What Render is Best for Old Houses? Lime Render Explored


When choosing the right render for your old house, it is essential to consider the building materials and construction methods used in the past. This will help you preserve your home’s original character while providing long-lasting weatherproofing. One of the most suitable choices for older properties is lime render.

Lime render is a traditional material used for centuries on historic buildings. It allows the building to breathe and helps regulate moisture. This makes it ideal for properties built with solid walls and lime mortar. Unlike modern cement renders, which can trap moisture and cause damp issues, lime render works in harmony with the structure of older homes, reducing the likelihood of moisture-related problems.

In addition to being compatible with the original construction of older homes, lime render brings several benefits. It is eco-friendly, breathable, and flexible, allowing it to accommodate minor movements within the building without cracking. With its textured or smooth finish, lime render enhances the character of historic buildings and ensures a visually pleasing result that respects the property’s heritage.

Why Lime Render is Best for Old Houses

When dealing with historic buildings, choosing the right materials to maintain the property’s authenticity and ensure its longevity is crucial. Lime render is an excellent choice for old houses; here’s why:

Firstly, lime render helps create a breathable barrier for your property. Older structures, particularly those built with solid walls and traditional materials like stone or brick, require a breathable surface to allow moisture to evaporate naturally. This prevents dampness from accumulating inside your home, preserving the integrity of both internal and external walls.

Lime render’s flexibility is another advantage when it comes to older properties. Unlike modern cement renders, which can be rigid and prone to cracking, lime render has greater flexibility. Allowing it to move with the building as it settles over time. This can reduce the likelihood of cracking and damage to the walls.

In terms of aesthetics, lime render provides a sympathetic appearance that complements the character of historic buildings. As it ages, lime render develops a natural patina that enhances the property’s appearance. This blends well with the surrounding materials and brings out the best in your home’s original features.

Another benefit of using lime render is that it works harmoniously with the rest of the building, including the roof. Lime render’s breathability allows any moisture that enters the property through the roof to be absorbed and then evaporated away instead of becoming trapped within the walls. This can prevent condensation issues, mould growth, and structural damage.

Using lime render for your historic property offers numerous advantages, from ensuring breathability and moisture control to providing a flexible surface that gracefully ages and works well with traditional building materials. So when it comes to rendering your old house, lime render is a standout choice.

Related article: Why Should You Consider Using Lime Plaster or Render?


Understanding Breathability of Materials

When working with older buildings, it is vital to understand the breathability of materials used in the construction and maintenance process. Breathability refers to a building material’s ability to allow water vapour and moisture to pass through its structure. Promoting a healthy environment for the building and its occupants.

Lime render is ideal for old houses because of its excellent breathability. This traditional material is porous and helps regulate moisture levels within walls. Overall, it prevents trapped damp and minimises the risk of damage to the building fabric. Lime’s natural flexibility also enables it to accommodate building movement, reducing the likelihood of cracks developing.

On the other hand, cement render lacks the breathability that old houses require. Cement is less permeable than lime, often trapping moisture within a building’s structure and leading to damp issues. Furthermore, cement’s rigidity and vulnerability to cracking can compromise the integrity of old walls, causing further problems.

In general, materials with high breathability, like lime, are preferable for old houses as they:

  • Maintain healthy moisture levels within walls
  • Are less likely to crack due to building movements
  • Safeguard the longevity of the building’s structure

It is important to note that a material’s porosity does not solely determine breathability. Vapour permeability also plays a key role in diffusing water vapour through the building fabric. This contributes to effective moisture management.

When selecting materials for your old house, consider their breathability and vapour permeability. These characteristics are fundamental in preserving the building’s structure and history. Lime render stands out as the top choice for its excellent performance in these areas and should be used to safeguard the stability and appearance of your classic home.

Related article: Roughcast vs Smooth Lime Render: What’s Best for Your Home?

Benefits of Lime Render

Lime render is an ideal choice for old houses. It offers numerous advantages that cater specifically to the needs of traditional and historic buildings. Here are some key benefits to consider when using lime render on your property.

Firstly, lime render is breathable. This means it allows moisture to evaporate from the building, preventing damp problems and promoting a healthier indoor environment. Unlike cement-based renders, which can trap moisture inside the walls, lime render enables your building to “breathe” by allowing water to pass through its porous structure.

Maintenance is another significant advantage of lime render. It is a versatile and robust material that can be easily repaired or replaced as needed, ensuring longevity for your property. Lime render is also less rigid compared to cement renders. Allowing it to accommodate the natural movement and settling of an old building without causing cracks or damage.

When it comes to waterproofing your old house, lime render excels. It provides a permeable barrier, making it an excellent waterproofing solution that doesn’t sacrifice breathability. This dual action protects the structure from external elements while maintaining a comfortable internal environment.

