Grab your brushes and tackle one of the tougher DIY tasks with our pick of the best masonry paints for any budget
No-one relishes the task of painting the outside of their house, but like it or not, exterior stone or brick walls will benefit from a fresh lick of paint every decade or so. Choose wisely, and the best masonry paints won’t just make your home look more presentable, they’ll also protect stone- or brickwork in all weathers and resist wear and tear for many years to come.
Masonry paint can be used to give concrete, plaster, lime and cement render – or even pebbledash – a welcome facelift, and specialist masonry paints can also help to seal and protect your garage floor to keep it looking smart and provide a safe, anti-slip coating.
Read on and we’ll run you through the different types of masonry paint, explain which will work for you and give some basic tips as to the best techniques and processes for prep and application.
How to choose the best masonry paint for your needs
What type of masonry paint should I use?
There are three main types of masonry paint:
Limewash: This is your heritage option, as this has been the choice for exteriors dating back to the days of the Romans. Applied in layers – and a lot more frequently than the other options here – limewash provides an effective protective coating for the likes of lime render homes, but unless your home is a heritage home and under some conservation order, you’ll probably want to avoid this traditional but labour-intensive approach.
Silicate masonry paints: Incredibly durable and weather-resistant, these hard-wearing paints were invented by a German scientist by the name of Adolf Wilhelm Keim and patented way back in 1878. Keim successfully combined “water glass” (a potassium silicate solution) with inorganic colour pigments to produce a paint that doesn’t just coat, but penetrates and bonds with mineral substrates.
Acrylic masonry paint: These are plastic-based and contain an acrylic binder to provide a weather and waterproof coating. These are the most commonly used masonry paints these days, as they not only give a resilient finish, they’re also – on the whole – cheaper and easier to apply. However, as acrylic masonry paint contains plastic, it doesn’t breathe as well as the two former options, meaning that water will inevitably, over time, find its way in through the surface causing the paint to flake.
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Which masonry paint is right for me?
As mentioned above, that will depend on your budget, how much time you have, how much work you are willing to do and, of course, personal choice when it comes to colour. Like all other paint variants, masonry paint comes with a whole spectrum of colour options available.
Before you select a wild shade of purple, however, make sure to check whether your house is in a conservation area – there will be rules about the colour palette you can use dictated by an Article 4 Direction, and you’ll also need consent from the local council. If your building is listed, then you’ll need to check with the council before even considering reaching for the paintbrush.
What preparation is required?
Arm yourself with a stiff brush and scrub off all cobwebs and dirt. You may even want to get yourself a pressure washer to give it a truly good clean. Allow the surfaces to dry, then repair any damage, as just slapping paint on cracks and holes will not keep your surface safe from water damage.
Last but not least in the prep camp, seal and prime your walls with an external sealer or primer (available from all DIY outlets) – this will ensure the absolute best surface for painting on.
Always stir paint well before use, clean brushes and rollers thoroughly afterwards, and store paint away from where children and animals can get to it. Also, somewhat vitally, watch the weather – work out how long you think the task will take, factoring in drying time, and be sure to pick a day or days when no rain is forecast.
The best masonry paint to buy in 2023
1. Dulux Weathershield Smooth Masonry: Best masonry paint for life
Price: £26 (5 litres) | Buy now from Homebase
Dulux Weathershield Smooth Masonry paint is the number one choice in the UK. There are very good reasons for that, first and foremost being that it features a quick-drying formulation that allows it to become rainproof in just 30 minutes, cutting down on any anxiety you might have about unexpected sudden showers raining on your paint parade.
It comes guaranteed for 15 years, giving you a greater gap between having to repaint. And, last but not least, it comes in an incredible range of colour options – 107 different shades, to be precise (though we’ve featured the “pure brilliant white” shade above).
Providing effective protection against all weathers, the Weathershield is a very breathable paint that allows moisture and air to be released while preventing rain from penetrating and is also flexible enough to cover hairline cracks across different surfaces.
Containing an algicide and fungicide to protect against mould and algae, Dulux Weathershield stays cleaner and brighter than other, cheaper masonry paints, giving long-lasting colour.
Key specs – Sizes available: 2.5l, 5l, 10l; Usage: Exterior; Finish: Smooth; Drying time: 4 hours; Recoat time: 4 hours; Coats required: 2 coats; Mould resistant: Yes; Colour availability: 107
2. Granocryl by Leyland Smooth Masonry: Best masonry paint on a budget
Price: From £17 (5 litres) | Buy now from Amazon
Offering up to 10 years of protection from the elements, Leyland Granocryl Smooth masonry paint is an excellent choice for the DIYer counting the pennies. Five litres goes a long way for less than £20, and there’s a good variety of colour options, too.
