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.
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.
Painting brick isn’t 100% irreversible, but it’s pretty close. It’s like gaining 400 pounds. Technically you could lose that weight but it’s gonna take a lot of work, a lotta tears, enough swear words to fill a penitentiary and some kind of surgery.
Even though the original brick wall was beautiful, it didn’t make my room beautiful. At all. In fact it ruined my dining room. That one end of the rectangular room always felt dark and heavy. I put LED strip lighting above it to brighten it up. That worked(ish). But not enough.
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. So I didn’t. Not necessarily because they said so, but because I was already afraid to do it myself.
And then one day I I thought suck it and I painted my brick wall on a whim. 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.
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
- Water based paint (latex)
- 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.
I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like it one bit.
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.
And just like that I knew I was done.
How to Antique a Brick Wall
- Slap some primer on the wall being careful not to cover every bit of it.
- 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.
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?
Never once, in 17 years has anyone ever walked into my dining room and commented on how beautiful they thought my brick wall was.
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.
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.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a wall to look at.