How to Stain Brick

Staining brick is an easy and affordable way to change the look of your brick walls. With the right stain and application techniques, you can give brick a whole new aesthetic. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about staining brick, from picking the right stain color and type to properly prepping and applying the stain. Follow these steps and tips for beautiful stained brickwork.

Choose the Right Stain for Your Brick

When deciding on a brick stain, consider the existing color of your bricks, the look you want to achieve, and the type of brick you have.

Brick Stain Colors

Brick stains come in a range of natural tones and bold colors:

  • Natural brick stains: These transparent stains simply enhance the existing color of the bricks. They come in earth tones like brown, tan, rust, and terra cotta.
  • Tinting stains: These stains add a slight color tint to the brick. Popular options include reds, browns, grays, and earth tones.
  • Solid color stains: These opaque stains completely change the color of the brick. You can choose vibrant colors like navy blue, forest green, purple, yellow, and more.

Consider adjacent materials when selecting a stain color. Complementary colors will give a cohesive look.

Types of Brick Stain

  • Acrylic stains provide excellent adhesion and UV protection. They last longer than other stain types.
  • Latex stains offer a creamy texture that’s easy to apply. They resist fading, cracking, and peeling.
  • Penetrating stains soak into the brick for long-lasting color that won’t peel or fade. They allow the brick texture to show through.
  • Whitewashing stains give brick a washed-out, faded look. Multiple coats lighten the bricks.
  • Engineered quartz stains provide durable solid color with a texture similar to real brick.

Choose the Right Stain for Your Brick Type

  • Clay bricks: Durable clay holds acrylic, latex, and penetrating stains well. Avoid weaker whitewash.
  • Concrete bricks: Concrete’s porous surface readily absorbs penetrating and acrylic stains. Avoid latex.
  • Natural stone bricks: Use penetrating or whitewashing stains to accentuate the stone’s natural beauty.
  • Synthetic bricks: Engineered quartz stains bond best to synthetic brick surfaces like cultured stone.

Once you select the right stain for your project, always do a small test patch before staining the entire area. Test for proper adhesion and your desired color and appearance.

Prep Brick Surfaces for Staining

Proper prep is crucial to successful brick staining. Follow these steps:

Clean the Brick

Thoroughly clean bricks before staining. Use a pressure washer or stiff brush and appropriate cleaners to remove:

  • Dirt and debris
  • Mold, mildew, and algae
  • Efflorescence (white chalky deposits)
  • Oil, grease, and other contaminants

Rinse thoroughly after cleaning. Let the bricks dry completely for at least 48 hours before staining.

Repair Mortar and Bricks

Inspect the bricks and mortar joints. Repair any cracked or crumbling mortar. Use mortar repair caulk or new mortar to patch and repoint as needed.

Replace any broken, spalling, or missing bricks before staining.

Remove Old Paint and Sealants

Strip off any old paint, sealer, or other coatings from the bricks with a chemical stripper or power washer. Be sure to remove them completely so the new stain can properly adhere.

Etch Smooth Bricks

Acid etching opens up the pores in smooth bricks so the stain can penetrate better. Use an etching solution or power washer to etch the surface. Rinse and let dry after etching.

Once prepped, do a final inspection of the bricks. They should be clean, dry, and absorbent enough for the stain to properly bond.

Choosing the Right Application Tools

Having the right tools makes staining brickwork much easier. Consider using:

  • Paintbrush: Use a high-quality nylon or polyester bristle brush for water-based stains.
  • Paint roller: A roller with a 3/8 or 1/2 nap is great for quickly applying water-based brick stains.
  • Garden sprayer: These are ideal for spraying on thinner penetrating stains. Adjust nozzle for desired spray pattern.
  • Airless paint sprayer: Provides the most efficient application for large brick walls. Maintain steady pressure and angle.
  • Rags: Good for applying and removing whitewashing and gel stains.

Select high-quality application tools to get the best staining results. Before starting, test your tools on a sample area to ensure they apply the stain properly.

How to Apply Brick Stain

Follow these techniques to ensure proper application:

1. Read Manufacturer’s Instructions

The company’s application guidelines offer important tips for your specific stain. Thoroughly read the instructions before starting.

2. Stir Stain Before Use

Thoroughly mix the brick stain before pouring it into your application tool reservoir. Periodically stir again throughout the job to maintain color consistency.

3. Use Drop Cloths and Mask Off Areas

Cover nearby surfaces with plastic sheeting to prevent staining drips and splatters. Use painter’s tape and sheets to mask off surfaces you don’t want stained.

4. Apply Stain in Small Sections

Divide the brick surface into smaller sections. Apply the stain in 3-4 foot square sections for the easiest control.

5. Saturate the Surface

Apply the stain liberally to allow complete saturation into the brickwork. Heavily brush or roll on the stain. Avoid drips.

6. Maintain a Wet Edge

Work in a zig-zag pattern, applying stain in overlapping bands. Maintain a wet edge where sections meet for consistent coloring.

