Lime-Washing Solid Wood Floors
Commonly used to make wood floors brighter, lime-washing can be used on both floorboards and on brickwork and works particularly well in rooms with dark décor or in areas with limited natural light.
Easy to apply lime-wash is a non-permanent solution which can be used on most types of hardwood flooring, although it is not recommended for softwoods such as light pine or ash. The temporary aspect comes about as the lime will be removed little by little by mopping and washing.
Whilst lime-washed wood can be sealed by finishing wax or oil, this isn’t recommended in homes with young children, the elderly or in a house with animals as the floor becomes exceptionally slippery and can be dangerous underfoot.
You can, however, lengthen the life of your lime-washed floor by using a technique called pickling, which offers the finished look of lime-wash but with a longer lasting effect. Lime-washing and pickling cause no detriment to wood and can be carried out as many times as necessary during the lifespan of the floor.
Where to start?
When lime-washing for the first time the floor will have to be sanded back to the bare wood as the lime coating will not adhere to an existing finishing of wax or varnish. If you attempt to apply lime-wash to a floor which has an existing finishing the lime solution will simply lie on top of the wood and will not be absorbed into the boards.
Start by mixing the solution with a paint stick. Lime-wash is best applied by a lint-free cloth or a high quality brush (which will not drop bristles as you go). Always move in the direction of the wood’s natural grain and along the length of the sanding floorboards services, never across. Work well into the wood and in small areas at a time. A good trick is to slightly lift the cloth as you come to the end of a stroke helps to stop definitive starts and stops between strokes.
Another tip is to go slow. Complete one area or one row of boards at a time, allow to dry and check the result before carrying on. Never rush lime-washing as it will most certainly result in a horrible looking finish you will have to re-do.
Lime-wash that is water based will dry in two or three hours and oil based wash should be left ideally overnight. Never apply lime-wash to a tacky or not completely dry floor.
How to seal
When the floor is completely lime-washed and dry the next stage is to protect your finish with a urethane sealing solution. Apply urethane straight from the tin with a brush and do not stir so much that the liquid bubbles as these will be brushed onto the floor and ruin the smooth effect you have worked so hard to attain.
Alternatively a sealing mop can be used and if this is the case you will need a flat paint tin to pour the solution into.
As with the lime-wash itself, leave water based product to dry for several hours and oil based overnight.
You can apply several coats of sealant as recommended but always make sure one coat is fully dry before applying the next.
Maintaining your beautiful and bright lime-washed solid wood floor is easy with regular brushing with a soft head brush and light mopping on a weekly basis. Avoid using too much water and if possible have your mop barely wet. Use pads on the legs of furniture and avoid outdoor shoes (especially heels) in the house.
Do not use wax, varnish or any type of polish on a lime-washed floor as this will remove the finishing.