Whitewashing Brick

56 responses

  1. Courtney
    March 1, 2013

    I am wanting to white wash the exterior of my 2500 sq ft brick home. I have been seeing many whitewash recipes that simply mix latex paint and water. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Tim Carter
      April 1, 2013

      Courtney, My thoughts are this: This is what my 500-Second Consult is all about. Click the Shop icon at the top of the page!

  2. Allyson M
    April 10, 2013

    I followed your technique for the brick foundation of my home and I love the way it turned out, thanks! I did one section first and then we had a heavy rain and already it washed quite a bit of the whitewash away.I was wondering if there is a sealant I can apply to maintain the look i have achieved?

  3. Mike Collins
    May 28, 2014

    Hey Tim,

    Was your whitewash project the addition in Clifton on the little side street between Ludlow and LaFayette? If so, I hate to tell you but that was in the early '90's. I know time flies but it's now closing in on 25 yrs if that was the job. I remember that job because I supplied custom columns and had welded the caps on out of square. You graciously fixed it to keep the job moving forward but let me know about my mis-cue in a constructive manner. I took your advise to heart and never had another out of square complaint. Thanks, many years later.


  4. Elaine
    May 28, 2014

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been putting off doing something to my brick fireplace because I didn't think I wanted to "just paint It". This sounds like exactly the solution I was wanting.

  5. Marliese
    September 21, 2014


    I would like to whitewash an exposed brick wall behind a coal stove.

    What type of prouct would you suggest?

    • Tim Carter
      September 22, 2014

      I would suggest whitewash. Did you read ALL of my columns about it and my secret recipe? Type "whitewash" into my search engine here at http://www.AsktheBuilder.com. 🙂

  6. Liz C
    December 14, 2014

    Hi - we live in a 1986 Tudor that has the red brick & the areas that are not brick is wood. I was told by a painter Not to paint brick as it will erode the morter between the bricks in time. Is this true? Our home is 4k SF & I don't want to have an exterior maintenance issue down the road. Also... Tips on Stucco repair/painting? Many thanks
    Liz (MA)

    • Tim Carter
      December 17, 2014

      Liz, that painter is completely WRONG. Paint will not cause erosion of mortar. If anything, it helps protect it from the damaging water that over time WILL erode it. But painting brick, in my opinion, takes a maintenance-free material and transforms it into one requiring periodic maintenance. This means you'll be PAINTING it again and again and again. My website here is LOADED with tips on stucco repair, the best exterior paints, etc. Just use the Search Bar at the side or bottom of any page.

  7. Amanda
    January 16, 2015

    Thank you very much for the information on how to Whitewash Brick! We are purchasing a red brick ranch style house and we were looking for a technique we could use to lighten it up and make it look more cottage style. I was wondering how you "wash off some of the whitewash several hours after application or the next day to expose brick or parts of brick in random areas." If the whitewash is permanent how do you wash it off after it dries? Do you have to use a certain chemical?
    Thank you for your help!

    • Tim Carter
      January 16, 2015

      You don't use a chemical. You use water and a stiff scrub brush. I HIGHLY recommend you build a small brick test wall that's similar in brick to what you have on your home. TEST applying the whitewash to this wall.

  8. Kari
    January 21, 2015

    Hi. I'm really excited about whitewashing our somewhat boring post-war brick rambler, which I think is about 2700 SF. How handy does one need to be to whitewash a house using your technique? I've painted a few rooms in an apartment years ago, but I had anticipated finding a professional to do this. It would be nice to save the money if I could do it myself, though! I'd appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks, Kari

    • Tim Carter
      January 23, 2015

      Kari, if you can fog a mirror, you can whitewash..... You need to PRACTICE first. Just practice on the most unseen part of your home and then expand out from there. The BEST way to practice is to purchase some of the THIN glue-on brick and attach them to a piece of cement board. Practice on that. Realize you need to let the whitewash DRY for two days to see the final look. It doesn't take much!

