Properties and Uses of Calcimine Paint

Procedure code:
Interiors Handbook for Historic Interiors, Vol, II
Last Modified:

This standard includes guidance on the preparation of calcimine paint. It also includes general information on its composition, characteristics, advantages, disadvantages and uses.


  • Water-based paint
  • Whiting (ground chalk) is the primary pigment in calcimine paint
  • Sometimes tinted


  • Also known as Kalsomine or distemper
  • Quick-drying
  • Similar to whitewash paint
  • Dissolves with water


  • Inexpensive
  • Fairly easy to make
  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to remove, requiring only water and elbow grease
  • Non-yellowing (because there is no oil binder)
  • Effective in adhering to masonry surfaces
  • Effective in covering rough plaster surfaces
  • Well-suited for walls and ceilings


  • Moisture and abrasion sensitive
  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Recoating requires complete removal of the first coat as application of a second coat tends to dissolve the glue binder and lift the first coat from the surface
  • Cannot be washed as it is water-soluble


  • Traditionally used as an interior finish to whiten walls and ceilings
  • Used on plaster or masonry-type surfaces
  • Applied in one heavy coat, as the application of multiple coats tends to soften the glue binder
  • Applied with wide brushes
  • May be coated over with oil-based paint Latex paint (since it is water-base) can NOT be used over calcimine paint
  • Water-based paint will cause the calcimine to soften and eventually peel


  • Whiting (chalk crushed to a powder) is mixed with glue size binder and water to make a paste

Prepared Dutch Kalsomine is available from Johnson Paint Company, 355 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115, 617/536-4838. It is manufactured by the Muralo Company of Bayonne, New Jersey.

Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13