How to Stain Red Brick to Look Gray

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Are you tired of the red brick look on your home or building but don’t want to go through the expense and hassle of painting it? What if there was a way to turn that red brick into a stylish gray without losing the natural texture and charm of the material?

Luckily, there is a solution that can transform your red brick into a stylish gray without losing its natural beauty. The key is staining the brick instead of painting it. In this article, we will discuss the steps and products needed to successfully stain red brick and achieve the trendy gray color you desire.

So, how do you stain a red brick to look gray? Let’s find out in this article!


What Is The Difference Between Staining A Brick vs. Painting A Brick?

To breathe new life into brick surfaces, homeowners often consider either painting or staining. But what is the difference between staining and painting a brick? Here’s a closer look:

Painting a Brick

Painting brick is a popular method to change the appearance of brick surfaces. It involves applying a coat of paint on the brick, which seals the brick surface, and therefore, prevents moisture from penetrating the brick.

Painting a brick surface also provides a uniform appearance, making it easy to match the color scheme of the house. However, painting a brick surface may require a lot of preparation, such as cleaning the surface, filling in any cracks or gaps, and priming the surface.

Once painted, the paint can chip, peel or fade, resulting in the need to repaint the surface again in the future.

Staining a Brick

Staining a brick is different from painting since it doesn’t fully cover the brick’s surface.

Instead, it involves penetrating the brick’s pores with a stain solution that seeps into it and changes the brick’s color. Stained brick surfaces offer a more natural and rustic appearance, enhancing the brick’s texture and character.

Staining a brick surface may require less preparation than painting, but the surface must be clean and free from debris before applying the stain. Since the stain penetrates the brick’s surface, it won’t flake or peel off, and it’s less likely to fade over time than painted brick surfaces.

Which Is the Better Choice: Staining or Painting a Brick?

When it comes to choosing between staining or painting a brick, it ultimately depends on personal preference. However, staining a brick surface provides a more natural appearance that enhances the brick’s texture and character, while painting offers a more uniform appearance that can match the color scheme of the house.

Stained brick surfaces are also easier to maintain since they won’t require repainting, while painted surfaces may require repainting every few years.

Staining Bricks  Painting Brick
Transparent Opaque
Thin layer Thick layer
Leaves pores open Seals up pores
Masonry patches still visible Covers up masonry patches
Cannot be removed Removable, though with difficulty

How to Stain Red Brick to Look Gray?

Before we get to that, here is a tabular overview of the items required for staining a red brick to look gray:

Drop cloths Soft brush Rags Brick staining kit
Tinted masonry sealer Small Roller Mild detergent Vacuum cleaner
Power washer Paintbrush Non-ionic cleaner Hose

Now, here is a step-by-step guide on how you can stain a red brick to look gray.

Step 1: Confirm That The Brick Absorbs Water

Before you can begin staining your brick, you need to make sure it will absorb the water. To do this, grab a cup of water and splash some onto the brick. If the water beads up and runs off, then your brick is not absorbent and cannot be stained. However, if the water is absorbed and the brick darkens, then it is absorbent and you can proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Remove The Sealant From The Bricks

If your brick is absorbent and you want to apply a stain, the next step is removing any sealants that may be preventing it from absorbing the water. 

You can do this by applying lacquer thinner to a small area and letting it sit for ten minutes. Wipe off the lacquer thinner and then test with water again. If the brick absorbs the water, then you can use lacquer thinner on the entire area.

If the water is still not absorbed, try using a commercial brick or concrete sealer stripper. 

Apply it to a small area and let it sit for ten minutes before wiping it off and testing it with water again. If this does not work, your brick may be too sealed to absorb a stain. In that case, you may need to paint over the brick instead of staining it.

Step 3: Clean and Dry The Bricks

Brick is a classic, timeless choice for flooring, walls, and other home projects. But like any other surface in your home, the brick needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep it looking its best. To make sure you’re properly caring for your brick surfaces, follow these steps.

Start by removing loose dirt and dust with a soft-bristled brush. Ensure that the bristles are not too stiff or abrasive as they can damage the brick’s surface. Vacuum excess particles from the brick’s surface until clean.

Use a mild detergent and water solution to clean off the surface of the brick. If water beads off the brick then it has a sealant on it that must be removed before staining.

Rinse off the detergent and water with a damp mop or rag and allow to air dry.

Step 4: Choose Your Brick Stain Product

Now that your brick is clean and dry, you need to select the right stain product for the job. Brick stains come in a variety of colors and finishes, from light washes to deep tones. To ensure the best results, try testing a few samples on a small area before committing to a color. This will also let you experiment with different color combinations to find the perfect shade for your project.

Water-based stains are often recommended because they are easy to apply and allow your brick to “breathe” while protecting against water damage. 

