Chaux Lime Wash
We’ve recently painted our upstairs with chaux/lime wash. We wanted to apply a wall covering that respected the age of the building. It’s important that old walls breathe in order to reduce trapped moisture. We quite liked the texture of the traditional lime wash (peinture à la chaux). Knowing the ingredients, but not the quantities, there was some trial and effort involved. After a brief search online we were left more confused. People add all kinds of things such as cream or milk in addition to the basic ingredients of lime, water, tint and setting agent. We asked the opinion of the local macon, and it seems that lime wash recipes are up there with truffle locations in terms of closely guarded French secrets.
Trial and Error
So, we were on our own. After attempting a couple recipes we found one that seemed to be the consistency of thick paint and went for it! The chaux dries a lot lighter; at first, I was a little anxious about the colour…
In the end, we only needed to apply one coat to the walls. With one 25 kg sack of chaux you could easily cover 250 square meters of wall. It basically cost us 5 euros to decorate the room. Not even 1/10 of the price if we would have paid if we used paint.
The lime wash gives the same effect as a plastered Mediterranean wall without the time and tedious mess of plastering walls! Chaux can be washed off your paintbrush merely with water and the mixture can even be used the next day.
Not only is it incredibly cheap, beautiful and allows the walls to breathe, it’s also a natural product.
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.
Our recipe for a room of 30 square metres
The end result is a creamy off-white colour. You can of course play around with all the different tints available. Most recipes we read recommended up to 5% of tint to lime. It can be used on plasterboard/drywall; if you’re doing so, it’s best to apply a single coat of paint beforehand.
- Chaux Arrienne not Hydro (lime) 4kg
- Water 5 litres
- Tint (ochre jeune claire) 24 grams
- Sel d’alun (salt) 200 grams
Method (same as a cake batter!)
Weigh all your ingredients beforehand just in case you don’t have enough and you have to mix the exact same colour. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Slowly incorporate the water until you have the consistency of thick cooking cream. Leave the paint to stand for a few hours, and then apply with a criss-cross motion using a wide brush. If you’re doing a second layer, apply with an up and down motion.
Embrace the texture! It might be scary at first but the light during different times of day allows the subtle brushstrokes to add a lot of character to your room.
*Don’t want to do it yourself?
Since the time of writing this article, Robin has used chaux paint on many houses in the area. If you’d like to hire him for his project management services check out his Renovation Provence Facebook page or Instagram.