Exposed interior brick walls show off the craftsmanship put into well-built masonry, but this often comes at a price. Many brick colors can absorb the light in a room, leaving a space looking dim and closed-in. Unless you intend to install more lighting to compensate, a less expensive alternative is to paint the bricks. By painting the bricks, you can provide a lighter surface with the additional benefit of choosing a color of your choice while still retaining the look of the interior brick.
Things You'll Need
- Stiff-bristle broom
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
- Scrub brush
- Wire brush
- Cold chisel
- Nylon brush
- Tuckpointing trowel
- Rounded wooden stick
- Drop cloth
- Acrylic primer
- High-nap paint roller
- Acrylic topcoat paint
Clean the brick, using a stiff-bristle broom to remove any loose dirt and debris. Wash the bricks, using a solution containing 1/4 cup trisodium phosphate (TSP) mixed in a bucket with gallon of water to remove any caked-on dirt. Switch to a wire brush if the dirt is heavily embedded in the brick. Rinse the TSP from the bricks with clean water, and allow the wall to dry.
Check the condition of the mortar for crumbling or extensive cracking. Remove damaged mortar areas with a cold chisel and hammer. Sweep out the mortar joints you've cleared away, using a nylon brush. Refill the joints with a new batch of mortar, using a tuckpointing trowel to pack the mortar into the joints. Allow the mortar to set for about 15 minutes, and then take a rounded wooden stick and go over the surface of the mortar, leveling it out with the old mortar. Allow the mortar to set for 48 hours before you continue.
Cover the floor along the base of the brick walls with a drop cloth to catch paint drips. Place a strip of masking tape along baseboards or trim edges to avoid painting them as well.
Cover the brick with a layer of acrylic primer, using a paintbrush and a paint roller for application. Begin the primer application at the top of the wall, using the roller to fill the area in rows. Work your way down the wall with the roller to cover any drips created by the layer above. Allow the primer to dry for two hours before applying the top coat of paint.
Apply a coat of paint to the bricks, using a paintbrush to edge the walls, and then a high-nap paint roller for the central wall area. Use an acrylic latex paint with the color and finish of your choice. Use the brush to create a 3-inch-wide frame around the edge of the wall, and then overlap this 3-inch strip by approximately 2 inches with the paint roller. Roll on the paint in rows, overlapping the edge of each by 2 inches to ensure complete and even paint coverage.
Paint in sections of about 5 feet each, covering two sections and then going back to the first to determine if there are any thinly painted areas that need retouching. Apply new paint where necessary before you continue.
Apply two coats of the paint over the bricks, allowing the first coat to dry overnight before you roll on the second. Wait for the second coat to dry for about 48 hours before removing the masking tape and drop cloth.
Tips & Warnings
- Use the paintbrush to apply paint to deeply recessed mortar lines, and then paint over the surface of the bricks if the paint roller isn't capable of getting an even coating on both the brick and mortar.
- Ventilate the room prior to painting by opening windows and doors. Wear a respirator while painting to avoid inhaling harmful paint fumes.
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