I love a beautiful fireplace. By using inexpensive tools, we created the stunning limewash fireplace we were searching for!
Why should I Limewash my fireplace?
When we moved into our home in 2016, I absolutely LOVED the beam that served as a mantle. Honestly, if I had been able to choose it, I wouldn’t have chosen anything else! One thing that I didn’t love about that area was how hidden the beam looked because it just blended in to the brick work. Additionally, I thought it felt so dark and gloomy, and I absolutely hated how there were two different textures and two different colors on the wall. With the cream colored rocks and the dark brick, it looked disjointed and visually busy.
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Why didn’t whitewashing work?
I originally thought I would whitewash the brick, so I tried an area using some watered down white paint I had on hand. I felt like it covered too well and it didn’t match the color at the top. Additionally, it didn’t give me the option to distress portions, so it felt very flat and dimensionless. I’m actually embarrassed to say that I left it like this for about 2 years because I didn’t know what to do!
That’s when I ran across Romabio limewash. I saw bloggers using it for exteriors of homes and fireplaces and I figured for under $50, what could I lose?! My daughter and I grabbed the supplies, taped off the fireplace mantle and the walls and set to work on our own limewash fireplace!
A complete list of instructions is listed here on Romabio’s page.
What supplies to I need to limewash a fireplace?
- Romabio Classico Limewash – I used Bianco White
- Masonry brush – I used a cheap version like this
- Spray bottle
- Painters tape
- Plastic drop cloth
- Plastic scrub brush
- White Vinegar
Prep Work for limewashing a fireplace:
We began the prep work for the limewash fireplace with taping off the adjoining walls. I would absolutely recommend this, because it gets a bit sloshy and will fling onto the wall, so having the crisp edges there will help. Then we used a plastic drop cloth and blue painters tape. We taped it along the bottom edge and around the mantle to seal them off and to protect them, as well as creating a crisp edge.
The Second step in the process is cleaning the bricks. This part was annoying but necessary. Funny thing is that the Romabio site never mentions cleaning the brick, but everywhere else I looked said you should. So I figured an extra half hour of work was well worth the effort if it means I get a better finished product!
How to clean a brick fireplace for limewashing
- Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water in a bucket ( I used a 1 gallon ice cream bucket)
- Use a stiff bristled brush to scrub the brick
- That’s it! Ready for limewash!
Let the limewashing begin!
After the brick is good and clean, you’ll want to dilute the limewash according to the package directions, which can be anywhere from 50% to 100%. I used equal parts limewash and water and then mixed it forever with a paint stirrer! It took a while, but I didn’t have a paddle for my drill. I used at least 3/4 of the limewash for the project and still have a bit left over.
Now you can get to work adding the limewash to the fireplace! The brick needs to be wet in order to absorb the limewash, but not soaking wet. So first, spray a section of the brick with the spray bottle. My daughter and I worked in tandem on this next part. I’m a perfectionist, so I used a smaller paint brush and got in the cracks to make sure it was all covered. Then my daughter came behind me with the masonry brush to do the large sections on the tops of the bricks.
And then you just do that over and over and over again! It’s actually a perfect project to do while listening to your favorite audiobook or podcast. We had Hallmark movies playing in the background and it took us 1 1/2 Hallmark movies to complete the project. 3 hours isn’t bad!
You’ll want to keep damp towels on hand for this part. The masonry brush with send speckles of the limewash onto the walls, especially if you’re not careful. I just kept the rag on hand when I was close to the edges to clean off the wall immediately and keep it from drying.
Distressing the limewash fireplace
The last step in the process to distress the bricks. This can look so different depending on your individual preference – some people who love a more painted look don’t remove any at all. I didn’t take any off the upper portion and did a moderate amount on the brick portion. I didn’t want it heavily distressed because I wanted to make sure the colors were consistent on top and bottom. If I had a fireplace made completely of brick, I may have really gone for an old-world very distressed look.
It’s pretty easy to distress. Once it’s beginning to dry but not wet to the touch, you can begin. We actually finished the whole main part, and went back to where we started and distressed from there. Then we did the lower hearth and did not distress that portion. Just use your spray bottle and spray it with water and then scrub the brick with a damp towel to scrub off however much you’d like to remove. When using this on an exterior, you can use a power washer, which really takes that limewash off in sections. Since you can’t do that indoors, you can mimic that a little bit by making your spray bottle have a stream instead of a spray. That should help.
It’s not very stressful, because with this product, you can just put a bit more limewash over it if you feel like you went a little too far. Additionally, if it all dries and you want to distress it a bit more, you’ve got a few days to go back and distress it.
So this is what our limewash fireplace looked like immediately afterward. I loved it from the second I finished it! One thing that surprised me is that if you look at the picture above, it looks REALLY distressed. Once it dried, it was more white, as you can see below. So if you want a very distressed look, just go to town! You can always add a little bit after you see what it looks like the next day.
My limewash fireplace 2 years later…
I took all those pictures in November 2019, so by the time I’m posting this, I have over 2 years to look back on the process and reflect on what I would have done differently.
The biggest issue was that the hearth in front of the fireplace rubbed off because people always sit there! Unfortunately, it did come off on people’s pants as a chalky residue. I had considered using the limewash that I had left over to touch up that area, but I anticipated that we were fighting a losing battle. It will just come off again.
The thing is…it doesn’t really bother me at all. I don’t like things to look absolutely perfect, so I think it looks a little weathered and I’m ok with that. BUT I wanted to make sure I mentioned it because not everyone would be a fan of that! For a lot of people, it will not be an issue because the brick ends at the floor and doesn’t jut out like mine does.
However, if you’re going to utilize it on an area that will get use, go into it knowing full well that it will show the use and abuse!
I’ve included some pictures below that were just taken on my cell phone in late 2021 that show the wear after 2 years to give you an idea of what I’m speaking about. So judge for yourself if that option might work for you! Now on to the positives.
The positives are abundant! I loved this product. I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat! Not only was it under $50, but it gave a drastic change to my room and it only took one afternoon. It’s not often that you can affect that type of change with that little time or money. (by the way, this is NOT a paid advertisement! But if they want to send my free product to do the exterior of my home, I won’t turn it down!)
This is another one of those projects like my board and batten wall where people don’t walk in and say “I love your fireplace!” But those two inexpensive projects changed our house so much that almost every person who comes into our home for the first time mentions that it’s beautiful and reminds them of Chip and Joanna Gaines. So, I’ll take that! They also often ask us where we got the beam in the living room, which means it finally pops out like I was hoping for!
So do you think you’ll have the guts to give your fireplace a little facelift? If you do, I’d love to hear about it!