Painting a brick wall is a great way to give a new and fresh look to any exterior or interior space. Brick wall painting is not a simple task, as painting drywall for example, but when it’s done right it can make a brick wall blend into the surroundings or stand out in a whole new way.

Painting professionals are usually saying that the best way to paint the brick wall is a paint sprayer, but brushes and rollers which are specially designed for textured surfaces can be really helpful.

We’ll give you a few tips you need to know before picking up a brush to paint brick.

Best Way to Paint Brick Wall  Prep, Paints & Roller vs. Spray

Before you start to paint your brick wall you will definitely need to do some preparation. Read the steps and what materials and tools you will need for the entire process.

Materials and tools:

  • Wire scrub brush
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Trisodium phosphate (if necessary)
  • Paintbrush, roller, or sprayer
  • Masonry or latex paint
  • Latex primer
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape

Step 1: Clean and prepare the brick

It is very important to clean the surface thoroughly before painting to better adheres to your application of paint. Use a wire brush and a mix of soap and water to scrub the brick and remove dirt or any efflorescence (streaky white deposits). If you need something stronger, then, you have to use trisodium phosphate TSP. Mix a half cup of TSP with a gallon of water to do the trick. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when using TSP.

If you face mildew or mold on your brick wall use a solution of one part bleach and three parts water. After applying this solution let it soak for 30 minutes then scrub it with a wire brush. Never use acid-based cleaning solutions because they might compromise your paint job.

For cleaning larger areas of brickwork maybe you will need a pressure washer.

After cleaning the wall wait at least 24 hours before painting because the brick must be completely dry.

Important note: If your brick wall is installed recently you will have to wait at least a year before painting because a new brick construction needs plenty of time to dry and acclimate. If the installation has been there for decades before painting check the mortar for signs of damage and cracking, and repair them.

Step 2: Apply primer

Depending on the area of the surface you wish to paint, use a brush or roller, or paint sprayer to apply the primer. Use multiple coats of primer for sections that have been affected by efflorescence or mildew. No matter how many layers of primer you will apply, let them dry completely before starting to paint.

Step 3: Paint the brick

According to professionals, using a paint sprayer is the easiest way to paint the brick wall but brushes and rollers made for textured surfaces also work well. Be sure to push the paint into the tiny crack for an even look. Apply multiple layers if necessary.

If DIY and you don’t have the experience to operate with the sprayer then is recommended to use a brush or roller. If you don’t want to paint the mortar between the bricks, seal it off with painter’s tape.

Staining the brick wall

As the finishing option, you may consider staining the brick wall instead of painting it. Staining is much quicker and easier than painting and it points out the brick’s unique texture.

Preparing the wall for staining is almost the same as painting the brick wall. If you decide to stain the brick, first test the stain on an inconspicuous part of the brick. You can change the tone of the color by adding pigment or water to get the wanted hue.

When staining after you apply the first coat you must wait at least 24 hours before applying the second coat. Spread the stain as thiny possible. Remember to wear goggles and gloves.

The pros and cons of painting the brick wall

Painting over the brick wall has far-reaching application and its pros and cons, but for sure can change the look of the interior and the exterior of your home in a beautiful way. Here are some of the ups and downs:

Pros

  • Appearance: When a brick wall becomes aesthetically unpleasant it is the right time to paint. Painting the exterior can improve the look and increase the market value of a whole property;
  • Protection: When the preparation and painting are done properly, the brick wall is provided with a durable coating, which gives good protection from moisture and mold growth, and will keep the walls in a good shape for a long time.
  • Easy maintenance: Like every other surface, brick walls are easier to maintain when painted. Painted and sealed brick is easier to clean than raw brick, which is very porous and holds in the dirt.

Cons

  • Long preparation work: Painting a brick wall is a challenging project that requires a huge amount of preparation work to remove all the dirt and to get the perfect painting surface. You will also need to find proper products for cleaning and coating and use them strictly to the manufacturer’s instructions, otherwise, you can compromise the whole project.

    Moisture issue: Choosing the most compatible product is very important for long-lasting results. Even some coating systems may seem appropriate, they take away the natural ability of bricks to expel moisture. If there are some hairline cracks in walls, moisture will enter the masonry with no way to go out, and that will make brick more irresistible to damp problems. Choose a quality product that allows moisture to go out but not in.

