Brick Staining Vs. Brick Painting

Should you paint or stain your brick? Here's everything you should know.

brick house exterior
stained brick exterior before and after image

Is painting or staining brick a good idea?

Short answer, staining brick has a lot more benefits than painting.

Keep in mind, however; you may not have a choice depending on if the brick has been painted before or there is a clear sealer on the surface.

The brick needs to be porous to absorb stain and change its color.

Brick Staining Brick Vs. Painting

Because brick is porous and retains water, when you add a layer of paint on top, you are essentially sealing the surface which doesn’t allow the brick to “breathe”.

So when you paint and seal the surface, any moisture that is in the brick will get trapped, then when winter rolls around, the moisture freezes and expands (ice is more dense than water) and it could deteriorate from the inside out.

An example of this is when you see painted brick that is bubbled on the outside. What's happening is the moisture expanded when it froze and pushed the paint out.

3 Main Benefits of staining brick

  1. Lasts much longer than paint
  2. Doesn’t peel or chip like paint because it’s stained into the surface
  3. Makes the brick looks more natural

Downside: usually costs more than painting brick, especially if you are going from red brick to a white stain

Main benefit painting brick

Only benefit we see with painting brick is that it usually costs less than staining brick.

Can your brick be stained?

There are 3 reasons why you wouldn’t be able to stain your brick:

  1. Brick has been painted before: if the brick has been painted before you are obviously only going to be able to paint the surface
  2. Clear sealer on surface: rub your fingers along the surface of the brick areas you want to stain and if it feels smoother and has a slight shine on it, you may have a sealer on the brick and will need to paint
  3. Your HOA won’t allow it - another reason you won't be able to stain or paint the brick is because your HOA won't allow it. You will need to check with them before planning out the project.
brick exterior example
white painted brick exterior

How long does brick stain vs painting brick last?

In Colorado (where there is a lot of sunshine and extreme weather) we typically see painted brick last anywhere from 3-7 years depending on the quality of work and paint used.

Staining brick, on the other hand, we’ll see it last anywhere from 10-20 years. I know this is a large range, however; factors such as how much shade your house has can greatly impact how long it will last.

  • Painted brick lifespan: 3 - 7 years
  • Stained Brick Lifespan: 10 - 20 years

Staining brick does usually cost more than painting because of the additional labor needed and sometimes more coats (red brick to white requires a lot more stain and coats) so if you are planning on moving within the timeframes above can help you make the best choice for you.

How to stain brick

  1. Mask all areas not getting stained
  2. Spray brick with nice even coat of H&C Concrete Masonry Stain
  3. Work stain into brick with large brush

Can you stain brick any color?

Yes. We typically use H&C Concrete Masonry Stain which can be found at Sherwin Williams and you can tint the stain any color you’d like.

Just know that if you are going from a red changing to a white surface, just know it will require a lot more stain (usually 3-4 coats).

How to paint brick

If your brick has already been painted before, then normal prep-work such as power washing the surface, scraping any flakes off, filling in cracks with mortar filler and masking is all you need to do before you paint.

If it’s the first time you are painting the brick, you will also need to spray a layer of primer on the surface before painting.

Types of paint to use

Because brick is porous and tends to shift over time, we highly recommend using an elastomeric paint due to its ability to flex on masonry surfaces.

Here’s what we’d recommend:

  1. Primer: Benjamin Moore Masonry Primer
  2. Paint: Benjamin Moore Masonry Paint 

Ready to start your project?

Get connected with the best local brick staining companies in your area.

Finding a company who understands the benefits of staining vs painting is quite rare. Most companies just assume painting the surface is the best option.

In our network of painting companies, we have brick staining companies available in almost every major U.S. city.

Just start a project, submit a request and we’ll connect you with great staining companies.

There’s no charge for this.

Just start a project to get connected: