How to antique brick

Written by nancy susanna breen
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How to antique brick
The "look" of antique brick can vary according to age and materials. (brick wall image by PeteG from Fotolia.com)

Various treatments will antique brick, depending on the look you desire. Achieve a variegated whitened appearance with old-fashioned whitewash or thinned latex paint. Use tints and stains formulated for brick to recreate certain shades or deepen the colour for a smoke-darkened effect. Whitewash and brick tints can be used for interior and exterior brick, but thinned latex paint is better suited to indoor brick. For a historical restoration or to "antique" an entire house, consult an expert. Hire a professional service to antique brick if you're concerned about quality or don't feel up to tackling a big job.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Wire brush
  • Dust sheet or tarp
  • Ivory hydrated lime
  • Table salt
  • Dry pigments (optional)
  • Charcoal dust (optional)
  • Bucket
  • Stick or other item for stirring
  • Rags
  • Spare individual brick (optional)
  • Spray bottle
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller (optional)
  • Flat white latex paint
  • Brick tint or stain
  • Painter's tape (optional)
  • Protective sealant (optional)

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Instructions

    Whitewash

  1. 1

    Make sure the surface of the brick is clean. Scour with a wire brush to loosen flaking paint or other debris. Rinse the brick and let it dry thoroughly. Clean the surrounding area for any dirt or other material that could adhere to the whitewash. Spread a tarp or dust sheet to protect from splashes and spills.

    How to antique brick
    Whitewash is a safe colour treatment for brick. (brick wall image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Mix a batch of whitewash paint. Tim Carter, nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and the professional expert on AsktheBuilder.com, recommends this recipe: Mix five parts ivory hydrated lime to one part table salt. Add water and mix to a batter-like consistency. Carter notes that 22.7kg. of lime and 4.54kg. of salt cover at least 2,000 square feet, so adjust your proportions according to how much brick you want to whitewash. Purchase lime from a building supply retailer who serves plasterers and concrete contractors. Buy salt in bulk from bakery suppliers.

  3. 3

    Tint whitewash, if desired, by adding dry pigments. Stirring in charcoal dust will give the whitewash a duller, grimy patina, with or without additional colour. Mix small colour batches first and experiment on an extra brick or an inconspicuous spot of the brick to be whitewashed. Let your colour trial dry several days to reveal how the tinted whitewash will actually look. Purchase dry pigments from the same building supply retailers who sell lime.

  4. 4

    Spray the surface of the brick with water to increase absorption. Apply whitewash with a brush or roller; Carter recommends a stiff brush. For an aged appearance when the whitewash dries, vary the thickness of your application. A thinner coat of whitewash in spots will allow the brick colour to show through, just as it does on old brick walls. Areas of whitewash can even be rinsed off several hours after application for a truly distressed appearance. If you apply more than one coat, allow the previous coat to dry thoroughly. When you're finished, clean the brush or roller and bucket immediately with soap and water.

    Thinned Latex Paint

  1. 1

    Clean the brick surface of dust, grease and stains. Scour any loose paint or debris with a wire brush. Rinse the brick and let it dry thoroughly. Spread a dust sheet or tarp to catch spills.

    How to antique brick
    Use a wash of thinned paint to simulate antique brick. (brick wall image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Choose a flat white latex paint in a warm tone, not bright white. In a bucket, mix one part paint to one part water and stir well. If you want minimum colour coverage on the bricks, add more water.

  3. 3

    Brush the thinned paint on the bricks, working with a few bricks at a time. Wipe off the paint with a rag before the wash dries. Remove more or less wash to vary the amount of original brick colour that shows through. Wash and wipe the mortar lines as well. If you prefer the mortar lines as they are, paint bricks individually or tape over the mortar lines to mask them. However, this will take a lot more time and care.

  4. 4

    Let the paint wash dry thoroughly. Clean the brush and bucket with soap and water.

    Tinting

  1. 1

    Clean the surface of the brick. Scour with a wire brush to loosen flaking paint or other debris. Rinse the brick and let it dry thoroughly. Clean the surrounding area for any dirt or other material removed from the brick.

    How to antique brick
    Tint formulated for masonry can be used to antique brick. (brick wall 3 image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Choose a tint made specifically for masonry. The tint should be formulated to penetrate the surface of the brick and bond with the clay. Depending on the manufacturer, tints are available in various colours. Some well-known brick tints include Dyebrick, PermaTint, EZ Stain and Tough Stuff Masonry and Brick Stain. You can purchase brick tints and related products online.

  3. 3

    Protect the area around the brick with a dust sheet or tarp. If you don't want to tint the mortar lines, mask them with tape. Tinting the mortar, if you prefer, is fine. It depends on the effect you desire and whether you want to invest time in taping over the mortar lines.

  4. 4

    Mix, stir or otherwise prepare the tint according to manufacturer's instructions. Test the tint on an inconspicuous area of brick. If you have a spare brick or are able to purchase one made of material similar to the brick you want to age, experiment with that brick first. Use different sections of the brick to leave the tint on for various lengths of time, wipe off more or less tint or compare the results using a brush, roller or other application method. Observe colour penetration and see if the effect in general is what you're going for. Plan a strategy for tinting the overall surface based on your results.

  5. 5

    Apply the tint to the bricks according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use a roller, brush or any application method the manufacturer recommends. Let the tint soak in and wipe it off according to your antiquing strategy.

  6. 6

    Apply additional coats of tint depending on manufacturer's instructions or if you're unsatisfied with the depth of colour from the first coat. Follow manufacturer's guidelines regarding drying times between coats. Apply a protective sealant if the manufacturer recommends it as part of the tinting process. Otherwise, let the final coat of tint dry for several days. Clean brushes, rollers and other applicators according to product directions.

Tips and warnings

  • Study photos of antique brick or visit areas with old brick buildings to observe the effects of ageing on brick and to choose the kind of look you think would work best for your needs.
  • Don't paint brick a solid colour unless you know you can live with the look for a long time. It's extremely difficult to remove paint from brick, and the removal process can damage the brick. Painted brick can also mean increased maintenance, especially for exterior brick.
  • Brick is porous. It needs to be able to "breathe" and release moisture. Consequently, choose latex or cement-based paints over alkyd or oil-based paints, which also don't adhere well to mortar joints.

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