A lot of people stain bricks, there are many reasons for this activity. Bricks require regular maintenance even though they’re among the sturdiest building materials available. Nothing that is used to build houses and commercial buildings is impervious. Over time, bricks experience some form of decay due to weather and other outside effects.

One of the first things to go in brick is the lush red color. Bricks fade from being exposed to the sun day in and day out. Some people love the look of faded brick, others would rather they stay looking brand new.

Staining brick is a great way to update a home’s look and make it look fresh. Here’s a breakdown of brick staining basics so you can decide if it’s something for you.

How to stain brick – The Value of Brick Staining

how to stain brick 1Brick homes sell for anywhere between 5-10 percent higher than average homes. They still haven’t lost their curb appeal after all these decades. They’re still viewed as being among the most durable and sturdy houses. Staining bricks prior to a sale is a great way to spruce up the exterior and fetch a higher final price. It can add thousands of dollars of equity in your home.

Staining vs Painting

Some people opt to paint over their bricks rather than stain them. This is largely a matter of design preference, but there are some practical considerations.

Painting is believed to protect brickwork better but requires more regular upkeep. Certain types of brick also resist paint sticking to them, so it can peel and end up looking terrible.

And, if you change your mind and want to remove the paint, it can be a pain to get all of it off. Staining is a perfect way to maintain the natural brick look of a home. Different bricks can be stained in different shades to add variety.

Brick Staining Basics

how to stain bricks

Brick staining requires attention to detail but can be made easy by following a few basic steps. Here are five steps on how to stain brick.

1. Test for Absorption – This is a crucial step before putting on any stain. Take a cup of water and splash it on the bricks that you want stained. If the water runs off easily and doesn’t absorb into the brick, then staining’s probably not an option.

It’s possible the bricks already have some form of sealant applied that will stop stain from going into the brick. All you’ll end up with is unsightly streaks of stain running down the wall.

If there is sealant, it needs to be removed before you try to stain it.

removing sealant can be tricky and doesn’t always work. Using chemical substances to remove sealant can cause brick discoloration. If you want to give it a try, apply a lacquer and let it sit on the brick for more than ten mins. When it’s been there long enough, wipe it off and try the water test again. If it absorbs well, you’re good to go. If it’s still fighting you, repeat the lacquer until it’s all off. If you try and try and nothing’s working, painting may be a better option than staining

2. Clean the Surface – It can be tough, but bricks should be cleaned as the first step to staining. Dust, dirt, and other materials can affect the application of stains on the bricks.

Even though it may look nice at first, it can erode over time. The bricks need to be fully saturated, so keep the hose going for a while. Use a mild soap mixture and start scrubbing from the top down.

Larger brick walls will go a lot faster with a power washer. They’re available for rent at many stores if you don’t own one.

3. Selecting Stains – Choosing stains is just like selecting paint. It can be nerve wracking choosing a color because what looks good on that one-inch paper may look totally different spread across a brick wall.

Some stores let customers take samples home to test on bricks before making a large stain purchase. Ask at your local hardware store if that’s an option. Stain kits that can be purchased online typically come with multiple colors that can be mixed together until you find the shade you’re looking for.

There are two basic kinds of brick stain: water-based and stain mixed with sealant. Water-based stain is better for larger areas because they let water pass through the bricks and breathe better.

It avoids stuff getting trapped inside bricks and causing significant damage. Stains with sealant inside them are better for smaller surface areas that are chronically exposed to water and other liquids.

4. Stain Application – Make sure to read the mixing instructions on the stain before application. Be exact with water measurements so you get as close to the intended stain color as possible.

When you’re ready to start staining, test it out first on a small area out of sight like a back corner of a house. That way if you mess up on something it’s not right next to your front door.

Ordinary paint brushes can be used to apply stain, just be careful to avoid drips so every brick will have the same consistency. If you’re painting a large area, rollers or sprayers will probably save you time and an arm workout.

The stain should be applied with a smooth side to side movement. Don’t just paint from one side of the wall straight to the other. You’ll often end up with one dark side and the other side in a lighter shade.

Paint in a scattered pattern around the wall to get the right color mix. Nothing’s going to be perfectly uniform in color, so at least make it look like the changes are natural.

Clean up drips immediately because they’ll stain on the brick. If you’re planning on staining mortar, you should really think about doing a different shade than the bricks because it looks nicer.

5. Clean Up & Wait – Stain dries quickly, so fast clean up will make your life easier. Safety labels on your stain kit or buckets should have some disposal directions you can follow.

staining bricks guide

Now all you’ve got to do is wait. It can take up to a couple days for the brick stain to fully dry, but that depends on humidity, temperature and other weather factors. Because you’ll be waiting a couple days, it’s a good idea to check the weather before you start to avoid any wind or rainstorms.

There you have it. Five simple steps to freshening up your brick exterior with a great shade of stain. Brick staining is a fantastic way to breathe life into a home or commercial building that’s been around for a while. It’s an easy way to keep the bricks looking elegant and maintain curb appeal.