A bedroom with yellow painted brick

Brick can add a lot of character to your home, both outside and inside. If your brick is older, you might be wondering if it’s worth reviving it with paint. If you decide this is the route you want to take, you need to be sure you have the right materials to work with.

Finding the right primer is just as important as finding the right paint for your brick. To help you find the best primer for brick, this article will cover the following:

Before we get into how to select and use brick primers, let’s dive into the best primers for brick. If you’re also working with dark walls, check out our guide to the best primers for dark walls.

 

10 best primers for painting brick

A wide variety of primers are on the market, but only some work as a brick primer. Here are some of the best primers for painting brick.

1. KILZ 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer

KILZ 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $22.70

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 75-100 sq. ft.

Finish: Flat

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Versatile

For a primer that is always a good choice, go for KILZ 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer. This primer is incredibly versatile, having been approved for use on a variety of surfaces, including brick and masonry – which makes it one of the best primers for painting exterior brick. It’s great at hiding stains and colours and has a strong level of adhesion.

2. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Primer

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 PLUS Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $22.99

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Flat

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Covers tough stains

If you want to be sure you’ll get your desired level of coverage, Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Primer is a great choice. The advanced technology in this primer helps it cover the toughest stains, including water and smoke stains. It’s low odour and super adhesive.

3. KILZ Adhesion Interior/Exterior Primer

KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior Latex Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $73.67

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 300 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Glossy

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Bonds to tough surfaces

KILZ Adhesion Interior/Exterior Primer is great for painting the toughest surfaces, like brick. The level of adhesion is super strong, helping you to create a beautiful topcoat. It can be used under a variety of conditions and dries in only an hour.

4. INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer

INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $32.99

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Semi-gloss

Type: Urethane acrylic

Best Feature: Strong adhesion

For the toughest surfaces, go with INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer. This interior and exterior primer is designed to have some of the strongest bonding, adhesion, and sealing capabilities. It works well with a variety of topcoats and can be used in different temperatures.

5. KILZ Original Interior Primer

KILZ Original Interior Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $24.74

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 75-100 sq. ft.

Finish: Flat

Type: Oil-based

Best Feature: Easy to use

If you’re working on an interior brick project, try KILZ Original Interior Primer. Like other KILZ primers, it’s great for hiding stains and blocking odours while providing full coverage. This primer for interior brick walls and more is easy to apply and work with afterwards.

6. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $43.33

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Flat

Type: Shellac-based

Best Feature: Blocks odours

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer is an ideal choice for brick. This primer sticks to all surfaces and is great at covering stains. It also blocks odours and dries in 45 minutes.

7. KILZ Restoration Interior Primer

KILZ Restoration Interior Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $75.00

Size: 1 gallon

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Flat

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Used for disaster recovery

For those working specifically with damaged brick, opt for KILZ Restoration Interior Primer. This primer is designed to coat damage caused by water, fire, smoke, and more to help with recovery efforts. It’s also great at blocking tough odours and achieving a smooth finish.

8. Zinsser Bondz Maximum Adhesion Primer

Zinsser Bondz Maximum Adhesion Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $29.19

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Flat

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Low odour and VOC

Another great adhesive primer is Zinsser Bondz Maximum Adhesion Primer. It can be used on a variety of surfaces where extra adhesion is desired, which makes it a great exterior brick paint primer. It also has a low odour and low VOC.

9. KILZ Klear Interior/Exterior Primer

KILZ Klear Interior/Exterior Primer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $90.90

Size: 1 gallon

Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft./gal.

Finish: Clear

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Seals to chalky surfaces

If you want to work with a clear primer, KILZ Klear Interior/Exterior Primer is for you. This multi-surface primer has great sealing qualities and dries with a transparent finish. It works well on chalky surfaces and under a variety of conditions, making it one of the best primers for exterior brick.

10. KILZ Premium Primer/Sealer/Stainblocker

KILZ Premium Primer/Sealer/Stainblocker
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $25.92

Size: 946 ml

Coverage: 75-100 sq. ft.

