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How to Paint Interior Brick

Interior BrickBrick is one of those things that can look really amazing in a home.  Unless of course that brick is dirty, discolored or needs a new coat of paint!  If you have a brick wall of any kind in your home and it’s starting to look really worn, dirty or old and you want to update it to match the rest of the house or just let it shine on in its own beautiful way, you will make good by painting the brick.  Funny, but not a lot of people realize you CAN paint brick, it just takes a little finesse and some patience to do so.  Below you will find some generalized steps on how to paint brick, as well as tools and products you will need.

What You Need

  • Vacuum cleaner or duster brush
  • Soap or detergent
  • Lightweight spackling paste
  • Regular caulking
  • Acrylic primer
  • Water based paint
  • Lamb wool roller
  • Paintbrush

Cleaning the Brick Wall

As with any paint project, even brick, you have to make sure you have a nice clean surface or the paint won’t stick onto the brick as well.  First, use a wire brush to scrub away any dirt and soot, grim and grease, etc.  You can then use a shopvac to clean up all the dust and dirt that came off the brick wall.  You will also need to wet the wall with some sort of a mixture.  Most people swear by a 50/50 combination of water and vinegar, but you can also use detergent for the same results.  Just make sure you do this, because it might look clean, but once you use the wet mixture you will see just how dirty it really is!  Try not to use soaps or products with trisodium phosphate in them though; this can eat through the brick!  Once finished, allow 24 hours before continuing on to the next step.

Repair the Brick

Chances are over the years your brick wall has created some nicks, chips and holes.  That’s okay, but make sure you fill these in with something other than paint.  Instead, use a really lightweight spackling to paste the smaller holes, dents and cracks and then use caulking for bigger holes, dents and cracks.  If possible, try to find textured caulking rather than smooth because when it dries it will look more like the brick than a smooth product.

Primer is a Must!

Make sure that you prime the wall with an acrylic primer.  You should be able to just use 1 coat, but if you are finding the mortar and brick is sort of sucking in the primer, wait for the first coat to drive, about 2 hours, and then apply another coat.  This happens because unlike most walls, brick is a porous material with lots of little air pockets and pin sized holes that allow the primer to seep in.

Apply Your Paint

Brick walls are very different from regular smooth walls because of the surface, because of this you will need to use a water based paint.  Use a roller, preferably a lamb wool or lamb skin roller to paint the paint on.  Start from the top and move your way downwards being sure to get into all those little grooves and crevices.  In this case, lamb skin or lamb wool rollers work better than other naps, because they are really thick and can hold a lot of paint.  On top of that lamb skin or lamb wool naps tend to leave a more textured look with the paint than other naps which works really well to match the surface of the brick.

As you can see above, this does take a little finesse, but it’s a pretty easy job and well worth it once that paint starts to dry and you begin to see the new color of the wall.  There are also some “molds” where you can paint the brick of the wall, but leave the mortar still showing in its original color tone.  The way these work is you put the mold against the brick wall – and the openings where you would paint is where the brick is.  It’s more work, but if you really love the tone and look of mortar it might be worth the trouble.

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