. The brick area has cracks due to settling. I’ll limewash hide much of that?

    February 27, 2020 at 4:01 pm
  • Reply Jonathan R.

    For future reference, we are about to refinish our brick ranch. We spoke with some masonry professionals here and they have said Limewash is great, and if you don’t want the antiqued look you can do multiple coats to make sure you have full coverage. The coats just need to be about 5 days apart to make it fully absorbed by the brick!
    Just a tip for your next flip!!!

    March 10, 2020 at 7:44 pm
  • Reply Veronica Dowd

    We have cream color brick so it always looks dirty. Could we white wash the brick to help it look cleaner?

    April 10, 2020 at 11:30 am
  • Reply Daniel Murrey

    Definitely use a mineral based paint like RomaBio Masonry Flat or Keim Concretal. Much longer life than an acrylic paint.

    April 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Nicole Amy

    What type of paint do you recommend for painting the brick?? Mineral based paint, and what type of a brush??

    April 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm
  • Reply Edward N. Voke

    Interesting and timely information for me! My house is in the process of having sections of its brickwork repointed. This includes walls and chimneys of the circa 1730 original house – covered with various layers of paints, etc. of several hues; some places close to the ground are down to just dirty brick. At this point it
    seems my choice will be a lime wash, with enough coats to make the covering opaque, or nearly so, to hide what’s beneath. Maybe the solution will be to find a patient, retired painter who will treat the walls as a
    canvas, adding wash where needed to produce an overall effect appropriate to an old house. The brick foundations of the 1910 wooden additions will stay their natural red.

    October 24, 2020 at 9:48 pm
  • Reply terri Clare shannon

    I’m curious as to whether or not bricks should be rendered before painting.

    March 13, 2021 at 10:49 pm
  • Reply Susan J

    This was very helpful. Do you have any tips on finding someone skilled to paint brick or the best type of paint to use?

    March 16, 2021 at 10:58 pm
  • Reply Larry J Reed

    I’ve been limewashing homes and graves for many years and I will always recommen lime wash over paint, the up keepor touch up is so simple there’s anything you can do to mess it up,if you don’t like the way it looks keep playing with it until you get the look you want I have done some graves 25 years ago and they still look like the day I first did them

    May 13, 2021 at 4:52 pm
    • Reply LaShai

      With your years of experience what brand recommendations would you suggest?

      June 19, 2021 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply Richard Bowers

    Don’t understand this article’s decision to use paint over lime wash because of brick costs. Limewash or lime based(mineral) paint can applied to be solid opaque and in any color. Would never put plastic latex paint on brick. This is a no brainer!!

    March 20, 2022 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Susan

    If you choose to limewash, can you paint over it later, if you decide you don’t like the look?

    May 30, 2022 at 2:24 am
  • Reply Lindsay

    Do you have a color for the “perfect” white for painted brick?

    June 23, 2022 at 3:23 pm
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