Updated: Mar 10
Over Grout & Lime Wash Tutorial
Toning down this fireplace and making it look more cohesive with our home's style was on the top of my list for this year. I knew that it needed to be softer in color, and softer in texture. I wanted it to be the centerpiece of the room without feeling so harsh.
Those deep cracks were the thing that scared me the most. I knew it would be simple to paint or apply some sort of limewash treatment. But messing with the actual structure was terrifying to me. But I had inspiration in mind...
I NEEDED to achieve this look. So bringing the mortar more flush with the stone was absolutely necessary...and a whole lot easier than I thought it would be!
Here is my list of supplies:
Total Cost : $100
This mortar was pre-mixed and ready to go. I ended up using about 1 1/2 of these 3.5 gallon buckets for my fireplace. But for those with more shallow cracks or a smaller surface area, I'm sure that 1 of these could work!
**Keep in mind that there is a cheaper alternative if you don't mind doing a little extra work and mixing mortar yourself. This mortar just needs to be mixed and is WAY cheaper than the pre-mixed mortar that I used. If you are mixing mortar, make sure that your consitency is very thick. You do not want your mortar to run when you squeeze it out of the piping bag. Go for the consistency of peanut butter.
Prepping the space was hugely important because this is a very messy job. You WILL get mortar everywhere, and it dries very quickly. Make sure to cover your floors and nearby furniture with drop cloths. Taping off and cleaning your fireplace is important, too.
Now its time to start piping! Fill up your piping bag about half way with mortar (I used the trowel to scoop it in). Be careful not to fill it any more than that, or it will be very difficult to squeeze. Begin squeezing mortar into you cracks. Work in a small section (about 2 ft x 2 ft at a time). DO NOT do a large section. Using the sponge is the most time consuming part, and you will need to make sure that your mortar doesn't get too firm while you are working on that. If you can, start from the top of your fireplace so that your wet sponge does not drip down onto the finished areas.
While you are waiting for your mortar to set and firm up slightly (you will only need about 5-10 mins for this), you can prepare your sponge by soaking in warm water. Squeeze it out until it is damp and begin to pat the mortar to push it into the cracks of your stone. Once that is done, go back and start blending the edges on the mortar to make the texture smooth. This requires patting, blotting, rubbing, and wiping. A technique that will definitely take some patience to learn. Once you start going, it will get easier to do this!
Make sure that there are no harsh lines by wetting your sponge again and lightly patting over your section until you reach the desired texture. If your mortar forms peaks when you are patting it, you need more water on your sponge.
Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the texture and surface level. It is up to your how much mortar is used, and where you use it. I chose to leave the smooth surface stones visible and go heavy around sharp edges and textured stones to give my fireplace a smoother, more subtle look. The mortar will need to dry overnight before it is ready for the next step. You can go back and add more mortar and touch up with a wet sponge when you are finished!
After drying overnight, the mortar will shrink up a bit and you may see some cracking. If you are not happy with this look, now would be the time to touch up those spots with more mortar. In my case, I was trying to make the fireplace look old so I decided to leave the cracks. The lime wash helped to fill them in slightly, giving it some nice character.
I used Avorio White by Romabio. It is the perfect warm white color!
Prepare your limewash by diluting it with water. I used an old tupperware container and an old whisk for this. The consistency of your limewash is personal preference. I wanted it to go on thicker, so I went with a 3:1 ratio (3 parts limewash : 1 part water). Once this is mixed, it is ready to be applied!
Working from top to bottom, start by spraying a small section with water until it is damp. Do not overspray. Then use your brush to apply the limewash onto the damp area. Use a combination of vertical and horizontal strokes until that area is covered and smooth. Repeat this for the whole fireplace! I made sure to go really heavy all over because I was going for an old look. You can apply this in whatever thickness you want!
This limewash is washable for up to 5 days after the application. This is really helpful for clean up! And if you decide that you aren't happy with the limewash, it can be completely removed before 5 days. So cool!
But really, you probably wouldn't wanna do that 😜