7. Blend as You Go

Blend the stain into previously coated sections before it dries. Use vertical strokes to evenly blend.

8. Let Sections Dry Before Adding More Coats

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for drying time between coats. Typically 1-3 hours. Additional coats intensify the color.

9. Remove Tape and Clean Up Promptly

Carefully remove painter’s tape before the stain dries. Clean tools with recommended thinners.

Follow these techniques for smooth, consistent brick staining. Take your time and closely follow directions.

Whitewashing Brick

Whitewashing gives brick surfaces an aged, worn look. This classic technique involves applying thinned paint multiple times to gradually lighten the brick color. Here’s how:

Choose Whitewash Paint

  • Use exterior latex paint in desired tint color
  • Thin paint with equal parts water and 4 oz. of paint conditioner per gallon

Apply Multiple Thin Coats

  • Apply several thin coats to build up subtle color
  • Let dry 1-2 hours between coats
  • 5-7 coats often needed to lighten bricks

Distress Bricks Further If Desired

  • Scrub some areas with a stiff brush to create worn effects
  • Wipe paint off raised surfaces to reveal darker brick underneath

Whitewashing takes time and patience, but creates a beautifully weathered brick finish. Always do a test area first to determine how many coats your bricks need.

Staining New Brickwork

Staining is a great way to add color to new masonry. Follow these tips when staining new brick:

Let Mortar Cure

Allow mortar to cure for at least 7-14 days before applying stain. Otherwise, the mortar can absorb excess stain and become discolored.

Clean Off Mortar Residue

Carefully chip off dried mortar droppings. Use a mortar removal solvent if needed.

Follow Surface Prep Steps

Clean, etch, and prep new bricks as described in surface prep section. This helps stain properly adhere.

Seal Before Staining

Apply a sealing product specifically designed for staining new masonry. This prevents uneven absorption.

Apply Stain Soon After Installation

Stain new brickwork within 1-2 months of installation for best results. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to properly stain.

Staining new masonry takes a little extra planning and prep, but allows the brick color to be customized right away before sealing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Staining Brick

Staining brick yourself for the first time? Here are answers to some common questions about the process:

Does brick stain come off or fade?

Quality brick stain bonds well and lasts for many years. Fading issues mainly occur when improper products are used or when surface prep is inadequate.

What kind of sealer is best for stained brick?

Use a penetrating acrylic or silicone-based sealer designed for stained masonry. Avoid film-forming sealers which can peel.

How long does it take for brick stain to dry?

Drying time varies based on temperature, humidity, and type of stain used. Most stains become water-resistant within 1-3 hours but take up to 72 hours to fully cure and harden.

Can you use interior brick stain outside?

No, only use exterior masonry stains outside. Interior stains lack the UV-resistance and durability needed for exterior use.

Is etching necessary before staining new bricks?

Usually not, as new bricks have not been exposed to weathering and are already porous enough to readily absorb stain.

How far will one gallon of brick stain cover?

One gallon covers about 250-400 square feet depending on the stain type and porosity of the bricks.

Should stain be applied evenly or blotchy?

Apply stain as evenly as possible unless intentionally trying to achieve a mottled or variegated look.

Carefully following application tips and manufacturer’s directions for your chosen stain will provide long-lasting, professional brick staining results.

Mistakes to Avoid When Staining Brick

Staining brick can go wrong if proper techniques aren’t followed. Be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Not cleaning bricks thoroughly before staining
  • Applying stain to wet or damp bricks
  • Using low-quality application tools that leave streaks
  • Failing to stir and maintain stain consistency
  • Applying stain too thinly or unevenly
  • Letting stain dry on unintended surfaces
  • Applying stain in direct sunlight or high winds
  • Staining mortar joints lighter than bricks
  • Sealing over stain before it fully cures

Proper prep work, high quality application tools, patience, and care in following directions can help avoid any staining mishaps. Test small sections regularly to catch any errors early.

Removing and Changing Brick Stain

Made a mistake staining your brick or want to change the color? Here are some options:

Use Paint Remover

  • Apply chemical paint remover to strip off acrylic stains
  • Use extreme caution and follow directions closely

Pressure Wash

  • Use a commercial pressure washer with high psi
  • Takes multiple cleanings to remove stain
  • Avoid damaging mortar joints

Apply New Stain

  • Staining with a darker color is often easier than fully removing
  • May require extra coats for good coverage


  • Apply multiple coats of thinned white paint to hide colors
  • Provides a weathered, vintage look

Taking stain off brick is challenging. Hiring a professional may be needed for best results without damaging the bricks or mortar. Test removal methods in inconspicuous areas first.

Hiring a Professional Brick Staining Contractor

While DIY staining is possible, hiring professionals often yields superior results. Consider hiring help if:

  • Dealing with a large project or challenging access
  • Wanting intricate designs or patterns
  • Seeking advanced techniques like ragged edges or blending
  • Removing old failing stain coatings
  • Dealing with unique brick types or custom applications

Look for masonry contractors experienced in staining brickwork similar to yours. Ask to see past staining projects and check reviews. Get a written contract detailing the products and methods they will use.