  9. Jana
    February 27, 2015

    our fireplace needs an update. Do I need to clean the bricks first? It looks like there was a leak years ago and there is a whitish residue on some of the bricks. I tried cleaning it with just lightly soapy water and it's better, but still visible.
    Is the white wash going to hide it? Can you recommend a technique or product to clean it?
    Thank you!

  10. laura robustelli
    March 13, 2015

    can this white washing be done on brick face as well

  11. Jordan
    March 19, 2015

    Tim how can I reach you one on one to speak about consulting on a whitewashing job we are doing in a large home in Kansas City?

    • Tim Carter
      March 19, 2015


      Easy. I create a phone consult product for just these situations. You may want to purchase two units if you have multiple questions.

      CLICK HERE to order.

  12. Nancy
    March 19, 2015

    Hi, will whitewash adhere to a plaster wall that has been painted previously with white, flat finish latex paint? Thanks, Nancy

    • Tim Carter
      March 19, 2015


      Yes it will.

  13. Anthony
    July 9, 2015

    Thanks for the info, I will be experimenting with my first whitewash project this weekend. Can you give a little insight as to how I would add tint to the lime and salt mixture? Thanks, Anthony

  14. Carla
    September 8, 2015

    We have a wood fence that we would like to paint. We figured it would be easier to whitewash it since it is a whole lot of fence. Do you have any advice? I know your recipe is hydrated lime and salt. Does that usually cover a lot? Thanks!!! Also I remember when I was little seeing my dad white wash around the bottom of our trees. Does this protect them?

  15. Sam
    October 3, 2015

    Hi Tim! Thanks for the great tutorial, it is very useful. Question: How long would you recommend waiting to whitewash an interior chimney that has had several brick replaced and has been freshly tuck pointed?

  16. Susan
    October 6, 2015

    Should I pressure was brick before whitewash?

  17. Patty
    October 29, 2015

    Hi Tim: Can brick floors be whitewashed with your technique? If so, can they be sealed or will the whitewash act as a sealant? I have an old townhouse with red brick pavers in a galley kitchen with no windows (there is some light coming from the dining room windows that are just off of the kitchen) and would like to lighten up the floors. Any advice would be much appreciated! Patty in Marietta GA

    • Cole
      November 14, 2015

      Great Question. I have never considered a brick floor. Tim , I look forward to your question as well. Thank you for posting this site. It is very informative about a beautiful look!

    • Jill
      June 16, 2016

      I'm looking to do the same to an exterior sun room that has red brick which was recently enclosed and is now an interior room.
      I'm trying to figure out a solution that will be safe, and look nice on the floor with kids, dogs and people coming in and outside

  18. Mike
    November 21, 2015

    My desire look for my fireplace brick wall. Is to have that white wash cottage feel. My question is would you use the whitewash over my black mortar? I'm looking to achieve a much lighter color.

  19. Mike S
    November 27, 2015

    Very interested in white washing a brick wall, but my bricks have black mortar. Not sure how that will work. I definitely want white bricks with black mortar.

  20. Cliffe
    November 30, 2015

    Giday Tim : I am going to try and whitewash my house roof, which is zinc coated. Decided to try on my shed roof first. The roller didn't work as the whitewash wouldn't stick so finished up doing it by brush. No probs.
    Normally when it's 30c outside, the temperature in the shed is 45c. After my whitewash painting it was cooler in the shed than outside. Unreal.
    But to do the house roof, which I intend to spray, is whitewash corrosive on metal, will I need a primer and maybe some additive which would make it more flexible. Any idea's on that?
    What do you reckon, will it work? I have asked around but no one has ever heard of it being done on metal before. I'm calling from Townsville Australia

  21. Cliffe
    November 30, 2015

    Gday again Tim. I just come across 14" tank spreader with profile roller attached. Check it out on Youtube. That would make putting on whitewash a breeze. I don't know if you can get these in Australia, but I'll soon make one

  22. Rhonda Darlington
    February 11, 2016

    Very interested in knowing whether or not you can whitewash brick floors as well. Mine have a poly sealant on them also and want to know if I can still do it?

