Let The Character Shine Through: Our Whitewash Recipe, Revealed.

Posted by on Jan 22, 2013 in Architecture, Remodel | 4 comments

Let The Character Shine Through: Our Whitewash Recipe, Revealed.

In architecture, technology has changed nearly everything. The way we draw houses, the efficiency with which they are built, the manner in which they are lived in and enjoyed – all have been immeasurably changed and improved by technology. As sure as the sun rises, new technologies hit the market every day giving promise of something better.

But there remains a handful of elements in architecture that technology simply cannot improve. People have tried for decades to recreate the look and feel of old New Orleans soft red bricks. They simply cannot.

Every manner of stain, seal and treatment has been used to mimic the old-world feel of true antique heart pine. We can get close, but we never quite manage to get it just right.

And then there’s the simple matter of a good old fashioned whitewash.

Why whitewash?

  • Unique finish
  • Provides character
  • Allows the brick to bleed through
  • Can use less expensive/new brick
  • Durable – lasts forever.
  • Easy maintenance – can be patched with ease.

On one hand, the look of whitewash is so white, it is stark. And yet, it is somehow equally warm. There is an unmistakably natural, organic feel to whitewash that grounds the home to its surroundings and its past. New homes suddenly feel stable and secure as if they’ve been there for a century. With whitewash, the brick can breath, its outlines show and imperfections are celebrated.

To put it simply – a whitewash allows a home to show its character, rather than cover it in thick coats of paint. We’re big on character around here.

Our (once secret) Recipe For A Perfect Whitewash:


  1. 4 parts snow white portland cement
  2. 2 parts hydrated lime
  3. Add water until the mixture resembles a thin pancake batter

To Apply:

  1. Ensure brick is thoroughly wet before applying (start with small areas first, constantly wetting with a spray hose)
  2. Use a heavy, wide bristle brush – preferably an old and coarse one.
  3. Apply thick, even coats and let dry. Perfection here is not the goal. It’s OK to show the marks of the brush, in fact it’s encouraged.
Tim Landry received his B.A. in architecture from L.S.U. in 1996. Upon graduation, Tim joined a central Louisiana civil engineering firm where he worked on municipal and grant projects including community centers, fire stations, Habitat For Humanity and even prisons. In 1999 Tim joined his good friends John and Ben Jones with their father at Al Jones Architect. Not only did Al give Tim a job, he also gave him the hand of his daughter Gayden in 2011.


  1. Tom,
    Hi Tom. I am working on a house with an exterior whitewash on the bricks. We used the formula that you suggested and we are having a hard time getting it right. the mail problem is that the bricks are showing through. We have put on three coats so far. How many coats do you recommend? Any other recommendations? Have a Merry Christmas.

    • Kenny, while the recipe is tried and true for us, there’s no doubt a lot of conditions (type of brick, humidity in the air, and other variables) can call for some adjustments. But, if you’re having a problem with coverage it’s probably just a matter of having too much water in the mixture.

  2. Tom, Great article. How would this differ from just actual lime paint. I realize there would be no Portland cement and with the lime paint you would/should get the same effect, with the bleed through. Thanks. M

  3. Mark, typically lime paint would be used on wood whereas the white Portland mix is more specific to masonry.

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