How To Stain Brick

Jump to Section

Brick is a great material for both exterior and interior walls because it’s relatively inexpensive, durable, and versatile. Brick can be used to create everything from a rustic stone wall to an elegant marble fireplace surround. It comes in many colors and textures, so you can choose one that suits the style of your home whether traditional or contemporary.

In this article, we’ll show you how to stain brick so you can successfully color it to match your home decor.

Read more on how to build a brick patio and clean brick fireplaces.

Here's all you need to know. 

Types of Brick Stains

There are a few different types of brick stains to choose from. Before deciding which one you want to use, consider the source of the stain and how long it should last. For example, if your brick is going on an outdoor patio or fireplace, you may want a water-based option that will wear away naturally with exposure to sunlight.

Brick Staining
Image Credit:

An oil-based stain will last much longer than a water-based option, but you may have to refinish it from time to time. 

Water-Based Stain Coloring

If you choose a water-based stain for your brick project, choose one that features a sealer in addition to the actual colorant. A galvanized metal or concrete mixing bucket is ideal for working with this type of stain since it's large enough to hold more product and still allow you to mix colors effectively at the same time.

When choosing a water-based dye, look for these characteristics: 

A high pigment load – the higher the amount of pigment per liter of liquid, the brighter and bolder the color will be. 

Low VOCs – Also known as volatile organic compounds, these are compounds that vaporize at room temperature. High VOCs can cause health issues in humans and animals. Look for products with low to no VOCs.

Water-based stains

A water-based stain will usually have a longer open time than an oil-based stain, but the color may not be as deep or rich. Fortunately, you won't need much of this product to cover your bricks since it's so liquidy. The first step in applying the water-based dye is to clean the brick carefully using soap and water and then allow it to dry completely before staining. This will ensure the best results because any dirt or dust on the surface of the brick will cause the stain to wear off prematurely.

Next, you'll need to apply a sealer. The application instructions on your sealer container should tell you how much product to apply to one square foot of surface area. You will want to apply it evenly using either a roller or brush according to the manufacturer's instructions before applying the stain. 

After that, use a roller or brush with rubber naps (be sure they aren't too stiff) and cover the brick liberally with water-based dye. Work in small sections so you don't overdo it in one area and completely ignore another part of your project. Once again, follow the instructions on your specific product for drying times but most dyes dry quickly under direct sunlight after a few minutes.

Oil-Based Stain Coloring Stains

These are available in both oil and water-based, but if you choose to use an oil-based stain, it will be much different than using a water-based stain.

Water-based stains have numerous advantages over their oil-based counterparts including the fact that they dry faster, don't leave a film on your brick surface, and most consumers find them easier to work with than their oil-based equivalents. To apply an oil-based stain correctly, you'll need two things: A primer: The purpose of a prime coat is to provide a smooth working surface for the stain so it doesn't flake off prematurely.

Use paint thinner or turpentine instead of mineral spirits because mineral spirits can cause the stain to flake off prematurely. A sealer: You will probably need a primer and a sealer for oil-based stains, but in this case, it's for protection purposes as opposed to aid in adhesion. Use any kind of clear coat you like: exterior spar varnish, concrete sealer, or water-based paint conditioner (use on a brick that has been sealed with an acrylic sealant).

When applying either oil-based or water-based dyes, start by cleaning your bricks thoroughly before applying a primer if necessary and then lay down your first layer of dye. Once again, use rubber brushes or rollers that are just sticky enough to hold the stain product onto the surface without soaking into it or being too abrasive that they scratch your brick. You want to lay down a solid coat to make sure you have even coverage over the surface.

After the first layer of dye has dried, apply your second layer and then allow it to dry completely before moving onto the next color/coat. The number of coats will vary depending on how deep of a shade you are trying to achieve, but you should plan for three coats at least if not four. 

