Sunday, January 25, 2015

DIY Faux Brick Painting Tutorial

Whether you're looking to re-paint real brick or make over some faux brick paneling, here's how to do it!

First, find a picture of a brick wall that you like, so you'll have a solid color reference. (Pinterest is great for this.) Here's my inspiration photo:


And here's my finished brick:

Mine doesn't match the reference exactly; I wanted it less pink and more grungy. John made three different sample boards to help me nail the colors, which is a great idea if you're like me and have trouble visualizing. Here's our sample board outside in the sunlight:

You can see a lot of dark lines in there, but in the actual room I was able to finesse the technique to avoid most of those, so I think it looks more natural:

So let's get to it!

You Will Need:

4 colors of paint:

    - the grout color (I used a creamy off-white)
    - 2 complementary brick colors, one about 2 shades darker than the other
   - the "dirt" color - a grungy dark brown or gray

Note: Make sure your brick colors are much lighter & brighter than you want the end product to look, since we're going to grunge them up a LOT. If you're unsure, this is where sample boards help!

For tools, you'll need all the usual supplies for painting a room: rollers, brushes, painter's tape, drop cloths, etc., but also, and most importantly:

-  A small, flat-edged foam roller and frame, like this:

Make sure your roller has that sharp, flat edge; the rounded edge rollers won't let you get into the corners and up against the trim, which is verrrry important.

- And a cheap chip brush (pictured above) or any other brush that has extremely stiff bristles.


 To my knowledge there's only one kind of brick paneling out there, and this is it. Great quality, very convincing texture, and SUPER dark. (We found ours at Lowe's for about $26 per sheet.)

Step 1) Paint your brick or brick paneling the grout color. Yes, all of the brick. But don't worry about doing a second coat; this finish WANTS to look imperfect and grungy. So embrace the grunge, my friends. EMBRACE IT.

Ta-da! Grout colored walls.

Step 2) Use your handy-dandy foam roller to LIGHTLY roll the walls with the lighter of your brick colors. Since you only want the bricks themselves to catch the color, NOT the grout, roll in diagonal lines, not up-and-down or side-to-side. And only load your roller with a little paint at a time.

Your coverage won't be even close to perfect, and again, that's ok. Embraaaace the gruuuunge!

Step 3) Randomly paint individual bricks with your darker brick color. You can do this with your little foam roller, or paint them in with a brush. Either way.

(Sorry for the terrible cellphone pics, btw; I didn't think about writing up a tutorial while we were doing this!)

Now, are you ready... FOR THE MAGIC?!

Step 4) This is the most important step, so here's where you'll want to spend most of your time. That said, it's ridiculously fast and easy; in essence, you're just repeating Step 2, only with the "dirt" paint color. A few tips, though:

- Load your foam roller with the dark paint, and then roll it out on a scrap piece of cardboard or wood several times to get most of it off again. You've heard of dry-brushing? This is "dry-rolling."

- GENTLY start rolling over a patch of bricks in several different directions, to avoid any obvious up-and-down lines. You can always add more, and a little goes a loooong way, so start out light!

- After you've rolled out a bit and your foam roller is pretty dry, go ahead and start pressing harder into those grout lines, so they pick up a little grungy magic, too.

- Get as close to the trim and corners as you can with your roller, but don't worry; you'll be coming back for those later.

- Contrast Is King, so don't be afraid of dark spots, lines, and imperfections. Trust me, that "oops" moment will probably end up your favorite!

Step 5) When all of your walls are done, it's time to go back to those corners and trim areas you couldn't quite reach with the roller. See the white line in my corner here?

Touch those areas up with your stiff brush, pouncing in a tiny bit of color at a time. I actually made my corners darker than the rest of the wall for a kind of vignette, which I think really frames the room nicely:

Step 6) Touch-up time! Step back, and see where your wall needs a bit more dirt. Use your stiff brush to dry-brush any grout lines that look too clean.

This is also the time to address any paneling seams, since those can leave obvious vertical lines. Use a small artist brush and pounce on more "dirt" to help hide those lines.

I also sanded my paneling seams prior to painting, which helped a lot. Just use a little sandpaper and hit each brick that straddles the seam, since this paneling tends to have a slightly raised lip right at that edge. And if there's a gap, of course, fill that up with caulking. (Again, do this before painting. Heh.)

