How to make whitewash to paint a fence

Written by regan hennessy
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How to make whitewash to paint a fence
Use whitewash to paint old wooden picket-style fences. (Elena Elisseeva/Hemera/Getty Images)

Whether you recently installed a garden fence or you inherited an old picket-style fence in need of some loving attention, making whitewash to paint a fence provides a cost-effective way to brighten up the appearance of your home. Unlike paint, whitewash provides that crisp white appearance while still revealing the distinct texture of the wood in your fence. Whitewash can be made at home with mostly household items.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3.4 kg salt
  • 24 litres water
  • Pot with lid
  • Long-handled wooden spoon
  • Stove
  • Newspaper
  • Stirring stick
  • 45 litre plastic bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • 11.3 kg hydrated lime
  • Plastic storage containers with lids

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  1. 1

    Bring 11 litres of water to the boil in a pan on your cooker. Cover the pan to bring the water to the boil more quickly. Turn the heat off under the pan and remove the cover once the water boils.

  2. 2

    Dissolve the salt in hot water. Stir the salt water thoroughly with a long-handled wooden spoon. Continue stirring the water for three to five minutes or until you no longer feel the gritty salt crystals on the bottom of the pan with your spoon. Leave the salted water to continue cooling.

  3. 3

    Spread sheets of old newspaper across the floor, using multiple layers to ensure that you don't get whitewash on your floor. Place the large plastic bucket in the centre of the newspaper. Pour 13.5 litres of water into the bucket.

  4. 4

    Don rubber gloves and pour about a quarter of the mason's hydrated lime into the plastic bucket. Mix the lime into the water thoroughly with a clean wooden stick, such as an old broom handle. Add the rest of the lime, a quarter portion at a time, mixing the liquid thoroughly after each addition to remove all lumps.

  5. 5

    Lift the pan of hot saltwater from the stove and pour it carefully into the plastic bucket of wet lime. Mix the materials thoroughly together using your wooden stick to stir and remove any lumps from the whitewash. Store your finished whitewash in tightly covered plastic containers.

Tips and warnings

  • Other common names for hydrated lime include mason's lime, slake lime and builder's lime. It is typically available for purchase at DIY shops or builder's merchant. Do not use agricultural or garden lime.
  • Plain hydrated lime is caustic, so avoid letting it touch your bare skin. Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin. Keep children out of your work area at all times.

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