Breeze blocks, also known as concrete masonry units or CMUs, are a popular building material often used for exterior walls and landscaping projects. With their porous, textured surface and dull gray color, painting breeze blocks is one way to change up their appearance and better integrate them into your home’s design.
But can you paint breeze blocks? What kind of paint works best? Are there any special considerations for preparing and painting this rough masonry surface? This guide will cover everything you need to know to successfully paint breeze blocks for both interior and exterior applications.
Can You Paint Breeze Blocks?
The short answer is yes, you can paint breeze blocks, both for indoor and outdoor use. Painting is recommended to protect and seal the blocks from the elements. Breeze blocks are highly porous and painting provides a protective barrier against moisture and prevents efflorescence, which is a white, powdery deposit that can form on unsealed concrete.
Paint also allows you to customize the look of breeze blocks and match them to your home’s color scheme instead of just having dull, gray walls. With the right prep work and paint products, you can achieve great looking results painting your breeze blocks.
Choosing the Right Paint for Breeze Blocks
Not just any paint will adhere properly and endure on rough, porous concrete block. Special considerations are needed when selecting paint for breeze blocks:
Use exterior-rated paints – For painting outdoor breeze block walls, the paint must be formulated for exterior use. Interior paints will not stand up to sun, rain, and temperature changes outside.
Acrylic latex paint – Exterior acrylic latex paints provide good adhesion on concrete and masonry surfaces. They expand and contract with the blocks as temperatures change.
Masonry paint – Special masonry paints are designed to bond well and seal porous concrete and block walls. Textured masonry paint can help hide imperfections.
Avoid regular emulsion/latex wall paints – Interior emulsion or latex wall paints are not formulated to adhere to rough, porous exterior concrete. Using an outdoor-rated paint is a must.
Fence paint – Another good option is exterior fence paint, designed for painting both wood and concrete surfaces. Verify it’s suitable for masonry.
2-3 coats for coverage – Due to the absorbent, uneven surface, expect to apply multiple coats of paint for complete coverage on breeze blocks.
Primer for Breeze Blocks
Sometimes a separate primer is recommended before applying paint to breeze blocks. Reasons to use primer include:
- New or unpainted blocks – creates better surface for paint adhesion
- Smoother, more consistent topcoat appearance
- Reduced efflorescence
- Concealing stains or graffiti
- Promoting longevity of paint job
Look for primer specially made for exterior masonry surfaces. Typically they are water-based acrylic primers suitable for porous concrete and block walls.
If you’re using a quality exterior masonry paint, the manufacturer may say a separate primer is not necessary. Read the product information to determine if a primer is recommended or required.
Preparing Breeze Blocks for Painting
Proper prep before painting is crucial for getting paint to adhere and perform well on breeze blocks:
Clean the surface – Remove any dirt, grime, mildew and efflorescence with a concrete and masonry cleaner and/or pressure washer. Rinse thoroughly.
Fill any holes and cracks – Use hydraulic cement or quick-setting cement patch to fill any holes or gaps in the blocks to create an even surface.
Remove loose material – Wire brushing may be necessary to remove any loose concrete, dust or other debris.
Repair any cracks or damage – Use concrete caulk or patching compound for minor repairs. Consult a mason for structural issues.
Let new blocks cure – New concrete blocks need about a month to fully dry before painting. Seal first with a concrete sealer.
Check moisture levels – Concrete should have less than 15% moisture content before painting. Test various areas with a moisture meter.
Proper prep removes anything that could interfere with paint adhesion and provides the best surface for applying paint.
Paint Application Tips for Breeze Blocks
When the time comes to start applying paint, follow these tips to get the best results:
Apply in dry weather – Avoid painting in wet, humid conditions. Only apply paint when surfaces are dry. Rain can damage uncured paint.
Use an angled paintbrush for crevices – The textured face of breeze blocks have grooves and depressions that are hard to reach. A high-quality angled sash brush allows you to push paint into all the uneven nooks and crannies.
Apply paint liberally and thoroughly – The blocks will suck up paint as it penetrates the porous concrete. Put on a heavy coat using overlapping strokes. Go back over areas as needed to get full coverage.
Work methodically section-by-section – Paint a small, manageable area at a time. This prevents paint from drying too quickly before you finish spreading it around. Focus on one section until fully covered before moving to the next.
Watch for drips – On vertical wall sections, beware of paint dripping down before it has a chance to penetrate and bond. Keep drips wiped up.
Use roller for large areas – For flat sections like fences or planters, a roller can be quicker than a brush for getting an even coat of paint. Follow with a brush to catch drips and smooth out texture.
Spray larger projects – For painting many blocks over a large area, consider renting a paint sprayer. This allows paint to penetrate the crevices more easily and can save significant time on big jobs. You’ll still need a brush for back-rolling and catching drips. Use spray paint cautiously to avoid overspray issues.
Let paint cure fully between coats – Wait the manufacturer’s recommended drying time before adding another coat of paint. For many paints, this is 24 hours or longer.
How Much Paint for Breeze Blocks?
