Painting Faux Brick

Faux painted brick

Scroll down for instructions

A smooth surface is best, for painting faux brick. A stony texture (like structured paint or concrete) might be OK too - but other textures will disrupt the illusion (you can't paint 'brick' over a wood- or floral structure...). You might have to remove some wallpaper, or mount hardboard on the wall. Underly8ing paint colors are no problem, when you use a grey primer - which comes in handy for imitating the grout.

The first layer: grey, imitating cement

On hardboard or acrylic wall paint, use an acrylic matte midgrey primer. For concrete, take a conrete primer. On latex, use midgrey latex paint. Structured paint is more difficult to work on, but it can be done. You can take a bucket of white and mix black latex paint to it. Give the whole wall a layer of grey, with a roller or a brush. Painting brick is a relatively simple faux painting technique, if you can keep an eye on the proportions (just like a mason would, when building a wall). Start measuring on the bottom.

Shaping the brick

There are three possibilities for shaping the brick:

  • painting them with a free hand
  • use masking tape
  • use a stencil. Different shapes are available.

For doing 'old' brick, it's best to do freehand painting, or getting a stencil. For imitating brandnew brick, use the masking tape - then you'll get straight, rectangular bricks. Freehand painting is not as difficult as it seems. Having some irragularities (within certain boundaries) is OK. When you work with a stencil, you need to work precisely, to make sure the paint doesn't get on the back of the stencil.

Freehand painting for doing old brick

When you have a more or less steady hand, freehand-painting is the easiest way of painting faux brick. Even when you're akward at first, soon enough you'll get the hang of it - it's a repetetive gesture.

For painting an old wall, it's not a problem when your cement lines aren't completely horizontal (that is, if you start on the bottom). It's not even bad when the bricks aren't all the same length (as in this example). People used to take every stone they could get. The heigth of each stone has to be about the same, though - otherwise, the wall wouldn't hold.

Painting faux brick freehand

Here, the cement stripes were painted on with the primer, using a household sponge for measuring (2 times its length). The structure of the paint will be my guidance.

A strip of wood is OK for measuring too, as broad as your bricks will be, eventually tape a water level on it. You can mark the wood for the horizontal stripes.

Colors for painting brick

The best colors for painting brick are the burnt earth colors - these pigments are about the same materials as brick (burnt clay!)...Burnt umber, burnt siena and yellow ochre are good colors for painting faux brick. They make the grey look nice too (by contrast). Take some economy acrylics from the art store.

When you use a stencil, or the masking tape, it's better to wait until the grey primer is dry. Especially when you use masking tape.

Painting the brick

Take latex or acrylic paint for that (you know, latex on latex, and acrylics on acrylics or latex). For the example on this picture, I took 'burnt siena' and 'yellow ochre'. I mixed them in two shades: one tray contains brownish yellow (more yellow ochre than brown), the other is yellowish brown - burnt siena with some yellow ochre added.

painting the bricks

Each brick is painted in about the same way:

  • Use the darker shade to paint the bottom edge of each brick, and the lower half.
  • Take another brush, and do the upper half and upper edge of the brick.
  • With the same brush, dab over the whole brick and blend the colors.
  • Dab lightly, leave some traces, but don't make paintstrokes.
  • Divide the colors: more dark on the bottom, more light to the top.

When you do a big wall, it's better to do no more than a few stones in one time, and finish them before you move on. The paint dries fast, and then you can't blend it anymore.

Important: in the end, you dab lightly, and make sure there's always a gradual dividing of the colors - a little more light to the top, a little darker to the bottom.


After these layers, you don't need much paint anymore. The realistic effect of painting faux brick is done by glazing. A glaze is a transparant paint. You make it by mixing some latex or acrylic color through a glazing medium. For that, you can take: unmixed basic light latex paint, 'blend 'n' glaze', an acrylic binder or an acrylic egg-sheen laquer.

When the brick has dried, take the lightest yellow-brown, mix it with white and a little glazing, and take a big (preferrably old) brush. This brush will be used to add highlights. The most important is: putting on very little paint.

Glazing the bricks

  • Take a clean brush
  • Mix the ligher shade of brown with white
  • Mix that 1 on 4 with glazing medium
  • Put only the outer tips of the brush in the paint, and first dab it on a cloth, removing excess paint
  • Dab it on the bricks very lightly

  • Hitting the grey cement stripes is OK - you won't really see that. Just wipe it off if it bothers you.

    In the lower picture, the cement was glazed too, with a darker grey glazing (dark grey paint and glazing, mixed 1 on 4). Wait a bit untill the light glazing is dry (when you're done with the wall, the first stones will already be dry). Apply the dark cement-glazing with a brush and immediately dab it out with a dry cloth (to smoosh away the brushstrokes). Clean the bricks too (only roughly).

    Another option is, to add highlights with grey. Take a shade of grey that's a little darker than the cement, but lighter than the stones. Add some glazing medium to it: transparant acrylic laquer, transparant latex, or an acrylic binder (from the art store). When you use the grey, you can dab the whole faux brick wall with it, and in one go add some texture to the cement.


    By now, you have some very convincing brick wall already. Maybe you decide to finish off with a nice warm glow: for that, take burnt siena, mixed with the glazing medium (1 : 4) Just be sure not to put that over the grey cement.

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    Related pages:

Oil Painting Techniques

Acrylic Painting

Watercolor painting

Color Schemes

Interior Painting techniques

Interior Painting Ideas


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