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 lime washed houses lately. This has us thinking of maybe lime washing instead.

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 mind. 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. 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.

Pros

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!

Cons

Now for a few cons. While traditional non painted 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 in moisture which ca 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 breath.

Limewash Brick

Limewash is a technique that has been around for ages. It’s a paint made with lime, and instead of sitting on top of the brick and creating a barrier, it penetrates the brick.

Photo credit: Bradley Heppner

Limewash 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

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.

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 for limewash is that it’s all natural. It doesn’t have chemicals in it like regular paint.

Cons

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.

Conclusion

After a bunch of research, weighing out pros and cons, and looking at a lot of inspiration pictures, we’ve decided to go with painted brick. I think for the look we are going for, it make 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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7 Comments

  • 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
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