How to Paint Exterior Brick

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comTomorrow I’m revealing the bedroom balcony and it’s SO gorgeous, but before we get to the good stuff- I’ve had LOTS of questions about the painted brick. How did I choose a color? What does the process for painting brick look like? How do you know if your brick is paintable? Why did I paint the brick in the first place? The list goes on… I figured today I’d share the tutorial and answer allllllll of the questions with a quick Q&A before the big reveal tomorrow. If you’re considering painting exterior brick or masonry in the future, this post is a must-read. Click through to learn all about it… 

*Although this post is not sponsored, I am a Sherwin-Williams brand ambassador and received complimentary paint for this project. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comI’m going to dive right into the tutorial! If you’re interested in painting your brick, first you need to determine IF it can be painted. The best way to make the call is to chat with a professional. Otherwise, I’m offering some insight in the Q&A at the end of the post that might help you weigh the pros, cons, and determine what product is best for your type of brick. This is my process and what was best for my exterior on the balcony….

Step 1 // Prep. As a reminder, this is what the balcony looked like before (pictured above). I began by prepping the area for paint. I thoroughly cleaned the brick with a pressure washer on the lowest setting, then scrubbed it with a scrub brush, mild cleaner, and rinsed it really well. I allowed it to totally dry before proceeding to the next step.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comStep 2 // Condition the brick. Next, I conditioned the brick. Using a 3/4″ roller and scrap paint brush, I completely covered the brick in Loxon Acrylic Conditioner. Once it was finished, the coloring looked like this…

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comYou can definitely tell where the primer has been applied because it takes on a lighter chalk-like appearance. You just need a thin layer of this!

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comStep 3 // Paint the brick. Once the conditioner was totally dry (24 hours later), I began painting. I used Loxon Self-Cleaning Acrylic Coating. This looks just like regular paint, so you can pick any Sherwin-Williams colors from swatches. I went with the color Nuance SW 7049.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comThe trickiest part about painting brick is getting into the pointing (or mortar grooves). I found a small paint brush to be helpful with this part of the process, but I will say- painting brick by hand takes a long time. Spraying is another option if your pointing isn’t too deep.

Step 4 // Apply another coat. Lastly, apply another coat if needed and allow it to completely dry. Once the walls were finished, it looked like this…

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comI won’t give away too much, because the big reveal is coming tomorrow, but I love the color! It’s soft, not too bright, and perfectly changes as the sun shifts. Let’s do the Q&A, shall we? I asked the pros at Sherwin-Williams to help me answer a few, too. Here’s what many of you asked about…


Q: Why paint your brick? It’s in great shape and is so pretty!

First of all- thank you! I love natural brick, but I felt like brightening the balcony and switching things up. It just felt right for that outdoor area. I’m 100% happy with my choice and I love the way it turned out.

Q: How did you choose a color? 

Exterior paint selection is difficult… it’s honestly more challenging than choosing interior paint. You have to factor in the sun, time-of-day, reflections from greenery (like landscaping), the blue sky, etc. The best way to choose any paint color (interior or exterior), is by ordering swatches. Next, you’ll want to look at those swatches OUTSIDE. Trust me when I say, they will not read the same indoors as they do outside. If you’re looking for a “white” exterior paint, I’d also stay away from bright, crisp, true whites. I know, I know… those are ideal indoors, but they’re not great for exteriors because they look too bright in the sun- like blinding. It’s almost hard to look at for too long. Instead, try a light gray or muted white that will read brighter in an exterior setting. I landed on Nuance SW 7049, which is pretty creamy in the swatch book, but looks totally different on my home’s exterior. It reads nice and bright, but isn’t overwhelming.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comQ: What size roller is best for painting brick?

I used a 3/4″ inch nap, pictured above, and it did a great job!

Q: How did you know what product to use for your brick?

Painting brick can be intimidating, because if you use the wrong product, the masonry can’t breathe and age properly, which can lead to structural damage. That sounds scary, right? I’d highly recommend talking to a paint professional! So, in short- I asked multiple pros… just to be safe.

Q: How do I know if my brick can be painted?

Again, chat with a professional, but to give you some guidelines…. brick should be weathered at least 1 year prior to painting. However, aged brick (non-glazed) can be painted. Keep in mind, the brick must be clean, dry, dull, and in good condition. Be sure to remove all loose or peeling paint. Remove all dirt and debris by washing the brick with a good cleaner, degreaser, or other natural cleaner, then rinse thoroughly and allow the surface to dry. You also have to consider the mortar. It should be in sound condition and repaired (repointed), if necessary, before you begin painting. I tested the absorbency of my brick by sprinkling water onto the surface. Since the water penetrated the brick and left spots, that meant the brick was ready to be finished. If the water is repelled or beads up, that indicates there is some sort of coating on the brick that will not accept paint.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comQ: What does the prep process look like?

I kind of already covered this, but if you’ve determined your brick is suitable for paint… once you’ve cleaned the brick, prime it with an acrylic latex masonry conditioner. Masonry conditioner is a pigmented surface conditioner recommended for use on exterior masonry such as brick and stucco. Allow the primer to dry for at least 24 hours.

Q: When would you paint brick and when would you leave it alone?

