Cleaning and Maintenance

Solved: How to Whitewash Brick? 5 Steps

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If you’re looking for a solid visual upgrade for your brick wall or fireplace, whitewashing could be a great solution. As opposed to older design conventions, there’s now an important trend of brightening up your living space. It’s time to get rid of that dark brick look that’s no longer stylish and try a fresh new approach through whitewashing.

While many people want to jump on this trend, not all of them may be aware that it doesn’t take an expensive makeover to whitewash brick. Instead of attempting the complete removal of the outdated structure, you could try this guide that will offer step-by-step instructions. Giving a new life to the brick isn’t as complicated as you think. It’s safe to say that even novice DIYers can handle the job and obtain satisfying results.

1. Start by Cleaning the Brick

The first step involved in whitewashing brick requires you to do a thorough cleaning of the wall, fireplace, or other surfaces that you’re working on. It may seem tempting to skip this step but it’s essential to scrub well if you wish to tackle this project correctly. This ensures that the updated look of the surface will appear nice and consistent.

There are different cleaning options available for brick surfaces. Even though it’s a fairly durable material, there are still damage concerns if you use the wrong solutions or scrub too hard. We recommend working your way through milder cleaners before checking out more advanced solutions that can be much harsher to the brick surface.

  • Dish Soap and Salt Mixture

This is an easy-to-make cleaner that relies on common household ingredients. Just combine equal parts of dish soap and salt while pouring sufficient water to create a nice cleaning paste. It should be powerful enough to handle the cleaning of your brick fireplace when applied using a clean rag. The dish soap mixture can be more effective if you let it work for a few minutes before rinsing it off the brick surface. To avoid tedious scrubbing work, consider getting your hands on a convenient drill brush attachment.

  • Boric Acid

Boric acid is a reliable cleaning agent that can be used for cleaning the brick wall that you plan on whitewashing. Fine powdered boric acid should be combined with water. For ideal results, mix around one tablespoon with a gallon of water. Try to avoid skin contact with this cleaning solution by making use of protective gloves when applying the boric acid mixture on the brick surface.

  • Commercial Cleaner

With the help of a specially designed commercial cleaner, you can easily remove dirt and grime from the brick wall or fireplace. It’s also possible to use a multipurpose household cleaner but getting a more targeted product should ensure better results while minimizing the risks of damaging the surface. Take a look at this fireplace cleaner from Amazon that’s great for many types of surfaces including brick structures. It arrives complete with a handy brush to prepare the area for whitewashing in no time.

2. Scrape Off Old Paint

Now that you’ve properly cleaned the brick surface, it’s important to get rid of any lingering traces of paint. This step is fully optional because not all homeowners may work with a brick surface that’s been painted. Even stronger brick cleaning solutions won’t be enough to remove old paint so it’s recommended to make use of a paint scraper tool for this job. This high-quality model on Amazon represents a great example.

Keep in mind that in some cases you might need professional help to scrape off old paint completely. This is usually recommended if you’re worried about decades-old paint that contains toxic lead. If you’re not completely sure about the dangers of this old paint, you can at least take some safety precautions for your peace of mind. Use a respirator and goggles that provide adequate face protection while peeling and scraping off all the leftover paint.

3. Prepare the Surrounding Area

Before you go ahead with the whitewashing process, it’s necessary to make some preparations to avoid making a mess. This is a reasonably easy DIY project but it’s safe to say that it can get quite messy. For that reason, you should pay close attention to the surrounding area whether you’re looking to whitewash the brick wall or the fireplace.

Your main priority should be to prevent whitewash paint from reaching other areas. That means you need to be careful about taping and covering the floor or the mantel’s edges in case you’re working on a brick fireplace. It’s not a good idea to whitewash the bricks found in the interior area of the fireplace so it’s best to close the fireplace doors. Opt for some high-quality painter’s tape to deal with all these preparations.

4. Formulate the Whitewash Solution

There’s usually not an ideal whitewash solution that works for everyone because homeowners can plan for distinctive looks. Mixing the whitewash paint depends on your preferences but you can start with equal parts water and white latex paint. Don’t rush the process by painting the entire surface immediately. Begin working on a small area to see how it looks and figure out the required adjustments to make for the best possible look.

A common problem when you test the whitewash is the brick becoming excessively bright. The simplest solution is to dilute the mixture with some added water. The reverse is also true. You can enhance the strength of the whitewash by adding more white latex paint. It might take a bit of time to experiment until you’re happy with the results. Check out this premium white latex paint on Amazon.

5. Apply the Whitewash Solution

Now you’ve reached the final step of the guide. Brightening and lightening the brick fireplace or any other surface starts when you apply the whitewash. There are different techniques to use here but you can’t go wrong if you stick to the basics. Use a brush or a paint roller to evenly apply the whitewash solution. We recommend this paint roller kit on Amazon.

Alternatively, consider a more customized approach by using a spray bottle for misting the brick surface. Wipe the damp area you intend to paint with the whitewash and incorporate a sash brush for reaching the recessed areas of the brick more effectively. Regardless of the chosen technique, you need to wait a few hours to let the paint become absorbed in the brick wall. That helps to develop the whitewashing appearance and lose the initial opaque look.

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