Masonry stain works the same way wood stain does; by penetrating the surface of the brick, concrete, or stucco, and depositing pigment. Stain can be used to create a unique look; brick stain can be used to match new masonry to old- for example, on a new addition.
Penetrating masonry stains are superior to paint in several ways. Because they soak into the surface, instead of sitting on top, they won’t bubble or peel. They won’t obscure the natural texture of the brick, stucco, or stone. They also provide some degree of protection from the weather, preventing fading and erosion while allowing water vapor to move through the wall without causing damage. Furthermore, stains provide a barrier against airborne chemicals including acid rain.
Acrylic (Water-based) Stains
Acrylic stains are more environmentally friendly than their solvent-based counterparts and clean up with water. Because they contain few or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), they are the best choice when working in poorly ventilated areas, or if allergies or chemical sensitivities are a concern.
Solvent-based stains provide a more water-resistant seal than do acrylics. They are stronger smelling and cleanup requires the use of mineral spirits or another solvent.
Both acrylic and solvent-based stains are fairly easy to apply, and should yield similar results as long as the surface is prepared correctly.
What to Look For
Natural pigments fade less quickly than do synthetic ones. Look for a UV-resistant product if the stain will be used outdoors in a sunny area. This will reduce the need for frequent touch-ups.
Stains that contain silicone are incompatible with many other products. Use them only on previously unfinished surfaces, unless the label specifies otherwise.
Read the label to determine how moisture-resistant each product is. On an exterior wall, it’s important for water vapors to be able to move through the masonry. In the winter, humid interior air will dry to travel outdoors, where it’s typically drier. If the barrier to the outside is completely waterproof, condensation between the masonry and the sealer can cause the stucco or brick to deteriorate.
Indoors (in a damp basement for example), a watertight surface is necessary to avoid damaged possessions and mildew problems. Moisture from the damp soil will move toward the drier indoor space, creating condensation. Choose a combination waterproofer/stain, or seal the surface with a separate waterproofing medium before staining.
The label will also say which surfaces the stain can be used on. Most are formulated for use on horizontal surfaces. For walls, look for “for use on vertical surfaces” on the label.
What to Expect from a Masonry Stain
Stains don’t have the covering power paints do. Damaged or discolored surfaces can’t be covered up with stain. There will also be some variation in color, depending on the surface texture and the original color of the material being stained. Stained surfaces look much more organic and natural than painted ones.
Stained surfaces also require a fair amount of maintenance. In an area that receives equal amounts of sun and shade, your project will probably need restaining every five years or so. Masonry exposed to direct sunlight most of the time will fade faster, although using a high quality, UV resistant stain can help prevent this to some extent.
Masonry stains are an easy, effective, and relatively cheap way to beautify paths, patios, and retaining walls. If your budget doesn’t allow a complete revamp, you can still freshen up the space with a coat of stain.
I have a lake house that has some older (1960’s) brick on the front of the house that is a combination of red, dark charcoal, and ugly white bricks. We want to lighten up the whole wall using stain if possible. What product would you recommend?
Staining will be somewhat difficult when compared to paint or a solid color. Behr has a nice concrete dye and semi-transparent masonry stain. Both will work but lightening dark bricks won’t happen with just a semi-transparent stain. After staining consider sealing the wall with a clear masonry sealer to protect the new stain.
I want to stain new never sealed honed quartzite. It is a a light blue/grey to silver.
A masonry or concrete stain should work but some testing is needed to get the proper color, effect and penetration right. Test on a spare piece.
I have 30 linear feet of red 6x8x16 block wall, 1950’s vintage, in good shape, that we cannot remove, it’s a short retaining wall. We have white vinyl adjoining the block wall, and we will be adding 20″ top of white vinyl to the block wall. We want to end up with a two tone brown finish, stain if possible, stucco if I have to. If we stain, what would be the sequence of events? Can we use tape to section off the block to separate the colors?
