How Does Brick Stain Work?

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How Does Brick Stain Work?
How Does Brick Stain Work? (Image: Photo c2008 Gravity X9 at stock xchng)

Brick Stain Ingredients

Brick stain is a mixture of water, liquid-bearing mineral pigments like finely ground iron oxide, and binding agents. Rather than just coating the brick with an exterior layer of paint, brick stain penetrates the surface of the brick or stone and becomes a part of the material. Edison Coatings, Inc. notes that binding agents like potassium silicate cause a chemical reaction with calcium salts (found in marble, lime and limestone), ceramics (terra cotta and brick), silica (mortar, concrete, glass and sandstone), and some metals, including iron (see Resources below). This chemical reaction creates an alteration in the brick's color, as well as a protective bond against moisture, mold and UV damage.

Surface Preparation

Any masonry surface that accepts water can be colored with brick stain. This includes both natural and man-made stone walls, mortar, stucco and cement sidewalks, driveways, or roof tiles. Check the stain manufacturer's guidelines for any exceptions or warnings. Each type of surface must be prepared first to accept the stain, to get the best and most even result. Brick Stain for Homes recommends using an organic de-greaser and a nylon brush to clean and scrub the surface to remove any dirt, debris, ash, among other substances. (See Resources below.) Rinse with clean water, utilizing a shop vac to draw away water on interior jobs. Let the brick dry thoroughly before applying any stain.

Color Matching

Brick stain can be used to change the color of all the brick, to match new masonry to the old, or to fix unattractive variances in stone walls or fireplaces. Achieve different effects by selecting different pigments, diluting the brick stain, or applying multiple coats to enhance the color or add texture. Professional brick stainers often mix the stain on site to accurately match the brick color. Test brick stain on the least visible area first and allow to cure to witness the final effect, and determine if the stain is the right color. Keep testing until the correct mixture is accomplished.

Brick Stain Application

You can apply brick stain one brick or one stone at a time, using a brush that best matches the width of the masonry. Stain can be sprayed on, rubbed or rolled, but a paint brush offers the best control and avoids staining the surrounding mortar. Sweep the brush across and then back. Do not over apply, and watch for any run-off. Try diluting the stain for a second coat to lighten color and add textured look to brick. Edison Coatings, Inc. suggests waiting six hours for stain to dry between coats. Protect the surface from moisture for at least 24 hours after staining.

Sealants Versus Breathability

Sealant should only be applied to surfaces subject to excessive wear like sidewalks or driveways. Brick Stain for Homes notes that stone and brick surfaces need to breathe. Paints and sealants create a barrier over brick and any moisture that collects builds under the surface and then causes peeling and loss of color. Brick stain forms a chemical bond with the brick and stone, allowing it to breathe, and for moisture to escape without altering the color. Brick stain can last from 25 to 50 years, depending upon the product and application.

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