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Whitewash Brick: The Pros and Cons of painted brick plus the easiest techniques

Brick decor can be a lovely and natural way to show off your style! With its old-fashioned but timeless presentation, brick can bring a touch of history to your living space. Although, sometimes brick can seem dated and in need of a facelift.

Here I’ll be sharing all you need to know about whitewash brick surfaces, including the pros and cons of painted brick and some of the most popular techniques of doing so.

Man whitewashing a brick fireplace.

The good news is that there is a way to rejuvenate your red brick. You can paint them! This is a technique called whitewashing. You cover traditional brick and mortar with a whitewash solution to get your desired look.

This doesn’t even have to be a strenuous or expensive process. There’s no need for professionals to perform brick restoration or to paint your bricks. All you’ll need is clear mixing glaze and white paint!

If you’ve wanted to try whitewashing your bricks yourself, there are a few things you need to know. Before you start the project, there are some tips and techniques that could make steps vary in difficulty. 

Certain methods could change depending on your fireplace bricks, the old mortar, or the brick construction itself. Here is everything you should know about whitewashing bricks to help transform your interior design! 

How Do You Modernize Brick Fireplaces? 

While traditional brick and mortar with its warm hues, brings a traditional vibe to your home, it may not be the right fit for your style. This can be especially true in older homes that have fireplaces with different shades of orange and red brick. And maybe it clashes with interior design style.

When faced with the task of updating the brick, you may be hesitant to paint it. It’s seems risky because when you commit, there’s no turning back.

But there are techniques that will help you get a fresh new look without looking the bricks integrity. Whitewashing will retain the natural bricks esthetic, while adding a bit of a rustic look to the overall design.

Let’s dive into the different styles and techniques to whitewashing brick that will give you the unique look your after.

Is Whitewashing bad for a brick?

It’s actually quite the opposite! Whitewashing can protect your brick! It makes the brick more durable for bad weather. That is if you want to whitewash your exterior brick walls or siding.

It also protects it against pests and moisture. So whitewashing may help your brick last longer!

Does whitewashing brick last?

Yes! It lasts a very long time – 20-30 years! It requires very little maintenance and you won’t have to worry about the look of your brick for a very long time. Brick is very porous. So paint absorbs really well! It isn’t likely to peel or chip!

Is whitewashing brick in style?

I’d say yes, it is in style! Whitewashing brick doesn’t take away the entire look of your brick. It mostly dulls the look.

This way it is a bit more muted and can go with the style of your home! The dulled look will also provide more flexibility as styles change throughout time! 

Is whitewashing brick a good idea?

If it is something you are interested in, and it works for your home, I’d say it’s a good idea! It makes it easy for you to style your home, and it even protects the brick and stone for years to come! 

What’s the Difference Between Limewash and Whitewash?

Limewash and whitewash contain different ingredients. Limewash reflects a more traditional style of whitewashing with the ability to make your lime wash mixture. Meanwhile, whitewashing ingredients include diluted latex glue. 

Brick absorbs both of their ingredients, but their designs may differentiate. Since whitewash can cause the brick to chip and peel, some might want limewash as a less invasive alternative. Although, limewash also fades overtime. So there are pros and cons to each technique.

lime washed brick wall with white entryway table in front of it.

Can you whitewash painted brick?

Yes, you can whitewash painted brick. Just pay extra attention while you are preparing the brick. Be sure to start with clean brick, and see if there are any damages like cracks or gaps. These can be harder to see if the brick is painted, but important to fix before you get started. Either use masonary acrylic calk or a putty knife and ready-mix concrete to fill in the cracks and seal ithem off. To get better results, use a wire brush to scuff up the surface. This will help the whitewash solution to stick to the painted brick.

Can you whitewash brick exteriors?