    • Tim Carter
      February 11, 2016

      Yes, you can whitewash floors. But you need to protect the whitewash so it doesn't wear off.

  23. shelley ekmanis
    February 14, 2016

    I have a 60's house built out of burnt adobe bricks in Sedona, AZ where the weather ranges from below freezing to over 90 degrees. It is not the strongest brick and I would like to protect the East side from the elements (other sides have more roof overhang). Since you said whitewashing doesn't require much maintenance and lasts a long time, I was thinking that whitewashing might be a good solution. I don't want to accidentally trap moisture in this brick by using a sealant. Do you think whitewashing with lime and salt would be a good solution? Thank you for your input.

    • Tim Carter
      February 14, 2016


      Yes! Whitewash will help protect the soft brick. It's breathable! Be SURE to experiment and realize you can add pigment to it to get unlimited colors. Please take BEFORE and AFTER photos and send to me to put up here.

  24. Patti Gilthorpe
    February 15, 2016

    Dear Tim,

    I have purchased a 50's brick cottage with the ugliest textured red brick. There is no variation in color and the brick is very uniform and slimline. While I love Chicago brick and St Joe, this does not compare.

    My question, would the wash technique help to smooth out the texture? I love the washed look, but wonder if it would work with my econo textured brick.

    We haven't started the reno yet and we are over budget. I am contemplating painting the house on my own. So, any tips or additional tutorials will be greatly appreciated.
    Many thx.

    • Angelica
      April 7, 2016

      I too would love a response from this as we have the same situation with our brick. thank you

  25. Katlyn
    March 31, 2016

    Hi Tim, we just recently lime washed out brick and LOVE it I was just wondering if there is a seal that would protect the line from changing colors as when it is raining on some places that get more wet look like just the original brick until it dries again. Do you know what would work to fix that problem?

    Thank you

  26. Jill
    April 6, 2016

    Hi Tim!
    You mention adding mortar to the 50 lb. Lime/10 lb. Salt mixture, but you didn't give an amount. I am planning to try this, but need an approximate amount to stir in. Do I just apply as stated and then wash next day any bricks I want to expose as with the Non mortar formula?

  27. Becca
    April 23, 2016

    How much area does that ratio cover?

  28. Sue Ann
    April 28, 2016

    If I use this formula and don't like my end result can I paint over it?

    • Joe
      November 30, 2016

      Sue Ann,
      Did you ever find an answer to your question? I'm wondering the same thing.

    • Tim Carter
      November 30, 2016

      Yes you can paint over it. But don't give up on first attempt!!! Whitewashing is SUPERIOR to paint!!!! It won't PEEL!!!!!!

  29. Donna horne
    May 1, 2016

    Dear Tim, I was looking into having my outdated pink brick home mortar washed but this technique of white washing sounds much easier,. Can you white wash then spray with a power washer to take off what you don't want or would mortar washing be best for a diy project? Thank you for your time

  30. paul ron
    May 6, 2016

    i cant find the lime plasterers use. can i use garden lime?

  31. Rebecca
    June 19, 2016

    Hi Tim I have a Dutch colonial home which the bottom part of has red brick that has vertical grooves in it. Will this method work with that given its far more porous?

  32. Sarah
    June 21, 2016

    So here's my scenario: we purchased a home with a bricked corner wood stove surround. The brick was originally red with black mortar and the mantel was originally a beautiful slab of slate. The previous owners painted (badly) the bricks with white paint - definitely didn't use a whitewashing technique! The black mortar still shows through, but no brick color. They then added a border of black square tiles up the ends of bricks on each side and a row of white square tiles along the top. If this wasn't bad enough, they (gulp!) painted the slate a bright turquoise! I'm planning to strip the paint of the slate and would love to achieve a whitewash look on the brick, but the paint on the bricks is really thick. Should I faux paint instead? Seriously what some people do with brick should be outlawed!

