Brick is an incredibly durable building product for interiors and exteriors, and it needs only minimal maintenance. But eventually the brick may become tired and in need of an update.
As long as the brick is structurally sound and the surface isn’t painted, one of the best ways to give it a design refresh is to stain it. Learn how to give your fireplace, exterior wall, or other brick surface a new life with brick stain.
What Brick Staining Is
Brick stain is a permanent surface finish that changes the appearance of the brick. Unlike paint, which remains on the surface, brick stain is a mineral product that soaks into the brick and becomes a part of the brick. It can never chip, bubble, or pull away from the brick.
Brick stain works best when applied to unsealed, clean, fully porous brick. It cannot be applied to painted brick.
Brick stain itself does not protect the brick, though it is possible to purchase brick stain with protective additives.
Painting Brick vs. Staining Brick
Brick staining and brick painting are related because both are ways of freshening up brick and giving it a new look. Beyond that, the two methods work differently and have outcomes that can appeal to different goals.
Brick painting covers the entire surface of the brick, including the mortar, with a relatively thick layer of paint. This method gives the brick a uniform, opaque appearance. Though there are no gradations of color with painted brick, painted brick can emphasize the texture of the brick surface. It also can give the brick a clean, modern feeling.
One advantage of painting brick is that the paint covers all of the surface flaws. Patched areas are covered up, as well. A disadvantage is that the paint seals up the porous brick and does not allow the brick to breathe.
Brick stain covers the surface of the brick with a thin color. This color can either be solid and opaque, much like paint, or light and thin to preserve the brick’s basic color scheme.
Brick stain soaks into the pores of the brick and allows it to breathe. Unlike painted brick, stained brick does not allow water to become trapped below the surface. One disadvantage of brick stain is that it will not refurbish heavily damaged brick, and masonry patches may glaringly show through the brick stain.
Source: The Spruce