Painting Bricks

January 19, 2022

Painting Bricks

Painting Bricks

There's something about the texture of brick that makes it an appealing canvas for sensational colours in the home. While we may think of bricks as more difficult to paint, their spartan simplicity makes them deceptively easy to colour with a bit of modern painting knowhow.

Brick Wall Painting

The first rule of painting bricks is that you never do it with a frown. There’s something about the art of brick painting that really brings out the true painter within

Before Painting

Like any surface, it is important to prepare your canvas.To make sure brick surfaces are properly prepared:

1.       You should wait 28 days before painting new brickwork constructed with cement mortar.

2.       Strip the brick wall of any existing paint by using the flat edge of a trowel to scrape away any flaking areas, then follow with a disc sander. Be sure to use protective gear to avoid breathing in any dust. For any residual paint leftover from the sanding process, using a paint stripper solvent with 2 parts warm water to one-half cup trisodium phosphate to scrub the bricks. 

3.    Check all brickwork for defects. White crystal salts called efflorescence can build up on brick surfaces and must be removed before painting. To clear away any efflorescence, wipe down bricks with solution of 5% white vinegar in water, then a damp cloth or paper towel.

4.    Check for any water damage on the bricks. If there’s excess moisture from recent rain, damp rising, or signs of leakage you’ll need to address that before painting too.

Paints go on smoother when applied to a wall that has been prepared with priming. Priming makes the paint last longer too. After they’ve been thoroughly washed and rinsed, the wall should always be allowed plenty of time to dry before continuing with painting.

Painting Bricks: Exterior

Outdoor surfaces tend to be rougher, and grittier. When surfaces aren’t level, you might need to sand them down gently, and use a levelling compound before painting. You can improve this by adding an additional coat of weather protection sealant on the brick surface right before applying paint.

1.    Clear the surface of any loose sand or cement. Fill holes and cracks with grouting cement or another surface levelling agent.

2.    Wash the wall with water and a brush removing any other loose material. It should be safe to use a high-pressure hose at this stage to blast away any remaining fine debris or dirt.

3.    Use masking tape along the edges where you don't want to paint, including trims and windows.

4.    Choose a suitable paint designed for the job at hand, and start painting!

5.    With a little bit less need for precision outdoors, you have the freedom to use a larger roller, or even a paint sprayer, if you’re confident. Try to cover the largest areas first with a painting free-for-all, then focus on the smaller areas for finer touch-ups.

An important thing to consider is selecting the right type of paint for brick exteriors. Choose paints that are formulated to give your bricks a more natural look and feel while protecting colour from the elements.

Taubmans All Weather is engineered with Nanoguard® Advanced Technology, which has an interlocking molecular structure that works to create a protective shield. This lets you keep washing away dirt without compromising the quality of the paint or damaging the finish.

Tip: Don’t wait too long between coats when painting exterior bricks, especially if it's a hot day outside.

Painting Bricks: Interior

For painting, brick has one common problem: it's porous. This means that while paint will adhere to the textured surface, it will also absorb a lot more paint than other materials would. Luckily, there are ways to overcome this issue.

Preparing cracks and gaps in advance will be more important indoors than out, to achieve a less rustic feel. Padding the cracks with filler, sanding to get rid of rough edges, and touching up paint in the small grooves between bricks will all take more time and attention to detail.

Painting Interior Brick Walls: A Cheat Sheet

1.    First protect furniture and floors from stray paint by covering everything with canvas or plastic drop cloths.

2.    Clean the surface of the brick using a stiff brush and vacuum all loose dust and dirt. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and mix in a few drops of liquid soap. To clean bricks, make a soapy mixture and allow the surface to dry for at least 12 hours. Determine if bricks are dry enough to begin work by how cold they are to the touch. 

3.    Filling gaps and cracks with mortar compound can reduce the amount of paint and primer needed to cover the wall. It also produces an overall smoother finish that looks better close up.

4.    Ensure that you apply painter’s tape to adjacent walls or trim that you don’t want to paint.

5.    Apply a coat of primer to your brick surface beginning at the edges and corners. It's important to make sure the mortar joints are fully coated in primer. Use a thicker roller to ensure primer gets into all of the deeper crevices, then a paintbrush to brush over the top of the wet primer with many strokes until dry.

6.    Choose a colour you love and start painting! 

7.    Try to cover as much of the surface as you can with a paint roller first. Brush more paint around the edges and into the mortar joints that were missed by the roller. Let your paint dry and apply another coat as needed.

8.    Remove all drop cloths and the painter’s tape when your paint is completely dry.

Tip: When painting the brickwork around old fireplaces, don’t paint inside where wood burns and smoke is extracted if the fireplace will remain functional.

Hopefully this guide gets you primed, pun intended, for a colourful brickwork facelift around your home. Get some inspiration before you start painting from our 2021 Colour Trends Guide at Chromatic Joy.