There were a number of reasons why we decided to use a lime wash:
Firstly (and most importantly) it’s BEAUTIFUL;
We were continuing down the natural path and as a traditional, eco-friendly product used in so many older properties, we thought it fitted with the organic theme we were looking for;
It was affordable;
It allowed our walls to breathe, thereby avoiding any damp problems as outlined here;
However, the process of creating a lime washed wall was actually much lengthier than we expected.
Firstly we needed to brush down the old stones in the same way as before, removing any crumbling mortar and as much dust as possible.
Secondly we needed to apply what was (adorably) called a milk wash. This was a mixture of lime mortar mixed with water (no not actually milk!). This was then applied liberally to the stone wall with a paintbrush to seal the stones and provide a smoother surface onto which you then apply the lime mortar.
Thirdly the mortar needs to be prepared and applied to the walls. (Luckily we had a lot of mortar left over from repointing the exposed stones, so the leftovers were put to good use). This was actually the hardest step as the mixture must be applied in a thin layer, uniformly across the wall surface using a grout float. For some reason, certain batches seemed to stick well to the wall, whereas others would plop on the floor as soon as applied. Needless to say this step was lengthy, and resulted in quite a few tantrums…especially when I learned the wall required two coats of mortar rather than the one.
It was important for the mixture to be applied as smoothly as possible as any bumps and cracks could prove difficult to later smooth over with the lime wash.
Fourthly, once the two coats of lime mortar had fully dried, it was time for the lime wash paint. With a few layers of thin coating, allowed to dry out slowly, this paint will transform the grainy mortar surface into a smooth, finished wall. It must be applied with a special limewash or masonry paintbrush (ours was made from horses hair). This was not what I would call an easy paintjob however. Limewash is not like regular paint and is not applied in the same way. It must be applied in a figure of 8 motion and ‘pulled’ as much as possible to give a smooth even finish. So the painting process is actually quite a long, physical task.
In the end, I think we applied 4 layers of paint to get the effect we were looking for. If we had had a smoother mortar surface I'm certain this could have been reduced.
I truly love the final result for many reasons, but the main one is that you’re not left with a uniform flat wall. The curves and bends follow the natural shape of the stone wall underneath and the pigments in the lime give a gorgeous warm colour which change depending on the light and the shadows.
See the pictures below for the step by step process.