There is a lot of evidence to suggest that limewash/lime render was traditionally applied to all external masonry as a matter of course.
It provides a protective coating much like a paint but, instead of creating a film, sinks into the substrate and is porous allowing for the transfer of moisture.
The sale of ready mixed lime washes is, in our opinion, slightly disingenuous. Limewash can easily be produced by buying (or slaking) your own lime putty and adding warm water. A whisk will also be helpful (see tools). It can also be mixed hot with the use of quicklime, though care must be taken.
A good limewash is the consistency of single cream and should be applied in about six coats. Each coat requires approximately 24 hours to dry and the previous coat should be slightly dampened prior to application. Traditionally tallow was added to limewash as a binder (external only), but linseed oil works well if you are having trouble with adhesion.
Limewashes can be coloured to your desired aesthetic with natural earth pigments. These natural pigments are clay and silica, coloured with iron oxides in the earth.
Earth pigments can also be added to lime mixes for colour matching.
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