Painting bricks white is one of the easiest and most effective ways to update an interior scheme. Bricks are certainly back in fashion and you only need to look at a trendy TV show to see a wall of bricks somewhere in a gorgeous loft apartment or warehouse development. However, there are a wide range of bricks out there, some from the 1970s, that really should never have been allowed to see the light of day. The orange ones used in my house really constituted a criminal offence, so they had to be covered up!
I really love the effect of painted bricks though so if you have an interior wall of unsightly dated bricks that you would like to cover up then consider painting them rather than just covering them with boring flat plasterboard.
Painting bricks white for texture in a white colour scheme
Pure white rooms are in fashion but I often feel that they are a little stark. If you do like them you must remember to introduce varying textures. This is the case if you use one colour generally but is often seen with white. The all white schemes that work are the ones with many different textures to bring some design elements to the space.
The obvious area with this room in the image above is the wall of white bricks. If this was a plain plastered wall, the effect would be overwhelmingly plain but the white bricks bring a lovely textural finish to the room.
By painting the bricks with a very thick layer of paint you lose some of the roughness and texture of the surface and you can decide as you paint how much you want to build upon this.
I was recently asked to select a new kitchen, flooring and paint colours for the apartment above that was going on the market. The brick wall was a lovely sandstock brick but it was a dated orange colour and the owner wanted it covered up. The builder had proposed to plaster over the top but I persuaded them to simply paint the bricks and I think that in a room that doesn't have many architectural features that this ended up working really well.
If you really love the texture of bricks and don't want to have a completely white covering to them then you should read my post on New York Loft Bricks where I go through how to achieve an aged and weathered look.
Related: New York Loft Bricks
Painting bricks white for Boho style
This image from Lively Brooklyn is a great example of how you can highlight the gorgeous texture in a rough wall of bricks. Painting the bricks white with gorgeous natural timber and lots of greenery gives you a great Boho vibe on a very small budget. I love this stylish look and believe that the white bricks really complete the room.
Related: 4 key elements of Bohemian Style
Painting bricks white for a mid-century modern style
Brick walls painted white also suit a mid-century modern style. Picture a New York loft warehouse with polished concrete floors and bricks painted a fresh white to bounce light around the space. Use classic mid-century modern pieces like the ones above from Zanui to complete the look. Click Here
Related: 5 key elements of Scandi Style
Painting bricks white for a cottage style
Do you prefer the softness of a cottage look? White painted brick walls work well here too. The softness of the white is far more appealing in a cottage style than the industrial look of a bare brick wall. Again, you can see the different textures in the white colour palette here which help to create a cohesive look.
Painting bricks white for a contemporary look
Remember to consider the style of brick that you have and would like to paint as this will affect the look that you achieve. A dry pressed smooth face square edge brick will obviously give you a different look to a traditional sandstock rough edged brick.
By painting bricks white that have a more uniform finish you create more of a contemporary feel. This room above is contemporary but some of the mid-century furnishings and lovely colour in the rugs gives it a softer, homelier look. It still has the contemporary elements of a gorgeous polished concrete floor and contemporary waterfall island bench but these are softened by the textural bricks and furniture. I love it!
Creating the look of white bricks
The look of white bricks is so popular that companies are making tiles and wallpapers to imitate the look. So if you love it but don't have the brick wall to paint, you can still achieve the finish. I like to use removable wallpapers and ones which have a matt finish and 3D photographic design elements are the most realistic.
Believe it or not, the image above is white brick wallpaper and you can see how effective it can be. These look really good on small walls or perhaps a large column or as a feature. You can really get away with the overall look when it is in a small amount.
Which paint to use
In terms of the type of paint to use, I like one with some texture in it, so those exterior paints that have a matt sandy finish can be very effective. Many paint companies offer a textured stone finish for interior bricks but they can't always be tinted to their full range of colours. If you have a particular white in mind then you might want to just look at an exterior option. You can of course experiment with leftover white wall paint but the effect you achieve may depend on the finish of the brick. The most important point to remember is to keep the finish matt as any type of sheen will not look right.
