If you have been longing to restore that old, painted brick wall to its natural glory, but feel stripping it would be a job you can't handle, you will be pleased to know you have another option. Paint over it. However, instead of painting it a bland color like before, this time give the wall a faux brick paint job to make it look more natural.
Remove any peeling paint from your wall. Scrape paint that is already cracked and peeling with a stiff wire brush. Sand the wall with a medium-grit sandpaper to prevent further peeling, so it doesn't ruin your new coat of paint.
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Add tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) to a bucket of warm water and mix it. Scrub the wall clean with the mixture.
Paint the bricks with a coat of primer/sealer first. Let the primer dry thoroughly, then apply strips of painter's tape across the grout lines to protect them. Tape off adjoining walls and other areas you want to protect.
Paint the bricks in your chosen color. Use a roller to cover large expanses of wall. Use a brush to paint edges. For textured areas of brick, tap the bristles into the holes and crevices to get paint into them.
Pour some of your brick color with a dab of dark brown paint on a plastic disposable plate. Mix them to create a marbleized blend.
Dip a sponge in water and wring it out. Dab the sponge in the marbled paint, then dab it on a paper towel to wipe most of the paint off the sponge. Lightly pat the sponge on some of the bricks in a random way to provide a more natural color variation.
Mix some more of the brick color paint with a dab of white paint to make it marbled. Use a second damp sponge to pat some highlights on the bricks. Keep adding the darker and lighter paint until you are satisfied with the look of the wall.
Peel off the tape and allow the paint to dry. Don't let the paint dry first, or the paint will peel off when you pull off the tape. It's best to remove tape while the paint is still somewhat wet. Choose a color for the mortar, such as a light gray or tan. Use a small craft brush to brush it onto the grout lines.