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How to Whitewash Exterior Brick?

How to Whitewash Exterior Brick?

whitewash brick exterior

Indeed, red bricks for exterior walls will never go out of style, but there’s no harm in trying a new look. Now, when we think of jazzing up our space, the first thing that comes to mind is a renovation. But that’s not the final answer! Renovation might involve demolition and a new layout which would cost you a lot. Oh, don’t feel intimidated yet! We have another easy and cost-effective alternative for you—whitewashing. 

While repainting your walls with 100% latex paint will lend the bricks an opaque, solid color, whitewashing gives them a muted tone with a translucent finish. The process also retains the bricks’ natural variations, based on how every brick absorbs the whitewash and how to apply the paint.  

Whitewashing isn’t time-consuming; you can pick it up as a DIY project. To help you with the process, we have curated a quick guide and a few tips. Read on to know more!

Necessary Equipment

Here is a list of a few must-haves when you’re planning to whitewash your exterior walls. 

  • Latex or masonry paint: For a more traditional whitewashing procedure, you can do it with just latex paint. If you can’t find latex paint, look for some other kind of brick paint. Such products are usually available in your local home improvement center.
  • Water: The other liquid you need is water to dilute the brick paint.
  • Paint brushes: Grab different paint brushes like angled brushes, rollers, and some with larger tips so you can conveniently reach every nook and corner.
  • Floor covers: It’s essential to protect your floors and surroundings before you start to paint. You may use paper or cloth covers to avoid a mess. 
  • Painter’s tape: This one’s optional! But it sure is effective and saves you a lot of hassle. You can tape the drop cloths or flooring covers and fix them to areas you particularly want to protect. 

Besides this necessary equipment, other tools & essentials include a putty knife, rubber gloves, protective eyewear, face mask, garbage bag, scrub brush, and paper towels. 

Steps to Follow

Once all the necessities are ready, it’s time to start whitewashing. Follow the steps below to accomplish the task seamlessly. 

Step 1

Wash and rinse the bricks thoroughly using soapy water or boric acid. These mild cleaning solutions won’t harm the overall texture of the bricks. There’s no point whitewashing over a dirty wall, so this step is crucial. Ensure you scrub the walls properly until all the dirt and soot are clean. 

If soapy water is not removing the stubborn soot, mix ammonia with pumice powder and dish soap and create a paste. Apply the paste over your walls and let it rest for about 10 mins to soften the rigid particles. Then, put on your gloves and thoroughly rinse the walls. You can find mentioned products at an arts & crafts store or a beauty supply store. 

Step 2

Cover the surroundings of your walls like windows, floors, slabs, etc., with paper or drop cloths. This is where the painter’s tape will come in handy; you can tape your door and window frames to protect them from the chemicals and paint.

Step 3

The next step is to remove the leftover paint. If your walls have been painted earlier, there may be flakes, blisters, or chips that you can scrape off using a putty knife, paint scraper, or wire brush. In case the paint has been there for decades, it could be that the paint is toxic. So, consider wearing protective goggles and a face mask while scraping. Later, accumulate the chipped paint in a garbage bag and dump it in a dumpster.  

Step 4

Now, we have arrived at a critical step, i.e., preparing the whitewash solution:

You need to mix equal amounts of water and latex paint. Stir the solution and test it on a brick patch to get the right consistency. Continue testing various paint-to-water ratios on different areas until you get the desired effect. If you’d like the paint to be thick, add more paint than water. If you’re going for a lighter consistency, increase the water ratio. 

Step 5

It’s time now to apply the whitewash. Start by spritzing the walls with water. Next, dip your brush into the whitewash mixture and remove excess paint on a grate, preventing the wall from getting covered in drips. Apply the whitewash in small sections, starting with the grout lines, and gradually work your way to the front of the bricks. Use an angled paintbrush to cover the edges.

It is ideally manageable to paint a two-foot-square patch at a time, as you can quickly blot the bricks with a paper towel to give it a natural finish. If you mistakenly coat a surface with too much whitewash, lightly mist the area with a spray bottle and blot the moisture with some of the paint using a cotton rag or a paper towel. Continue the process until all the walls are whitewashed. 

Keep in mind that brick is porous and will soak up the wash. So, the first coat of paint might appear more opaque than you would prefer. But don’t let this bother you! The bricks will absorb the paint in the next few hours, and the color will show eventually.  

The German Smear Method

Apart from the regular whitewashing process, there’s another way to repaint your brick walls. The German Smear technique lends a custom, distressed look to the walls and exudes an East European vibe. To achieve this, you need to use a thin coat of mortar over the brick instead of the traditional whitewash paint. This is an eye-catchy way to tone down red bricks while accentuating their warm hues. 

The only downside is that the process is time-consuming as you must smear the mortar by hand. 

Final Thoughts

We hope our guide will save you from the extra expenditure and effort required for a renovation. While whitewashing exterior walls is easier and more affordable, it also adds an old-world charm to the overall look of your home. So, why not give it a try? Happy painting!


How do I maintain whitewash?

It’s not possible to maintain whitewash as it’s simply a thin coat of rock. However, you can wash off the coating if you feel that it’s outdated. All you’d need is a concoction made from bleach and dish soap. Don’t forget to wear gloves while scrubbing your walls with bleach. 

Is it possible to whitewash sealed bricks?

Yes, you can whitewash sealed bricks, provided you scuff it up with a wire brush or putty knife.

How long does exterior whitewash last?

If applied correctly, whitewash can last up to 30 years. Besides, it requires little maintenance. If you want to extend the lifespan of your exterior whitewash, cover the paint with a water-based matte sealant or satin polyurethane.