Is Limewash Better for Brick and Masonry Than Modern Paint?


You might be debating between limewash and modern paints when considering a new look for your brick or masonry home or building. Both methods can offer a fresh appearance, but there are some key differences between the two that you should consider before making a decision.

Limewash is a traditional, natural coating made from lime putty, water and pigments that have some advantages over paint. It penetrates the brick surface so it won’t peel off like paint can. This leads to less maintenance in the long run. Moreover, limewash allows the brick to breathe, which is essential for preserving the structural integrity of the surface.

On the other hand, paint provides a more uniform and even finish, which may appeal to those who prefer a polished look. However, it doesn’t offer the same long-term value as limewash. Painted brick surfaces usually require touch-ups and repainting due to peeling, while limewash is a more economical option when it’s time for reapplication.

Limewash Vs Paint For Brick


Limewash and paint have different compositions, directly impacting their suitability for brick surfaces. Limewash is created from a mixture of lime putty, natural pigments, and water, resulting in a highly breathable and natural coating. This creates a porous surface, allowing moisture to escape from the bricks.

On the other hand, paint contains a more complex composition, usually based on synthetic latex or acrylic materials, which forms a solid and waterproof layer on the brick. Because it sits in a layer on the surface of the bricks, standard paints can be prone to peeling off over time.


One of the main differences between limewash and paint is how breathable they are. Since limewash allows the brick or masonry to breathe, it helps prevent moisture from being trapped inside. This makes limewash an ideal choice for bricks and porous masonry, as it reduces the likelihood of water damage and mould growth.

In contrast, paint forms a non-porous layer on the brick, restricting its breathability and potentially leading to moisture-related issues in the long run. This is especially true for older buildings.

Related article: 6 Reasons to Choose Limewash Over Modern Paint


The aesthetics of limewashed and painted bricks differ significantly. Limewash provides a soft, matte finish that enhances the brick’s natural texture and colour variations. This creates a more rustic and traditional appearance.

Paint, however, is more solid and uniform, giving bricks a clean and modern look. The choice between limewash and paint ultimately depends on your personal preference and the style you wish to achieve for your brick surface.


When it comes to durability, both limewash and paint have their pros and cons. Limewash is known for its long-lasting properties; it doesn’t peel or crack like a paint can. Additionally, due to its natural appearance, natural wear and ageing will be less noticeable on limewashed bricks.

Cracked and peeling paint. Commonly caused by using modern paints on old bricks.

However, limewash may need to be reapplied periodically, and its reapplication is typically cheaper than repainting painted bricks. While forming a more solid surface, paint can peel or chip over time and may require higher maintenance.

In summary:

  • Limewash: breathable, rustic appearance, long-lasting but may need reapplication every 3-7 years.
  • Paint: non-porous, modern appearance, less natural wear, but may require more maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Related article: What Happens to Limewash as it Dries: Curing Process Explained

Costs and Maintenance


Limewash is a more affordable option for your brick exterior than paint. The cost of the materials is generally lower than that of paint. However, if you choose to have it professionally applied, the labour cost may increase the overall expense. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that best aligns with your budget and preferences.


  • Limewash: One of the main benefits of limewash is its low maintenance qualities. Since it penetrates the brick, it will not peel off like paint, meaning less upkeep. Additionally, it allows the brick to breathe, reducing the likelihood of trapped moisture causing damage. Natural ageing and wearing of the limewashed surface are less noticeable, further minimizing the need for touch-ups. Repairs can easily be made if necessary by applying more limewash over the existing coat.

  • Paint: Painted brick exteriors often require more maintenance than limewashed ones, as the paint may chip or peel over time. This could necessitate periodic touch-ups or a complete reapplication in the long run. As the paint ages, it might develop cracks, making it more susceptible to mould and water infiltration damage.

The choice between limewash and paint is dependent on your preferences and requirements. With lower costs, relatively easy application, and less upkeep, limewash is an appealing option for many homeowners.


Transforming Brick Homes

Curb Appeal

When considering updating the exterior of your brick home, it’s essential to consider the impact on curb appeal. Limewash and paint are two popular methods to enhance the appearance of brick homes. Limewash creates a unique, soft matte look that blends well with the natural characteristics of the brick, while paint offers a more precise and uniform finish.

Limewashing helps maintain the brick’s texture, giving it a rough and rustic appearance that stands out compared to ordinary painted surfaces. The inconsistency in colour and texture creates a charming effect that can significantly improve your home’s curb appeal without harming the masonry’s integrity like some paints.

Updating Exteriors

If you decide to update your brick home’s exterior, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of using limewash or paint. Limewash has several benefits compared to standard paint, such as:

  • It allows the brick to breathe, preventing moisture issues that can damage the brick over time.
  • It penetrates the brick, meaning it won’t chip or peel like paint. This results in less maintenance and a more weathered appearance that ages gracefully.
  • It is often more cost-effective than paint, as it is cheaper to reapply if necessary.

However, paint may still suit some homeowners’ preferences. Paint provides a more consistent and polished finish, which can be desirable for a clean, modern look. Remember that painted brick may require more maintenance, as it can peel and chip over time.

Updating your brick home’s exterior with limewash or paint can dramatically transform its appearance and increase its curb appeal. Ultimately, the choice between limewashing and painting depends on your personal preferences, budget, and the desired outcome for your home’s exterior.

Related article: How Long Limewash Lasts & How Often it Should Be Reapplied

Limewashed cottage.

Examples and Testimonials

Numerous clients have praised limewash’s effectiveness and aesthetic appeal on their brick homes. Some testimonials mention the ease of application, while others highlight the lasting finish that requires less maintenance than modern paint. Additionally, the breathable nature of limewash allows the brick to retain its natural properties, preventing issues like moisture build-up or peeling.

To help you make an informed decision, seek a free estimate from a trusted contractor experienced in limewashing. They can guide you on the best course of action and assure costs, timeframes, and the final result.

Here are a few important reasons why limewash could be the better option for your brick home:

  • Breathability: Unlike paint, limewash allows the brick to breathe, preventing moisture problems.
  • Durability: Limewash typically lasts longer than paint, as it doesn’t chip or peel.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Achieving a weathered or aged look is easier with lime washing, as it gracefully ages with time.
  • Eco-Friendly: Limewashing is more environmentally friendly than paint, with a lower carbon footprint.

Remember, weighing the pros and cons of each method and considering your preferences for maintenance, cost, and aesthetics is essential. Always consult a professional for guidance, and conduct thorough research to ensure you make the best choice for your home.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, when choosing between limewash and paint for your brick or masonry home or building, there are several factors to consider.

While paint offers a more uniform and polished finish, limewash’s natural composition allows the brick to breathe, reducing the likelihood of water damage and mould growth. Limewash is also more cost-effective and requires less maintenance than paint in the long run.

Ultimately, the decision between limewash and paint depends on your personal preferences, budget, and desired outcome for your home’s exterior. Whatever you choose, seek guidance from a professional to ensure the best results.