Should You Paint Lime Plaster? Our Ultimate Guide


Lime plaster has become increasingly popular in recent years, but knowing how best to care for a lime plaster wall or ceiling can be difficult. Does it need to be painted?

Lime plaster does not need to be painted. There are many lime plasters available which can be applied and left unpainted. Some lime plasters even come in many different colours and textures. The main reason for painting lime plaster is colour customisation. Additionally, in some cases, lime paints, limewashes and other suitable paints can help protect lime plaster from harsh weather or general wear and tear.

From protecting against weathering and increasing aesthetic appeal to providing a range of colours and customisation options, this article explores the benefits of painting lime plaster vs not painting it, as well as the various types of paint available for lime plasters.

What is Lime Plaster?

Lime plaster has been around for centuries and is still popular today. It’s created by mixing lime, sand, and water, which creates a plaster that can be used to finish walls and ceilings. The plaster is usually applied in 3 coats for the best results, creating a solid finish that is both durable and attractive.

Lime plaster also has the added benefit of being breathable, which allows moisture in the air to pass through it – important if you want to prevent condensation, mould or dampness in your home. Lime plaster can also be painted with natural paints, which are great for the plaster and the environment.

All in all, it’s an excellent choice when looking for an aesthetically pleasing wall finish that won’t require lots of maintenance over time.

Related article: The Best Type of Lime for Plastering: A Guide

Does Lime Plaster Need to Be Painted?

Lime plaster, by itself, does not require painting. However, some homeowners and builders choose to paint lime plaster for aesthetic or protective purposes. In such cases, using breathable paint specifically designed for lime plaster is essential. This will ensure moisture can pass through without becoming trapped behind the surface.

Pros and Cons of Painting Lime Plaster


  • Enhanced Appearance: Painting lime plaster can enhance the appearance of the surface, adding colour and variety to wall finishes.
  • Protection: Paint can provide a layer of protection against dust, dirt, and stains. Breathable paints also help maintain lime plaster’s moisture management properties.
  • Easy Maintenance: A painted lime plaster surface is easier to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth without damaging the plaster’s integrity.


  • Compatibility Issues: If the wrong type of paint is used, it can lead to moisture retention and damage to the lime plaster. It is vital to use breathable paint to allow moisture to pass through the surface.
  • Cost: Special breathable paints may be more expensive than conventional paints.
  • Periodic Repainting: Painted surfaces may require periodic repainting due to fading, peeling, or chipping. This can add to long-term maintenance costs and effort.

When deciding whether to paint lime plaster, weighing the benefits against the potential drawbacks is essential. Ultimately, the choice to paint lime plaster will depend on personal preferences, building requirements, and the desired appearance of the wall finish.

The exterior of a house is limewashed.

Related article: How Soon Can You Paint Over Lime Plaster?

Considerations When Choosing a Paint For Lime Plaster

When choosing a paint for lime plaster, it’s essential to consider a few key factors to ensure a proper finish and long-lasting results. This section will discuss the importance of breathability and other considerations.

Breathability of Paint

For lime plaster, the breathability of the paint is a crucial factor. Lime plaster is a permeable material, allowing moisture to pass in and out of the walls. This helps to regulate humidity and prevent dampness, mould, and other issues. Therefore, choosing an equally breathable paint is important to not impair the plaster’s natural properties.

A breathable paint allows vapour to pass through, preventing moisture build-up within the wall. Modern emulsion paints may not be suitable for lime plaster as they may not provide sufficient breathability. Instead, opt for natural, mineral-based paints designed for lime plaster, such as limewash or clay paint. These types of paint maintain the plaster’s ability to absorb and release moisture, preserving its benefits and longevity.

When selecting a breathable paint for lime plaster, be cautious of ‘greenwashed’ products that only claim to be breathable. Do thorough research and consult reliable sources, like Organic Natural Paint or Emperor Paint, to ensure you make an informed decision.

In summary, when choosing paint for lime plaster, prioritise breathability and choose a suitable paint like limewash or clay paint. Avoid modern non-breathable paints that may not allow the plaster to breathe, leading to potential damage and moisture problems. Always research and consult reliable sources to make the best choice for your lime plaster project.

Paint Types for Lime Plaster


Limewash is a traditional paint option for lime plaster. It is made by mixing slaked lime with water and various natural pigments, creating a breathable and flexible finish. Limewash provides a soft, chalky appearance and is ideal for use on lime plaster due to its compatibility and ability to allow the walls to breathe.

Lime Paint

Lime paint is another suitable option for lime plaster. It comprises slaked lime, water, and natural pigments but is usually thicker than limewash and may have other additives. This creates a paint that is highly breathable, flexible, and natural. The application process is similar to limewash, and lime paint can be applied in multiple coats for more depth of colour, just like limewash.

Clay Paint

Clay paint is a good choice for lime plaster as it is breathable and non-toxic. Made from organic clay, clay paint offers a softer, earthy appearance that can complement the natural aesthetic of lime-plastered walls. Its breathability helps prevent moisture issues in older or traditional buildings. Clay paints are usually more suited to interior use.

Silicate Paints

Silicate paints, also known as mineral paints, are compatible with lime and gypsum walls. They provide excellent coverage and durability while maintaining the breathability essential for lime plaster. Silicate paints can also be overpainted in another paint if needed. Silicate paints are fantastic for internal and external paintwork.

Other Eco-Friendly Options

For those looking for eco-friendly paint options for lime plaster, look for breathable paints free from harmful chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Some examples include Edward Bulmer Natural Paint and Celtic Sustainables, offering a range of environmentally friendly and breathable paint options suitable for lime-plastered walls.

Related article: What Are The Best Paints For Lime Plaster?