How to Paint a Brick Wall.

Afraid of painting a brick wall in your house? Maybe it’s a fireplace or an old exterior wall? Give it some thought, consider the pros and cons – and then just do it. Start whitewashing away the brick you don’t like today.

Antique brick wall painted white in dining room with harvest table and white Panton S chairs.

Painting an interior brick wall is the kind of thing only an a) brave b) stupid c) bored or d) mentally deranged person would do.  It’s a project I was terrified to do. I stared at a brick wall that I hated every single day for 17 years before I decided to finally paint it.  

So why didn’t I?  I was scared. I wasn’t scared to paint an entire wall in my office with whiteboard paint but brick? Brick is different. Painting brick is SCARY.

Should I paint my interior brick wall??

Yes!  There’s no reason not to. Other than the whole, you can’t undo it thing. But if you hate the wall as it is, you’re not going to hate it any more when you’ve painted it so at the VERY least you’ll break even.

Painting brick isn’t 100% irreversible, but it’s pretty close.  It’s like gaining 600 pounds. You *could* lose that weight but it’s gonna take a lot of work, a lotta tears and enough swear words to fill a penitentiary.

Even though the original brick wall was beautiful, it didn’t make my room beautiful.  At all.   I put LED strip lighting above it to brighten it up.  That worked(ish).  But not enough.

Natural antique brick wall in exterior of home.

I told many people I was going to paint this brick wall over the years and I had many people tell me back “NO!“, while simultaneously whipping their hand up in the universally recognized stop position.  “You cannot!‘.  

No one ever had a really solid reason for me, other than they didn’t think it should be done. 

White brick walls are having a moment right now but unlike some other fads, this one not only looks good but it’s actually a fairly classic look. 

A lot of white painted brick walls are done to replicate the look of efflorescence.

What is efflorescence you ask?

Antique stone or brick walls turn splotchy white over the years. It’s actually a layer of salt. The process is called efflorescence and it happens when moisture from outside, travels through the brick or stone. The water picks up salt from the brick, stone or cement  on its way through and then the water exits out the other side of the stone and evaporates. Unlike the water, the salt it picked up doesn’t evaporate, it sits like a powder on the stone.

I also ripped up all of the floors in my house on a whim. That didn’t go quite as smoothly as painting the wall. You can read about the floor debacle here. 


And then one day in 2017 I thought suck it and I painted my brick wall on a whim. And I’m still love it.

I started off thinking I was going to completely paint my brick wall solid white.  Then on a whim (again) I decided to whitewash it. 

Whitewashing Interior Brick

Materials

  • Water based paint (latex)
  • Water
  • Paintbrush

Instructions

  • Wipe cobwebs and dust off of brick wall.
  • Mix equal parts paint and water.
  • Start painting.

Whitewashing a brick wall (or anything) is as simple as using 50% water mixed with 50% paint.  The paint has to be a water based paint, not oil.  If the result seems too solid still, just water it down a bit more.

Then paint the “whitewash” on the surface of whatever you’re painting and blot the runs with a rag right away.

How to paint a brick wall.

I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like it one bit.

How to whitewash a brick wall

I got out my primer and started slapping it onto the wall with a brush and a roller, realizing I’d have to just paint the whole wall in a solid white.  Because my bricks are so old and irregular it was almost impossible to get into every groove and hole so I gave up on that after a while and just brushed the primer on quickly, thinking I’d go back and clean it up after one quick coat.

But as I stood back I liked it exactly like this.  Not a perfectly painted brick wall.  Not a Pinterest brick wall.  An interesting looking, aged, antiqued looking brick wall.

It’s chalky looking which gives it the look of being authentic; as though salt and lime have dusted the walls over centuries.

How to paint a brick wall.

And just like that I knew I was done.

How to antique a brick wall
 
How to Antique a Brick Wall
  1. Slap some primer on the wall being careful not to cover every bit of it.
  2. Clean your brush, put your paint can away.

I did finish priming the entire wall, but after I was done a quick coat of primer I packed up my paint, washed my brush and started sending photos to family members and friends.

how to paint a brick wall to look old

Well guess what.  They liked it.  I mean, they gasped of course, but they liked it. A few people asked me if I was finished.  I told them I thought that I actually liked it the way it was. To which they replied, “Yeah, I think I like it like that too.”

Do you know what’s funny?

How to paint a brick wall.

Never once, in 17 years has anyone ever walked into my dining room and commented on how beautiful they thought my brick wall was.

Not. Once.

So I don’t know what everyone’s issue with painting it was.

The truth is I’m glad it took me this long to paint the dining room wall because had I done it  6 or 7 years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to leave it the way it is, half-assedly painted.  

I’m also glad I didn’t know I was going to haphazzardly paint my wall.  If I knew I wanted a “random” look to the wall I would have given WAY too much thought to what areas got more paint than others.

I would have stood back and assessed and made it way more difficult than it needed to be.  By not knowing what the hell I was doing, I got a genuinely random look. The kind of random look I never would have been able to achieve if I was trying.

Painting an Interior Brick Wall

Painting an Interior Brick Wall

Active Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

How to paint a brick wall inside your house.

Materials

  • Primer
  • Water based paint

Tools

  • Paintbrush
  • Roller

Instructions

  1. Vacuum your brick wall to get all the dust off of it that you can.
  2. Using a brush or roller coat the wall in primer.
  3. Once primer has dried go over it with 2-3 coats of interior latex paint.
  4. See notes for additional options for painting a brick wall.

Notes

To whitewash a brick wall mix together 50% water and 50% latex paint into a container. Using a brush, paint the thin mixture onto the wall watching for any drips and cleaning those up as you go. Do a test patch first to see if you like the sheerness. If you don't then either raise or lower the amount of water you've used.

For *my* brick wall I ONLY used primer. I never went back and put any sort of actual paint onto the brick. The primer stuck really well and I like the sort of chalky appearance of it.

I know; you maybe liked the brick wall natural.  I know; it was a beautiful brick wall.  I know; it’s very difficult to lose 400 pounds.  But it can be done.

I’m not sure why I was so scared. Everything I fretted over painting in this house like the  kitchen brick wall, or my interior trim I’ve loved.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a wall to look at.

How to paint a brick wall but keep its authenticity!
How to Paint a Brick Wall.

133 Comments

  1. LINDSAY CUDINI says:

    I love the baby ‘crocks’ you have on your diningroom table (filled with greens). Are they new or something you have had for a while?

    Thanks muchly,
    Lindsay

  2. Sande says:

    Just an FYI… I think the “load comments” feature might be acting up. The last few times when I’ve clicked it, no comments were loaded. Thought I’d mention since it’s happened on several days & it’s a feature that might work fine on your end but not work for me & other readers…or then again, might only be my problem.

  3. Angie Ash says:

    I have a fireplace in my kitchen (yes, my kitchen) that is on my list to antique like this. Your post happily has me hoping it won’t be too much of an ordeal. Thanks for your inspiring and hilarious post.

  4. Marcia says:

    I love your brick wall! I once had someone tell me to never paint natural oak cabinets, advice that I took to heart until I finally got sick of my yellowed oak bathroom cabinets and painted them gray. I love them now! Moral of this story…just go ahead and paint whatever you want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to Instructions
The Art of Doing Stuff