  • Maintenance: Again maintenance, but now in the opposite way. As with any other painted surfaces, painted brick walls require regular maintenance and cleaning to stay in good condition for a long time. Because the paint will fade as time goes by, you should apply a fresh coat of paint from time to time. You may need to do that in the areas with high temperatures and humidity every two or three years.
  • Permanence: Before you paint the brick wall, you must be aware that once you have painted, returning it to the original brick will be very hard and can require a significant effort.

Choosing the right type of paint for brick walls

There is a very simple answer to this question, acrylic. Acrylic latex paints are the best choice for painting brick walls. There are few reasons for that.

First of all, they are more flexible than oil-based paints but still durable. They don’t put VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) so they are considered safer to use indoors and don’t generally cause issues from off-gassing and don’t smell as toxic. It can be cleaned with soapy water, you don’t have to use paint thinner.

Because of all the crevices and nooks that bricks naturally have, acrylic latex paints are much better at filling those gaps and creating a smoother surface.

Acrylic latex paints are also a superior choice for exterior brick painting because they are designed to stand up against mildew and quickly evaporate any moisture that it absorbs. If you are painting the interior of a fireplace make sure you’re using heat-proof paint.

Choosing the right type of paint for brick walls white colour

Top 5 best paints for brick for 2021

According to some researches, here are the top 5 brick paints for 2021 that you can find on the market and use for your project:

ProsCons
Water-resistant to 12 PSINot self-priming
Mildew resistantWhen not on sale can be expensive
Acrylic latex-based
ProsCons
Alkali resistantLimited color choices
Mildew resistantComes only in a flat finish
Inexpensive
ProsCons
Fast-dryingOn the pricey side
Paint/primer comboTake 2 coats or more to really sink it
Multiple finishes and colors available
ProsCons
Great for fireplacesComes in small cans (16 & 31 oz.)
Covers appx. 100 sq. ft. It is a whitewash, not the same result as paint
Low VOC
ProsCons
Paint & Primer in OneExpensive
Super DurableDoesn’t come in a matte finish
Excellent at hiding imperfections

Roller VS Spray

Before the 1940’s paintbrush was the only choice for applying the paint. Later, when the paint roller appeared the painting job had become a lot easier. Paint roller compared to brush spread the paint more evenly and make the whole painting process faster. But after few years another option had pop-up, a paint sprayer.

It is always a debate about what option to chose for painting. We will make it easier for you by giving you some information for both, roller and spray.

Preparation time

The fact that spraying requires more time to prepare, set up the equipment, put paint in the reservoir, connect hoses and cords, masking, etc., the roller is an absolute winner in this part.

Application time

All the time that you will save on preparation you will lose it in the application because definitely spraying is the faster way to apply the paint.

Accuracy

For painting interior brick walls roller is much more accurate than a sprayer because when you spray indoor, you must mask everything you don’t want to be painted, like windows, ceiling, floor, etc.

Spreading the paint evenly

In this part, both sprayer and roller are winners because both of them spread the pain pretty even. But with both of them, there is a risk of overlapping unevenly too.

Cleaning

After finishing the job you must clean. It can take some time to clean the roller and the equipment, but it is nothing compared to cleaning the spray gun and reservoir bottle, and everything else that is connected to the gun.

The bottom line is that sprayer is the faster way to apply the paint, but the roller is more accurate. So because of the natural form of the brick with all the crevices and nook, the roller is a better option to chose for your next project of painting the brick wall.

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FAQ's

In general no, but the brick that is chipping, falling apart, molding, or is just in bad condition is not a perfect candidate for painting. Paint pieces the characteristic pores within the brick’s surface, which can cause existing issues to end up overstated over time.

Because most masonry is porous and more textured than drywall or wood, an extra step of applying the sealer is necessary before priming and painting.

No! Painting the brick is a great way to upgrade the curb appeal of your home and when is done properly it can create a major visual impact. So definitely painting the brick wall doesn’t decrease the home value.

If you paint the exterior brick, you should repaint it every three to five years, while the interior can last a few more years.

Efflorescence is a white residue that often appears on older brick walls. This is made up of deposits of water-soluble salt buildup, mostly from moisture inside the brick. Remove the efflorescence with water and a wire brush before painting and wait to see if it returns. If it does, then you may have a bigger problem that requires professional help.

FAQ’s Best Way to Paint Brick Wall

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.