How to Stain Brick

Modern farmhouse with white painted brick, gray vinyl siding, and black trim and doors.

If you are ready to change the color of your brick fireplace or home exterior, learning how to stain brick may be on your to-do list. It’s important to understand brick staining versus painting to achieve the desired results and to ensure you have the proper tools and materials to get the job done right. Keep reading for tips from Five Star Painting regarding how to stain brick and how to determine if staining is the right choice for your home.

Staining Brick

First things first, you’ll need to determine which type of stain is right for your brick-staining project and then gather the necessary tools and materials before you begin. Most hardware stores will allow you to test stain samples so you can experiment and mix products to get the right shade.

There are two primary types of brick stain from which to choose:

  • Water-based brick stain, which is what we recommend for most projects. These stains are easy to apply, prevent water build-up, and allow for breathability of the brick.
  • Stains premixed with sealant. This stain type creates a coat that is watertight on the bricks, but this can actually promote water damage over time. We only recommend this stain type for small areas or for bricks that are damaged and porous. Adding a sealant will create a vapor barrier, trapping water into the bricks. When it freezes, cracking can occur if the water can’t evaporate first. Using this in small areas or with old brick that might already breath is a good idea.

Other materials you’ll need include:

  • Paintbrush
  • Rags and drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Soft brush
  • Hose
  • Power washer

After gathering your desired stain product and materials, follow these steps for how to stain brick on your fireplace or home exterior:

Step #1: Clean the brick and determine whether you need to remove any existing sealant first.

Throw a cup of water onto the brick’s surface. If it beads up and runs off, you’ll need to wash away sealant before you can stain the brick. You can attempt to remove sealant by applying lacquer thinner, letting it sit for ten minutes, and then washing away with a hose or power washer if outside. Simply rinse away with water and a cloth if inside.

Even if there is not any sealant present on the brick, you need to wash the area from the top down with a mild detergent and water.

Step #2: Protect yourself and the area.

Put down drop cloths and wear protective clothing and safety glasses before beginning the staining process. Use painter’s tape to seal off any areas you do not intend to stain.

Step #3: Carefully follow the instructions on the stain product container to mix the stain.

If you are mixing stain colors, measure carefully and record the amounts, so you can keep making the same consistent color.

Step #4: Apply the stain.

Run the brush in a single, smooth motion along each brick. For brick surfaces with no material between the bricks, brush in overlapping strokes to cover each surface twice. Touch up as you go with the brush’s corner. For consistent color, stir the stain each time you dip the brush. Brush the stain on the bricks in a scattered pattern, rather than staining all the bricks in a row. This helps to keep the stain job looking as natural as possible.

Step #5: Clean up mistakes and drips right away.

Don’t allow drips to dry. Instead, wipe them away immediately with a damp rag.

Step #6: Allow the stain to dry completely.

The time it requires to dry will depend on the humidity level, temperature, and air flow in the area.

Brick Staining vs Painting: Should You Stain or Paint Exterior Brick?

While the steps for staining brick are straightforward, you may be wondering if painting is a better option for your home’s brick exterior. If during the first step above, you discover you cannot remove the sealant prior to applying stain, painting the brick may be your only option. A brick surface that will not release the sealant simply will not absorb a stain.

However, if you are committed to the idea of staining the brick, make sure to check with the professionals at Five Star Painting. We have the expertise and professional skills to remove sealant for you and can help you achieve your brick staining goals.

Let the Pros Get the Job Done Right

No need to go through trial and error or spend time worrying about potential staining or painting mistakes. Turn to the local experts at Five Star Painting for a professional brick staining or painting job. Connect with us online or call (888) 261-3633 today to schedule professional painting services.