How to Whitewash Brick Walls

This method of painting will lighten up the walls without overpowering their delightful texture. The final result will depend on how much is applied and the amount that each brick absorbs.


1. Thoroughly clean the bricks and allow them to dry

2. Remove any lingering paint

3. Cover and tape surfaces you want to protect

4. Mix a 50/50 solution of water with white latex paint

5. Use a brush or rag to apply

Gather your tools

  • ⬥ Grease-cutting dish soap
  • ⬥ Salt
  • ⬥ Cotton rags
  • ⬥ Scrub brush
  • ⬥ Boric acid powder*
  • ⬥ Gallon bucket
  • ⬥ Rubber gloves
  • ⬥ Ammonia*
  • ⬥ Pumice powder*
  • ⬥ Trisodium phosphate*
  • ⬥ Protective eyewear
  • ⬥ Drop cloths
  • ⬥ Garbage bags
  • ⬥ Face mask
  • ⬥ Paint scraper, putty knife or wire brush
  • ⬥ Painter’s tape
  • ⬥ Kraft paper
  • ⬥ White latex paint
  • ⬥ Five-gallon bucket
  • ⬥ Paintbrush
  • ⬥ Paint grate
  • ⬥ Paper towels
  • ⬥ Spray bottle
  • ⬥ Sash brush

*Not all of these items may be needed. Before going shopping, try the simplest method of cleaning your bricks first.


An effective whitewash requires a clean and dry surface.

Whether you’re painting your fireplace or one or more walls, use the following cleaning options – in order from gentlest to harshest – to remove all soot and grime from your bricks and grout.

After using the cleaning solution that works, rinse the bricks thoroughly with a clean rag that’s been dipped in warm water.

Dish soap: 

Make a paste from one part mild, grease-cutting soap mixed with one part salt and a little bit of water.

Apply with a clean rag to the bricks and grout, then use a scrub brush to work the solution into the surface. Let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Boric acid: 

Mix one tablespoon boric acid to one gallon of warm water.

Using rubber gloves, dip a scrub brush into the mix then scrub the brick.

Rinse thoroughly.


Mix together a paste of one part ammonia, two parts mild, grease-cutting dish soap and one part pumice powder.

Tip: Beauty supply stores or arts and craft stores typically sell pumice powder

Again, wearing rubber gloves, dip a clean rag into the mixture then spread it across the bricks. Let sit for 10 minutes at least before rinsing.

Trisodium phosphate: 

Take care when using this solution as it’s very abrasive and caustic. Put on protective eyewear and gloves, then mix ½ cup trisodium phosphate (TSP) with one gallon of hot water.

Dip the scrub brush into the solution then scrub the brick. If there are still stains you can repeat the process, increasing the amount of TSP you use to as much as one cup per gallon.

Paint removal

If the brick has been painted before there may be some chips or flakes of paint lingering. This will interfere with your whitewash application so they need to be removed.

Suspect the paint has been there for a long time? 

If so, you could be dealing with lead paint, so it’s important to have it professionally removed.

However, if you’re certain it’s not lead paint do the following:

  • ⬥ Protect your floor with a drop cloth
  • ⬥ Use a mask and goggles
  • ⬥ Set out a garbage bag for the dried paint you’re going to remove
  • ⬥ Use a wire brush, putty knife or paint scraper to carefully remove the old paint.

Cover and protect

Cover and tape everything you don’t want paint on. The whitewash won’t be as thick as 100 percent vinyl, so it won’t take much to splatter it where you don’t want it.

If you’re painting a fireplace, it’s not recommended to paint the interior, so if you have them, tape the fireplace doors shut.

Painter’s tape will definitely be your best friend when whitewashing brick. It’s not hard to whitewash brick, but it can get messy!

Create your mix

Gently combine a 50/50 mix of water to white latex paint. Stir until it’s an even consistency.

Use small batches until you achieve the ratio you want. Test the color in an inconspicuous area and let it dry to see if you like the effect. 

If you want a whiter look, use less water. A thinner, more transparent look will obviously require more water.

Apply whitewash

Two methods of whitewashing:

  1. Dip your brush into the paint, then rub across a grate before applying to remove excess paint.

Work in small two-foot sections, beginning with the grout lines, followed by the brick faces.

Once you’ve applied the paint with the brush blot the same area with wadded-up paper towels to give it that “washed” look.

2. Lightly mist the brick to be painted with water. While the bricks are still moist load up a wadded-up cotton cloth with the paint mixture and wipe it on the wall.

Note: if the mortar is deeply recessed from the surrounding brick use a sash brush. Dip it in a small bit of the paint, then apply to the mortar and the edges and ends of the bricks.

After applying the whitewash to areas accessible by a rag, use a brush to fill in hard-to-reach spots. 

For areas with too much paint, mist it and blot up the excess with a rag.

With either method, remember that brick is a porous material, so it will soak up the wash. This is why it’s a good idea to test the mixture on a small area first. Then let dry and you’ll know what to expect when you paint the rest of the brick.

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