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How to Paint a Brick Surface

painted brick

Brick has a traditional, classic look that’s right for many homes. However, brick doesn’t have to have an old-fashioned look if you don’t want it to. Whether it’s an exposed brick wall in the bedroom or a brick chimney on your home’s exterior, you can paint almost any brick surface to give your home an updated, modern look. You can hire a professional painter to complete this project, but painting brick is quite easy to do on your own if you know how. Review this step-by-step guide to painting brick surfaces in your home.

Check the Quality of the Brick

Before you get started, thoroughly inspect the brick surface and note any structural or quality issues that may affect the painting process. Chipping and cracking are two main concerns to consider since these defects will make applying paint evenly over the surface more difficult. While you can repair minor damage fairly easily, repairs may not be worth the effort if the damage is more pervasive. Painting may only worsen the problem if the brick features excessive cracks and chips. Consult with a professional to determine whether these structural issues can be addressed before you proceed.

You should also check for mold issues. Some bricks are quite porous and can develop mold over time, especially in a damp environment. Look for black, blue, or green spots on the brick to check for mold. You’ll need to have the surface treated or consider replacing the brick with a less porous option before you begin painting.

Clean the Brick Surface Thoroughly


If you’ve determined that the quality of the brick is suitable for painting, it’s time to clean it. Cleaning will provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to and hopefully help your paint job last longer. Remove dirt, dust, and other buildup from the brick by using a wire brush and soapy water.

For tricky spots, wear safety goggles and gloves while applying a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water. For outdoor brick, you can use a pressure washer as long as you set it on a lower pressure to avoid etching into the surface of the brick. Allow the brick to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Think About Filling In the Gaps

If your brick surface is especially uneven, you may find painting over the surface very difficult. Large gaps or cracks that have been checked for structural issues may be able to remain without causing further issues, but you may want to fill them in using block filler. This material is also a good choice for brick surfaces that feature etched designs that will be difficult to paint or those that have large pores that you want to fill to prevent mold and other moisture issues.

If you need to apply block filler, be sure to allow plenty of time for the filler to completely set and dry before you continue. You may need to lightly sand some parts of the surface after applying the filler to reveal a smoother texture for painting.

Apply a Painting Primer

Now that your brick surface has been thoroughly inspected and prepped, you can proceed with applying a primer. The best product to use is a latex masonry primer. This primer will help to fill in the little gaps and pores that are too small to require the use of block filler. The primer works to create a smoother surface over the brick and provide a good texture for the top coat of paint to bond to. Allow it to dry completely so that the primer fully adheres to the brick before you start painting.

Paint the Brick Surface

It’s finally time to paint your brick surface. You’ll need a special paint formulated for masonry to complete this step. Look for a high-quality exterior latex or acrylic paint for outdoor applications. If you’ll be applying the paint indoors, be sure to consider the location of your brick; a heatproof paint should be used for fireplaces. You will typically need about twice as much paint as you would for a flat surface of the same size due to the extra paint required to completely cover the brick texture.

Many people choose to use a paint sprayer to paint their brick since spraying allows you to more easily apply a complete coat over a textured surface. Make sure you protect surrounding areas from the paint since controlling the application of paint is more difficult when using a sprayer. In addition, you may want to use brushes or rollers after using a paint sprayer to apply paint to any areas that need to be touched up, such as oddly placed gaps or cracks that the sprayer didn’t manage to reach.

One important task when painting your brick is to keep track of the paint color you used. Painted brick needs to be repainted more frequently than other painted surfaces. If you hope to use the same paint color in the future, you’ll want to jot down the paint brand and color and keep some extra paint on hand for touch-ups.

Maintain Your Painted Brick

cleaning brick

Try to keep your painted brick surface clean and free from moisture buildup. When maintained properly, a painted brick surface can last for about five years before needing to be repainted with a fresh coat. However, even with proper care, you will likely see some chipping, peeling, and fading develop over the years. You may need to repaint more frequently if you live in an area with high humidity or other harsh weather conditions that speed up the deterioration of the paint.

Keep a Few Painting Tips in Mind

Before you decide to paint a brick surface, keep in mind that this choice is ultimately a permanent one. Removing the paint from the brick later can be challenging and perhaps impossible. Due to the uneven surface, sandblasters and power washers are often required to remove the paint, and using these tools may cause damage to the brick during the paint removal process.

Use the steps provided above to paint a brick surface correctly. This method is a relatively easy way to give your home a modern, fresh update.

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