This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
If glue is employed to give body, it is destroyed by the corrosive action of the lime, and in consequence the latter easily rubs off the walls when dry. This is the case also if the lime is employed, as is often absurdly recommended, simply slaked in water, and used without any fixing material. Limewash is prepared by placing some freshly-burned quicklime in a pail, and pouring on sufficient water to cover it; boiled oil (linseed) should then be immediately added, in the proportion of 1 pint to 1 gal. of the wash. For coarser work, any common refuse fat may be used instead of the boiled oil. The whole should then be thinned with water to the required consistency, and applied with a brush. Care should be taken not to leave the brush in the lime-wash for any length of time, as it destroys the bristles. In lime-washing, Russian tallow is frequently used in preference to any other fatty matters. (Tegetmeier.)
No brick wall that ever is intended to be painted should be whitewashed. All washes absorb water, and in damp weather lose their colour. For 1 barrel of colour wash take 1/2 bush. white lime, 3 pecks hydraulic cement, 10 lb. umber, 10 lb. ochre 1 lb. Venetian red, 1/4 lb. lampblack. Slake the lime, cut the lampblack with vinegar. mix well together, add the cement, and fill the barrel with water. Let it stand for 12 hours before using, and stir frequently while putting it on. This is not white. but of a light stone colour, without the unpleasant glare of white. The colour may be changed by adding more or less of the colours named, or other colours. This wash covers well, needing only one coat. A rough board barn washed with this will look well for 5 years, and even longer, without renewing. The cement hardens, but on a rough surface will not scale. (Scient. Amer.)
A wash which can be applied to lime walls and afterwards become waterproof so as to bear washing. Resenschek, of Munich, mixes together the powder from 3 parts siliceous rock (quartz), 3 parts broken marble and sandstone, 2 parts burned porcelain clay, and 2 parts freshly slaked lime, still warm. In this way a wash is made which forms a silicate if often wetted, and becomes after a time almost like stone. The 4 constituents mixed together give the ground colour to which any pigment that can be used with lime is added. It is applied quite thickly to the wall or outer surface, let dry one day, and the next day frequently covered with water, which makes it waterproof. This wash can be cleansed with water without losing any of its colour; on the contrary, each time it gets harder, so that it can even be brushed, while its porosity makes it look soft. The wash or calcimine can be used for ordinary purposes as well as for the finest painting. A so-called fresco surface can be prepared with it in the dry way.
Well wash the ceiling by wetting it twice with water, laying on as much as can well be floated on, then rub the old colour up with a stumpy brush and wipe off with a large sponge. When this is done, stop all the cracks with whiting and plaster of Paris. When dry, claircole with size and a little of the whitewash. If very much stained when this is dry, paint those parts with turps, colour, and, if necessary, claircole again. To make the whitewash, take 12 lb. whiting (in large balls), break them up in a pail, and cover with water to soak. During this time melt over a slow fire 4 lb. common size, and at the same time, with a palette knife or small trowel, rub up fine about a dessertspoonful of blue black with water to a fine paste; then pour the water off the top of the whiting, and with a stick stir in the black; when well mixed, stir in the melted size and strain. When cold it is fit for use. If the jelly is too stiff for use, beat it well up and add a little cold water. Commence whitewashing over the window, and so work from the light; lay off the work into that done, and not all in one direction, as in painting.
Distemper colour of any tint may be made by using any other colour instead of the blue black - as ochre, chrome, Dutch pink, raw sienna for yellows and buff; Venetian red, burnt sienna, Indian red, or purple brown for reds; celestial blue, ultramarine, indigo, for blues; red and blue for purple, grey, or lavender; red-lead and chrome for orange; Brunswick green for greens. (Smither.)
1 doz. balls of whiting, 2 lb. size, and 1 oz. celestial or ultramarine blue, will cover about 12 sq. yd. Take the whiting and break up in just enough water that you can work it about in a bucket with a stout stick. Tut about 1 pint water in a 3-qt. saucepan, and boil; take off the fire, and drop your size into it, and let it stand upon the hob until melted. When tolerably warm, pour into your whiting, being careful to keep stirring it. Mix up your blue with a flat stick upon a slate or board, and add until it becomes of the shade required. Lime that will produce a fast limewash is burnt in the bottom of brick kilns, the bricks upon the top, and fired with heath, fir loppings, coal, wood, ferns, and gorse. The sand from the bricks, the chalk, and the potash from the wood combined, cover the chalk or lime with a silicate soluble in water. To use this, get it fresh burnt, break it up, and pour boiling water upon it; it subsides into a beautiful cream-like consistence. This, owing to the soluble silicate in it, must be used and made fresh. It is fast, and frequently presents a glazed surface, and, if not put on too thick, is very durable. A peck of lime will do about 20 sq. yd.; this is merely lime - the fresher the better. Slake it.
Make it of the proper consistence and add to every bucket one gill of turps and linseed oil, mixed. Some use tallow some size.
Lime is always apt to turn a bad colour. The way to whitewash a ceiling is to first thoroughly wash with clean water - not one pail, which speedily gets dirty, but with several. Then steep balls of whiting in water, and the next day reduce them to a thick cream. Put a kettle on the fire, with sufficient size, and when hot pour it on the whiting, adding at the same time some finely-ground blue black. The proportions are, say, 6 balls whiting, 2 lb. size, and 1/4-1 oz. of blue black, according to taste. The mixture must be allowed to cool before using. To limewash, clean first, and then proceed to make up the following: Take 1/2 bush. lime, and slake it; add 1 lb. common salt, 1/2 lb. white vitriol, and 1 gal. skim milk. With a clean surface, this will not shell off, neither will limewash and size, when properly prepared and laid on a clean surface.
Milk distemper is almost equal for body and durability to oil paint, besides being free from offensive odour. In houses where sick and weakly persons are located, the milk paints may with advantage be used for ceiling and wall painting. The ingredients for making this paint are as follows: 1 gal. skim milk, 1 lb. newly slaked lime, 1/2 lb. pale linseed oil, and about 8 lb. Spanish white, or best washed whiting. Beat up the oil in the lime with a little milk, having previously put the powdered white in the skim milk to dissolve. When the lime and oil are thoroughly amalgamated, add the paste so formed to the milk and Spanish white mixture, and stir up the whole with a spatula. This paint dries in about 1 hour. One coat is usually sufficient for walls or ceilings, but 2 coats are absolutely necessary for new work. Care must be taken that the milk is not sour, for in that case it would, by uniting with the lime, form an earthy salt. which could not resist any moisture that may be in the air, nor even dampness that sometimes finds its way into the interior of walls.
The milk paint may be tinted any colour by the addition of ordinary dry or damp colours.