  33. Darci
    July 5, 2016

    Does weather effect whitewash? I live in Utah and the winters can be severe.

  34. Ashley
    July 29, 2016

    We are thinking of whitewashing our fireplace however the brick is incredibly porous. It isn't the typical smooth to slightly rough finish I've normally seen in houses but rather a very rough, deep grooved, porous finish on each brick. I am nervous that this may affect the whitewashing of the fireplace. Will it be too difficult to do and look odd? Or will it turn out awesome? Not sure if anyone else has had experience whitewashing this type of brick! Any advice is helpful, thanks!

  35. Cindy
    August 11, 2016

    Hi Tim, I have a small ranch that I am painting a coastal sany beige. The bottom of the ranch is burnt orange brick that I would like to whitewash. Can you recommend a sheer win Williams creamy white to add to concrete stain to treat the bricks. That's how my Pinter recommends treating the brick. Will this look pink? Thanks for your help!

  36. Nick
    October 17, 2016

     Hi Tim, i have a section of internal thirsty bricks i would like to put a lime wash over and then seal it.
    Can i confirm, that a primer is not required? That would influence the final colour too much?
    Will a whitewash requires on going maintenance  or is it regular primer/ paint that has the on going maintenance?

  37. Ken Graham
    January 20, 2017

    Hi Tim, while I generally like your tips, I am disappointed you would recommend salt in the mix. We have a hotel on the beach and I see the effects of salt corrosion daily. Even if it did not directly damage the mortar, any wash off will contaminate any steel near by and set up a electrolytic reaction between any dissimilar metals such as steel and aluminum window and patio frames for instance. (steel is likely the corner reinforcement to the aluminum frame) And woe be if it gets into cracks that allow access to the rebar in the building.

    During building of the small hotel we used Sulphate resistant type 5 cement and hauled in water, not even trusting the well water so I would never ever suggest using salt. You do also mention using white cement and or color concrete powders, which would be entirely acceptable. I suspect acrylic latex mixed in would also be a good addition. Just look at the commercial products used over styrofoam on the outside of buildings that is used in some secret recipe and sold commercially by I think companies like Dow.

    Incidentally I am already signed up to your website. I don't know if you would benefit from a 2nd box stating that so you would know your not loosing prospects that don't use your sign up box.

    • Tim Carter
      January 21, 2017


      These are time-tested recipes and they work. That said, I'm sure when the material was used hundreds of years ago they didn't put reinforcing steel in masonry construction. Ancient buildings in Mexico that were whitewashed were just solid masonry with no steel.

      I can tell you if I was building in a marine environment like you have, any piece of reinforcing steel would be epoxy coated so salt could never get to the steel. That's how road bridges in the USA are now being built.

      My guess would be, and I have NO DATA to back this up, is that the salt spray and salt fog you might get would be far worse than any minor amount of salt in the mix when you calculate the salt concentration per square foot.

      In other words, the recipes you see here on my site are for 60 pounds of total material and once mixed with water, how many square feet of surface does that cover?

      Thanks for your great comment and suggestions.

  38. Jill Douglas
    February 12, 2017

    Would this work for porcelain tile floors? Or is there a better method for a whitewashed floor look?

  39. Jooles
    February 18, 2017

    Hi - I live in Malta - (island in the Med) my house is made with limestone blocks. Can i apply limewash direct? Some walls have had old plaster attached - nightmare to remove - can I remove anything loose then apply whitewash over everything that is left?

    • Tim Carter
      February 18, 2017

      Yes. You can apply it directly to the limestone blocks. It will bond well. Be sure the limestone is CLEAN!

  40. Aimee
    February 25, 2017

    Hello Tim,

    Thank you for all of this very helpful information about whitewashing brick. I have two questions for you. Should estimates from painters, that include the cost of materials, be significantly lower for whitewashing as compared to those that would use say Benjamin Moore paint? Also, can you recommend a reputable and experienced contractor to whitewash my red brick home, located just North of Chicago? It's been challenging to find contractors who use this method. Thank you!

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