Staining is straightforward; clean to remove any dirt or other contamination, allow to dry and do any repairs needed then apply the stain. If you want to 2-tone the wall then work from the top down, mask off the lower part with plastic. The stain will still bleed under the tape but with careful brush work this can be minimized. A solid stain would be th easiest to use, similar to paint and will cover well giving good straight lines.
I have an interior (living room) wall that is heavily textured succo over block. I had some damage to the wall and it has been repaired. Now the new stucco color does not quite match the old stucco. Since this is interior and is there a special stain that I should use? The current color is a grey, similar to the color of stucco. A little darker is fine. I am concerned about emissions since this in interior. Thanks!
A water based acrylic stain will be fine. Check your local paint store or hardware store for availability. The entire wall will need to be done, doubtful the patch can be blended but worth a try. Another option is paint.
I want to stain the red brick exterior of my house to charcoal or some version of darker grey. Is this possible? If it is, what are some products I can use? Also, can I use a powered paint sprayer to apply?
You would need to use a semi-solid or solid color masonry stain to make a dramatic color change. They are easily sprayed but would also cover up the mortar joints making the brick wall appear painted one solid color.
My home was built in 1968, so the exterior brick is outdated in color. I am wanting to change the color to a light neutral color (beige/stone). Is it possible to go from dark to light with this extreme color difference between the two (dark brick and light stain)? Also, I have researched the damage paint can to do brick over time and was wandering if a semi-transparent or solid stain would be the same consistence as paint and not allow the brick to breathe? If this stain is a possible go, what are the prep steps to take and further finishing steps as well as what are the correct products to use from beginning to completion of a project like this? I’ve watched Chip & JoAnn Gains paint the exterior brick of homes on their Fixer Upper shows and they don’t seem to be concerned about the brick deteriorating. And 3rd, is there maintenance with staining like it is painting?
You would need to use a solid colored stain or paint to go to a lighter color. A solid color masonry stain will allow the brick to breath but will need a little more maintenance, reapply about every 5-6 years depending on weather extremes and sunlight exposer in your area.
Prep is fairly straightforward; wash to remove dust, dirt and pollution. Repair the mortar where needed. Then apply the stain, spray is fine but stains must be back-brushed to increase penetration and give a even look.
Check with your local paint store for available products. One good product is Seal-Crete mixed with a quality flat paint (exterior). Can be mixed up to 50/50.
I want to change the color of my gray stucco house, thinking of a terra cotta or light brown color, what would be a good product for this?
To make a drastic color change a solid colored stain or paint will be needed. A solid colored masonry stain is fairly easy to use as it doesn’t require priming like a coating. Sherwin Williams Loxon is a very good product to use and can be mixed in any color.
hi, Im from New Zealand ..Masonry stain isn’t readily available, am I able to use a wood stain instead
It might be possible to use an exterior wood stain but this depends on the manufactures recommendations. Consult with your local retailer for more info.
I have been doing research on painting or staining my chimney. Somebody that didnt know how to point correctly smeared mortar by hand all over the front of my chimney. I now have to have it pointed correctly but I have mortar stain all over. I am debating if pointing and then painting or staining is the way to go. I read that paint over time holds in too much moisture and ruins the brick and joints. What about a “breathable paint”? What would you suggest. This chimney is subject to 4 seasons in New York. Thank you
All normal (acrylic water based) house paints are breathable but the most breathable would be an elastomeric paint. This would be the best for your brick.
We have added an addition onto a 1901 farm house. The addition foundation is poured concert using brick forms. We want to stain the concrete foundation to match the original brick. Please advise what products to use for exterior foundation above ground approximately 260 sq ft.
Use exterior paint and acrylic glaze for the colors needed. You will need to play around to get the right colors and application techniques. After it is all done seal it up with an exterior grade clear acrylic or solvent sealer, like a water-base poly or oil-base varnish.
We live in Midwest. We want the new concrete to color match the old brick.
What is the maintenance for paint over concrete?
Won’t paint flake off? Does stain penetrate concrete?
Paints will peel eventually. Stains do penetrate but will fade. Concrete stains would be better and can be sealed after your done.