Consider the type of mortar to use
The finish of the mortar in your brick wall will also create different effects and will also dictate how difficult the job will be. Flush mortar in between the bricks gives you the flattest surface and when the bricks are painted you will just see a slight outline of the edge. This is the style of mortar most often used on heritage style homes.
A heavily raked mortar will define each brick clearly and so when you paint the brick you will clearly see the outline of each one and this can give more of a contemporary look. Bricks with heavily raked mortar can also be very tricky to paint white as you need to get the paint brush into all the crevices and your wrist will be complaining after 10 minutes. With bricks like these it can be preferable to spray the wall.
An ironed mortar is popular now and is a compromise between the two styles and this finish would be easier to paint.
I hope you can see from these images that there is a brick wall to suit many different styles and a tin of white paint and a spare weekend can completely transform the look and feel of your room. I would love to hear from you if you have painted a brick wall and if you were pleased with the outcome.
If you are renovating or decorating I have a FREE Resource Library with lots of free e-books and checklists to help you. You can download them here.
12 thoughts on “Painting bricks white”
Thanks for this article. Do you have any tips for exterior brick wall? Here in Australia we see a lot of houses using brick-veneer style. Regards
You can certainly paint exterior brick walls. Bricks with flush mortar are easier to paint than those with raked mortar. I have a post on How to find the right white for your exterior https://www.makingyourhomebeautiful.com/find-right-white-exterior/ which will help you with choosing the colour. Hope this helps Samantha
I live in a modern apartment with 12 stairs going from the front door to the hall. It is narrow with very very high ceilings. What sort of bricks would you recommend (I only want to do one wall, the other one is painted grey)? And do you think I should do a patch of wall or the whole wall (it is about 33ft high). Thank you Emma
Hi Emma I wouldn’t add bricks to a wall like this as your current wall wouldn’t support the load – have you considered a wallpaper instead? Or possibly some other type of feature like VJ panelling painted white? Hope this helps Samantha
Painting bricks white is a little tricky job, but they give a great look if done properly. I really appreciate your effort of writing this content; I would also like to say I loved the way you have presented this content here. Thank you!! This resource qualityplasterers.co.nz i came across recently and is nice too as this particular site.
When painting interior brick walls white, particularly those with deep mortar crevices, how would you recommend cleaning the dust that must accumulate there?
Hi Amy you can vacuum the walls but I have painted bricks which are raked and I have found that the dust doesn’t really accumulate. My house isn’t on a main road and it doesn’t get particularly dusty and I also have fly screens so I haven’t found this to be a big issue. I just occasionally run the Dyson over it! So I think you have to assess the position of your house, for example, I wouldn’t do it if I was on a country property with lots of dust around. If this is the case, you should get the walls lightly bagged first. Hope this helps Samantha
Hello There, Thank you very much for the information. Do you have any tips on which shades of white go best? Particularly for an older home with a brick fireplace that needs some jazzing up. 🙂
Hi Dani I often find that older homes can be darker as they don’t have the expanse of windows and so I am thinking that a softer, warmer white would work well. If you are painting the brick fireplace you need to consider whether it will be used and if so, it may get dirty so a darker white would work well. You also need to think about which other colours and which other whites in particular are in the room. You might like to look at the Porters range and choose a stone finish which works well on bricks. Their Old Church White is a nice warm white but really this is a stab in the dark as you have to consider all the other whites and colours in your room. Good luck Samantha
Would you please recommend a white paint colour for painting the internal brick walls, I like the idea of a thick white. Would you please recommend Dulux or Taubmans colours.
Hi Mary I can’t recommend a white for you as there are so many and it really depends on the other elements in the space. You need to consider whether you want a cool or warm white, your kitchen colours, particularly if the cabinetry is white and the colour of flooring. I have a couple of posts on how to choose the right white which you may find helpful – you should start with https://www.makingyourhomebeautiful.com/find-the-right-white/ good luck Samantha