How to Stain Brick – Bob Vila


Many houses have brick facades, chimneys, mantels, interior walls and walkways. Although it is a durable building material and your brick will always be in good condition, it may have started to look tired or you may want a different aesthetic. Fortunately, there are several options for updating the look of brickwork, including painting, whitewashing, whitewashing, German smearing, and staining.

Although brick paint is more common, stain is an alternative worth considering. When weighing the relative merits of brick stain versus paint, several factors should be considered. One of the benefits of staining bricks is that the color lasts longer because the porous bricks absorb the stain. Because it doesn’t create the smooth coat that paint does, brick stain also preserves more of the natural look of brick. Stain does not offer the same range of color options as paint, but there are still a significant number of interior and exterior brick stain colors to choose from.

Keep reading to learn how to stain brick and give your home‘s brick surfaces a youthful look.

Tools and materials


Gather all the necessary materials before you begin your brick stain project. If you’re not sure where to buy brick stain, check with your local hardware store. You can also find brick stain online at major retailers like Amazon, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

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STEP 1: Check brick for sealant.

how to stain brick


Can you stain the brick that has been sealed? Unfortunately, no, you cannot stain sealed bricks. Before trying to learn how to stain a brick fireplace or other brick surface inside or outside your home, you should first check to see if a sealer has been applied to the brick.

To do this, put your fingers in a glass of cool water and sprinkle a little water on the brick. If it was sealed, you should notice water beading on the surface of the brick. If so, you will need to remove the sealer with a pressure washer before you can stain the brick or hire a trained professional to help.

If water seeps into the brick after splashing it, it is unsealed and you can move on to the next step.

STEP 2: Test the brick stain in an inconspicuous area.

Before you officially start your staining project, it’s a good idea to test the stain on an inconspicuous area to make sure you’ll be happy with the appearance of the brick when the project is complete. Try staining the bottom corner of a fireplace, one of the bricks at the back of your house, or even a spare brick lying around your property.

Keep in mind that brick is porous and will soak up stain, so it will take several coats of stain to get the results you’re looking for. When testing, you may want to apply a few coats to get a better idea of ​​what the finished product will look like.

STEP 3: Clean the brick.

Next, you will need to clean the brick to remove any dirt or debris before applying the stain. Add warm water and mild soap to a bucket and mix well. Use the soapy water to scrub the brick with a nylon bristle brush, working from top to bottom of the vertical surfaces to avoid getting dirty water on the sections already cleaned. Be sure to lay out a drop cloth on the ground when working indoors or on garden beds if working outdoors.

Keep rubbing until the dirt is gone. You may need to refresh the soapy water several times depending on the size of the surface you are cleaning and the amount of dust and dirt that has accumulated on the brick over time. Finally, rinse out the bucket and fill it with clean water (no soap). Rinse the brick with water to remove any soapy residue. Allow the brick to dry for at least a full day before staining it.

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STEP 4: Make the necessary repairs.

how to stain brick


Now that the brick is clean, you can more easily check for necessary repairs. Overall, the brick structures are very durable and long lasting, but you may find a few places where the mortar is missing or has started to crack.

If you notice any damage, purchase a bag of mortar mix for repairs. Follow the instructions on the bag to mix it, then use a pointed trowel to replace the mortar, taking care to ensure the mortar is pressed as far into the joint as possible. Let the mortar dry for 2 to 3 days.

STEP 5: Protect the surrounding area.

When you’re finally ready to start staining the brick, lay out drop cloths around the work area. Use painter’s tape to secure the drop cloths to the edge of the brick to prevent any stains from running onto your floor or other surfaces in the home. If you are applying exterior brick stain, use drop cloths to protect your deck, patio, or any nearby garden beds or plants.

Don’t forget to protect yourself as well. When working with brick stains, wear clothes and shoes that you don’t mind brick staining. It’s also a good idea to protect your eyes with a pair of safety goggles and your hands with waterproof gloves.

STEP 6: Mix brick stain.

The brick stain tends to separate when sitting in the box. The stain pigments concentrate along the bottom of the box, while the solvents move up. If you skip the important step of mixing the stain, you won’t be able to achieve even coverage of your surface.

Using a drill with a paint mixer is the most effective method of stirring the stain. If you don’t have a drill or a suitable accessory, a wooden paint stirrer will also work.

RELATED: How To: Remove Paint From Brick

STEP 7: Apply overlapping coats of stain.

how to stain brick


When applying brick stain colors, it is important to work evenly and smoothly. If you’re applying the stain with a brush, be careful not to apply more stain to one section than the others.

You may find that a paint sprayer is a worthwhile investment when staining brick. Using a sprayer will not only make the job easier and faster, but will also help you keep coats more even and consistent. If you plan to use a paint sprayer, sweep the sprayer from side to side, starting at the top of the surface. With each sweep, overlap about half of the previous pass.

Whether you use a brush or a sprayer, allow the brick stain to dry after applying one coat. Drying time will vary depending on heat, humidity, airflow and amount of stain applied. Apply additional coats of brick stain until the color matches your vision.

STEP 8: Let the brick stain dry completely.

Once the desired color is achieved, allow the stain to dry completely. As mentioned above, humidity, temperature, airflow, and the amount of stain applied can all impact drying time.

Check the stain manufacturer’s instructions for a more accurate idea of ​​how long your stain will dry, but expect it to be between 24 and 72 hours. While the stain dries, avoid touching the brick, stepping on it, or placing objects on it.

Final Thoughts

Brick staining offers a relatively simple and economical solution for updating your home’s brick surfaces or structures. Compared to paint, stain lasts longer and also helps the brick retain a more natural look. Remember that because the bricks are porous, they will absorb much of the stain. This can make the process of staining bricks more tedious and time consuming than painting them. However, the time and effort you invest will be worth it when you can admire the finished product for years.

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