A high-quality masonry paint ideal for sound exterior surfaces, Granocryl lends itself excellently to use on brick, concrete, rendering, roughcast and pebbledash, and as it is highly pigmented it leaves you with a very durable finish to fend off the worst that Mother Nature can throw at your exterior masonry.
In perfect conditions (not lashing with torrential rain and with temperatures over 10ºC), Granocryl wil be dry to the touch within one to two hours and capable of being recoated within four to six hours – an important fact seeing as, depending on the substrate you’re applying it to, two coats is generally the expected norm to achieve an ideal finish.
Key specs – Sizes available: 2.5l, 5l, 10l; Usage: Exterior; Finish: Smooth; Dry time: 1-2 hours; Recoat time: 4-6 hours; Coats required: 2; Mould resistant: Yes; Colour availability: 13
3. Farrow & Ball Limewash: Best masonry paint for an eco-friendly finish
Price: £41 (5 litres) | Buy now from Brewers
Despite its ancient origins, the use of limewash paint inside and outside the home was labelled one of the hot new trends of 2022. While it requires more coats than other masonry paints, the finish is undeniably striking and, best of all, eco-friendly due to the use of only natural ingredients.
Naturally, preparation is absolutely key when working with limewash, so all surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned of dirt and grease and left bone-dry for the Farrow & Ball Limewash to take properly. Any damage to render should be repaired or filled with a lime-based mortar/filler and not a modern filler, as they can cause cracking. Any mould or algae should also be treated prior to painting.
Only suitable for permeable substrates, limewash needs to be applied thinly, with full coats applied in one go to achieve a consistent effect and allowed to dry slowly in between. So, the job may be time-consuming, but the final result – after several coats, depending on the finish you require – will be both highly durable against water and UV, plus, aesthetically, worth that extra effort.
Key specs – Sizes available: 5 litres; Usage: Exterior & Interior; Finish: Flat matt; Drying time: 3 hours; Recoat time: 12 hours; Coats required: Multiple; Mould resistant: Yes; Colour availability: 76
4. Johnstone’s Garage Floor: Best masonry paint for concrete floors
Price: £25 (2.5 litres) | Buy now from Amazon
As the name suggests, Johnstone’s really does produce a paint solely for the important purpose of keeping your concrete garage floor clean, neat and, naturally, non-slippy.
Available in five distinct colours (although why anyone would choose white for garage flooring is something of a mystery), this highly durable paint is the quickest and easiest route to rejuvenating concrete flooring. It also works extremely well in the renovation of properly prepared tiles, brickwork, wood, cement and stone surfaces, and delivers a long-lasting finish, regardless of how heavy the footfall.
For best results, ensure the floor is clean and apply using a brush or a fully loaded roller, applying evenly and taking care not to overspread. Once the first coat is down, leave overnight to dry fully, before going in with the second coat and leave overnight again.
Once completely dry, your garage floor will not only be clean and smart, but also resistant to oil and grease spills, just like any functioning garage should be.
Key specs – Sizes available: 0.25l, 0.75l, 2.5l; Usage: Interior; Finish: Semi-gloss; Drying time: 14-16 hours; Recoat time: Overnight; Coats required: 2; Mould resistant: Yes; Colour availability: 5
5. Sandtex Microseal Smooth Masonry: Best masonry paint for an easy life
Price: £28 (5 litres) | Buy now from Wickes
Sandtex has long been a favourite among UK DIYers. Microseal Smooth Masonry provides coverage that’s quoted to last for up to 15 years and gives a high-quality, waterproof, breathable and dirt-resistant finish to rendering, roughcast, pebbledash, concrete, building blocks, facing bricks and emulsion/masonry-painted surfaces.
Imbued with Sandtex’s Microseal technology to provide resilient protection from the worst of the weather, the paint can be applied straight to clean masonry without any need to worry about primers, and with a wide range of colours available to choose from, the number of coats required just depends on whether you’re trying to cover a bright colour with a light one. Best of all, its formulation enables you to cover larger areas with much more speed, saving vital time on jobs.
Mould-resistant and very reasonably priced to boot, it’s no wonder that Sandtex is such a popular choice. For those of you dreading the task ahead, Sandtex is likely to make your job that little bit easier.
Key specs – Sizes available: 5l, 10l; Usage: Exterior; Style: Smooth; Drying time: 3-4 hours; Recoat time: 16 hours; Coats required: 2; Mould resistant: Yes; Colour availability: 27