However, if you’re looking for extra protection against water seepage then consider using a pre-mixed stain and sealant combination. These are best used in small areas where you want extra protection, such as around windows or in corners.

Step 5: Mix The Stain

To start, measure out the amount of water indicated in the instructions on the stain container. Make sure to stir in a figure-eight pattern to ensure a consistent color throughout. If you’re mixing multiple colors together, record how much of each one you used—you’ll want to be able to recreate the same look next time!

Next, grab an appropriately sized disposable container and mix your stain into the water. It’s better to err on the side of caution by adding less stain than more; it’s easier to add more concentrated color later if needed than it is to lighten a stain that’s already been applied. When you’ve achieved the desired color, pour the mixture into a separate container for easy access and to avoid cross-contamination.

Step 6: Apply The Stain

Now that you have your stain ready, it’s time to apply it to the brick. The most important thing to remember when staining is consistency. You want the color to appear even across the entire surface, so don’t rush through the process!

Start by using an ordinary paintbrush, about as wide as a single brick. Dip it into the stain mixture and then press it against the side of the container nearest to you to drain the excess stain. This will help ensure an even application of color with no splashes on nearby walls or surfaces.

Once your brush is loaded up, begin staining in a back-and-forth motion, carefully covering each brick with a thin layer of stain. Make sure to start in one corner and work your way out, so you don’t miss any spots.

If you are staining brick walls or other vertical surfaces, use a dampened sea sponge instead of a paintbrush for better control. Go slowly and take your time to make sure the color is even throughout the entire area.

Step 7: Apply The Stain In A Scattered Pattern

Once you’ve finished applying your stain in a uniform manner, it’s time to give it some character. To do this, you’ll need to apply the stain in a scattered pattern. This will create variations in color and depth that will add visual interest to your brickwork.

Start by taking your paintbrush or sea sponge and randomly dabbing the brick with your mixture. Try to keep an even amount of pressure on each stroke so that the stains don’t look too blotchy or uneven. If there are any spots that are too light or too dark, go ahead and apply more stains until they match their surroundings.

Step 8: Clean Up Drippings While Staining Immediately

It’s important not to let any excess stain sit for too long, as it can cause dark streaks or even permanent damage. So if you’re noticing any drips while you’re staining, make sure to clean them up right away with a damp cloth. This will help ensure your brick looks its best after the job is done.

Wipe off any spills and then rinse out your cloth in clean water to prevent further staining. You may also want to take an old screwdriver or metal tool to scrape off any stubborn stains from the mortar before they set in. Taking these precautions now will save you time and effort later on!

Step 9: Clean Up and Wait For The Stain To Dry

Once you’re done staining, it’s time to clean up. Make sure to remove all of your supplies from the work area, and dispose of any excess stains according to safety labels. It’s also important to rinse out any tools that were used during the staining process with warm water. This will help ensure that no dry residue remains behind on the tools.

Now comes the waiting game! You’ll want to let your freshly stained brick sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours before applying a sealant or other finish. This gives the stain enough time to properly set into the brick and ensures that your finished product looks its best.

Step 10: Seal The Brick

Once the stain has dried completely, it’s time to seal your work. This will protect the color from fading and wear over time, and will also make it easier to clean in the future.

When choosing a sealant, make sure that it is specifically designed for brick staining; this will ensure that you get the best possible protection. Some sealants are meant to be sprayed on while others can be applied with a brush or roller.

Spray sealers are generally easier to apply but require more frequent reapplication. If you go with a brush or roller, make sure to spread out a generous amount of sealant around each brick and then evenly distribute it with a brush or roller.

Finally, let the sealant dry completely before using the brickwork. This will ensure that your stain job is as long-lasting and durable as possible!


What Kind Of Stain Should You Use For A Brick?

In this section, we’ll explore some of the most common types of stains and finishes for bricks to help you make an informed decision.

Acid-Based Stains

Acid-based stains react with the minerals in the brick to create a unique, mottled look. They come in a range of colors and are great for adding character to plain brick walls. If you’re looking for a colorful, textured finish, acid-based stains may be the right choice for your project.

Note: These stains can be difficult to apply and require careful preparation to ensure that the acid doesn’t damage the surface of the brick.

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stains allow the natural color and texture of the brick to show through while adding a subtle tint. These stains are available in a range of colors, from light to dark, and can be layered to achieve a custom look.

They are perfect for projects where you want to enhance the appearance of the brick, rather than completely change it. 

Solid Stains

Solid stains are like paint for your brick. They completely cover the surface of the brick, creating a uniform finish. Solid stains come in a range of colors and are great for covering up blemishes or discoloration in the brick. 

Choosing the right stain for your brick project will depend on your personal preference and the look you’re trying to achieve.

Note: Solid stains can hide the natural texture and character of the material. If you want a clean, uniform look for your brick project, solid stains may be the right choice.


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