Lime Paints – another important element for historic homes

We are Miami REALTORS specializing in historic homes and architecturally significant real estate.  We provide these informational articles in order to pass on our expertise and gain your trust so you hire The Miamism Sales Team on your next home sale or purchase.  Historic Homes is our niche! Call us today for a listing appointment.

There are several key factors or elements seen in  Mediterranean Revival Architecture.  I have told you about the style and what makes it special, I have also gone into detail about Historic Cuban Tile.  Now I will describe the type of paint that is most appropriate for these homes – LIME-BASED PAINTS.

I don’t know about you, but when I think Mediterranean, I think of Venice (OK, it’s the Adriatic sea…..let’s not get technical here…..but I’m doing this to make a point about COLOR).

In the Mediterranean (and surrounding areas), it was customary to paint stucco facades with lime based paints.  Lime, being an organic material was often mixed into the stucco and plaster surfaces with different hues and these surfaces would not have to be painted again. 

The organic nature of these paints or aggregates is what gives these building exteriors such depth and personality. The surfaces are ever changing depending on the intensity of the sun or rain. When studying facades painted with lime, you may see darker lines, or wear-patterns,  you will also see discolorations and an uneven nature to the surface.  This is what makes lime so beautiful. 

There is a rustic, aged look that goes hand in hand with painting with lime and if you want a clean and uniform look, lime based paints are NOT for you!

In Miami Shores, while serving in the Historic Preservation Board, I often recommended lime-based paints to home owners of Mediterranean Revival homes.  This ended up turning into a very controversial subject because the city did not agree with strong hues customary to the style (ochre yellow, terracotta orange, and olive green), nor did they want a “weathered look” to these homes. 

Anyone wanting to restore a historic home should first check with each city to make sure they agree with the correct historic restoration process.

There is a local painter, by the name of Emilio Cianfoni who has the perfect product when it comes to Lime-Based Paints.  He has developed a registered product called Calcem Lime Paint and is known for painting Miami luxury homes  like The Vizcaya Mansion and also Ca’ Ziff, as well as Fairchild Tropical Gardens.


Lime paints are not cheap and the application is not easy, so make sure your painter knows what it entails (especially the prep work involved). It is important to note that although used for historic homes, lime paints are also popular in the modern world because of its organic nature, and are also used for interior applications. 

I personally find that lime paints add not only character to historic facades, but also that perfect finishing touch that completes a project.

**article originally published on August 13th, 2007 – please read comments for second source of lime-based paints in Miami recommended by a reader**

12 thoughts on “Lime Paints – another important element for historic homes

  1. Hi,

    I was doing research on lime stucco and lime paint in Miami and came up with this post.

    I used to live in Miami Shores- and planning to return as a resident of Biscayne Park in due course once I finish working out of state (cant wait to get back btw!).

    I certainly agree with you!! Lime is the most soothing feel of nature that can be put onto a home- Incredible material!!

    My family is of Italian heritage- and I have learned to appreciate lime finishes by living in Italy for some years. Lime is everywhere in Italy.

    I have seen the lime paint that you mentioned, and just wanted to comment with an opinion of what I can see and feel from Calcem’s lime paint. In my view it falls short of being a soft, durable material.

    Of my experience from my family’s history and origin- A lime paint should be well aged (up to 3 years) in order for it to be classified an authentic, durable material.

    A lime paint should be soft like cream butter– This happens when the lime paint has been aged over 2 years, and blended with proper natural additives for the look and feel of a soft, strong and credible presence of durability.

    There is a company in Miami that offers of truly authentic lime paint, as well as a natural primer that is aged up to 4 years. It is an amazing product- have recommended it to many satisfied friends and family.

    The co. is called BioLime ( I would say check them out and see, feel and smell the difference yourself! They are a great group of people (5 generation Italian family tradition) with incredible service and support of their product.

    I know this post is old, but anyways.. All the best!

  2. Spencer, Thanks so much for the thought our comment and for giving us another source to lime paint in Miami – nothing like someone having a monopoly on such a great material just because of its popularity and cost.

    I will re-post this article so it brings a new light to the subject.

  3. OK,

    Thanks for your article on Lime Paint in Miami, although we need to correct and expand on the reality of environmental, cultural and local history in Miami, with Lime Paint.
    1. First off, Lime based Paint is an inorganic material -purely mineral and does not breakdown as
    quickly as organic materials which are more effected by UV solar radiation.
    2. Because South Florida is a subtropical climate, in which rain can manifest without much notice, a quick curing product is more than advantageous.
    3. A traditional lime based paint is designed for arid climates and for application directly over stucco surfaces without any existing coating or paint…that eliminates any repaint over other coatings…which eliminates about 98% of the work out there without the expense of sandblasting off all of the existing coatings.