Professionals can flawlessly transform your brickwork’s color and style when staining expertise is needed.


Staining can rejuvenate tired brick walls or customize new masonry with beautiful, long-lasting color. With the right preparation, application techniques, and high quality stain products, you can achieve professional-looking results. Always test stain colors and adhesion on sample areas first. Follow manufacturer’s directions closely. Patience and care will allow your DIY brick staining project to stand the test of time.

How to Stain Brick

Staining brick is an affordable way to transform the look of your home’s exterior. With the right preparation and application technique, you can give brickwork a brand new aesthetic with ease. This guide will walk you through the entire staining process step-by-step. Follow these tips for stunning stained brickwork that enhances your home’s curb appeal.

Choose a Color and Type of Brick Stain

The first step is selecting a stain that achieves the look you want. Consider the existing brick color and your color scheme. Brick stains come in different opacities:

  • Penetrating stains soak into the brick to provide natural, translucent color that allows the surface texture to show through. Great for subtle color change.
  • Semi-transparent stains provide extra toning while still allowing some grain to show. Popular for adding richer hues.
  • Solid stains completely coat the surface for opaque, consistent color. Ideal for dramatic color change.

Also choose between water and solvent-based stains. Water-based acrylic, latex, and whitewash stains simplify cleanup. Oil-based stains offer greater durability.

Purchase enough stain to cover at least 250 square feet per gallon for proper coverage.

Clean and Prepare the Brick Surface

Thorough surface preparation is vital for proper brick stain adhesion. Follow these steps:

  • Pressure wash the bricks to remove all dirt, mildew, efflorescence, and other contaminants.
  • Let the surface completely dry for at least 48 hours after cleaning.
  • Repair any damaged or missing mortar to restore a smooth surface.
  • Remove any previous paint or sealer coatings for proper stain penetration.
  • Etch smooth bricks with an acidic solution to help the stain soak in.

Proper cleaning and etching opens the brick pores for enhanced stain bonding and color effects.

Choose Your Application Tools

Select high-quality application tools to efficiently apply the stain while avoiding mess and drips. Recommended tools include:

  • Synthetic bristle brush for water-based stains
  • Paint roller with 1/4″ – 1/2″ nap for large areas
  • Garden sprayer for thinner penetrating stains
  • Rags for whitewashing techniques

Cover nearby surfaces with tarps and tape off edges to prevent drips. Stir the stain thoroughly before starting.

Apply the Stain in Sections

Work in smaller 3-4 foot square sections for easiest application control. Use vertical strokes to distribute the stain evenly across each section. Overlap sections and blend while the stain is still wet.

Build up color intensity gradually with multiple coats. Let the stain dry between applications according to manufacturer directions. Two to three coats often provides ideal coverage.

Maintain a wet edge as you work. Avoid drips, puddles, and thick buildup. Follow all label directions closely.

Allow Proper Drying and Curing

Let the final stain application dry to the touch, typically within two hours. Then let the stain cure and harden fully for two to three days before sealing or exposing to weather.

Insufficient drying can result in bonding issues, discoloration, and staining failures. Be patient and allow ample time for the stain to properly set.

Apply a Protective Sealer

Once fully dry, apply a penetrating sealer formulated for stained masonry. This provides extra protection from UV fading, water damage, freezing, and other elements.

Limit foot traffic and reposition items against the brick for several days while the sealer fully cures. Then enjoy your newly stained brickwork for years to come.

Staining brick isn’t difficult, but taking time to properly prepare the surface and carefully apply the stain will ensure your project looks amazing. Patience and care will allow you to transform your home’s appearance with stunning stained brick.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brick Staining

Here are answers to some common questions about DIY brick staining projects:

What kind of stain works best on older brick?

Penetrating stains work well to rejuvenate weathered brick since they soak in and don’t peel. Acrylic and latex-based stains also adhere well.

Do I need to etch smooth new bricks before staining?

Usually not, the surface is already porous enough. But test absorption first since smooth bricks accept stain differently.

How long should I wait to seal stained brick?

Wait 2-3 days for the stain to fully cure before applying any sealer or water repellent coating.

What causes blotchy stained brick?

Insufficient surface prep, uneven application, and staining mortar joints lighter than bricks can all cause blotchiness.

How do I clean stained brick?

Use mild soap and water. Avoid harsh chemicals and pressure washing, which can strip the stain. Reapply sealer after cleaning.

How long does brick staining last?

High quality brick stain that is properly applied and sealed can last 5-10 years or longer before needing touch up.

Can I stain brick myself?

Definitely! With proper products and techniques, staining your own brick is very doable. Just follow all manufacturer’s directions closely.

Staining brick takes some work, but the beautifulRESULTS are worth it. Ask your retailer for product recommendations and tackle the project step-by-step. With careful prep and application, you can completely transform the look of your brick surfaces.


Staining brick is an easy weekend project that can give homes a whole new curb appeal.