How to Paint Brick the Right Way

If you have a brick wall inside or outside of your home and you’re looking to make a dramatic change, you may consider painting it! However, painting brick is not as easy and simple as drywall. There are some specific rules to follow when it comes to painting brick the right way. To avoid flaking paint or a dull topcoat, here are some things you should know. 

Never Paint Brand New Brick 
As odd as this may seem, newly-built brick is a terrible canvas. This is because fresh brick can exude a chalky substance on the surface before cured. This powder will not allow the paint to stick to the wall, creating a messy and overall unfinished look. Make sure to get the right curing products and wait at least a month before painting the brick. 

Make Sure the Wall is Clean 
Whether you are planning to paint new brick or a wall that has been in your home since before you lived there, the first step for this project will be to clean the surface. You want to make sure that the wall is clear of all loose debris and grease. Similar to new brick, unwashed brick may have sand, dust and other small debris, preventing the paint from sticking to the wall. A light powerwash should do the job, but consider washing with soap and water for a deeper clean. Once completely dry, patch up any cracks or missing mortar.

Primer—Most Important Step
Do not forget to prime your brick! This is undoubtedly the most important step in the painting process when it comes to this type of surface. Be sure to get a primer that will soak into the holes and crevices of the wall. You can find specific primers made for brick and masonry at your local hardware stores. This primer has more alkaline resistance, which keeps the top coat of paint from getting alkali burn. Choose a water-based primer for latex paint and an oil-based primer for oil paints.

Choose Your Tools Wisely 
Because the surface of the wall is porous and has plenty of divots, traditional paint brushes won’t work. You will need to get an applicator sponge or brush, depending on the final look you are going for, that can stand up to wear and tear. Start with synthetic bristles, as they are stronger and will hold up nicely. For larger areas, such as a fireplace or the exterior of your home, opt for a paint roller with a high nap. If you choose to go the airbrush route, brush a paint roller over the wet surface to ensure the paint gets into all of the nooks and crannies. 

Start Your Painting Project
Once you have finished all of the important prep steps, you are ready to paint! Choose a top color of your choice, no matter the sheen or formula. Higher sheen does better on brick, as it is more resistant to staining. A latex paint will dry faster and have easier cleanup than an oil-based paint, which is much harder to finish.