Whitewash Recipe TIPS
- Different recipes exist
- Most have similar ingredients
- Hydrated mason's lime and salt are mandatory
- Whitewash can be tinted any color
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More Than One Whitewash Recipe
I scoured the Internet and some historic building handbooks I own to get as many whitewash recipes as I could find.
It didn't take long to realize most of them are very similar. My secret recipe that I used on a very successful project where I had to match 70-year-old weathered whitewash is just below.
Here's just one part of the project I did. I wish I had taken a wider-angled shot so you could see the original house. Trust me, the whitewash on it looks identical to this addition I built - or vice versa!
The reason some bricks are exposed is that's the look on the existing home. The house resembles a weathered English country home.
Links to purchase all of the ingredients you need are below the recipes. I've selected only the top-quality products, so you don't have a failure.
All can be shipped to your doorstep.
Historic Whitewash Recipe
- Alum - Common Potash Aluminum
- Table Salt
- Molasses - Un-sulfured, light brown/clear
- Hydrated Lime
- Optional: Portland Cement Type I or Type II -preferably white cement
Part A: Mix 12 pounds salt, 6 ounces of alum and 1 quart molasses dissolved in 1.5 gallons of water.
Part B: Mix 50 pounds of the hydrated lime with 5 gallons of hot water. Let this stand for 12 hours. After 12 hours mix Parts A and B together to a brushable consistency.
Optional Step: You can add white Portland cement for more durability. But substitute only up to 10 percent of the lime you use. In this recipe you would use 5 pounds of white cement and 45 pounds of lime.
Tim Carter's Secret Whitewash Recipe
- 50 pounds of hydrated mason's lime
- 10 pounds of table salt
- Optional: Dried color pigments used in brick mortar and white Portland cement for extra durability.
- Mixing Instructions:
Blend lime and salt together dry. If using pigment and cement, blend them at this time until the entire mixture is homogeneous.
Add water slowly until mixture resembles pancake batter or a creamy latex paint. Do NOT STOP stirring until all of the lime is dissolved into the water!
Mixing Whitewash Video
Watch this pretty good video about how to mix whitewash. This is how I did it. He talks about using silica sand, but that just adds grit to the finish.
IMPORTANT TIP: Do not add the quartz sand if you want a smooth finish!
Gil Gandenberger's The Ohio Valley Farmer Recipe
Gil, who lived in Cincinnati, OH, emailed me an ancient recipe he discovered in an old copy of The Ohio Valley Farmer dated June, 1860!
WHITEWASH, as used on the President's house, in Washington DC, is made as follows:
- Slake half a bushel of unslaked lime with boiling water; cover it during the process
- Strain it, and add a peck of salt dissolved in warm water
- Add three pounds ground rice, boiled to a thin paste, put in boiling hot to other ingredients
- Add half a pound Spanish white, and one pound clear glue, dissolved in warm water
Mix and let the whole stand a few days. Keep in a kettle, and put on hot with a brush.
What is Slaking?
Slaking is the process of adding water to hydrated lime. The lime is chemically unstable in the bag and when mixed with water it begins an exothermic chemical reaction giving off heat.
It's possible for steam to rise from the mix. It's VERY IMPORTANT to stir the mix constantly so all the lime gets mixed with water.
If unslaked lime ends up in the final work, it can pop, pit or disintegrate at a later date. This is more likely to happen when lime is used as the bonding agent in brick mortar rather than whitewash.
The bottom line is STIR WELL.
High-Quality Whitewash Materials
To purchase white Portland cement, just do a search on any search engine. You'll find it. At the time I revised this column, it was not for sale on Amazon.com.