One thing that is important when working with these types of stains is to keep track of what colors you used so there isn't any unwanted mixing or streaks in your finished product. After completing all your layers and drying times, you can seal your project using an exterior protective sealer such as spar varnish or concrete sealer. Be sure to follow all safety precautions while using these products and wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask if necessary.

Once it has dried thoroughly (it should be tacky when you paint over it but not wet), apply your first coat of finished polyurethane after sealing the entire surface with water-based masonry water repellent (MR) to prevent mildew from forming in any deep cracks. 

Cleaning up afterward

Once you're finished painting or staining your project, be sure to clean up the area thoroughly after use. All paint and stains will contain solvents that can harm children and pets, so always abide by precautionary regulations for painted surfaces.The same applies if you are considering staining over paint, so keep this in mind.

If using an oil-based stain, make sure to let it dry well before removing any excess product from the surface with mineral spirits because they can cause skin irritation when wet. Most dyes are water-based, however, so just hose them off with a garden hose after cleaning your equipment with soap and water and allow everything to air dry completely before disposing of it properly.

Many products can be disposed of safely in your regular garbage, but some paints and primers have lead in them and they will need to be disposed of properly at an EPA-approved hazardous waste facility.

What is the best way to stain brick?

Staining brick is a simple process and one that you should try.

Unlike most masonry construction projects which require special skills and heavy machinery to complete, staining brick can be completed by almost anyone with only light equipment like masonry drills and grinding tools.

If you're not comfortable using power tools yet (which would be fine) there are other methods that you can use to get the job done.

As long as your bricks are already level and do not need to be fixed before application of any coatings they should work quite well for whatever look you're going for. You cannot make brick come off pink or red by heating it like you can with concrete so don't try that trick on them. 

I have brick floors and would like to know how to stain the bricks so they look uniform?

The key to staining brick is preparation. Before you stain your bricks, make sure they are completely free of any material either by sanding or power washing them. Once this has been done you should mix a small quantity of mortar into the old grout between the bricks to help anchor whatever product you put on top of it.

Brick stain from Dyebrick - The Color Stain For Brick
Image Credit:

Starting with a water-based masonry sealer/water repellent and working from there will be your best bet for getting good results. Depending on what look you're going for you can mix in any colors at this stage before applying them to the surface. Remember all paints and stains contain solvents so be sure that protective gear is worn.

I want to use bricks as decoration in the garden, but they already have different colors and looks – what should I do?

You'll need to follow these steps:

1) Cleaning all masonry stains or oil paint from your brick will be much easier before repairing any cracks or chips caused by the previous coating. Use an old rag(s) dipped into paint thinner. Wipe off until removed completely. Then rinse again with water and wipe dry (keep rinsing if you see lighter colored solvent stains left on).

2) Sand the surface lightly before applying an intermediate coat of mortar mix (~50%) over the entire area where the mortar was applied previously; let dry for several hours or overnight/day before continuing.

3) Mix your masonry stain product with water (80-100% solution) and brush/roll it over the brick surface. Let dry to touch before light sanding (this is only if the over texture was not done yet). If desired, apply a second coat of stain to achieve the desired look, let dry, and lightly sand again. Repeat as needed until achieving the right effect or color. 

4) Clean bricks using paint thinner (diluted in water), lime/rust remover for white colored bricks only, then rinse and wipe dry. Apply a clear sealer coat according to instructions on the can. Wait at least 48 hours before applying a decorative topcoat of grit, sand, marble dust, or whatever you choose.

Final thoughts on how to stain brick

In conclusion, you have to understand that it is possible to stain brick, but if you are going to do so then you should only use the very best products and forgo any shortcuts. The most professional-looking results can be achieved by hiring a professional stainer or at least having someone with experience help you out.

stained brick
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo
Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

Related Articles

Download Free Chart Now!

Your email will be used only to confirm your request and to provide free kitchen information. By submitting your info on this form, you are agreeing to be contacted regarding your service request by means of email. This is no obligation form and doesn’t require you to purchase any service.