Brick inherently needs no paint. It’s beautiful, super durable, a great material, and for me… it’s purely an aesthetic decision. I love the charm that painted brick adds to certain homes. I’d recommend checking out other homes in your neighborhood. Are there any painted ones? If not, maybe there is a reason for that? Chat with your neighbors, know the history of your home, and determine what style you’re going for. It really is a commitment. If you’re painting new, porous brick, wait at least a year. This allows time for leaching and weathering. The condition of the brick has a lot to do with either painting, applying water repellant, or leaving it alone. Old, worn out looking brick, still in good shape, may just need repointed. Brick that looks pitted or damaged would look best with a flat paint that masks imperfections.

Q: Unrelated brick question, but I’m curious… what paint did you use on the balcony floor?

I used a special Porch & Floor Enamel in color Repose Grey SW 7015, pictured below. I just rolled it on. It took about 20 minutes and is the easiest paint I’ve ever applied. FYI- it’s not textured… our floor was like that before I painted.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comQ: Does paint damage brick? 

If done incorrectly- absolutely, yes. Paint itself and proper prep do not damage brick. It’s the improper preparation or wrong product that tends to be the issue. Several concerns are (according to my friends at Sherwin-Williams):

  • Water & moisture intrusion through cracked, missing voids in the mortar joints (lack of repointing).
  • Improper preparation, lack of cleaning to remove dirt, grease, grim, old loose paint & grit from the surface.
  • Powerwashing with too high of PSI or the wrong cleaner being used.
  • Using a primer and finish that is not “breathable”. A non-breathable coating could trap moisture behind the brick causing it to prematurely blister and eventually fail.
  • Non-porous, glazed brick and brick that has been treated with a water repellent will not hold primer or paint.
  • Some bricks are made with integral water repellents causing the primer and paint not to adhere.

You have to consider a number of items like alkalinity, efflorescence, water, and moisture. The best way to know what is best for your brick is to chat with multiple professionals.

Q: What products would you recommend?

Again, it totally depends on your brick, but generally for OLDER, pitted, or spalled brick in bad shape… you’ll need a good primer and flat paint to hide imperfections. I’d recommend Loxon Concrete and Masonry Primer. For newer brick that is at least 1 year old and in good, sound shape, I’d recommend Loxon Acrylic Conditioner. Follow that with an an alkali resistant finish like Loxon Self-Cleaning Acrylic.

Q: Haven’t you stained masonry in the past?

Yes! I stained our exterior sofa last summer. Check out that process here. A different product was more suitable for that particular project… Colortop Concrete Stain.

How to Paint Exterior Brick - roomfortuesday.comAlright, I think that’s just about everything! Whew! I know that was a lot of information, but I wanted to give you as much detail as I could because it’s kind of a misunderstood topic. Feel free to pin this article for reference if you think you might paint brick or masonry in the future. As always, let me know if you have questions or comments below!

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  1. I always equate this to painting wooden furniture – sometimes it’s absolutely the right thing to do (and your balcony looks lovely, a really charming bonus space) and sometimes it’s categorically not and should be left well alone!

    1. Absolutely! It totally depends.

  2. Sally’s analogy seems apt. Our old home in Tempe was definitely painted brick, but it was painted long before we came on the scene. I will say this is one area where aesthetics do not win the day for me. Part of the beauty of brick is that it does NOT require painting/repainting. I find painting/staining outside surfaces an odious chore; I will avoid it if I can. I will, however, totally enjoy looking at your beautifully painted space.😁

    1. It’s definitely a maintenance step to consider! I haven’t decided if I want to commit to the entire house or not.

  3. Omg I love the view from your balcony in the before pic! Wow! It looks like you back into a golf course. So very pretty……can’t wait to see the reveal to tomorrow. I do like the painted brick and love the color you chose. This post was very informative as I always wondered what the process was for painting brick. There are a few homes on my street where the brick has been painted to match the siding and it looks really nice but I wondered about the maintenance. How would the paint weather through the winter and how often it would need to be recoated. I have to say the paint did transform the entire exterior from that 70s look to a more modern vibe and they do kind stand out from the rest of the street. Maybe the rest of us will catch up eventually 😂

    1. Thank you! Yep, we are indeed on a golf course. I have never golfed (ever), so I suppose I should learn. Haha! I’ll keep everyone updated as it weathers :)

  4. You have such patience, Sarah, along with wisdom about doing your research and the importance of prep work. Thanks for this awesome post. Cheers, Ardith

    1. Aw thank you Ardith! xox

  5. It’s so beautiful! I want to paint some of the brick + floor tile around our fireplace until we can do a bigger mantle overhaul – would all of these same steps apply? I wondered if there would be less prep for interior brick!

    1. Thanks so much, Diane! There is definitely a different process for interior brick… we painted a brick fireplace in our first home. Chat with the pros at Sherwin-Williams and they’ll give you the product and instructions you need :)

  6. Chelsea Whiteside says:

    This post has been super helpful! I think I’m going to take the leap and paint my brick pure white SW. Do you happen to have any recommendations on black paint colors for my garage and exterior doors? You mentioned Tricorn black in another post? Matte or shiny? I’m lost on exteriors!

  7. Emily Holweger says:

    Such a helpful article! Thank you! Would love to see the final product. I see you mentioned a ‘big reveal’ but can’t find it elsewhere on the site. Did I overlook it? We’re painting a house we’re renovating and I’d love to see how your white windows and white paint turned out!

      1. Thanks so much for your response! Love your blog!