How to Paint a Concrete Brick Exterior

How to Paint a Concrete Brick Exterior

Painting your concrete brick requires preparation and the right paint

By Stevie Donald

Girl Painting Brick Exterior of Home
Photo by iStockphoto.comBookmark and Share

Concrete bricks provide excellent insulation and sound-proofing, and, like all masonry building materials, are maintenance-free for decades. However, if you're tired of living in the same color house for decades, you can paint concrete brick. Although it requires some hard work, and proper preparation is critical, you can give old brick a new lease on life with paint.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Assemble your materials for your brick painting project in advance and take a thorough inventory. This will not only help you create a safe, more efficient work environment but help you avoid paint drying challenges if you run out of material unexpectedly.

Step 1:

Clean the brick. If it is relatively new and clean, all that may be required is a good hosing down. However, older brick needs to be scrubbed or power washed to remove efflorescence (white powdery mineral deposits that leach to the surface), grime and dirt.

Step 2:

Use a good detergent. If the brick isn't heavily soiled, dishwashing detergent works well. For very grimy brick, the heavy duty cleaner TSP (trisodium phosphate) will remove soot and oily deposits.

Step 3:

Add bleach to the TSP to remove mildew. If the brick is dark colored, it can be difficult to tell if there's mildew. Cover all bases by adding about one pint of bleach per gallon of TSP. Rinse the brick until the water runs clear.

Step 4:

Repair cracks and crumbling mortar. Use paintable silicone caulking or masonry caulking for small cracks. Buy paintable mortar compound for larger gaps and to replace missing mortar.

Step 5:

Prime the concrete brick with a thinned latex primer. Thin the primer by adding up to a quart of water per gallon of paint. This will be a bit runny and thin, but it penetrates and bonds to the surface better. Although many exterior acrylic paints don't call for a masonry primer, many professional painters and the Paint Quality Institute recommend priming first for a long-lasting job.

Step 6:

Decide how you will apply the paint. If the house is very small, or only a portion of it is brick, a heavy 1-inch nap lambswool roller and brush will be fine. However, if there's a lot of brick to paint, consider spraying. This requires more prep time in masking and protecting adjacent surfaces from overspray but will considerably speed up the job. Plan on doing two coats for the best looking and longest lasting paint job.

Step 7:

Paint other elements of your house like the trim, soffits and gutters after you're finished with the concrete brick painting. Painting brick can be messy and you'll get brick paint on your trim and woodwork.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If the efflorescence is severe, causing a hard white crystallized scale on the brick, you may need to use muriatic acid to clean it off before painting.
  • A power washer can make quick work of cleaning brick, but use it with care because power washing can dislodge old mortar.
  • Use 100 percent acrylic paint. Avoid cheaper latex paint, and don't use oil-based paint -- they are too brittle and will peel.
  • Never add bleach to an ammonia-based cleaner because it can create hazardous fumes.

About the Author

Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.

Related Guides

Painting Trim on House

How to Paint the Outside of My House

Painting the outside of your house will save you a considerable amount of money and can be extremely satisfying. Take a step-by-step approach to painting your home's exterior. Preparation can be the most tedious part of house painting, but once you're done with the scraping, sanding, cleaning and caulking, the rest of the job will be a breeze. If you're not up for this amount of work, use this guide as a handy way to make sure a professional painter is taking all the care he should with your house painting job.... Read More

Plan your Home Maintenance

Sign Up

Already have an account? Log In

Log In with your Facebook account.
We’ll never post without your permission.

Create a DexKnows account:

At least 6 characters
By clicking Sign Up, you agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You'll receive the DexKnows Tips email newsletter as well as email updates about your account.

Please share the issue you encountered with our search

I am a(n):


Please check at least one issue checkbox.