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How to Paint Brick: A Step-by-Step Guide for a Fresh Look

DIY and home improvement projects are a great way to spice up your home and increase its resale value. One of the top things on people’s to-do lists is repurposing and reviving their brickwork. Because replacing brick is extremely costly and time-consuming, people often prefer to paint over it.

In this article, we will look at everything you need to know about how to paint brick. We’ll walk you through the prep work, the tools you’ll need, and what the process will entail.

How to paint brick

Key Takeaways

  • Proper preparation of brick surfaces is crucial for painting.
  • Selecting the right paint and tools ensures a long-lasting finish.
  • The painting process differs for interior and exterior applications.

Preparing the Brick Surface

Proper preparation of the brick surface is crucial for a long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing paint job. This involves a meticulous process of cleaning, repairing any damages, and safeguarding areas not to be painted.

Cleaning the Bricks

Before painting, the brick must be free from dirt, grime, and efflorescence. Start by removing any loose debris with a wire brush. For a deeper clean, mix water with heavy-duty soap or trisodium phosphate (TSP), applying the solution with a sponge or scrub brush. For larger or extremely dirty areas, a pressure washer or power washer may be used, but caution should be taken not to damage the bricks. Allow the bricks to dry completely, which typically requires at least 24 hours.

Making Repairs

Inspect the brick for any cracks or damage. Small repairs can be filled with the appropriate caulk or mortar. If larger repairs are needed, it might be best to hire a professional. It’s essential that all repairs are fully cured before proceeding to paint.

Taping and Covering Areas

Protect areas adjacent to the brickwork that are not being painted. Apply painter’s tape to edges, such as window frames and doors. Cover ground and landscaping with drop cloths to prevent paint splashes. Taking the time to tape and cover properly will result in cleaner lines and protect surfaces against accidental paint stains.


Choosing the Right Paint and Tools

How to paint brick

Proper selection of paint and painting tools is essential for durable and aesthetically pleasing results when painting brick.

Selecting Brick Paint and Primer

The right paint and primer ensure the longevity and appearance of the painted brick. A high-quality latex primer is recommended for its adhesion to brick surfaces. It is also essential to select a primer with alkaline resistance to combat the high pH levels often present in masonry materials. After priming, a masonry paint or latex paint designed for exterior surfaces offers the best protection and finish. These paints are specifically formulated to breathe, allowing moisture to escape and reducing the risk of blistering and peeling.

  • Preferred Types of Primer and Paint:
    • Primer: Alkaline-resistant masonry primer
    • Paint: Exterior-grade latex or masonry paint

Picking Appropriate Tools

The tools one selects for painting brick can significantly impact the application process and final outcome. Use a paint roller with a thick nap for covering large, relatively smooth areas, and rely on a paintbrush for detailed work around edges and in textured or recessed mortar joints. A paint sprayer can also be an option for a quicker and more uniform application but requires experienced handling. For optimal results, ensure the availability of a bucket, paint tray, and acrylic caulk to address any gaps or cracks before painting.

  • Recommended Tools List:
    • Roller: 3/4-inch nap roller for coverage
    • Brushes: 4-inch wide brush for broad areas; smaller angle brushes for detail work
    • Miscellaneous: Bucket for transporting paint; paint tray for rollers; acrylic caulk for prep work

The Painting Process

The painting process is fundamental to achieving a long-lasting and professional finish on brick surfaces. A diligent approach to applying primer, painting the bricks, and adding finishing touches ensures an even and resilient outcome.

Applying Primer

To begin, the individual must apply a coat of primer to the brick to ensure paint adhesion and longevity. Primer should be applied using a thick, nap roller or a brush, which allows for coverage into the mortar lines and crevices. One should start by “cutting in” around the edges and trim to create a clean perimeter. It’s important to allow the primer to dry completely, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, before proceeding to paint.

Painting the Bricks

For the best results, a first coat of paint should follow the primer, using a semi-gloss or flat finish depending on the desired sheen. The painter must use a high-quality acrylic latex paint and start from the top of the surface working downwards to prevent drips and streaks. A brush or roller can ensure an even application, covering all surfaces thoroughly. They should be careful to maintain a “wet edge” to avoid lap marks. After the first coat dries, it is crucial to assess the coverage and decide if a second coat is needed for uniformity.

Adding Finishing Touches

After painting, it’s essential to examine the brickwork for any missed spots or touch-ups. A second coat might be necessary if the first coat hasn’t provided full coverage. The painter must patiently apply this additional layer to achieve an even and professional finish. The perimeter and trim work require meticulous attention to detail, using a smaller brush to “cut in” and ensure precise lines. Once the desired appearance and coverage is accomplished, they should let the paint fully cure as recommended before returning furniture or planters to their places.


Considerations for Interior and Exterior

How to paint brick

When painting brick, whether interior or exterior, one must account for different environmental factors and preparation techniques to ensure lasting results.

Interior Brick Painting

For the interior brick, such as a brick fireplace or interior column, the environment is typically more controlled than the exterior, which means less preparation against weather. However, cleanliness is paramount. One should start by thoroughly cleaning the surface to remove any soot, dust, or debris. A latex primer should be applied especially if the brick is brand-new to ensure paint adhesion. The cost is generally lower than exterior painting due to less exposure to the elements and therefore, fewer protective measures needed.

  • Preparation Steps:
    • Clean surface with soap and water.
    • Apply latex primer for best adhesion.

Exterior Brick Painting

Exterior brick surfaces, like those on a brick home, require a more rigorous preparation process due to their exposure to the elements. Power-washing the brick to remove dirt, mildew, and efflorescence is often necessary before painting. In addition to cleaning, one may need to repair any cracks or damage to maintain the brick’s structural integrity. Selecting the right type of paint to withstand weather conditions is crucial for durability and the home’s curb appeal. The cost to paint a brick house will be more significant than interior painting due to these additional considerations.

Proper preparation and choosing the correct materials are critical steps in painting brick that will not only enhance its appearance but also serve to protect and preserve it.


Are You Ready to Paint Your Brick?

Painting brick is tedious and time-consuming work, and you’re bound to work up quite a sweat. If you’re not willing to take your time with the job and learn how to paint brick, you would be wise to hire someone to take over. When it comes to painting brick, the prep work and priming are just as important as painting. Only by being patient and thorough will your brick-painting project be a successful one.

Check out our Exterior Painting page for even more information on exterior painting, paints, and products.