Lime creates an elegant finish that’s subtler than whitewashing. Here’s how to achieve it.
What is a lime finish? ‘Lime was originally used for its alkaline properties to protect timber from wood-boring insects,’ explains Gill Tesh, director of Mike Wye & Associates, which supplies traditional and natural decorating materials. These days, liming is the process of filling wood with a whitening agent to lighten the grain.
How is it done? The main ingredient is a white mineral-based paste, made from a pigment such as titanium dioxide, mixed with a water-, oil- or wax-based carrier. The wood is sanded and scraped to expose the grain, before the paste is rubbed into the grooves. ‘It is a labour of love with a lot of elbow grease involved,’ warns Tesh. It can, however, be relatively inexpensive. You can lime original or reclaimed floorboards, but the finish is best suited to open-grained timbers such as oak or ash, rather than closed-grain pine.
What are the advantages? ‘Unlike staining or painting, lime goes right into the wood,’ says Max Edwards, director of flooring company Schotten & Hansen. ‘It protects the timber and fights against degradation and dirt.’ Once limed, natural cleaning products such as carnauba wax or Marseille soap will help maintain your floor.
What if I don’t want to do it myself? If the DIY option doesn’t appeal, or if you want an all-in-one solution, opt for a solid or engineered floor with a handcrafted limed finish, such as Schotten & Hansen’s ‘Oyster’ (approx £300 per square metre).
And if I do? To try it yourself, we recommend Liberon’s ‘Liming Starter Kit’ (£28.66; restexpress.co.uk). Visit the brand’s expert advice portal (liberon.co.uk) for useful videos and how-to guides.