Paint consumption will vary based on the specific product used, number of coats, and how porous and textured your blocks are. As a general guideline, one gallon of paint covers approximately:
- Smooth Breeze Blocks – 100 to 150 sq ft
- Standard Ribbed Breeze Blocks – 70 to 100 sq ft
- Deep Ribbed Blocks – 50 to 70 sq ft
The more texture, the more paint will be required. Budgeting 2 to 3 gallons for an average sized breeze block wall is a safe estimate. Have extra paint on hand for touch-ups down the road.
Paint Colors for Breeze Blocks
One benefit of painting breeze blocks is you’re no longer limited to their natural gray concrete color. Paint allows matching breeze block walls, planter boxes, fences and other structures to your home in any color you desire.
Some popular paint color choices for breeze blocks include:
- White – Creates a clean, bright look and makes small spaces appear larger
- Light neutrals – Soft beiges, taupes, light grays, and ivory suit many home styles
- Bold, vibrant shades – Reds, blues, greens, or other colors make the blocks stand out
- Earth tones – Blend breezeway walls seamlessly into surrounding nature
- Pastels – Soften the hardscape with lighter hues of pink, yellow, lavender, mint
Darker colors may require extra coats for coverage over the gray blocks. But any color can work beautifully. For inspiration, browse photos of painted brick and masonry structures. The same color concepts apply to painting breeze blocks in your desired palette.
Paint Finishes and Techniques
Flat or satin exterior paints are common for breeze blocks, offering good durability and brightness. But you can also add dimension and visual interest with special painting techniques:
Textured paint – Masonry paint with sand or grit mixed in hides imperfections in rough or damaged blocks. It lays on thick to fill grooves and make walls look hand-troweled.
High-gloss enamel – Glossy enamel paint adds sheen and makes colors pop. Useful for accent walls or indoor block feature walls.
Faux finishing – Add depth by sponging, rag-rolling, stippling, adding a wash, or other faux treatments. Great for interior block walls.
Stenciling – Customize your breeze blocks with nature motifs, geometric patterns, inspirational words, or other stenciled designs.
Contrasting colors – Use two colors in a checkerboard or geometric pattern for a fun, whimsical look.
With the right paint products and techniques, you can achieve practically any design look you want on your breeze block canvas.
Maintaining Painted Breeze Blocks
Like any painted exterior surface, breeze block walls will need some maintenance and touch-ups over time to keep them looking their best. Plan on:
- Reapplying fresh coats of paint every 3-5 years
- Washing walls annually with mild soap and water to remove dirt and grime
- Spot painting any nicks, scratches or damaged areas as soon as possible to avoid moisture getting in
- Checking for any cracks or evidence of moisture damage and repairing right away
- Removing any efflorescence deposits with masonry cleaner if they return
- Applying a fresh coat of high quality primer when significant fading/peeling occurs before repainting
- Prepping surfaces properly before repainting for best adhesion
- Using the same exterior-grade paint for touchups and re-coating for uniformity
- Replacing any damaged or deteriorating blocks and caulking gaps as needed
Proper prep work is key to achieving great results painting breeze blocks. But maintaining that freshly painted look is also essential to get the most enjoyment from your colorful new breeze block accents for years to come.
Painting Indoor Breeze Block Walls
While this guide has focused primarily on exterior application, painting indoor breeze block basement walls, accent walls, fireplaces and other features follows a similar process but with a few differences:
- Interior latex or enamel paints can be used instead of exterior paint
- Primer may not be essential but can still provide a uniform base layer
- Surface prep is still important – fill holes, remove efflorescence, allow new blocks to cure
- Adequate ventilation is needed when painting indoors
- Industrial style high-gloss enamels create a bold, eye-catching look
- More decorative painting techniques may be used – faux finishes, stenciling, rag-rolling, sponging, etc.
- Match any paint types used for uniform coverage and appearance
- Standard interior re-painting timelines apply instead of harsher exterior conditions
Painting interior block walls or fireplaces is a great way to add an artistic focal point or just brighten up a dark, dreary space. With the right prep and paints, breeze blocks can be painted successfully indoors as well as out.
FAQs About Painting Breeze Blocks
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting breeze block walls:
Can you paint breeze blocks with emulsion?
No, regular indoor emulsion paint will not properly adhere and seal outdoor breeze blocks. Stick with exterior-rated paints.
Can you use fence paint on breeze blocks?
Yes, exterior fence paint formulated for wood and concrete can work well to paint breeze block walls and fences.
How long does it take for paint to dry on blocks?
Allow 24 hours drying time between coats. Certain conditions like high humidity may require longer drying times.
Should breeze blocks be sealed before painting?
Sealing first is a good idea for very porous or newly installed blocks but is not mandatory. Check manufacturer recommendations.
What causes paint to peel off breeze blocks?
Inadequate surface prep, using the wrong type of paint, trapped moisture, or recoating before fully cured can all cause peeling.
How do you remove old faded paint from breeze blocks?
Chemical strippers, power washing, or sandblasting can be used to remove old, flaking paint from breeze block surfaces before repainting.
Painting breeze blocks allows you to waterproof, seal, and customize the look of concrete block while matching them to your home’s style. With the proper prep work, paint selection, application techniques, and ongoing maintenance, you can achieve beautiful, long-lasting results painting interior and exterior breeze block surfaces. The porous face of the blocks takes a little extra work but the added curb appeal and design possibilities make the effort worthwhile.