Living in an 18th century (or older) house, is becoming somewhat of a habit and we swing into the familiar routine of hacking off cement renders and replacing with breathable limes. The sources of damp are identified and soil is excavated. Lime mortar replaces the cracked brittle cement which has created perfect funnels for rivulets of rainwater into the walls. Limewash is mixed and painted on the vulnerable Northern exterior; and Distemper applied in creamy sweet smelling washes on every paintable interior wall.
We decided to encompass the old calf shed/barn and have converted it into a high beamed dining room with a mezzanine. As always, we have tried to retain it's character and the rotten beams have been replaced with raw rounded Dartmoor Oak from Anton Coker http://www.anton-coaker.co.uk/ ; the mezzanine flooring thick tongue and groove 'Dung Walling' (Mole valley Farmers) and the newly laid Glasscrete/limecrete floor topped with Dijon limestone https://www.mandarinstone.com/showrooms/monmouth. We were restricted by Listings to keep the granite and green elven stone walls raw; but after sandblasting and pointing up with a matched lime mortar it looks great! We have copied the original shutters (that were shot) and they have been replaced over double glazed windows to give extra protection and its original look.
In the main house; we have removed a modern staircase and managed to find a Lutyens original at a local Reclamation yard for the princely sum of £300! That is installed in the old kitchen (now hallway) by a friend who swapped his carpentry skills for sailing lessons.... a year later and he is, at this moment, sailing through the Beagle Channel (near Cape Horn) on his little yacht Aisling ... https://danpisco.wixsite.com/danpisco
So .. for the recipes:
A lot of rubbish and over complication is attributed to simple Limewash. It is just that and has been used until relatively recently by anyone old (or young) enough to pick up a paintbrush. this recipe has been used for hundreds of years on rough walls to 'disinfect' barns and calf/sheep pens. Do not be put off by tales of 'you can't use it over modern masonry paint' or 'you need to put it on translucent or it will crack'.. nonsense.. if you apply in the consistency of double cream it will be just fine. It will go over anything and everything (it clings to plastic downpipes so remember to cover). It won't be patchy (which happens if the paint is too thin) and it will not be powdery. I have even painted over stubborn ivy by mistake.. and the ivy just keeps growing... so you won't harm your climbers.
Just don't apply it in burning hot weather when any paint will crack.. And if it does? Just slap on another coat to seal it.
This recipe is well tried and tested. We applied Limewash to the North wall when we arrived here nearly three years ago and there is not one flake or weather wear. A sack of lime will cover an average house wall... and its around £8-9 a bag. win win.
You will need:
- 1 black bucket
- Face Mask and gloves
- wide brush
- wooden spoon or builders trowel
- water sprayer (ex dettol or window cleaner bottle is great)
- Raw Linseed Oil
- sack of Lime HNL 3 is fine; Putty is fine; Non Hydraulic... fine.
Half fill the bucket with water.
- Tip about a quarter of the sack of lime into the bucket mixing as it goes. It will bubble a bit (exothermic reaction) but then settles down as you stir.
- Adjust the quantities of water and lime until you have a double cream like texture.
- Scrape off/wire brush as much of the old exterior paint as you can and roughly spray the wall with water.. not too much.
- Slap on the whitewash in a criss cross then up and down fashion. It will look grey. Keep going ! It will spatter everywhere. Don't panic, just be prepared.
- Now the magic happens.. it slowly turns white... and you are doing an amazing thing for the planet at the same time! As it dries; it absorbs carbon dioxide (Co2)
- If you have the patience .. and it is recommended that you do... apply one more coat.
- Then..... your last coat is different.
- Mix the lime again to a double cream consistency and then... splosh in about half a mug full of Raw linseed oil and stir well. This will be your last coat. The colour is slightly different; more creamy white (unless you have decided to put a pigment colour into your original mix). I promise you; if you use lime you will never, ever, go down the route of modern paintwork or cement mortars again. And your home will never, ever, be damp and you will save money. Ooops; nearly forgot. whatever you do don't use lime when there is a frost in the air and ideally over 5 degrees. Traditionally it is used between March and October.. but Limewash is fine as long as you know you have a two week window. The Lime will grey with heavy rain as it absorbs water into the top coat which is perfectly normal; as it dries fully again it will go white again. The more coats you use the less you notice. This is all good; the paint is breathing; the house is breathing and is not trapped in a plastic coat which will sweat and causes the damp and condensation problems.
Great credit and thanks goes to our old friend Haydn; without his help and 'it'll just take ten minutes' we would still be at it.