Friday, October 11, 2013

diy limewashing exterior brick house

Cautionary Tale - hydrated lime is dangerous when they say wear gloves, goggles, and a breathing mask don't take this too lightly! We ended up at the emergency room after my husband splashed some in his eyes, which apparently can cause blindness if not appropriately treated and rinsed out! He was wearing goggles but they weren't covering his eyes adequately :( Needless to say renewed home exterior not worth his health. We proceeded though with additional caution.

Ok now that I have gotten off my soap box, lets get to the fun part. Most of the tutorials (see end for links) that I read weren't very clear about the quantity of water to lime and honestly - since they weren't clear I am not sure if I can be much more specific. Here are all the supplies that I used:

wheelbarrow (to carry the lime)
several 5 gallon buckets
smaller buckets to carry it around in while 'painting'
something to stir with such as a long stick
hydrated lime ( we used 2 bags each was 50lbs from the co-op for $10)
water and a hose with sprayer
large masonry paint brushes ($5 from home depot- though it took some searching)
ladders (height dependent on your home/structure) and we actually also used scaffolding borrowed from one of our incredibly generous neighbors.
safety gear (goggles, face masks, gloves)
paint clothes (I would opt for close toed shoes, long sleeves/pants, and possibly a hat or bandanna)
additive binder, such as linseed oil or casein, etc.

STEP 1 : Creating a clean surface
We pressure washed everything! It may have been the first time that has happened at this house. We used an all purpose pressure washing soap as well.

eww- enough said
no that is not a shadow to the left that is where we stopped for the night !
So you can see that pressure washing took a lot of time with how disgusting our house was, though tiring it was very rewarding. 

STEP 2: Prepping the surface
So I checked for any cracks in the masonry that would need to be sealed, but there wasn't any overt damage to the side of our house. This of course, does not including the weeping holes near the base of the brick that are there intentionally. From what I have read, since brick acts like a sponge soaking in moisture, this allows for water to drain and allows air to ventilate and dry the structure. They are often placed every 3rd to 4th brick along the base of the exterior.
Then we removed the shutters and pressure washed a little more behind and under them. 
after removal of shutters (my husband wanted to stop here and I admit it does look a lot better without those red-orange shutters
Now a lot of people would want to tarp, tape their windows, gutters, etc to decrease their clean up. The lime, though not appealing on your trees/shrubs will not harm them. And since we were planning on painting the trim and washing the windows anyways - we just went for it and made a GIGANTIC MESS! In hind sight, maybe not the best idea, since you have to be more careful with cleaning around the area while it is curing. If I were to do it again, I would still not worry about the shrubs, unless evergreen, but I would protect any concrete under the area, the gutters, and the eaves. I think the windows were easy to clean up, especially since we have storm windows that have to be taken off anyways and can be pressure washed away from the area (I came to that realization well after I should have and it nearly made me break down in tears). 

STEP 3: Creating the lime
I filled my 6 buckets each 2 times 2/3rds of the way full with water, used 1 gallon + 1 quart boiled linseed oil ($30 from Walmart or Home Depot), then added lime until it reached the consistency of heavy cream. Some tutorials said to make it the consistency of skim milk, but when I did this it made rivulets in the wash that looked streaky. So the heavy cream consistency worked better for us. Of course they also caution against making it too thick which can cause 'crazing' or cracking in the surface. Then I let it sit out over night. I thought about tinting the lime, but then I was just to lazy too and figured that if I didn't love the white I could always tint a future coat. You are supposed to only use natural pigmentation with the lime wash.

STEP 4: Applying the wash
Most tutorials suggested applying 3 coats, but we just didn't have it in us.... so this is 2 coats with pictures in between. We weren't careful with application, not stressing if it missed a few spots, but also not intentionally skipping spots as some people do for patina or aged look. So it has to applied when it is between 40-80 degrees outside, with humidity preferably not too high and 12 hours before it rains. They also suggest that you allow the coats to dry 12 hours in between. Stir the lime wash frequently during application. Always keep a wet edge when applying so that you don't have a line of demarcation between coats. I also found that it is best to work top/down with this the same as you would with painting, as it does occasionally drip and you will want to blend that in. Dampen the surface before applying to the point where it is moist but not dripping. I was usually able to wet approximately a 3 ft area. This technique is true for the 2nd coat as well. Don't freak out when it looks like it is all washing away it isn't I promise
In the middle of coat #1

In the middle of coat #2

Well now it is limewashed, but so not finished :( we are working on painting the gutters, shed, trim, and doors now. Some of which you can see in this picture, if I get up some gumption after those things finished there are a few limewashing spots that I may touch up again.

To Do:
finish priming and painting shutters, trim, gutters, etc.
redo door facings since I have now successfully removed most of the storm doors. 
do something about the wrought iron porch
paint mailbox
clean up


Earth Pigments
Young House Love
Garden Web
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training video
Traditional Natural Plasture Co
Things That Inspire
Period Living
Flower Garden Girl