When it comes to paint, do the Belgians know best? Mineral-based, natural limewash is a Belgian basic with a chalky, nuanced texture that only gets better with age. Environmentally friendly and used for centuries, limewash is one of the original house paints. Should it be on your short list?

A limewashed wall in a room by Axel Vervoordt. See more of the Belgian design impresario&#8
Above: A limewashed wall in a room by Axel Vervoordt. See more of the Belgian design impresario’s work in our post about the Penthouse Suite at New York’s Greenwich Hotel that he designed for Robert De Niro.

What is limewash?

An ancient house staple dating back to Roman times, limewash is made from limestone that’s been crushed, burned, and mixed with water to make a lime putty. The putty is aged and then thinned with water and colored with natural pigments. Limewash creates surfaces that are mottled and matte with a chalky texture something like suede. It lends a depth and luminosity to flat walls.

Limewash creates a textured, shadowy effect. Photograph from Kalklitir, a lime-paint company.
Above: Limewash creates a textured, shadowy effect. Photograph from Kalklitir, a lime-paint company.

Is limewash environmentally friendly?

Free of solvents that have pushed paints to the top of the household environmental hazards list, traditional limewash is made from natural lime and natural pigments. Even some modern varieties that contain additional binding agents use mineral additives that keep the environmentally-friendly attributes intact.

Lime’s high pH level means microorganisms can’t survive, which adds a hypoallergenic quality. Proponents also argue that limewash has a chemical makeup that removes odors (and harmful CO2), improving interior air quality.

Light-colored limewash walls at the Moka & Vanille Bed & Breakfast in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.
Above: Light-colored limewash walls at the Moka & Vanille Bed & Breakfast in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.



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