Step 7) Step back and enjoy the view!

I hope this was helpful, guys! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!


And for my fellow pinners, here's the best "before-and-after" shot I could come up with:


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!


  1. Jen, you make it look so easy, but I know how hard you worked! Gorgeous results.

  2. I can't believe how easy this seems when you lay it out step by step. The finished product looked amazing!!!

  3. Very Cool! I took a set design class once and we learned how to "age" brick paneling. And paint plywood to look like a brick wall. You can also add splatters from brushes in different colors and even paint vines up and around the walls. If you want the outdoor look, of course. Your look is just perfect for inside, and makes a great backdrop for the art that I have no doubt will be hung on it. This is one kind of painting I can actually do and do a good job at! Ironic, as you would think I would be better at painting a blank wall or surface, but nnnnoooooooo -- give me the texture stuff and I can do so much better. I was also very pleased to see you didn't go TOO perfect on painting random bricks a darker color. That must have been a struggle, as I know it would be for me. But the end result was worth the somewhat random painting!
    Maureen S

    1. Yes! That "random" thing is SOOOO hard! So don't tell anyone, but I had John do the random bricks. :D SHHHHH! ;)

  4. This is so awesome! I don't have a room I can do brick in but I'm wondering if I can do this on a cabinet...or maybe the inside of a glass doored (doored?) cabinet.

    1. Same here, I have a white-painted actual-brick fireplace in my living room that I'm now eyeing speculatively.


  5. Since you painted a sample and painted the panels on the wall, which would you recommend? Painting the panels before or after attaching to the wall?
    Btw, I love this idea!!

    1. Oh, definitely paint them ON the walls, so your seams will match up, well, seamlessly. :) Plus you'll have small nail holes to fill after you install the paneling. So it's best to install the paneling first, fill all the nail holes & any gaps, sand the seams, and *then* paint.

  6. I had this stuff all over my very 70s kitchen when we moved in. After we finished ripping it out, my kitchen looked great, but it was SO hard to get off. Half of my kitchen walls are now mostly spackle. ;)

    Actually, I may have left it if I'd seen this tutorial 15 years ago!

  7. Hmmmmmm.... The hubs and I have very ugly, real brick paneling in our kitchen and surrounding our island. He's been threatening to tear it out, but this just might be the answer. I really like the way this looks.

  8. That looks so epic!!! I am going to buy a house with my brother this summer and having a game room with walls like that would be epic bits of awesome :D

  9. That looks so fun! It really is like magic!

  10. You make it seem so easy, but if I tried that, it would be an absolute disaster.

    Your paint job looks spectacular, and the resemblance to real brick is impressively convincing.

    Like Kimstu, I have a brick fireplace painted white in my living room. I don't know what's under the white...maybe I should check...or maybe I should just try your technique and see how I do. I guess, worse-case scenario, I could always paint over it with white again. I wonder what's more difficult...removing paint from real brick or trying your method of faux-brick painting.

    Which brand of indoor wall paint do you guys prefer?


  11. I admit, I was scared for you when I first saw what you were starting with. It turned out lovely, though. I'm impressed.

  12. Seriously, every time I see the before and after picture, I'm just taken aback. It is amazing what you can do when you have a vision and a creative mind! I would have never thought something like that would be possible and you make it sound so gosh darn easy.

  13. So awesome! I have some faux brick surrounding my fire place like this ||_|| and the entry way to my living room. the width of the areas are only 1-2 bricks long. Any advice on how to to paint them like this? Maybe use a really small roller? Thanks!

  14. this is awesome! i was wondering tho, could you color spackle and make more of a brick like texture? or maybe dab some spackle on between the base color and the grunge?

  15. Hey Jen! Love your DIY projects blogs and clear tutorials. What are you going to do when you run of undone rooms? Or, is that just the universe telling you it is time to move?

  16. Love the colors you used! Did you use satin paint?

  17. Unbelievable! Just beautiful! ! I just purchased a condo with brick walls the previous owner had painted them white. Can you tell me what colors you used? Thank you,Liz

    1. Eek, no, I don't remember the paint color names. Sorry! If you really need a color match, though, shoot me an e-mail; I can have John look them up in the color deck for ya.

  18. Hello,
    did you find out the paint colors used


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