If you have a brick house and are wondering if you can whitewash your home’s brick exterior, I’d say yes, you definitely can. It’s recommended to go with the limewash or the painting method if you are going to whitewash your exterior bricks. If you want to go with the german smear technique, you may want to hire a professional. This technique can be challenging to master. You should also keep in mind that whitewashing your exterior brick can be very expensive and very time consuming. Unless you use a paint sprayer. But the pros may outweigh the cons. I for instance love brick homes, but maybe your isn’t your favorite color brick. So maybe it’s worth it for you. Plus, there’s the added bonus of the extra protection from weather that whitewashing your exterior brick offers.

How Do You Gray Wash a Brick Fireplace?

Gray washing (or whitewashing brick with gray paint) can be the perfect change for your space. Essentially, it has the same whitewashed look, except instead of using white paint you’ll use gray. You’ll go through all the same steps as white washing. Start by cleaning the brick, preparing your solution, and then painting. Follow by wiping off the solution with a warm sponge or a wet clean rag. Allow to dry and repeat the process if necessary.

How To Whitewash Brick With Black Grout

If you have black grout, it may be difficult to get the ideal whitewash look. There is a trick, though. You will have to use the painting method. Before you start whitewashing your brick, paint over the black grout. Allow it to dry for 24 hours before applying your whitewash to the rest of the brick surface. Be sure to get in the divots with a brush so that you can lighten the look of the grout, and it will blend in well with the white-washed brick when finished!

Will Painting Brick Devalue Your Home?

There are a few pros and cons to painting bricks on the outside of your home. The look of painted brick can increase your curb appeal, and white paint can make your house look more modern! However, once you paint the brick, it’s permanent. The paint can chip and it can be harder to clean. Depending on your style, it may be better to whitewash your exterior, so that the originality of the brick can still shine through, This is because the whitewash effect has a more opaque look. Plus, it has the added benefit of the extra protection.

4 Ways to Change the look of brick

1. Painted Brick – Using the glaze and latex whitewash method

Whitewashing with latex paint is one of the simplest ways to update your brick. It can be completed by yourself and doesn’t have to be overly expensive. To whitewash with this method, you’ll just need to mix equal parts of the white latex paint of your choice and glaze. Start by painting the grout lines and letting them dry over night. Then, the next day, work in small sections. First, use a spray bottle of water and lightly dampen the area. Then, start painting your brick. After each section, take a sponge and warm water and wipe off the paint. You can wipe off as little or much as you want. This will allow the the red brick to show through.

Pros: The whitewashing method is a fast and cheap way to update your fireplace, while also keeping the natural look of the brick. You have control over how much coverage you would like.

Cons: Using this method for your whitewash brick project can make it hard to get an even overall look. The color of each brick will vary. If you are looking for more of a solid color, I wouldn’t recommend using this method.

2. Limewash Brick 

Fun fact: limewash mimics traditional European whitewashing methods before paint was invented. It comes from the mixing of slated lime, tint, and water. This creates a makeshift glaze that will make your bricks look chalky and new. This comes from the minerals that your bricks absorb into the mortar. There are some things to consider before deciding to limewash your brick.

Pros: Limewash is another whitewashing technique that is easy to do on your own. Modern day limewashing uses powdered limestone that has been treated with water. When you paint on the mixture it leaves a soft coating over your brick. Using the limewash technique exposes the most natural brick compared to the other methods. So if your looking for a subtle change, limewashing may be your best bet.

  • Cons: The downside to limewash is that when dry it can rub off on clothing. It also creates an uneven finish that wont last forever. It will need to be reapplied over time because it will fade. This method will not work over painted brick.

3. Whitewashing Brick – Using paint and water

Whitewash itself is thinned latex paint on parts of a brick’s surface. It’s similar to lime wash in the way that the brick absorbs the ingredients. With that said, it doesn’t have the same texture as limewash. Limewash is more chalky compared to this whitewash mixture. This method required latex paint and water applied to your brick surface. The ratio of paint to water depends on how much coverage you want. If you want more brick to show through, you’ll want to add more water. Or if you want more of the original brick color to show through, you’ll use more water.

Pros: Since this method is just diluted latex paint, you only need the basic supplies. Once you have that, it’s very easy to apply to your brick. Depending on the surface of the brick you are painting, this project might be the least expensive.