Our home was built in 1958, and is a red/orange brick. We would really like to update the exterior, but we’re not sure whether to stain or paint it. The house is South facing, and we live in NC so humidity and rain are common. Any suggestions?
Painting will last the longest between maintenance and will put up with humidity better than most stains. But painting looks like paint. It depends on the final look your after. A semi-transparent stain can highlight existing colors and provide some protection but only solid stain or paint can give an entirely new color.
We currently have a ranch style home, built in 1950, with a orangish/yellowish brick. We want to update the exterior and want the final product to have the limewashed distressed look. We have been told, that with our current brick color, that the distressed limewash will show the orange/yellow tones through. We were told that the brick will need to be stained (the color we want to show through the limewash) first. My question is, if we stain the brick first (what’s the dry time?), should we seal it after staining, and can you apply a limewash on top of stained brick? Thank you in advance
All of this assumes a traditional lime wash. You could also use a concrete dye, mixed with water to add the back ground color. This would be sprayed on, garden type sprayer maybe, then either a traditional limewash or a white masonry stain, thinned to desired effect, is applied over it.
Experimentation is need to find the best products and procedures.
I want to stain my house as close to bright yellow as I can get. The outside brick is light pink for the most part. I live in a very sunny area that doesn’t get much rain. Is this something that would be achievable with a masonry stain?
You will need to use a solid color stain for such a drastic color change. Not sure how yellow it can get, check with your local paint store for color suggestions.
I had my driveway sealed yesterday. I’ve been in the house for 12 years and evidently the driveway pavers were never sealed but after the sealing part of the driveway is lighter than the rest. Contactor claims it was due to the water running from the gutters that washed away and faded bricks. Question; will staining make it uniform?
Applying a concrete stain would have helped with uniformity but isn’t guaranteed. At this point staining isn’t possible as the pavers are sealed, any applied concrete stain won’t soak into the pavers.
Hi Karl 😀
In my basement I have a deep brown/black wood stove with natural red brick surrounding it as well as brick wall to the ceiling. I would like to stain the brick to meet the Minwax waterbased wood finish color: Royal Pine 1040 (deep blue). I have a 1 qt can here that is semi-transparent, as well as a can of Krylon white wash paint. I was wondering if applying the white wash for the 3 minutes it directs would brighten the brick for the wood stain application after?
I know it would not make sense to put paint down first and then stain as the paint would seal the surface.. but reading the directions of this krylon white wash and only being allowed to have the product on the brick for such a short amount of time, I thought it might be possible that this is “super” paint with more possibilities ;D
I haven’t use the Krylon White Wash but it should help to give you a better background for the stain. Stain can go over paint, it might not penetrate as much as no paint but will still lay on top and get into the texture.
Would be nice to test these products before committing to the entire project.
I have a 2013 4500 sq ft home that has a light brown or tan-ish stucco. I would like to get the stucco to a more light chocolate color. I live in southern CA. and the house gets lots of sun. High temps in summer and very cold temps in winter. Any suggestions on what product would be best and what would the maintenance changes be?
The best way to tackle this is to use an elastomeric, such as Sherwin Williams Loxon XP. You don’t need to prime but you do need to use enough of to fill the pores with backrolling. This will last a long time but elastomerics are not as UV stable as high quality acrylic paints so plan on painting over it in a few years with a very good quality paint, SW Emerald is very good.
The Loxon XP will form a good foundation for future maintenance coats every 8-10 years.
Your only alternative is either prime (masonry primer) and paint (normal house paint).
Or, have a stucco contractor recolor your stucco. I’m not sure of what it take or how long it lasts.
I have almost a full gallon of Behr Concrete Stain. Currently the color match is Cinnamon Stone. I want to use the remaining stain on my Saltillo Patio Tiles however I want to change the stain color to a lighter Terra Cotta color. Is that possible to lighten the stain color to match the tiles? Thank-you.
I don’t think Home Depot will try to add more colorant to change the color but worth a try, give the paint dept a call. The only other way is to buy another color of stain, white maybe, and add it to your existing stain, unlikely this will fully work but could lighten the color.