Finish: Flat

Type: Water-based

Best Feature: Durability

Also from KILZ is their Premium Primer/Sealer/Stainblocker. This high-quality primer has high hiding capabilities, giving your surfaces great coverage. It also is very durable and has low VOC.

 

How to pick the right brick primer

When searching for a primer that will work best with your brick, it’s important to know what qualities to look for. Follow this guide when choosing a primer for your brick.

How to choose the right primer finish for brick

Your primer’s finish can affect the coverage and final look of your brick. These are the primer finishes that you’ll likely encounter:

  • Clear: Might apply coloured but will dry clear; used primarily for durability and protection.
  • Flat/matte: White or grey primers with no shine; can be used with the majority of paints.
  • Semi-gloss: Has a fair amount of reflectiveness; can help enhance the look of your paint.
  • Glossy: Super shiny; can help smooth coverage and make your paint glossier.

How to choose the right type of primer

The type of primer you choose will determine how well it works with your brick and your paint. These are the types of primer you’re likely to choose between for your brick.

  • Oil-based: Versatile option with stain resistance; best paired with oil-based paints.
  • Latex: More health-conscious than oil-based; top option for brick, masonry, and more.
  • Shellac-based: Great for interior surfaces; often quick-drying with smooth coverage.
  • Water-based: A safer alternative to the types above; best choice for latex paints.
  • Urethane acrylic: Good option for surfaces that are difficult to apply primer/paint to.

 

Best way to prime brick before painting

Having the right primer for your brick is only one way to improve your results when painting. For the best finish possible, follow these tips when priming your brick:

  • Clean the brick – Spray down your bricks with soapy water and let fully dry to remove any dirt and debris. You can also use TSP if your bricks are covered with mildew.
  • Repair any damage – Fill in any cracks or holes before painting. This will ensure you don’t have to redo your painting after the fact.
  • Protect the area – Depending on where you’re working, you might want to use painter’s tape to protect any surrounding surfaces.
  • Use the right tools – For brick, work with either a brush synthetic bristles, roller with a thick nap, or an airless paint sprayer followed by roller to achieve the best results.
  • Apply multiple coats – Given the rough surface, you might want to consider applying two or more coats to get complete coverage.
  • Let each coat dry – Follow the recommended drying time on your primer’s packaging before applying additional coats of primer or paint in order to prevent lifting the material and creating an unsmooth finish.

 

Top 6 mistakes to avoid while painting brick

In addition to knowing how to paint your brick, you also need to know what not to do so you can get the best results. Follow these tips on what mistakes to avoid while painting your brick.

1. Not cleaning first

As tempting as this might be, you always need to clean a surface before you paint it – even if that surface is brick. Just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it actually is. Taking the time to spray down the surface will ensure you’ve eliminated any dirt or debris that could later appear in your paint.

2. Not using primer

If you’re asking “does brick need to be primed before painting?”, the answer is yes. This is another step that’s tempting to skip but really important. Opting to apply primer to your brick before your paint will help increase your paint’s durability while also improving the overall coverage.

Two sets of hands opening a paint can

3. Using the wrong primer

Before you try to prime your brick, you need to be sure that it’s compatible with both your brick and your paint. Using any primer could result in issues with adhesion and might actually ruin the look of your paint job.

4. Using an incompatible paint

Be sure to double-check that your paint is high quality and approved for use with brick and your primer. Making a bad paint choice could create less than desirable results and be more likely to become damaged down the line.

Paint brushes in a tray containing orange paint

5. Not letting each coat dry

You might also be tempted to rush your project along, but you absolutely need to let each coat of primer and paint dry before applying another. If you apply a new coat on top of a coat that hasn’t yet dried, you run the risk of lifting the previous coat and creating buildup and rough patches on your brick.

6. Not planning ahead

Before any paint project, you need to plan ahead to get the best results. If you’re painting interior brick, make sure you have enough time to properly complete the project without disrupting your home life or risking damage. If you’re painting exterior brick, be sure to check the weather to avoid any rain or humidity ruining your hard work.

 

Now that you know everything about priming your brick, you’re ready to get started on your project. If you think you’d like to hire a professional instead, the City Painters are here to help. Contact us here or give us a call for a free quote.

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