Last edited 18 May 2022


Interior Paint, A guide to internal paint finishes, published on 1 January 2007 by Historic Scotland, states: ‘Although mainly associated with external work, limewashes have been used as interior coatings for centuries. Limewash is quicklime mixed in a water suspension (in a process called ‘slaking’). Additives were sometimes included to give a degree of protection against water penetration. Colour was provided by natural pigments. Only a limited range of materials were suitable due to the caustic (strong alkali) nature of the lime. Highly permeable, limewash was painted directly onto lime plaster or masonry. Limewash reflected light well; with the cured carbonate containing tiny refractive crystals which sent light out in different directions. Unless highly filtered and strained, limewash finishes provided an uneven, textured finish that can be appropriate for pre-18th century structures (although this makes it unsuitable for classical or formal rooms). Limewash was largely superseded by the use of distemper in the 19th century.’

Short Guide: Climate Change Adaptation for Traditional Buildings, published on 10 July 2017 by Historic Scotland, defines limewash as: ‘A simple type of traditional breathable paint or coating made from lime and water, with or without additives.’

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