The two options for changing the colour of interior or exterior brick are paint and stain. Paint provides you with a larger variety of colour choices, but painted brick eventually flakes and peels. Staining brick is the better option. Stained brick has more natural appearance than painted brick. The porous character of brick easily absorbs stain, and the end result is that stain has more longevity than paint. Once you make the decision to paint brick, you are making a commitment to painting it every two to three years.
Select a stain colour for the brick. Visit the local paint store, masonry store or home supply store, and investigate the different colour options. Purchase a brick staining kit at the local paint store or home supply store. Brain staining kits contain the stain and the pigment.
Thoroughly clean the bricks with trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water. TSP is an all-purpose cleaner that will remove dirt, grease and grime. If you are working on a large exterior brick surface, such as a house, clean the brick with a pressure washer. If you are working on interior brick, such as a fireplace, scrub the brick by hand with a scrub brush. Rinse the brick with clean water after cleaning to remove all the soap residue. Allow the bricks to dry completely.
Protect the surrounding areas with tarps, plastic and blue painter's tape. Cover any objects and items such as windows, floors, trim and shrubbery to prevent the stain from dripping on them.
Mix the stain and pigment together in a large plastic or metal container. Read the instructions on the kit. Stir the mixture with a stir stick until the stain and pigment are completely blended together.
Test the stain on an inconspicuous area. Apply the stain to a few bricks with a paint brush. The tint of the stain changes as it drys. Allow the stain to dry for three to four hours. Examine the colour of the stain. More pigment may be added to the mixture to darken the colour. Dilute water-based stain with water and oil-based stain with paint thinner to lighten the colour.
Apply the stain to the brick with a paint brush. Painting each brick with a paint brush is slower than applying the stain with a roller or sprayer, but applying the stain with a paint brush allows for better penetration. It is the technique recommended by professional paint staining companies such as Brick Staining Technology. Start at the top and work your way downward. This approach avoids dripping stain on already stained brick.