Bathrooms + Limewash Paint: Tips, considerations + inspiration for using limewash in bathrooms.
‘Can I use limewash in a bathroom?’ is one of the most common questions we get asked. The short answer is—yes, you can paint your bathroom with Bauwerk limewash. Our paint is not just suitable for high-humidity environments, it thrives in these demanding conditions. Limewash paint offers several benefits compared to other finishing products. Firstly, limewash paint is non-film-forming, which means it doesn’t blister or peel, even when used in steamy environments. Secondly, it’s naturally anti-bacterial and will resist mould. All in all, limewash paint ticks all areas in terms of supporting a healthy environment.
From a design perspective, it's easy to understand why people are keen to use limewash in their bathrooms. These spaces tend to feel cold–physically and visually– from all the requisite hard finishes. Limewash is the perfect antidote, softening a room and providing visual warmth. This is evident in the stunning tonal and textural bathrooms found in the home of Australian designer Georgia Ezra. "I wanted a depth and warmth which coincided with our handmade Tiles of Ezra Moroccan tiles," Georgia said. "I wanted to really set a mood, and the Bauwerk limewash has such beautiful transparency in layering yet strength to it. It gave me the look, and most importantly, the feel I was after and more."
So it's clear WHY you should use limewash in a bathroom...but where you use it and how depends on your situation and lifestyle. Let's discuss some of the factors to consider...
Redecorating vs. Renovating
The scale of your project may inform how you approach the base layer of your walls. In all circumstances, we recommend skipping any sealers to enable the walls to become part of your micro-climate, absorbing excess humidity and releasing it again easily.
If you're refreshing existing finished walls, simply follow the standard instructions for painting over conventional paint. Your walls won't offer quite as much breathability, but will still provide environmental and visual benefits.
However, if you're creating fresh walls, either during new construction or by gutting an existing space, it's an opportune time to establish the optimal surface base to cope with high humidity. The perfect substrate, or underlying material, in a bathroom is an absorbent render. Look for a lime-based or cement based render that is breathable. For example, we like Solo One Coat by Lime Green Products in the UK, Mineral Fox in Australia. When limewash paint is applied directly over this type of render, the result offers prime durability AND breathability.
Oliver + Becky Beckett of @jamesstreethouse were able to create this optimal breathable base during their DIY gut renovation. After using Bauwerk limewash on gypsum plaster in their living room, they were keen to use Bauwerk to its full effect with a lime-based plaster in their new bathroom. Despite their limited experience, they took on the application of the one-coat plaster themselves. After a tricky start, they were able to hit their stride and hone their technique. "We ended up with walls that weren’t perfectly flat, but it didn’t matter because they had texture and told the story of achieving something using natural materials," Oliver reflected.
The benefits have been clear from the beginning... " Our bathroom beforehand was part tile, part paint on gypsum — we had constant problems with water gathering on the walls and mould forming in a crack above the window (it would make me so angry every time I was in there)," Oliver explained. "I’ve been able to see how this permeable system works first hand and my favourite thing about this is taking a loooong shower, stepping out and seeing the mirror and walls condensation free!"
Using limewash in ways that work for you
Just like conventional paint, Bauwerk limewash paint can be used on all wall and ceiling areas of a bathroom, except for the inside area of a shower or the immediate area adjacent to a bath. Something to bear in mind is that limewash paint is absorbent. While this allows for the evaporation of moisture, it also means it can absorb other materials that leave a mark, like toothpaste, soap etc. While sealers prevent absorption, we don't recommend them as they negate the breathable benefits of limewash, as well as make repainting more difficult. Depending on your lifestyle, usage, and outlook on maintenance—there are two approaches when selecting areas to apply limewash:
01 | Use a splashback to minimise marks
If the thought of an occasional mark will cause you concern, use tiles or other waterproof material behind the sink, toilet or other areas affected by water, toothpaste, and soap. With waterproof materials utilised in potential splash zones, the remaining areas can be painted in limewash. Our extensive palette of nearly 400 limewash colours makes it's easy to find a shade that complements the other materials in your room— whether it's tiles, tadelakt or microcement.
02 | Embrace a casual, lived-in look with tiny touchups
Alternatively, if you don't want to use tiles in splash-prone areas, and can embrace a gentle lived-in-look, go for it! You can paint limewash around sinks and other areas that are not in continuous contact with water. Simply paint over any marks or stains, as needed. Because there is no prep required to repaint, this maintenance can be as simple as picking up a limewash brush and giving a quick 15-minute coat of limewash to the wall. Just make sure to cover the marked wall from edge to edge to avoid lines.
Tip: If you’ve used a light colour such as Whitewash, Raw White or Chalk—you can patch by just repainting over the marked areas, instead of painting the entire wall. Bronwyn Riedel, co-founder of Bauwerk Colour, uses this method for her ‘Whitewash’ bathroom walls. Every few months she uses a sample pot to touch up spots and two minutes later, (seriously, we’ve timed it) the room is revived.
For more limewash tips + tricks, listen to Bauwerk's Bronwyn Riedel chat with Georgia Ezra on episode 18 of her podcast, Step Up Your Home .