What is Masonry Paint and What is it Used for?

If you’re a first-time DIYer and just finding your feet when it comes to different types of paint, you might be wondering: what is masonry paint and what is it used for?

With over 20 years of professional experience in the decorating trade, I’m going to be answering these very questions along with a few others that have been asked by readers of our site over the past few months.

With that being said, let’s get started!

Masonry paint doesn’t only protect masonry surfaces, it is also used to provide an aesthetically pleasing decorative effect.

What is Masonry Paint?

Masonry paint is a paint that has been specifically formulated for use on masonry surfaces such as cement render, blockwork (such as breeze blocks and thermalite breezeblocks), pebbledash and brickwork.

Being an exterior paint, it is often considered the hardest-wearing paint on the market with a high degree of flexibility.

Despite being formulated primarily to be highly durable, masonry paint typically has fantastic opacity and thus offers an aesthetically pleasing decorative effect to home exteriors.

What is it Good for?

Masonry paint is good for covering all sorts of old and new masonry surfaces such as concrete, cement render and many more. It is primarily designed to protect masonry surfaces from the elements whilst simultaneously being used to make exteriors look good.

It’s good for:

Some people also suggest it’s a good idea to use masonry paint on exterior wood but my advice would be to stick to using surface-specific paints.

Is Masonry Paint Waterproof?

Every iteration of masonry paint is waterproof to some degree. Some masonry paints are formulated to be more waterproof than others and you’ll typically find these masonry paints being applied on surfaces near the sea for example.

Do You Have to Use Masonry Paint Outside?

Whilst you don’t necessarily have to use masonry paint strictly outside, it’s safer to do so. When applied indoors, masonry paint can give off harmful VOCs.

Can You Use Masonry Paint Indoors? (interlink here)

Masonry paint can be used indoors in special circumstances such as in garages or basements but it’s best to avoid using it where possible.

Masonry paint tends to have a high VOC (volatile organic compounds) content and essentially releases pollutants into the air. This can have a damaging effect if the concentration of VOCs is high.

I know that some decorators will use masonry paint on bathroom ceilings but in my opinion, there are so many great products on the market for that specific purpose that you don’t need to use it (check out my guide on bathroom ceiling paint here).

Can You Use Masonry Paint on Wood? (interlink here)

Whilst you can use masonry paint on wood with good results, the current guidance is to avoid doing so. The reason for this is that masonry paint is formulated in a way that is incompatible with timber.

Timber often absorbs and releases moisture and with that process comes the expansion and contraction of the wood.

With that in mind, it’s always best to use highly flexible paint that has been specifically designed for use on timber otherwise you could end up with a failing paint system and defects such as flaking or peeling. Furthermore, paint that has been designed for use on timber will protect the substrate for much longer than masonry paint.

Can Masonry Paint Be Used on Metal?

Masonry paint has such good adhesion that it can be used on primed metal surfaces but with numerous products on the market designed for metal, I would suggest avoiding masonry paint.

Having said that, I know a decorator who has been painting his metal garage door with masonry paint for 20-odd years in order to create a uniform colour with the rest of his house and it hasn’t failed him yet.

Is Masonry Paint Water-Based?

Masonry paint can be water-based or solvent-based. Water-based masonry paint is more environmentally-friendly whereas solvent-based masonry paint has the advantage of being more durable and having better opacity.

What is Textured Masonry Paint Used for?

Some people prefer to use textured masonry paint purely for aesthetic reasons. Whilst many consider textured masonry paint to look somewhat outdated, it does have practical benefits, namely its stellar opacity and coverage, and the fact that it is better at withstanding harsher weather conditions than its smooth counterpart.

Is Masonry Paint Waterproof?

Every masonry paint on the market is waterproof. If it wasn’t, it would simply wash off exterior walls when it rains. Some paints take different amounts of time to become waterproof however so you should always check the weather before you paint.

Some masonry products become waterproof (or rainproof) within an hour whereas others can take all day. If you’ve got a sunny spell coming up, aim to apply your masonry paint then.