    4. Acrylic modified Lime Paint has the qualities of lime based paint, but can be applied over other coatings while exhibiting the qualities of its lime character with resiliency and water repelling qualities. It is a “hybrid” coating with the advantage of modification with organic polymers, but still goes through the “lime cycle” by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and forming calcium carbonate.
    5. If we were building over only Lime Plaster walls, we would opt for an inorganic paint such as lime based paint or preferably Silicate Paint. However, we do not know of any lime plaster walls in Florida, except maybe me some which are left in St. Augistine.
    6. Acrylic Lime Paint is really easy to apply and economical, while still reactive with mineral Patinas and wash techniques for antique and aesthetically superior architectural finishes.
    7. For totally inorganic finishes, we choose Silicate Paint…the historical precursor of Lime Paint (the ancient Egyptians), which cures quickly and produces a “clean”, hard paint surface which repels rain water while releasing water vapor from walls. This is the paint which is the choice of the modern inorganic paint market in Germany, Italy and the rest of Europe because of its attributes and green, low carbon footprint environmental profile.
    8. The company manufacturing Lime Paint, Silicate Paint and Patina Solutions, from Miami, beginning in 1986, with historical, residential and international projects is Mineral Life Int’l. (

    All right – all ready,

  4. David,
    Let me first thank you for the time you took to respond to my article and for giving us your take on Lime-Based paints.

    I want to correct your correction on the definition of “organic” – I used the term not to describe the break-down process….on the contrary, I used it to describe the “ever changing nature and look of the material with relation to the climate – as a harmonious relation of elements which in fact brings out the aesthetic quality of the architecture”.

    Question about minerallife – because it’s acrylic, does that mean it will not change coloration with rain and light exposure?….because that happens to be my favorite part of lime.

    I think it’s important to give people choices, so thank you. But we must really point out differences and make sure they know what the final product will look like.

  5. Ines,
    Good question!
    The acrylic base in Lime Paint does not effect the quality of brightening in color when wet, etc. Because Lime Paint is about 55% lime, the full quality and character is retained.
    Now, the use of the word “organic” is quite frequently used incorrectly in regards to paint.
    Organic only refers to biological or carbon based materials. It is a term used in chemistry. In college they offer courses in inorganic and organic chemistry. There is a definite difference. (you can look it up in wikepedia). When speaking about paint, the proper term is even more important, since we are now more conscious about products made from petroleum, which are organic, and products which are mineral in nature, which are inorganic. Why not use the correct word?:inorganic…it is a good word which the public needs to learn.

  6. David, you are not convincing me then – would need to see photos of applications.
    Again…this is not a chemistry or specs blog – ORGANIC referring to the ever changing nature of the aesthetic quality of the paint, please read context of the writing and examples given.

  7. OK Ines,

    please visit the Mineral Life Int’l website:, and go to Lime Paint…Gallery, where you will get a good selection of our Lime Paint projects.

    Regarding the definition of organic, although I know what you are referring to, we must go to the dictionary definition. (Webster’s)
    As I said, this is a good word, although when used with paint it has a specific meaning.

    If you use it with architecture or sculpture, it connotes “more natural-like form”. With paint, it is correctly used as indicated. But don’t take my word, you can google organic and inorganic paint and find out for yourself.

    Since this page is about Lime Paint, this is an important distinction!!
    In other contexts such as: organic food, organic sculpture, architecture, it is used to describe living materials and form.

    Anyway, I do not mean to belabor the point, just wanted to make the distinction when talking about paints and Lime Paint in particular!!

    We are in agreement: we love the use of Lime Paint in Miami and elsewhere!

  8. I’m glad you’re talking about “belaboring” – because if you read the blog, you’ll know I’m an architect, so this page is not about “PAINT”, it’s about the architectural qualities of certain materials that are relevant to mediterranean “architecture”

    We do agree on the love of it though – I’ll check out your site.

  9. jumping into this late in the game. his name is actually Cianfoni, a close family friend. i find myself living in florence now, where that kind of paint is to easy to buy in hardware stores. i have used Emilio’s paint in every house that i lived in in Key Biscayne, now I plan to paint it myself here abroad. Hope your clients keep using it, it is so beautiful!

  10. Thanks for the correction Tiana – at least I have his website right! Will make the change.

  11. Thanks for the link, looks like fun. I found it funny that I wrote this article in August of 2007 and now it’s when the name correction appears! (:

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