Lime plaster is a traditional building material with many modern-day applications that make it suitable for renovations and new builds. Its compatibility with a wide range of natural building materials, such as stone, brick, and timber, makes it a versatile choice for old and new houses with various construction methods.

Lime render is an ideal choice for old houses due to its breathability, low maintenance, flexibility, waterproofing properties, compatibility with various building materials, and longevity. Incorporating lime render into your property’s restoration or preservation plans will ensure that it retains its character and integrity for years.

Common Problems and Solutions


Cracks in the render finish of your old house can be a significant problem. They are often caused by weather conditions, water ingress, building movement, or the external wall insulation being prone to cracking. To remedy this, consider using a lime render for your masonry. Lime render is more flexible and breathable than cement render, which helps prevent cracks.

If you notice small cracks in your lime render, you can fill them with a lime crack filler like this one. For larger cracks, you may need to consult professional help to ensure the structural integrity of your walls.


Dampness is a common issue in old houses. It’s usually caused by condensation, rainwater, or water ingress due to poor external wall insulation or inadequate venting. Lime render is ideal for tackling dampness in your home. As we have discussed, it allows moisture to evaporate rather than trapping it within the walls.

Regularly check and maintain rainwater goods, such as gutters and downpipes, to prevent water ingress that could lead to dampness. Keep an eye on weather conditions when applying the render, as excessive rain or frost can affect its performance.

Here are some key points to remember when using lime render to address common problems in old houses:

  • Render Finish: Lime render allows for a smooth and breathable finish.
  • Masonry: Lime render is suitable for a variety of masonry surfaces in old houses.
  • Vent: Ensure proper venting to reduce condensation and dampness.
  • Weather conditions: Be cautious of rain and frost when applying lime render.

By addressing these common problems with the appropriate solutions, you can help preserve the integrity and appearance of your old house. Although lime render may be more expensive than cement render, its benefits in terms of breathability, flexibility, and compatibility with old masonry make it the ideal choice for old houses.

Choosing the Right Render for Your Home

When selecting the appropriate render for your home, several key factors should be considered, such as the type of property, its age, and any existing structural issues. Lime render is likely the most suitable choice for older houses or listed buildings. This traditional material was commonly used on exterior walls before the 1930s when cement render became popular. It is more flexible and breathable than its modern counterparts, enabling it to be used on period properties with damp walls or those prone to movement.

There is an abundance of home decor ideas and DIY advice available. They can guide you in choosing a render that aligns with your project’s inspiration, budget, and desired outcome. In addition to lime render, other options include timber cladding, natural stone, and metal. They cater to various architectural styles, from contemporary homes to French-influenced designs. When deciding which material to use, consider its texture, durability, cost, and the advice of experts and architects.

If you’re working with a tight budget, weighing the differences between having the cheapest render option and the one that’s most suitable for your property is essential. Investing in the right render can add kerb appeal, protect your home’s structure, and create an attractive finish that lasts for years. While other cement alternatives may be cheaper than lime render, please consider the substantial risk of damage caused by using waterproof building materials on old buildings. In the long run, this could cost far more than just using lime render in the first place.

In conclusion, when choosing the right render for your home, it’s vital to consider your property’s age and style, budget, and desired finish. By carefully weighing up these factors and seeking expert advice when needed, you can confidently select a render that looks great and reinforces your home’s structural integrity.

Related article: What Happens if You Use Normal Modern Paint on Lime Plaster?

Planning Permissions and Regulations

When rendering an old house, it’s essential to be aware of any planning permissions and regulations that may apply. Lime render is the best option for older homes due to its flexibility and breathability, which can help alleviate damp issues.

Before starting your rendering project, checking whether planning permission is needed is crucial. In most cases, rendering a house falls under the category of permitted development, meaning that planning permission will not be required. However, this can vary depending on your local planning authority and your property’s specific location and age.

If your house is in London, remember that the capital has stricter planning regulations due to its unique architectural heritage. You should consult your local council to find out whether you need planning permission before undertaking any rendering work.

While lime render is an excellent choice for old houses, it’s important to be informed about planning permissions and building regulations before starting your project. Always consult your local authority to ensure you are compliant and take extra precautions if your property is located in London. Remember to work with a professional knowledgeable in these areas to ensure a successful and compliant rendering project.


In conclusion, lime render is the standout choice for rendering when it comes to preserving the original character and integrity of an old house. Its breathability, flexibility, and compatibility with traditional building materials make it ideal for older properties, reducing the likelihood of moisture-related problems and accommodating minor movements within the building without cracking.

Lime render also enhances the appearance of historic buildings, blending well with surrounding materials and bringing out the best in the property’s original features.

When using lime render, it is important to consider its breathability and vapour permeability and address common problems like cracks and dampness.

By carefully selecting the appropriate render, seeking expert advice, and complying with planning permissions and regulations, you can confidently preserve the character and integrity of your old house for years to come.