Cons: The downside to using the whitewash paint and water technique is that you have to use latex paint. Latex paint is a water-based paint and therefore will mix with water. Oil-based paint does not mix with water. Because this technique requires you to mix paint and water, oil paint wont work.

4. Mortar Wash – The german schmear technique

Mortar wash is a similar reference to German Smear (Schmear). It imitates ancient designs of brick and mortar castles and houses in Germany. Combining mortar joints with abnormal stones, the process includes coverage of the brick with watered-down mortar. 

Pros: Mortar wash will make your project look natural and new at the same time. Since it’s designed to resemble traditional castle and cottage structures, it feels especially rustic. 

Cons: Unfortunately, mortar wash is not as easy to complete as a DIY project. Because of the number of materials and experience necessary for the job, It may be more on the expensive side. It’s also pretty time consuming. But if you are up for the challenge, I’d say go for it!

How to Whitewash a Dated Brick Fireplace

There are a few things you will need to get started on whitewashing your brick. I will show you my favorite method, which is using latex paint! 

  • Latex Paint- White or cream, depending on the look you want 
  • Clear mixing glaze (I recommend Valspar) 
  • 2-inch paintbrush
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Paper towels 
  • Protection for the surrounding area like sheets or a tarp
  • Gloves if you want to protect your hands

Step 1: Figure out the kind of look that you want 

Before you get started, find some inspiration online for what look you want your brick to have (I love Pinterest when I need some inspiration!) Do you want the brick to show through a lot? How white do you want it to be? This will determine the color paint you get, and the type of solution you’ll use. 

Step 2: Prepare your brick 

Dust your brick, and clean it off with a damp cloth. If you are whitewashing exterior brick, you can power wash your brick to get it squeaky clean! This will ensure that your work will stay, and not be compromised by anything left on the brick. 

Step 3: Mix your paint with water

To get the original brick to show through your paint, the trick is to water down your paint. Use a 2:1 of water to paint, until you get a consistency you are satisfied with 

Step 4: Paint the grout

Whether you have black grout or not, painting your grout first will keep a consitsent look throughout your brick! Use a brush to get a full coat on the grout 

Step 5: Paint the brick 

If you are nervous about your paint consistency, do a few tester bricks before you paint all of the brick. Take your brush, and brush the paint onto the brick. Before it dries, take a cloth and blot off the excess paint, so that the brick can shine through. If you like the look of your tested brick, keep up the process until your area is complete

Step 6: Let it dry

And there you have it! You have your white washed brick, let it dry and enjoy your space! 

All white living room with a tall whitewashed brick fireplace.

What is the Best Paint to Whitewash Brick?

If you are using paint to white wash your brick, make sure to use latex paint! I have several go-tos when choosing white paint colors. Just be sure to pick a color that works with the other elements in your room. Or else things might clash.

How to Remove Whitewash From Brick 

That’s the trick with whitewashing, it’s permanent. If you want to change the look of your brick down the line, you will have to white wash it with a different color, or paint over it! You won’t be able to bring the brick back to its original state, so it’s important to make sure it’s the look that you want! 

Be sure to pin for later!

Want to shop supplies to try this these techniques at home? Click the images below. *These are affiliate links and I do make a small commons when used. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog of mine!

Good luck in your many painting adventures. Thanks for reading!

Want to read more about updating your home on a budget? Check out my post below!

Painting Tile Floors: Pros and Cons:

Painting tile floors can have some awesome benefits and really spruce up your place, but it doesn’t come without some negatives. 

One benefit is that it is a perfect quick fix and it saves money! It can be really satisfying to finish painting and like what you see. Though, it is not as long-lasting and durable as replacing tile would be. 

Painting your ceramic floors can also show more dust and dirt than before painting it. I also learned from previous experience that you have to have the right process to make it last…

Chat soon,



  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been on the fence since we moved to our new (old) home. I’m going to try the limewashing…will let you know!

  2. I love painted brick! It’s a great way to add a bit of personality to a home and it’s so easy to do! The only downside is that it can be a bit expensive to paint brick, but there are definitely ways to

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