The SPAB Blog

A Lick of Limewash

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The SPAB frequently cautions homeowners who have just purchased an old house to wait until they’ve become familiar with it over a number of seasons before proceeding with major work because their ideas often change. The advice is to concentrate your efforts instead on the garden first. I don’t have a large garden so have been developing thoughts about my forthcoming building project whilst re-limewashing the external timbers.

In my view, it’s best to limewash rather than blacken the timbers of an old building such as mine since the black-and-white ‘magpie’ effect only became fashionable in the eastern counties during the Victorian period. It appears that the dark coatings on my timberwork were stripped in the 1970s.

Limewash is a simple type of matt paint comprising lime and water (sometimes with additives, such as pigments). It’s inexpensive and easy to make from lime putty (01652 686000; http://www.singletonbirch.co.uk). I’ve included a little casein power from Ty-Mawr Lime Ltd (01874 611350; http://www.lime.org.uk) for better adhesion on the smoother joinery. Limewash needs building up in several thin coats. Luckily, I’ve been assisted a friend and the three young construction professionals, or Scholars (pictured), currently undertaking the SPAB’s training programme in practical building conservation.

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